Pittsburgh Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in death than those accidents involving trucks and cars. Motorcyclists don’t have the added protection of being surrounded by a metal cabin as drivers and passengers of other vehicles do. Their vehicles have only two wheels, are much smaller than other vehicles, and are less visible to other drivers on the road. Motorcyclists and their passengers are also more vulnerable to the hazards of weather and road conditions.
Because of the risks involved, motorcycle riders are more susceptible to head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and death than drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 5,014 motorcyclists died in motorcycle crashes in 2019. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that an estimated 84,000 were injured that year, and that motorcyclist fatalities occurred nearly 29 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities in traffic crashes.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that motorcycle fatalities increased from 174 in 2019 to 217 in 2020 in the state.
The personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana represent individuals who are seriously injured in motorcycle accidents and their families. If you or someone you care about is injured in a motorcycle accident in the Ohio Valley area, contact our Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Call today at 1-888-480-1123.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Pittsburgh
A motorcycle may get into an accident for a wide variety of reasons. Below are some of the most common causes of these accidents.
The NHTSA reports that in 2019, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than drivers of any other motor vehicle type (29 percent for motorcycles, 20 percent for passenger cars, 19 percent for light trucks, and 2 percent for large trucks). Forty-two percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2019 were alcohol-impaired.
Likewise, alcohol can be a factor in a vehicle operators negligence in causing a motorcycle crash.
Riding a motorcycle is thrilling, and can be even more so when traveling at fast speeds. The NHTSA reports that in 2019, 33 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 19 percent of passenger car drivers. Those 21-to-24 years old had the highest speeding involvement at 49 percent.
Of course, other drivers often speed as well. The NHTSA states that in 2019, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Inexperience or Recklessness
Surprisingly, the NHTSA states that in 2019, 33 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were riding without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the crashes. They were also 1.4 times more likely than passenger car drivers to have previous license suspensions or revocations.
Scientific studies have also indicated that young, inexperienced drivers of motor vehicles are more likely to be involved in traffic crashes than those who are older and more experienced. These drivers can present risks to motorcyclists on the road.
Both motorcycle riders and car drivers can be affected by distracted driving. If either one is texting, searching the internet, or otherwise distracted, an accident may result. The NHTSA reports that distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. According to a 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, nearly 40 percent of motorcycle accidents involve a distracted or inattentive driver.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Bad weather and dangerous road conditions increase risks for everyone on the road. Motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable. Something that a car could recover from could prove fatal for a motorcyclist. Examples include ice on the road, slippery surfaces, uneven pavement, loose gravel, or debris on the road. Because motorcycles are smaller with less stability, they can easily become unbalanced in these conditions and crash.
Cars Making Sudden Changes and Left-Hand Turns
Motorcycles who come across cars making left-hand turns are automatically in danger. The turning car may not see the motorcyclist. Should the rider try to go straight through the intersection, pass the car, or overtake it, and the car suddenly turns left, the rider would be hit.
Cars often make errors in judgment when making turns and lane changes as well. They may fail to signal or miscalculate the distance of another vehicle from them. They often fail to check their blind spots before making changes, and may mistakenly turn into a passing motorcycle.
Crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles are common. If they meet head-to-head, it can be extremely dangerous and often deadly for the motorcyclist. The motorcycle may be crushed or thrown through the air. These accidents frequently occur at high speeds, increasing the chances of severe injury.
Because of their smaller size, motorcycle drivers may choose to drive between two lanes of cars, particularly during traffic jams. This practice can easily cause an accident. The motorcycles are very close to the vehicles and have less maneuvering space. The cars aren’t expecting the motorcycles to pass them, or may not see them approaching.
When motorcyclists are going down city and town roads, they often ride close to parked vehicles. If someone is in one of those vehicles, they may open the door in the motorcyclist’s path without realizing the cyclist is there.
If a vehicle makes a sudden stop, the motorcyclist may run into the back of the car. This can result in serious injury and/or death to the motorcyclist. On the other hand, the driver of another vehicle may follow the motorcyclist too close and then run into the motorcyclist if they have to stop.
Motorists Don’t See Motorcyclists
Perhaps the most common cause of accidents between cars or trucks and motorcycles is the fact that the motorist simply doesn’t see the motorcyclist. Because motorcycles are small and narrow, they are easy to miss. Obstructions on the road, glare from the sun, or a simple lack of focused attention can mean the difference between detecting the motorcyclist and failing to notice them.
In some cases, the motorcycle may be found to have defects that contributed to the accident. This may include a poor design or a manufacturing flaw that caused the motorcycle to respond abnormally.
In cases involving serious injuries and fatalities, the Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyers at Chaffin Luhana LLP work with experts to examine the evidence to determine exactly what happened and why. Our Motorcycle attorneys will dig beneath the surface of the accident to figure out who is at fault and will then work tirelessly to expose any wrongdoing.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle accident victims rarely walk away from an accident unharmed. Potential injuries sustained may include:
- Spinal cord damage
- Brain injuries or other head injuries
- Internal organ damage or bleeding
- Broken bones
- Burns and road rash
- Neck injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
How to Select a Motorcycle Attorney in Pittsburgh For Your Motorcycle Accident
If you were in a motorcycle accident, you need someone on your side. There are many lawyers out there. How do you choose? It’s often best to do your research online first, ask for referrals, and gradually narrow your list down to 3-5 firms. Then meet with each one to discuss your case. Most will offer a free initial consultation, so this is an easy way to explore your options.
Bring any relevant documents, photos, and videos with you to the meeting. Then look for the lawyer who:
- Has experience with cases like yours, and can talk knowledgeably about how to proceed. Note too their ability to communicate well with you. You want someone who will take the time to listen and speak in language (not jargon) you can understand.
- Speak with you candidly about your case and your chances for success.
- Answer your questions and offer information about their experience with motorcycle accidents and their case success rate.
- Has trial experience. Though most motorcycle accident cases will end in settlement, it can help to have a legal firm with trial experience as their reputation will encourage insurance companies to offer a fair settlement.
- Works on a contingency basis. Look for an attorney who works on a contingency basis, which means they don’t get paid unless you win your case. Ask about fee policies so you know exactly what to expect.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
Over $4 Million Recovery
“I was very pleased with the representation that I received for my case. I had a positive experience with this firm and I would recommend your firm to my family and friends.”
– Judy R., Product Liability Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“[The firm has] done right [by] me. You did everything right. Informing me and keeping me up to date. You did a fine job. I appreciate you very much.”
– Roger J., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I didn’t know what to expect since I never needed an attorney before. You took care of everything and were there for me.”
– Vicki B., Personal Injury Client
Here are some recent reviews from our clients
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In general, motorcyclists have the same rights and duties as other motor vehicle drivers in Pennsylvania. The state has passed some laws, however, that are specifically designed to protect motorcyclists. These include the following:
- License requirements: Motorcyclists must have a valid driver’s license with a Class M designation, or have a valid motorcycle permit when riding with an approved supervisory rider. Not having such a license could hurt your case in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
- Helmet laws: Pennsylvania requires most motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets approved by the state Department of Transportation (DOT). There are some exceptions. Those operating a 3-wheeled motorcycle equipped with a closed cab, those 21 years of age and older who've been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least 2 years, and those 21 years of age and older who have completed a motorcycle rider safety course approved by the DOT are not required to wear a helmet.
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting is prohibited in Pennsylvania.
- Insurance: All motorcyclists are required to carry liability insurance.
In addition, there is one significant difference between the insurance offered for automobile drivers and that offered to motorcycle drivers.
Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” state. The law requires automobile insurance policies to offer no-fault, "first-party" benefits to customers, which include a minimum of $5,000 in medical benefits. The law does not, however, require the same benefits in motorcycle policies. Instead, the first-party benefits are optional.
Motorcyclists can choose no-fault insurance, and then may not be able to sue negligent motorists for non-economic damages (like pain and suffering), or they can avoid the no-fault insurance and choose to have the option to sue for non-economic damages.
In the case of an accident, your ability to recover damages will depend on who was at fault. Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative fault rule, which means that if you were more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover damages. If you are less than 50 percent, you can claim damages from the at-fault party.
When is it best to settle? This is a common question in a motorcycle accident case. Your motorcycle accident attorney can best guide you. Realize that insurance companies do not care about you—they care about their bottom lines. They may offer you an initial settlement that is less than what you deserve. In that case, it's better to refuse it and make a counteroffer.
Each case is unique and only you and your motorcycle accident attorney can decide if the settlement offer is fair for your situation.
As a motorcycle passenger, you can seek damages from the at-fault party, even if that party was the motorcycle operator. It may also have been the other car involved or both. You may also be able to bring a products liability claim against the motorcycle manufacturer if some sort of defect or fault in the bike caused the accident.
You should take the same steps as the operator after the accident: get medical attention, and record any evidence you possibly can. Take pictures, write down your version of what happened, and ask for witness contact information. Then contact a motorcycle accident attorney for more help.
A motorcycle passenger claim proceeds much the same as a passenger claim in a car accident. You would file with the insurers of all at-fault parties. If the motorcycle operator has a no-fault policy, you may also file a claim for medical bills and lost earnings with that insurer.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to the following types of compensation. Keep in mind that it can be confusing sometimes to determine with which insurance carrier you should file a claim. Your motorcycle accident attorney can guide you.
- Medical expenses: These include costs for medical bills related to any injuries you sustained in the accident. They may also include costs for occupational therapy and rehabilitation and transportation costs to and from medical and therapy appointments.
- Lost wages/profits: If you miss time from work because of your accident-related injuries, you may be entitled to recover those lost wages or profits.
- Property damages: If your vehicle or motorcycle was damaged in the accident and you were not at fault, you may be able to recover costs for repairing or replacing the damaged vehicles or any gear that was ruined in the accident.
Pain and suffering: If you experienced pain and emotional anguish after an accident, you may be eligible for compensation for it. It will depend on the evidence you have to prove it, and how much your quality of life is affected. Possible reasons for recovery may include severe or chronic pain caused by your injuries, mental and physical stresses placed on you and your family, psychological damages, and emotional trauma.
When looking for a motorcycle accident attorney, start with referrals from friends and family. Follow up with a Google search to gather more information and to examine the law firm’s reputation online. You can also search lawyer directories like those at FindLaw, Avvo, and the Motorcycle Legal Foundation. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, schedule initial consultations with each of your remaining law firms. These should be free.
At Chaffin Luhana, we know what it takes to fight for your rights. We have years of experience with motorcycle accident cases, and we also know how insurance companies may try to take advantage of you. We are extremely skilled in gathering evidence to support your claim, and will thoroughly investigate the scene of the accident while gathering other information including police reports, medical records, eyewitness and expert testimony, and information on any potential motorcycle manufacturing defects.
Our job isn’t simply to win your case, though that’s important. We work to help you get back to enjoying your life as best you can. Call us today at 1-888-480-1123 to schedule a complimentary consultation.