Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Accidents’ Category

Evidence Shows Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Lives

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Many motorcycle enthusiasts are staunchly opposed to mandatory helmets laws because they view them as an unwarranted infringement of a rider’s personal freedom of choice.  Although there are legitimate liberty issues surrounding mandatory helmet laws, there is a substantial body of evidence supporting the view that wearing a motorcycle helmet that meets minimum Department of Transportation standards substantially reduces traumatic brain injuries and fatalities.  Further, comparisons of fatality rates between states with universal helmet law and those that have repealed such laws indicate that more people suffer catastrophic injuries or wrongful death when there is no mandatory helmet use law in effect.

The effectiveness of motorcycle helmets at preventing head injuries and fatalities is well-established. Studies of fatal motorcycle accidents indicate that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities involving motorcyclists and 41 percent effective at preventing deaths of passengers.  There is also an abundance of evidence that more riders wear helmets in states that have universal helmet laws.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that compliance is virtually 100 percent in states with mandatory universal helmet laws.  In state without universal helmet laws, the NHTSA indicates that only between 28 and 40 percent of riders wear helmets.

Because motorcycles do not provide riders with the safety features available to passenger car occupants, such as a steel protective enclosure, shoulder and lap belts and air bags, a helmet is virtually the only significant safety equipment available to motorcyclists.  Further, motorcycles greatly reduce the likelihood of head injuries, which are the leading cause of motorcycle fatalities.

When states have repealed motorcycle helmet laws, the percentage of riders that use helmets has dropped significantly.  A study of tens states that repealed such laws found that motorcycle helmet use declined from virtually full compliance to no more than fifty percent.  Motorcycle fatalities constitute just under 15 percent of traffic fatalities despite the fact that motorcycle account for less than one percent of all miles traveled by motor vehicles.

Our Kansas motorcycle accident attorneys at Cummings and Cummings know that many distracted, intoxicated and reckless drivers of passenger vehicles put motorcyclists in situations that make motorcycle accidents almost unavoidable.  We strongly support helmet use as a critical safety measure to protect riders from negligent and inattentive drivers.  If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, our dedicated team of Kansas motorcycle accident lawyers work diligently to obtain the compensation our clients need to rebuild their lives.  We have over 30 years of combined litigation experience so contact us today at 316-264-1548 to learn about your rights and options.


Recovering for Kansas Motorcycle Accident Injuries When You Are At-Fault

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Some motorcyclists and their families presume that riders cannot recover financial compensation for their injuries if the rider makes a mistake that contributes to a motorcycle collision.  This mistaken assumption is important because operator error is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents that cause severe injury and wrongful death in Kansas and throughout the country.  Although mistakes made by an inexperienced rider may impact the amount of a motorcyclist’s recovery, this does not mean it will bar financial recovery by a personal injury victim entirely.

When a motorcyclist makes a mistake that constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm to the rider, the insurance company for the driver of a passenger vehicle will often assert the defense of comparative negligence.  Kansas is one of several dozen “modified comparative fault” jurisdictions.  This rule permits a motorcyclist who is found by a judge or jury to have been negligent by failing to take reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injury to oneself to have a percentage of fault assigned to both the injury victim and the defendant.

While assigning fault to a motorcyclist who was traveling to fast given wet road conditions, for example, may result in a reduction in recovery in proportion to the motorcycle accident victim’s percentage of fault, it will not necessarily result in a complete bar to monetary recovery.  The passenger vehicle may have violated the rider’s right of way at an intersection resulting in the rider losing control when trying to swerve to avoid a collision.  While the rider may have laid the bike down, the judge or jury may determine the rider would have been able to successfully execute the evasive maneuver at a safe speed.

In a situation like the one above, the judge or jury may assign a degree of fault to both the driver who violated right of way and the motorcyclist who was driving at an excessive rate of speed given road conditions.  If the amount of fault assigned to the motorcyclist is 49 percent or less, the rider will have his or her damages reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to the motorcycle enthusiast.  If the degree of fault assigned to the rider is fifty percent or more, this typically will result in a complete defense so that the rider cannot recover monetary compensation.

Because the issue of determining responsibility and allocating fault between the parties to a Kansas motorcycle collision is complicated, an injured rider should never rely solely on the determination of fault by the police officer who investigates the collision.  Even if the law enforcement accident report concludes that you were at-fault or you were given a traffic ticket, you should seek legal advice from an experienced Kansas motorcycle accident attorney.  Sometimes the preliminary assessment of a Kansas motorcycle accident by a law enforcement officer is inaccurate so our motorcycle accident law firm may conduct an independent investigation, frequently using our own motorcycle accident reconstruction experts.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a motorcycle accident in Kansas, experienced motorcycle accident lawyer William Cummings is committed to representing motorcycle accident victims in Wichita and throughout Sedgwick County and the surrounding areas of Kansas and seeking the compensation they need to rebuild their lives.  We offer a free initial consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your legal claim so call us today at 316-264-1548.

Do Serious Motorcycle Fatality Risks Include a Strong Gust of Wind?

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

As fuel prices continue to rise, motorcycle usage and motorcycle accidents are both growing at significant rates.  Despite the growing popularity of motorcycles as a way to reduce fuel costs without spending thirty grand or more for a hybrid car, motorcycles are notoriously unstable so that the risk of laying one’s bike down when suddenly confronted by road hazards is very real.  When riding a motorcycle, minor defects in the pavement or slight errors by other drivers who fail to check blind spots or pay attention may lead to horrific accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries including serious head and neck injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord damage and other serious injuries that may cause such permanent disabilities as limb amputation, paralysis, impaired sensation and mental functioning, loss of mobility and all too often wrongful death.

There has been minimal progress in reducing the risk of serious Kansas motorcycle accidents posed to motorcycle enthusiast as a fatal motorcycle accident in Dexter KS on Sunday makes apparent.  Most people with even a passing awareness of the physics and handling of motorcycles know that they are much less stable than other motor vehicles.  The fatal motorcycle accident this weekend was not caused by a drunk driver or damaged roadway; it was the result of a strong gust of wind.  The victim, a thirty year old airman, apparently lost control of his motorcycle when he emerged into an area experiencing strong winds.  Reports indicate that the wind gusts may have reached 45 mph.

While weather may play a role in many types of motor vehicle accidents in Kansas, it is extremely unlikely that wind would exert such a force on a passenger car, pickup truck or SUV that it would result in the driver losing control of the his or her vehicle.  Motorcycle riders are simply more vulnerable because of a number of inherent design characteristics including:

  • They are considerably smaller than other motor vehicles making them hard to see.
  • Motorcycles weigh far less than passenger vehicles so they do not hold up in an accident.
  • The two-wheeled design of motorcycles makes them prone to tipping.
  • A bike is affected far more significantly by minor road defects.
  • A motorcyclist has virtually no margin for error.
  • Motorcycles offer no structural protection and none of the safety equipment found in a passenger vehicle.

Under the best circumstances, Kansas roadways can be extremely dangerous even in a passenger vehicle.  Drivers of all types of motor vehicles may be involved in a serious Kansas motor vehicle accident caused by any of the following:

  • Inattentive drivers
  • Aggressive drivers
  • Drunk drivers
  • Drivers who do not obey traffic laws
  • Bad weather (i.e. rain and snow)
  • Poorly built or maintained highways
  • Overtired or fatigued motorists

If a person rides a motorcycle the risk posed by these types of hazards are amplified substantially.  It only makes matters worse that a person riding a motorcycle in Kansas must worry about a whole litany of risks that would be insignificant if one were operating a passenger vehicle.  Minor potholes, strong winds and a driver who starts to change lanes without looking may be barely noticeable to someone in a passenger vehicle but deadly to someone on a motorcycle.  Because head injuries are the leading cause of fatalities in motorcycle accidents, it is imperative that every rider wears a helmet.

If you have been seriously injured of have lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, the Wichita, Kansas law firm of Cummings and Cummings is devoted to providing families with the highest quality legal services.  Our Kansas motorcycle accident attorneys have over thirty years of combined experience handling serious motorcycle accidents in Wichita and throughout Sedgewick County as well as the surrounding south-central Kansas area.  We offer a free initial case evaluation so call us today at 316-264-1548.