Motorcycle Riding Risks in Delaware
Motorcyclists understand that the sense of freedom of riding a motorcycle comes with risk— the risk of severe or fatal injury in an accident.
Many motorcycle riders who obey traffic laws and take proper safety precautions still suffer serious injuries—often because of the carelessness of other motorists.
Motorcycles have a narrow profile and are easier to overlook than larger vehicles. When a collision occurs, the design of motorcycles affords riders little protection.
More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition, traffic accident statistics show that approximately four out of every ten motorcycle crashes involving serious or fatal injuries occur on city streets.
Many accidents occur because other motorists fail to see a motorcycle on the road.
Traffic accident statistics show that approximately four out of every ten motorcycle crashes involving serious or fatal injuries occur on city streets. In addition, many accidents occur because other motorists fail to see a motorcycle on the road.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents: The most common types of motorcycle injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are Leg and foot injuries, including fractures and traumatic amputations (30%).
In addition, motorcyclists are commonly thrown from their bikes in an accident, often causing them to hit other objects and the ground.
The Risks Delaware Motorcycle Riders Face:
Accidents involving severe and fatal injuries occur more often between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and occur more often on Saturdays than on any other day of the week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common motorcycle injuries are Leg and foot injuries, including fractures and traumatic amputations (30%). Motorcyclists are commonly thrown from their bikes in an accident, often causing them to hit other objects and then the ground.
Head and neck injuries, including TBIs, facial fractures, and spinal cord injuries (22%) Upper trunk (chest) injuries, such as broken ribs and sternum, and spinal cord injuries (20%) Arm and hand injuries, including fractures, amputations and nerve damage (18%) Lower trunk (abdominal) injuries, including internal organ damage and pelvic fractures (8%) Other/unknown injuries (8%).
The total exceeds 100% because motorcycle accident victims often have multiple injuries.
Thirty-seven percent were effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders. While many states require all motorcycle riders to wear DOT-approved helmets, Delaware does not for adults that are over the age of 19. Delaware only requires riders that are 19 years old or younger, to wear helmets.
Helmets protect motorcyclists from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and, depending on the type of helmet, other head injuries, such as facial fractures and dental and ear injuries.
Those who choose to ride for economic or recreational reasons can make motorcycling safer for themselves and others by always wearing helmets and other protective gear, completing approved rider training classes, and avoiding bad habits like speeding and reckless or aggressive riding.
Riders who have been seriously injured through the fault of others should understand their legal options. That way, you can make an informed decision with your future in mind.
We have prepared this guide to help you get started.
In the Case of a Motorcycle Accident in Delaware; Motorcyclists involved in accidents in Delaware have the same rights as other injured motorists.
You have a right to refuse to speak or give a statement to the insurance company adjuster representing the at-fault driver. Be polite but firm.
You don’t have to comment about the accident, your injuries, or whether you are under a doctor’s care. However, such statements may be used against you later by the insurance company.
You also have a right to refuse to sign any medical authorization forms presented by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is because such authorizations may be used to access your entire medical history for reasons to deny your claim.
Finally, you have a right to educate yourself about your legal options by speaking with an attorney. Again, it’s a prudent step to take. You may have an attorney review the specifics of your accident, without any cost to you or obligation to hire them, and receive guidance about your legal rights to obtain compensation.
If you have serious injuries, you should have an attorney represent you in dealings with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Depending on the specifics of the accident, you may have a right to seek compensation for medical bills, property damage, and other losses when someone else is at fault in the accident.
You have a right to be made whole for your losses caused through no fault of your own. For example, an injured motorcyclist or their family, in the case of a fatal motorcycle accident, may sue responsible parties for damages after an accident.
In most cases, they must file their lawsuit within two years of the accident and injury. To be successful, the personal injury lawyer representing the injured motorcycle rider has to demonstrate the other party’s negligence and that it was the cause of the motorcyclist’s accident and injuries.
Delaware requires riders to have an “M” endorsement on their state driver’s license. That demonstrates that you have attained a specific knowledge and skill as a motorcycle operator.
To obtain the approval, you must either pass vision, written, and driving tests at a driver’s license office or present documents to show that you have completed a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.
In addition to a proper motorcycle license endorsement, motorcycle owners must obtain liability insurance coverage for their bikes to be legal on the road.
The minimum coverage requirement for all motor vehicles in Delaware is 25/50/10. This means your motorcycle insurance in Delaware should have liability limits of at least $25,000 for bodily injury per person, with a total of $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage liability coverage.
You also have a right to insurance coverage for accidents caused by uninsured and underinsured motorists. If you ride a motorcycle, it’s wise to have this supplemental coverage. For example, suppose you have been seriously injured through the carelessness or fault of another driver. In that case, it’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney review your case and explain all your legal rights. From there, you can make an informed decision about your future.
On a highway filled with SUVs and 18-wheelers moving at high speeds, a motorcyclist who does not try to be as visible as possible can remain unnoticed until it is too late. Motorcycles are shorter and narrower than four-wheeled motor vehicles. A driver who makes an unsafe lane change and hits a motorcyclist he did not see may be held liable for the crash, but the motorcyclist winds up in the hospital with injuries and a damaged bike to replace if he’s ever able to ride again.
A high percentage of collisions involving cars and motorcycles occur because the driver of the other vehicle failed to see the motorcyclist in time to avoid a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can make yourself and your motorcycle more conspicuous to other motorists by how you choose to ride and what you choose to wear.
What to Consider When Riding a Motorcycle in Delaware?
There is safety in numbers when it comes to visibility. If you can ride with a group, ride in a staggered formation in which the leader rides in the left third of the lane, followed by the next rider at least one second behind in the right third of the lane, and the rest of the group following in the same left-right pattern. Ride with no more than five to seven members in a group.
Make sure there is enough room between your bike and the cars and trucks around you so they can see you if they look. Avoid riding in blind spots.
Beware of tailgaters. Many motorcyclists are hurt in rear-end collisions caused by motorists who don’t realize how quickly motorcycles stop. It’s better to let a car pass than to have it too close behind.
Keep your distance. Make sure your headlight stays on. New motorcycles sold in the U.S. since 1978 automatically have the headlights on when running. A motorcycle with its headlight on is twice as likely to be noticed. In addition, a headlight modulator will cause the light to alternate between a higher and a lower intensity during the day, making a motorcycle even more noticeable.
Use turn signals when you plan to change lanes or turn. It’s also helpful to flash your brake light before you slow down, particularly if you are being followed closely. Your signal lights and brake lights make you more visible.
Wear a brightly colored helmet and upper-body clothing, such as red, orange, yellow, or lime green. Some riders wear lightweight reflective vests over their jackets. Reflectors, reflective tape, or decals on your bike will help it show up better in headlights and under street lamps at night.
Use hand signals for turning, slowing down, and stopping, along with your motorcycle’s turn signals and brake lights. By extending your arm to signal, your and your bike’s silhouette grows more prominent, and the movement is eye-catching. In addition, motorists often fail to realize that a motorcycle slows and comes to a stop faster and at less distance than a car, so signal that you are slowing down early.
Collisions with cars and other vehicles are most likely in intersections, particularly when a car turns left at an intersection and crashes into a motorcycle traveling straight through the intersection.
Ride in a lane position that provides the best view of oncoming traffic. Look ahead as you enter intersections and expect that motorists may not see you.
Slow down and select a lane position to increase your visibility to vehicle drivers preparing to cross your path. If other drivers do see you, they may misjudge your speed, so slow down.
Check your rearview mirrors and turn to look frequently to check what’s going on behind and around you. If they do not see you, keep your eyes on them.
When motorcyclists crash, riders are not protected in an enclosed cabin, so the chances of injury are greater even at lower speeds. As a result, motorcyclists are vulnerable to a wide variety of injuries, from abrasions to broken bones and head injuries. Many injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are severe enough to require medical care and hospitalization. More serious injuries may involve surgery and extensive physical therapy.
What Are the Most Common Injuries?
Foot, ankle, leg, knee, thigh, hip, and pelvic injuries are the most common motorcycle accident injuries, according to multiple studies.
In addition, long-bone fractures of the tibia, fibula, and femur, and hip dislocation are the most common types of lower extremity injury suffered in motorcycle crashes.
The impact of falling, being thrown from a bike, or having a motorcycle fall on top of you can break bones. Because riders will instinctively reach out to catch themselves as they fall, they can break bones in their hands and arms in even relatively minor crashes. Some broken bones, such as shattered elbows, may require surgery to repair.
A motorcyclist may suffer such severe bone and soft-tissue damage in a crash that it is necessary to surgically amputate a limb, digit, hand, or foot that doctors cannot save.
Falling or being thrown from a motorcycle can lead to a blow to the head that causes a concussion or a more serious TBI. The best way to prevent a head injury in a motorcycle accident is to wear a DOT-certified helmet.
Riding without a helmet leaves a motorcyclist unprotected against such injuries as a broken jaw, lost teeth, eye injuries, and disfiguring facial cuts and fractures.
A sharp blow to the chest can fracture the chest bone or ribs, which protect the heart and other major organs. It can also rupture the diaphragm (the muscle that propels the lungs). Such a blow also can damage internal organs, or broken bones can be dislodged and tear into organs.
A blow to the neck or back that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more vertebrae or discs can cause a traumatic spinal cord injury and paralysis. In addition to reducing the victim’s quality of life, paralysis can have life-threatening complications.
The blunt force trauma suffered in a motorcycle accident may damage kidneys, spleen, liver, bowels, stomach, or any organ in the abdomen, as well as muscle, nerves, and other soft tissue. If not promptly diagnosed and treated with surgery, internal organ damage can lead to a life-threatening infection.
Internal organ damage may also lead to loss of blood that sends the accident victim into shock, which is life-threatening.
In addition to hospitalization and surgery, a motorcyclist who has suffered a severe injury in a crash will often require physical rehabilitation as part of their recovery regimen. Patients undergoing treatment in a rehabilitation facility may be unable to work for an extended period.
The most severe injuries may result in permanent disability. A disabling injury typically involves higher medical costs and a reduction of a rider’s future earning capacity and quality of life. The most severely injured might require vocational training as well as the use of adaptive equipment or personal assistance. The long-term accident costs for the survivor of a severe motorcycle accident injury can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A motorcyclist who is injured through the fault of another motorist should understand their legal options to seek compensation to cover their medical bills and other losses.
Few Delaware resources exist to help consumers fight against illegal pressure and harassment from creditors and debt collectors. Through defending these cases, we often observe abusive collections practices with personal injury clients (in addition to the insurance hassles/fights that transpire in many personal injury cases). Our law firm has this extra experience to add to the years of personal injury cases we have won.