If you ride a motorcycle, you understand the risks and you take precautions to ensure your safety. It’s the negligence, carelessness, or reckless behavior of others that you can’t anticipate.
Did you know that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclist deaths occur 28 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles? In 2016, there were 5,286 motorcyclist fatalities—the largest number of motorcyclist deaths since 2008. Those staggering statistics are due to the fact that motorcycle riders are more likely to be seriously injured or killed because they lack the protective enclosure of a vehicle.
Ohio Motorcycle Laws
To legally operate a motorcycle in Ohio, you can either obtain a limited license to operate motorcycles only or add a motorcycle endorsement onto a basic license. Both require you to pass a written exam and either take an approved basic rider’s course or pass an on-cycle skills test. (If you move to Ohio with a valid motorcycle license or endorsement, you may not have to take these tests.)
In addition to securing a license endorsement and following the ordinary rules of the road, motorcyclists must follow specific laws in Ohio for their safety and the safety of other motorists. Although recommended, safety helmets are not required unless a driver is under 18, is classified as a “novice” on his or her license, or has only a temporary operator’s permit. Eye protection is required unless your motorcycle has a windscreen. Lane splitting (riding your motorcycle between cars along the lane line) is not expressly prohibited but is not permitted by statute, and a lane-splitting rider may be cited under other moving violation statutes (such as improperly changing lanes).
Motorcycle Accident Liability
Like other vehicle accident claims, in a claim arising out of a motorcycle accident, you must prove another party was liable for the collision or wreck. A judge or jury will determine who was legally at fault and hold that party accountable for damages. This could be another driver or drivers involved in the accident, a manufacturer of a defective vehicle or part, or a municipality or other entity that failed to keep the roadway in a condition that was reasonably safe for motorcyclists. Most often, claims against other drivers are based on negligence, claiming that the other driver failed to use the reasonable care required of drivers to prevent accidents and injury.
Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Damages are intended to “make you whole” following an automobile or motorcycle accident. One component of this compensation is called “economic” damages, a category that includes reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, and other quantifiable expenses related to the accident. “Noneconomic” damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate you for things like pain and suffering, disability, loss of companionship, and disfigurement.
Ohio law generally limits your recovery of noneconomic damages to $250,000 or three times the economic damages, whichever is greater, up to $350,000 for each plaintiff and $500,000 for each occurrence. An experienced lawyer can help you identify and fairly quantify these damages as you pursue your injury claims.
Your recoverable damages may be reduced if the court determines you are partially responsible for the collision. This doctrine is called “contributory fault.” For example, if a court determines you were 10 percent at fault for a collision because you failed to appropriately yield the right of way, it could reduce the amount of any damage award by 10 percent. If the court finds you are more liable than all the other parties to your action combined, you will not be able to recover at all.
Hire an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to seek legal assistance immediately because the law limits the time to file a legal claim. In most personal injury suits, including those related to motorcycle accidents, the claim must be filed within two years.
An experienced attorney – like the lawyers at Obral, Silk & Associates, LLC – can advise you of the best course of action and help you secure the compensation to which you’re entitled. This can include recovering costs for past and future medical care, wage loss, pain and suffering, and, in certain limited circumstances (like accidents involving a drunk driver), punitive damages.
Call now for a free consultation.