Motorcycle accidents remain a serious problem in Central Washington. According to the most recent data from the Washington State Department of Transportation, 2,208 motorcyclists were injured and 73 were killed in accidents in the state in 2015.
As motorcyclists are inherently exposed to certain dangers, nearly any motorcycle wreck has the potential to be catastrophic. Indeed, a biker is nearly 35 times more likely to sustain serious injuries in an accident than is a driver of a full-sized vehicle.
Why do motorcycle crashes occur? There are a number of different reasons. Here, our top-rated Yakima motorcycle accident lawyers discuss some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents in Washington.
What are the Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
- Unsafe Lane Changes By Other Drivers
With motorcycle accidents, perhaps the single biggest issue is unsafe lane changes being made by other drivers. In far too many cases, drivers merge into lanes in which a motorcycle is already present. This generally happens when a careless or inattentive driver fails to check their mirrors and/or fails to turn their head and they completely miss the presence of a motorcycle. These crashes are especially dangerous because they can occur on highways and at relatively high rates of speed.
- Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
Nearly half of all accidents that involve a full-sized car and a motorcycle occur when the car is making a left-hand turn. This is a dangerous situation for a motorcycle. Similar to unsafe lane change accidents, too many drivers fail to recognize the motorcycle’s presence. Distracted drivers — who may be barely paying attention to the road — often do not see an oncoming motorcycle.
- Inattentive People Opening Car Doors
Inattentive drivers (and backseat passengers) must also be careful when opening car doors in many urban and suburban environments. If the occupant fails to check behind them and they open the vehicle’s door directly into an oncoming motorcycle, it could result in a very serious accident.
- Speeding (Driving Too Fast for Road Conditions)
Speeding is another major cause of motorcycle accidents. Notably, drivers and motorcyclists must always adjust their speed for the current road and weather conditions. In a place like Yakima — where adverse weather is far from rare — poor road conditions can be very dangerous for motorcyclists who are travelling too fast. Bikers need to slow down to a safe speed.
- Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle travels in between the center of rows of stopped traffic or slow moving traffic. It can be a risky practice, as many drivers do not expect to be passed by a motorcycle through the space in between the lanes. In contrast to some other states such as California, motorcycle lane splitting is not permitted in Washington. Bikers in Washington should avoid lane splitting.
- Road Hazards
A road hazard can be dangerous for any vehicle. Though, motorcycles are especially susceptible to road hazard accidents. A relatively small hazard in the road has the potential to topple a bike or to throw the motorcyclist off of their bike. In road hazard accident cases, the person or entity responsible for the hazard — potentially including construction companies, trucking companies, and even government entities — may be legally liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries.
Multi-Vehicle Motorcycles Wrecks: Other Motorists are More Likely to Be at Fault
Motorcyclists face certain adverse stereotypes. They are often portrayed as ‘risk-takers’, ‘thrill-seekers’, or ‘rebels’. As a result, some people falsely believed that motorcyclists are more likely to cause accidents than other motorists. This is wrong.
In fact, the exact opposite is true. As was noted in the ‘Hurt Report’ — the most comprehensive motorcycle accident causation study in United States history — motorcyclists are less likely to be at fault for multi-vehicle collisions than are the drivers of full-sized automobiles.
Indeed, when a multi-vehicle crash occurs and a motorcycle is involved, the fundamental cause of the collision is often a driver simply failing to notice the presence of a motorcycle. Our law firm helps motorcycle accident victims fight back against unjust stereotypes, so that they get access to the full and fair financial compensation that they rightfully deserve.
Were You Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Yakima?
We can help. At Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, we represent motorcycle accident victims in personal injury claims. Please contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. From our office in Yakima, we represent motorcycle accident victims throughout Central Washington, including in Benton County, Kittitas County, and Klickitat County.