Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are often associated with freedom, adventure, and the open road. But unfortunately, they're also associated with tragedy in the form of fatal accidents. In recent years, motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise, with thousands of riders losing their lives every year on roads all over the world.

These incidents not only devastate families and communities, but they also raise important legal questions about fault and responsibility. From complex insurance claims to criminal charges, navigating the aftermath of a fatal motorcycle accident can be overwhelming for those left behind.

In this blog post, we'll dive into some key legal insights that can provide a better understanding of these tragic events and offer potential paths toward justice.

What Is Considered a Fatal Motorcycle Accident?

Before we delve into the legal aspects, let's first define what exactly constitutes a fatal motorcycle accident. Simply put, it is an accident involving a motorcycle that results in the death of at least one person. This can include single-vehicle accidents, collisions with other vehicles or objects, and even incidents caused by hazardous road conditions.

While there are many different factors that can contribute to a fatal motorcycle accident, some of the most common causes include speeding, alcohol or drug use, and reckless driving. It's important for both riders and other drivers on the road to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions.

Statistics on Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, and the statistics on fatal accidents are shocking. Every year, thousands of people lose their lives in motorcycle accidents, leaving behind families and communities to pick up the pieces.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019 alone, there were 5,044 motorcyclist accident fatalities in the United States. In 2020, there were 5,506 motorcyclists and in 2021 there were 5,932 motorcycle riders that had a crash that resulted in death.

NHTSA motorcycle fatallity rate

Another alarming statistic is that motorcyclists are significantly more likely to be involved in fatal accidents if they are not wearing a motorcycle helmet. In fact, according to Forbes, 2,143 motorcyclists who were involved in fatal accidents were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

Another upsetting fact is that while 34% of motorcycle accidents involve speeding, 27% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level above the legal limit.

The sad reality is that many of these accidents could have been prevented if proper precautions were taken. The fatality rate is not only high for motorcyclists but also for other drivers involved in these accidents. However, those who ride a motorcycle are at a higher risk of motorcycle accident deaths due to the lack of protection that a car offers.

For instance, in 2021, in Missouri alone, there were 151 motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes and 71 of them were wearing helmets. This means that nearly half of the motorcyclists who died in crashes were not wearing helmets.

Do you think you could get involved in a motorcycle accident in Missouri? If so, read our article What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Missouri to learn about the steps you should take immediately following a motorcycle accident.

Who Is at Fault in a Fatal Motorcycle Accident?

Determining fault in a fatal motorcycle accident can be complex and varies depending on the circumstances of the case. In some cases, it may be obvious who is at fault, such as in a rear-end collision where the driver of the vehicle behind is typically considered responsible.

However, there are also many instances where both parties involved share some degree of fault. For example, if a motorcyclist was speeding and swerved into another lane, causing a collision with a car, both parties may be considered partially at fault.

In the event of a fatal motorcycle accident, it's important to consult with our experienced personal injury lawyer who can help navigate the legal complexities and determine liability. This is especially crucial for loved ones of the deceased as they may be entitled to compensation for their loss.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Help

Losing a loved one in a tragic motorcycle accident hits hard, and the aftermath? It's like a storm of emotions and financial challenges. Grieving is tough, and then there are those medical bills and funeral expenses raining down on you.

Now, here's the deal – reaching out for legal support isn't just about the money. Sure, it can help sort out who's at fault and get compensation for the bills piling up, but it's also about holding the responsible parties accountable. Shine a light on their actions, so to speak.

And here's the silver lining – it's not just about this one incident. By taking legal action, we're putting a spotlight on unsafe road practices, waving a flag for better driving habits. It's like saying, "Hey, let's not go down this rocky road again." So, consider legal help not just a lifeline for you but a step towards safer roads for everyone.

Legal Considerations for Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

As the number of known unhelmeted motorcyclists killed vary from year to year, it's important to know the legal implications surrounding these accidents. But even if you or your loved one were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, there are still other factors to consider.

Percentage of Known Unhelmeted Motorcyclists Killed, 2021percentage of known unhelmeted motorcyclists killed in 2021

Source: FARS 2021 ARF

When a fatal motorcycle accident occurs, there are a few legal considerations that come into play. These can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and insurance claims. Let's take a closer look at each of these:

Criminal Charges

In cases where the accident was caused by another driver's reckless or negligent actions, criminal charges may be filed. This can include charges such as vehicular manslaughter, DUI, or reckless driving resulting in motorcycle deaths. If convicted, the responsible driver may face jail time and other legal consequences.

Civil Lawsuits

In addition to criminal charges, the family members of the victim may also choose to pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is often done to seek financial compensation for the loss of their loved one, as well as any medical expenses and funeral costs.

Insurance Claims

If the victim was insured at the time of the accident, their family may also be able to file a claim with their insurance company. This can help cover some of the financial burdens associated with a fatal motorcycle accident.

Seeking Justice for Victims of Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Losing a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident is a devastating and traumatic experience. However, it's important for family members to understand their legal rights and seek justice for their loved ones.

When a family decides to go after criminal charges, file civil lawsuits, or make insurance claims, they're not just seeking justice – they're holding the responsible party's feet to the fire. It's not just about the past; it's also about putting the brakes on future accidents.

Losing a loved one in a motorcycle mishap is like hitting a rough patch on the road of life. We get it – no amount of compensation can fill that void. But taking legal action isn't just about the money; it's a step towards closure and moving on.

Now, don't go navigating this legal terrain alone. You need a legal eagle who knows the twists and turns of motorcycle accidents like the back of their hand. Our skilled attorney is your go-to guide, helping you navigate the options and make decisions that'll stand up in the courtroom.

As for the settlement amount, it varies depending on the specific circumstances of each case. To better understand what to expect, you may read our article What is the Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement.

Staying Safe on the Road

Let's talk about staying on the sunny side of the road when it comes to motorcycles. Accidents happen, sure, but there's a playbook to reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle showdown. Here are some tips that both riders and drivers can bank on:

  • Suit Up Safely: Always gear up with the right stuff – helmets, gloves, and protective clothing. It's like putting on armor for the road.
  • Play by the Rules: Obey the traffic laws and stick to the speed limits. No need to race; we're all just trying to get somewhere in one piece.
  • Light It Up: Stay visible by flicking those lights, using signals, and rocking reflective gear. Think of it as your own personal spotlight on the road.
  • Stay Sober, Stay Sharp: Say no to riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Clear head, steady ride – it's as simple as that.
  • Eyes Wide Open: Watch out for blind spots and keep an eye on the traffic dance around you. It's like having a sixth sense on two wheels.

Follow these rules of the road, and you're stacking the deck in your favor, reducing the odds of a fatal motorcycle faceoff. And drivers, take note – share the road and show some love to your two-wheeled pals. It's all about keeping the journey safe and sound for everyone.

Kansas Laws and Regulations

In the state of Kansas, there are laws and regulations in place to protect motorcyclists and promote safer riding habits. Some important laws include:

  • Mandatory helmet law for all riders under the age of 18.
  • Required motorcycle license endorsement for riders over the age of 16.
  • Lane splitting is not allowed.
  • Motorcycles must have proper equipment such as headlights, taillights, and turn signals.

It's important for riders to be aware of and follow these laws to ensure their safety on the road. Additionally, there are regulations in place for drivers of other vehicles, such as not following too closely behind a motorcycle and being attentive while driving near motorcyclists.

Dealing with Fatal Motorcycle Accidents in Kansas

Despite taking precautions and following laws, accidents can still occur. In the unfortunate event of a fatal motorcycle accident in Kansas, some steps should be taken:

  • Contact emergency services immediately.
  • Stay at the scene until authorities arrive.
  • Gather information from witnesses and other parties involved.
  • Seek legal assistance for any potential claims or lawsuits.

Our personal injury lawyers outlines the five crucial steps to take after a motorcycle accident.

It's important to remember that even if a motorcyclist is following all safety protocols, other drivers' negligence or recklessness can still lead to a fatal accident. It's crucial for all road users to be aware and respectful of each other in order to prevent these tragic incidents from occurring.

Kevin McManus Law Firm: Supporting Motorcyclists in Kansas

If you or a loved one are involved in a motorcycle accident, it's important to seek legal assistance from an experienced and trusted firm. The Kevin McManus Law Firm specializes in personal injury cases, including motorcycle accidents.

Our team understands the unique challenges that motorcyclists face on the road and is passionate about advocating for their rights. We will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.

Don't hesitate to reach out for a free consultation with our motorcycle accident lawyer. You can call our office at 816-203-0143 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.

We are here to support and protect the motorcycle community in Kansas. Together, we can work towards safer roads for all. Let's ride responsibly and look out for each other on the road.

Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury and disability lawyer in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park, KS