St. Louis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Countless individuals across the nation are hooked on the exhilarating pastime of riding motorcycles, but there are definitely some safety risks involved in this activity. Whether it is for a leisurely cross-country road trip or your daily commute to work, motorcycle riders can be susceptible to some severe injuries and even death. Unfortunately, many people generalize motorcyclists as reckless and are far too quick to assume they are at fault.
In reality, studies have shown that careless automobile drivers cause most motorcycle injuries. Automobile drivers can be much more distracted drivers because, unlike motorcyclists, they have plenty of safety components protecting them from injury in case of an accident (i.e., seatbelt, airbag). This lack of pressing danger (combined with essentially being in a moving room full of distractions) can cause the driver to violate the rules of the road: speeding, texting, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just generally being distracted and reckless.
Sadly, if a driver's behavior results in a collision with a motorcycle, it is often the motorcyclist who receives the brunt of the injuries. Disturbingly, 98% of the people who died in 2017 motorcycle-related crashes on Missouri roads were the motorcycle riders (not the vehicle drivers). Even if a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet, they often will suffer severe injuries, including severe road rash, fractures, burns, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries.
A motorcycle accident can completely alter the course of someone's life and lead to years of pain and suffering. Motorcycle accident victims will often need to seek medical care and rehabilitation services for an extended period of time - in some cases, their whole life. These costs can be extensive and can weigh heavily on the motorcycle accident victim and their loved ones. On top of these expenses, a victim of a motorcycle accident might not be able to return to work immediately - or ever. These monetary burdens can add considerable stress to the motorcycle victim who is working on getting better and their families coping with the horrible event.
At Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry, we will try our absolute best to relieve some of these stresses associated with motorcycle accidents. We have years of experience fighting for motorcyclists' rights, and we will make sure you get the justice you deserve. We understand the difficulties associated with processing a motorcycle accident, and we can walk you through every step. We will take on the stress of dealing with the powerful insurance companies and the complex legal system so you can focus on recovery. It is crucial to have skilled and experienced motorcycle accident attorneys on your side, so you are taken seriously.
- What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
- Answers to Common Questions Asked After a Motorcycle Accident
- What if a Road Hazard Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
- What Are My Options if I Was Involved in a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident?
- What if a Car Suddenly Stopping Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
- What if an Opened Car Door Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
- What if I Was Involved in a Head-on Motorcycle Collision?
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What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
Riding a motorcycle can be a fun and exciting activity, but unfortunately, thousands of motorcyclists are injured every year due to motorcycle accidents. In 2017, 79% of Missouri motorcycle crashes resulted in injury or even death. It is impossible to prepare for an accident ahead of time, but you can follow these steps after your accident to make sure you are safe and in a good place heading into negotiations. These simple steps will save your attorney a lot of time and can be very advantageous to your case. Even in what seems to be the most minor of accidents, it is crucial to make sure you take each step seriously to ensure your rights are protected, and you are not taken advantage of. Be polite to everyone involved in the accident, but at the same time, do not take their word for everything; a lot of things can change when the paperwork gets started.
The attorneys at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry are very familiar with motorcycle accidents. We have countless years of experience recovering financial compensation for the injured and how to help our clients get back on their feet after an accident. No matter how long your road to recovery is, our lawyers will help guide you through the sometimes confusing and stressful process of getting the compensation and justice you deserve for your injuries and financial losses. Whether this is your first motorcycle accident or you have experienced multiple, it is common to be in shock when an accident occurs, and it is normal to be unsure of what to do. To make everything easier, we have outlined the following steps of what we would advise our own clients to do in the event of a motorcycle accident to ensure the optimal outcome of your case.
1. Do Not Fight or Flight
2. Contact First Responders
3. Exchange Information
4. Document Accident
5. Seek Medical Attention
6. Call a Lawyer
Answers to Common Questions Asked After a Motorcycle Accident
An accident can be life-altering, and even the aftermath of an accident can be some of the most challenging and confusing times of your life. You probably have a lot of questions, and you are not quite sure who to turn to. Especially if this is your first accident, it all can seem very overwhelming. Luckily, it is not our first accident. Our law firm has been dealing with all types of motor vehicle collisions, including motorcycle accidents, for many years. We know the steps that need to be taken to get your life back on track after a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle accident victims can face tremendous physical and emotional challenges; our compassionate team of professionals will fight to lessen their burden and support them through their journey. The legal process can be a confusing one. At Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry, we hope to lessen the confusion and answer any questions you might have about your motorcycle accident.
Some of the most common questions our firm receives about motorcycle accidents are listed below. However, if you have specific questions regarding your case, we encourage you to reach out to a member of our legal team to discuss your unique case and the legal options you might have.
I've Been In an Accident: What Do I Do?
I've Left the Scene of the Accident: Who Do I Talk to First?
I've Been Offered a Settlement: Do I Accept It?
I Am Not Sure Who Is at Fault: What Normally Causes Motorcycle Crashes?
The cause of each accident is unique to its situation, but many motorcycle accidents happen as a result of:
- Distracted Driving
- Alcohol/Drug-Impaired Driving
- Poor Visibility
- Motorcycle Lane Splitting
- Hazardous Road Conditions
If you or a loved one has been affected by a motorcycle accident, you know that straight answers are hard to come by because each motorcycle collision is so different. Our team at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry can review your unique situation, let you know what legal options are available to you, and help you get the financial compensation you deserve.
What if a Road Hazard Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should never be too quick to blame yourself. Even if another driver did not directly cause your accident on the road, the root of your accident could be blamed on the road conditions involved. In other words, a government entity could be held liable for the road maintenance that could have caused your accident. Motorcyclists are much more susceptible to accidents caused by road hazards; a pothole that is a simple bump in the road to a car could be a fatal accident for a motorcycle.
Hazardous roads are all too familiar in some areas of Missouri. Road repair is an inconvenient and expensive task; sometimes, there is just not enough time or funding to keep every road safe. For this reason, motorcyclists must remain vigilant at all times to avoid these accidents. Something as little as a wet road or uneven pavement can cause a severe motorcycle accident.
Some of the most common road hazards we see that lead to motorcycle accidents are:
- Poor Road Maintenance (e.g., gravel, uneven pavement, cracks, potholes)
- Road Debris (e.g., branches, rocks, tire fragments, fallen objects, garbage)
- Poor Weather Conditions (e.g., strong winds, ice, rain, snow, hail)
- Slick Surfaces (e.g., leaves, oil spills, train tracks, standing water)
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash, no matter what you believe to be the cause, we encourage you to contact our legal team to discuss your case. Even if you had a solo motorcycle accident, you could still have options for recovery. Our experienced legal team at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry knows what to look for in a motorcycle accident case and will use this knowledge to get you the compensation and justice you deserve.
What Are My Options if I Was Involved in a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident?
Hit-and-run accidents occur when one or more individuals involved in the accident fled the scene without providing either law enforcement or the involved parties with relevant information. Motorcycle hit-and-runs can involve a vehicle hitting a motorcycle, a motorcycle hitting a pedestrian, or all three.
It can often seem inconvenient, but you should always stick around to exchange information and speak with the police to ensure you are not accused of hitting and running any time you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Even if your accident doesn't result in any injuries and doesn't appear to be very serious, there can be some serious legal consequences. Leaving the scene of an accident leaves the individual chargeable with a misdemeanor to a felony.
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should contact an attorney immediately. Hit and runs can extensively complicate the process of getting an accident resolved because now you must first find the individual that fled the scene. You should not have to track down this person alone, our legal team has years of experience in hit-and-run motorcycle cases, and we will help you get the justice you deserve.
At Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry, we understand the problems you are facing, and we are committed to getting you back on track. Hit and run motorcycle accidents can be an incredibly frustrating and drawn-out process to receive compensation. We will take on the stress of dealing with insurance companies and the other parties involved so that you can focus on recovery.
Motorcycle Hit-and-Run Accident Laws in Missouri
Missouri Revised Statutes § 577.060, a section appropriately labeled "leaving the scene of an accident," are the laws which govern hit-and-run accidents in Missouri. The default penalty for a hit-and-run is a Class A misdemeanor. However, it gets bumped up to a Class E felony if (1) it caused a physical injury; (2) damages exceed $1,000; or (3) if the driver is a repeat hit-and-run offender. If the hit-and-run accident resulted in a death, the driver who hit and ran is likely looking at a Class D felony.
Generally, to avoid being convicted of a motorcycle hit-and-run offense, you need to make sure you stop after an accident to provide either law enforcement officers or the involved parties with the following information:
- Your name
- Your address
- The license number/registration for your vehicle
- Your driver's license number
You should file a police report as soon as possible if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident. Do not try to track down the offender yourself; leave that to the professionals. Missouri law has provisions that afford law enforcement officers the authority to extensively investigate these accidents and find the offender.
Missouri is a "pure comparative fault" state. This means that, even if the accident was partially your fault, you still might be able to receive compensation. The amount of damages you can recover in a motorcycle-accident-related lawsuit is reduced by the same percentage as your level of fault in causing the crash. In other words, you collect damages in proportion to the defendant's degree of fault.
Tracking Down Compensation in a Motorcycle Hit-and-Run Accident
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be very frustrating. However, with the help of law enforcement officers and an experienced hit-and-run motorcycle attorney, you can make sure to hold the offender accountable. Hit and run offenders can be charged with the criminal offenses listed above. You may also be entitled to recover damages for any injuries or property damage you suffered as a result of their actions.
If the offender has insurance, you can likely recover compensation from their insurer by filing a claim. However, it is essential you have a professional motorcycle hit-and-run attorney on your side to ensure the insurance company does not take advantage of you. Insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind, they are in the business of lowering their own costs, so it is important to be careful in negotiating.
If the offender does not have insurance, you can still recover compensation from them. Even if law enforcement officers are unable to track down the offender, you still have options. You can file a claim through your insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage. This route will entitle you to compensation for any medical expenses or damages to your motorcycle.
What if a Car Suddenly Stopping Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
Injuries Caused by a Sudden-Stop Motorcycle Accident
All motorcycle accidents are very serious and potentially life-threatening, and sudden-stop incidents can be especially severe. A motorcyclist may suffer any of the following injuries which are common to sudden-stop accidents:
- herniated discs;
- broken bones;
- severed limbs;
- brain injuries;
- skull fractures;
A sudden-stop motorcycle accident can happen in two different ways. The first is when a vehicle brakes suddenly, and the motorcyclist behind the vehicle crashes into it at nearly full speed. In these cases, the motorcyclist might try to brake or swerve to avoid the car. Unfortunately, these efforts often prove to be unsuccessful. Life-threatening injuries can result from this scenario; it is common that the motorcyclist is violently flung into oncoming traffic or collides into the vehicle and the hard concrete. The second scenario is when a motorcyclist stops suddenly, and the vehicle behind the motorcycle cannot stop quickly enough or swerve to avoid the motorcyclist. This scenario's severity depends on the vehicle's speed and how closely they were following the motorcycle. In each event, the fault of the accident depends on many different variables.
What Are My Rights After A Sudden-Stop Motorcycle Accident in Missouri?
The facts of your case will be the most significant factors in determining the outcome. The party at fault could be anyone: the motorist or the motorcyclist; the sudden-stopper or the rear-ender. It all depends on the facts of your case. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Missouri Revised Statutes § 304.017 states it is a Class C misdemeanor to follow another vehicle more closely than is "reasonably safe and prudent." Often, with sudden-stop cases, this law is put into play against the rear-ender. However, this law does not automatically resolve a case. Missouri law requires all motorists to drive:
- in a "careful and prudent manner";
- at a rate of so as not to endanger the person or property of another; and
- with "the highest degree of care."
Looking at the law, you can see why each situation's facts are essential to prove who was at fault - and what percentage was their fault. Missouri is a "pure comparative fault" state. This means that, even if the accident was partially your fault, you still might be able to receive compensation. The amount of damages you can recover in a motorcycle-accident-related lawsuit is reduced by the same percentage as your own level of fault in causing the crash. In other words, you collect damages in proportion to the defendant's degree of fault.
“2005 Missouri Revised Statutes - § 304.017. — Distance at Which Vehicle Must Follow, Penalty.” Justia Law, https://law.justia.com/codes/missouri/2005/t19/3040000017.html. Accessed 2 Oct. 2019.
Motorcycle Awareness Month | SaveMoLives. https://savemolives.com/campaigns/details/motorcycle-awareness-month. Accessed 2 Oct. 2019.
What if an Opened Car Door Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
Who is Liable for an Open-Car-Door Motorcycle Accident in Missouri?
As with most accidents involving motorcycles, open-car-door accidents are particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. If a moving vehicle hits an open-car-door, the vehicles themselves will take the brunt of the damage. Motorcyclists do not have this luxury; often, within a split second, motorcyclists are forced to choose between bailing from their motorcycle or swerving to avoid the car door. Unfortunately, these accidents are more likely to happen with motorcycles. Motorcycles are not easily spotted like vehicles, and they have more road-space to avoid the car door (especially in the eyes of the door-opener).
There may be a city ordinance weighing against the car door opener as suggested in MO Rev Stat § 300.340 (2013). This statute suggests that car doors located on the side of moving traffic should only be opened if it is reasonably safe to do so and should not be left open longer than necessary to load/unload passengers or cargo. Although all cities' ordinances vary, it is generally understood to be careful when opening a car door on the side of moving traffic. An even safer option is to use the door located towards the sidewalk, when possible.
What Causes Open-Car-Door Motorcycle Accidents?
As previously mentioned, open-car-door accidents are a serious danger to motorcyclists. There are several causes for these specific accidents:
- Negligence: failure to be aware of surroundings on behalf of the motorcyclist or car door opener
- Poor Visibility: bad weather conditions, surrounding buildings/objects hindering the view of the motorcyclist or car door opener
- Illegal Parking: drivers parked illegally are often hastier in entering and exiting their vehicles to avoid a ticket, making them less likely to look for traffic
- Motorcycle Turns: motorcyclists are required to move to the right side of the road before a right turn, which can result in riding dangerously close to parked vehicles
- Road Defects: motorcyclists might ride dangerously close to a parked vehicle to avoid potholes or other objects/defects in the road
While most reasons stem from unintentional circumstances, as listed above, there are some rare cases where the door-opener actually intends to injure the motorcyclists (possibly in a fit of road-rage). These circumstances will be dealt with more harshly than the rest.
“2013 Missouri Revised Statutes :: TITLE XIX MOTOR VEHICLES, WATERCRAFT AND AVIATION :: Chapter 300 Model Traffic Ordinance :: Section 300.340 Opening and Closing Vehicle Doors.” Justia Law, https://law.justia.com/codes/missouri/2013/title-xix/chapter-300/section-300.340/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.
What if I Was Involved in a Head-on Motorcycle Collision?
What Causes Head-On Motorcycle Accidents?
There are many causes for head-on motorcycle collisions, including:
- Distracted Driving: the driver may veer into the opposite lane because they are not focused on the road due to a distraction within (e.g., a phone) or outside their vehicle (e.g., another accident)
- Poor Visibility: the driver may attempt to pass another vehicle on a two-lane road and struggle to see on-coming traffic due to poor weather conditions, hills, or other objects
- Loss of Vehicle Control: the driver may completely lose control of their vehicle due to a vehicle defect, intoxication, or falling asleep
- Poor Road Conditions: the driver may swerve out of their lane to avoid potholes or other objects or defects in the road
- Poor Weather Conditions: fog, rain, ice, or snow may make it difficult for both drivers to stay in their respective lanes, no matter how hard they each try