How Can an Omaha Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help?
- No fees unless we win your motorcycle accident case
- 100% free consultation
- Millions recovered for accident victims
Motorcycles embody an escape from the mundane for many people, as well as the opportunity to be more attuned to nature while still on a motor vehicle. A motorcyclist is able to feel the wind in his hair and rays of the sun beating off of his shoulders, and must acclimate to any change in weather. A car driver, on the other hand, does not have to acclimate to much else, aside from an increased sense of caution in severe weather. However, along with this freedom on the road comes an increased possibility of severe accidents. Motorcyclists are unfortunately at the bottom end of noticeable vehicles on the road, and many car drivers often switch lanes or merge into traffic without noticing a smaller motorcycle. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, speak with an Omaha motorcycle accident attorney as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact the Knowles Law Firm for a free initial case review.
Why Choose Us?
- We have successfully recovered tens of millions of dollars for past clients.
- We have more than six decades of combined legal experience.
- We focus our resources and energy exclusively on personal injury law.
- We can handle all insurance claim communications on your behalf.
- We take Omaha motorcycle accident claims on a contingency fee basis.
Nebraska Motorcycle Accidents
While the number of bicycle accidents remains relatively low, the number of motorcycle accidents has skyrocketed over the years. In 1990, only six fatalities were recorded in Nebraska due to motorcycle accidents. Thirty-four (34) fatalities were recorded due to motorcycle accidents in 2020. The number of injuries caused by motorcycle accidents has remained about the same from 1990 to 2020, although it did taper off dramatically in the late 1990s. Approximately 500 people are injured in motorcycle accidents in Nebraska each year. Again, similar to bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents often lead to an increased chance of serious injury for the motorcyclist, since motorcycles offer little to no protection for the driver. It is a telling sign that out of approximately 550 motorcycle accidents, 500 of those accidents resulted in injuries. The car accident statistics are often far different, as many more car accidents in Omaha occur which more often result in property damage (rather than injuries).
Many motorcycle accidents are caused by the negligence of a car or truck driver who did not carefully look in all directions before switching lanes or pulling out into an intersection. Many of these drivers are only looking for other motor vehicles that are the same size as their own, and do not necessarily register the fact that there may be smaller vehicles on the road, such as motorcycles. This type of negligent behavior can lead to years of rehabilitation therapy or even the loss of life.
What Are Some Motorcycle Accident Facts?
Motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic for victims due to the inherent nature of these vehicles. A motorcycle is more vulnerable to factors such as speed, weather, road conditions, and mechanical defects than a larger vehicle. Motorcycles are also less crashworthy. Even while wearing a helmet, a motorcyclist could suffer serious injuries to the face, head, skull, and brain when ejected from a motorcycle. Furthermore, it takes special skills and experience to correctly operate a motorcycle. Unlicensed and inexperienced riders are more likely to crash.
Motorcycle crash studies have found the majority of these accidents (about 61%) involve collisions with other vehicles, rather than single-vehicle accidents. In about two-thirds of multi-vehicle motorcycle collisions, the other driver violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. Mechanical failures cause about 3% of motorcycle accidents, while roadway defects cause about 2%. Motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in car accidents than drivers. In 2019, almost 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives in traffic accidents. The main cause of motorcycle accidents is inattention/negligence on the part of motorists.
What Are Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
One thing that makes most motorcycle accident claims different from standard car accident cases is the severity of the injuries involved. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often result in very serious to catastrophic injuries due to the unprotected nature of the rider. In personal injury law, a catastrophic injury is one that will have long-term consequences for a victim, such as a permanent disability, the loss of an important bodily function, or lasting scarring or disfigurement. Examples of catastrophic injuries are paralysis and the loss of a limb.
Some of the more common injuries suffered by motorcycle riders and their passengers in traffic accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Even with a motorcycle helmet on, a rider could strike his or her head in an accident hard enough to cause a traumatic brain injury. A motorcyclist’s head hitting the asphalt in an accident, for example, could jolt the brain and damage its tissues and cells. Common types of brain injuries are concussions, diffuse-axonal injuries, coup-contrecoup injuries, edemas (swelling), and hemorrhage (bleeding).
- Broken bones: A bone will fracture or break in an accident if enough pressure is exerted on it. Broken bones are common motorcycle accident injuries, especially in the legs, feet, arms, wrists, ribs, and skulls. A rider striking the ground or the other vehicle at a high speed can cause multiple or compound bone fractures. Broken bones are painful injuries that can result in temporary or permanent disability.
- Muscle damage: The muscles in the body may stretch, pull or tear in a motorcycle accident. This can lead to pain, swelling, bruising, a lack of mobility in the affected limb, and temporary disability while the muscle heals. Other soft-tissue injuries are also common, such as pulled tendons and damaged ligaments.
- Spinal cord injuries: An injury to any part of the spine can cause paralysis or a loss of feeling and motor function. There is no known cure for paralysis. Paraplegia is paralysis from the waist down, while quadriplegia is paralysis from the neck down. Even minor back and neck injuries, such as whiplash or a herniated disc, can be painful and cause temporary disability.
- Burns or road rash.: If a motorcycle accident results in a vehicle fire, the motorcyclist could suffer severe burn injuries. Another common soft-tissue injury in a motorcycle accident is road rash, where the skin suffers abrasions caused by friction from contact with the asphalt. A motorcyclist’s unprotected skin scraping across a hard surface can lead to road rash, permanent scarring, and traumatic tattooing.
- Amputations: An amputation, or loss of limb, could result from a motorcycle accident in Omaha, either traumatically or medically. If the motorcyclist’s arm gets trapped beneath a car, for example, it could cause traumatic amputation or a loss of the limb at the scene of the accident. In other cases, an injury to a limb or digit could be too severe for doctors to repair, resulting in the need for a medical amputation to save the motorcyclist’s life.
- Internal injuries. The internal organs are susceptible to injuries in a motorcycle accident. A broken rib could puncture a lung, for example, or the motorcyclist could get run over by a car, resulting in crush injuries and internal bleeding. Internal injuries may not show symptoms right away and can be difficult to diagnose. They can cause permanent organ damage and, in many cases, death.
Some motorcycle accidents result in wrongful death. Wrongful death is the loss of life due to someone else’s wrongful act, neglect or default (omission). At The Knowles Law Firm, our Omaha wrongful death attorneys represent surviving family members in these types of lawsuits to pursue justice and financial compensation for surviving loved ones. If you lost a loved one in Omaha in a fatal motorcycle crash, we may be able to help you hold someone else responsible.
Who Is Liable In An Omaha Motorcycle Accident?
The liable party for a motorcycle accident depends on its proximate cause. The person or entity behind the main cause of the motorcycle accident will be accountable for damages. After a serious motorcycle accident, it may take help from an attorney to identify the defendant. One or more parties could owe you and your family compensation for causing the preventable collision and your related damages.
- A motor vehicle driver. If you suffered injuries in a collision with a drunk, drugged, fatigued, distracted, reckless or negligent motorist, the driver could be liable for your losses. You may find proof of driver negligence in photographs, cellphone records, police reports or eyewitness statements.
- A motorcycle manufacturer. If a defective or malfunctioning motorcycle part contributed to your accident or injuries, the product’s manufacturer may absorb liability. Strict liability laws may prevent you from having to prove negligence to hold the manufacturer accountable.
- A road owner. If a dangerous defect in the road, such as a pothole or unsafe construction zone, caused your motorcycle to wreck, the owner may be liable. This could be a private party or, more likely, the government. Claims against the City of Omaha have different rules for filing, so work with an attorney for assistance.
In Nebraska, state law (Revised Statute 25-21,185.10) says more than one defendant could be jointly and severally liable for a victim’s damages. Multiple defendants may have to pay you for the full amount of your economic damages and a portion of your non-economic damages, according to each party’s percentage of fault. An accident attorney from The Knowles Law Firm can help you identify the defendant(s) that may owe you compensation and hold them responsible for your recent motorcycle accident.
Insurance Companies’ Bias Against Motorcyclists
The last thing you might expect as a motorcyclist who is already dealing with painful injuries and expensive medical bills is being treated unfairly by an automobile insurance company during your accident claim. Yet this is exactly the experience that many motorcyclists have in Nebraska, due to insurance company biases against motorcyclists. Many motorcyclists run into challenges when trying to obtain fair financial compensation from insurance companies for no valid reason. Insurers are already likely to try to reject claims to try to save money on payouts. They are even more likely to mistreat a client, however, who was riding a motorcycle at the time of the wreck.
Despite an insurance company’s responsibility to help victims recover financial compensation after accidents, inherent biases can lead to the mistreatment of a motorcyclist client – and a rejected or devalued (underpaid) claim. Insurance providers often take the stance that motorcyclists assume a certain amount of risk just by choosing to operate these vehicles. This means that an insurance company may be less inclined to offer fair financial compensation for a victim’s injuries and medical bills if he or she is a motorcyclist – just because the biker allegedly “assumed the risk” of suffering serious injuries by choosing this mode of transportation.
An insurance company may also argue that the motorcyclist failed to mitigate his or her losses (minimize injuries) by failing to use the proper safety gear, such as a helmet or riding jacket. This could reduce the amount of financial compensation available to the victim based on Nebraska’s comparative negligence rule. It would not be fair to use this defense, however, if the motorcyclist most likely would have suffered the same injuries regardless of the safety equipment used.
Finally, an insurance company might try to avoid paying a claim entirely by blaming the injured motorcyclist for the crash. Insurance companies often view motorcyclists as risk-takers and rulebreakers – the type of road user who is more likely to speed, run red lights and ride recklessly. It does not matter if you did not engage in any of these behaviors leading up to your motorcycle accident; an insurance company may be biased against you from the beginning, regardless of your actual driving history or the circumstances of the wreck.
How Can You Defend Yourself Against an Insurance Company?
It is important to combat an insurance company’s biases against motorcyclists by hiring an attorney to represent you. An Omaha personal injury lawyer can help you overcome bias to get the financial compensation that you deserve, such as by gathering evidence to prove that the other driver is at fault. A lawyer will protect your legal rights and interests throughout the claims process, fighting for maximum compensation – even if this means taking your case to trial in Omaha.
If you become a victim of an insurance company’s bad faith, an attorney can also help you file a lawsuit against the insurer. A bad-faith lawsuit can hold an insurance company accountable for mistreating a client or mishandling a claim. If the insurer wrongfully blamed you for the crash and denied your claim, for instance, a bad-faith lawsuit could result in compensation for your original claim as well as an additional amount to penalize the insurance company.
With the right lawyer by your side, you can go up against an auto insurance company in Omaha to fight for the recovery that you need to move forward. In many cases, simply hiring an attorney is enough to motivate an insurance company to treat a claimant more fairly and improve settlement offers. Insurance companies know that attorneys have the power to go to trial – an expensive legal process that insurers wish to avoid. This will make them more willing to reach a settlement with the injured motorcyclist.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycles offer little protection to the larger motor vehicles, and therefore motorcyclists are more prone to serious injuries even in relatively small accidents. The recovery time for these injuries can vary, but often require weeks of medical care. As a victim of a motorcycle injury, you should not be forced to cover your medical expenses in addition to lost wages due to your injuries. The responsible party should be held accountable for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can assist you in walking through the claim amounts, which typically include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
An experienced personal injury attorney will help you calculate the amount in damages that you are entitled to now and in the future. It is therefore important that you not settle with an insurance agent shortly after the accident. An insurance agent for the responsible party will often attempt to coerce you into signing a settlement agreement. However, any settlement may negate your ability to bring a claim later, and settlements will most likely only include your pressing financial needs. Settlements often do not factor in ongoing medical care, lost wages, and ongoing emotional repercussions.
Do I Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Nebraska?
Nebraska is one of 19 states that have a universal motorcycle helmet law (Nebraska Revised Statute Section 60-6,279). This means the law requires all motorcyclists in the state to wear a helmet, regardless of age and insurance status. Motorcycle helmets used must be legal, meaning they must be approved by a safety organization such as the Department of Transportation. A helmet should also fit the motorcyclist’s head snugly and correctly and be secured with a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion.
Failing to properly wear a motorcycle helmet in Nebraska can result in a ticket being issued to the motorcyclist. If you get into an accident while not wearing a motorcycle helmet in Nebraska, this may also impact your ability to recover financial compensation from the other driver.
How Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Can Affect Your Claim
The helmet defense is a dispute against liability for a motorcyclist’s injuries due to the argument that the injuries would have been prevented had he or she been wearing a helmet. Not all states allow for the helmet defense, but it is a usable defense in Nebraska. If the defendant can prove that your injuries most likely would have been prevented or diminished had you been obeying Nebraska’s laws by wearing a helmet, this could reduce your financial recovery by your percentage of fault under Nebraska’s comparative negligence rule.
Whether or not this defense applies depends largely on the nature of your injuries and whether the other driver can be held responsible for them:
- Head and brain injuries. The helmet defense is most common when a motorcyclist is claiming compensation for head and brain injuries. If you are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and the defense can prove that a helmet would have prevented the injury with at least a 51 percent certainty, this could reduce or take away your financial recovery.
- Neck injuries. Neck injuries are in a bit of a gray area, as a helmet can sometimes, but not always, prevent neck injuries in motorcycle accidents. In some cases, a helmet can keep the head and neck aligned in an accident and diminish the force of the impact, reducing or preventing a neck injury. In other cases, the motorcyclist would have sustained the injury even with a helmet.
- Bodily injuries. The helmet defense most likely cannot be used to avoid liability for a motorcyclist’s bodily injuries. Broken bones, lacerations, bruising or road rash on areas other than the head could not reasonably be prevented by wearing a helmet. Therefore, the motorcyclist will still be able to seek full financial compensation for his or her injuries.
Do not assume that you are ineligible for financial compensation if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident while you were not wearing a helmet. In Nebraska, your comparative negligence and even the fact that you broke the state’s motorcycle helmet will not bar you from financial compensation, as long as your percentage of fault is less than the total negligence of all defendants. However, it could reduce your financial recovery by your degree of fault.
For example, if failing to wear a helmet places 25 percent of the fault for your injury with you, a $100,000 settlement would be reduced by 25 percent to $75,000. If your lack of helmet wearing places the majority share of fault with you for an injury that you are claiming, you will be unable to hold the defendant liable for that injury. You may still be eligible for compensation for injuries to other parts of your body, however. An attorney at Knowles Law Firm can determine what role the helmet defense might play in your motorcycle accident case, if any.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Work fast to bring a claim after a harmful motorcycle accident in Nebraska. The state has a strict statute of limitations or deadlines to file. If your lawyer does not file your paperwork by this deadline, the courts will most likely dismiss your case. The statute of limitations on a personal injury claim in Nebraska is four years from the date of the accident or discovery of an injury. If a family member died in a motorcycle collision, you have two years from the date of passing to file a wrongful death claim. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you meet your deadline.
The Knowles Law Firm | Omaha, Nebraska
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to contact the injury attorneys at the Knowles Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in assisting our clients with motorcycle accident claims. We understand that this may be one of the most serious injuries you have ever faced, and we want to help you every step of the way until you reach full recovery.
Contact our Omaha, Nebraska office today for your initial free consultation and put our experience to work for you.