Do you need a CT motorcycle accident lawyer? Whether you’ve recently been in an accident or want to have a lawyer’s number just in case, here are some things you should know about motorcycle accidents in Connecticut and how a lawyer may be able to help you.
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Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Some common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Car Doors Opening: Drivers sometimes open the doors of parked cars, directly into the path of oncoming motorcycles. You can reduce this risk by driving further away from parked cars.
- Defective Components: Defective components on motorcycles can cause accidents or even deaths. In some cases, manufacturers can be liable for damages caused by faulty parts, especially if drivers have no reasonable way to know there was an issue with the component in question.
- Impaired Driving: Drugs, alcohol, medication, and other substances can cause impaired driving and lead to accidents.
- Lane Splitting: Lane splitting is the practice of driving roughly between two lanes of traffic, often to bypass other vehicles by taking advantage of a motorcycle’s small size and maneuverability. This practice is illegal in Connecticut.
- Left Turns: Left turns are dangerous, and research proves it. Mistakes on things like right-of-way result in many accidents, especially when turning into lanes with potential oncoming traffic.
- Poor Driving: Poor driving skills can result in unexpected actions on the road. Poor driving is especially common with new and younger drivers, who don’t yet have the experience to know how to drive in various situations.
- Road Conditions: Poor road conditions, such as snow, potholes, and debris, can lead directly to motorcycle accidents. Notably, many motorcycles are more vulnerable to the effects of poor road conditions than other vehicles. If you expect poor conditions, it may be better to use a different vehicle.
- Speeding: Speeding is a significant factor in most types of collisions. The faster vehicles are going, the more difficult it can be to respond to them, especially if one vehicle is going much faster than others in the area.
- Sudden Stops: Sudden and unexpected stops can result in rear-end collisions. It’s possible to mitigate this by not driving too close to other vehicles.
- Unsafe Lane Changes: Drivers can move their vehicle directly into a motorcycle when making lane changes. This is most common if they fail to signal lane changes or check their blind spots before they move.
As you can see, many things can cause an accident if you’re driving a motorcycle in Connecticut.
What to Do If You’ve Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
If you’re a motorcycle driver and end up in a collision, follow these guidelines.
Step One: Get To Safety
Your first job is to get to safety as soon as possible, which means out of traffic. If your motorcycle is still in good working order, pull it over to the side of the road. If your motorcycle is significantly damaged or you’re separated from it during the crash, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety instead.
Moving your motorcycle if you’re separated from it can compromise evidence and worsen injuries. Abandoning your vehicle can feel unpleasant, but it’s better to accept the damage and focus on your safety.
Step Two: Keep Your Gear On
Do not attempt to remove your helmet, your jacket, or any other protective equipment. Many riders try removing their helmets after an accident, but doing that can worsen head or spine injuries. Let a medical professional decide if and when to remove your gear.
Step Three: Call 911
Call 911 as soon as you’re safe and it’s possible to do so. If you can’t do this yourself, ask someone else to do it. Try to speak directly with 911 so you can report your injuries. This will give them a better sense of what to expect when they arrive on the scene.
Step Four: Calm Yourself
After a collision, you’re probably going to be in shock and may have a hard time focusing. Distress, trembling, agitation, and confusion are all common. Try to take deep breaths and calm yourself as much as possible. Assess your mental and physical condition as best you can. If you don’t think you can wait for 911 to arrive, try to communicate your condition to anyone nearby.
Step Five: Gather Evidence
If possible, try to gather evidence from the scene. Take pictures or videos of the scene, even if it’s a single-vehicle accident, and get as much unbiased documentation as possible. Details like skid marks, signs, the position of the sun, and obstructions can all be relevant to a case.
Step Six: Talk With The Police
You will almost definitely end up speaking with the police at some point. In most cases, this is at the scene of the accident. However, if you’re hurt too much, emergency personnel may take you to the hospital, and the police will talk to you later.
Be honest and upfront, but do not admit fault in the accident until you’ve spoken with your insurance company and an attorney. If you have photographs or videos of the scene, give copies of these to the police.
Step Seven: Talk To An Attorney
Once the police or emergency personnel clear you, contact a CT motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney can talk with your insurance company, help you avoid accepting low settlement offers, and help determine the real cause of the accident.
Remember, many motorcycle accidents are more complicated than they may seem. Details like driver intoxication, faulty parts, and unmarked road conditions could all contribute.
Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Common injuries from motorcycle accidents include:
- Broken ribs
- Broken or amputated limbs
- Internal or external bleeding
- Organ damage
- Road rash
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
National Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Exact statistics vary slightly from year to year, and it takes time to compile the information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states:
- Motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely to die than passenger car occupants in a traffic crash
- Thirty-six percent of riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 didn’t have a valid license
- Motorcyclists were more likely than any other group to be drunk when in a fatal accident
- Motorcyclists are most likely to be involved in fatal crashes in urban areas, on roads that aren’t at intersections, in clear weather, and during the day.
CT Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Connecticut typically sees a few dozen fatalities each year on motorcycles, with 68 motorcycle riders dying in 2021. Many riders in Connecticut are reluctant to wear helmets while on bikes, which is another contributing factor.
It’s worth noting that courts and insurance companies may see the refusal to wear a helmet as a contributing factor in injuries, which can tilt their opinion against you. Wearing a helmet cannot guarantee your safety during a collision, but statistically, it is much safer to wear one.
Connecticut Motorcycle Laws Overview
Unlike some states, Connecticut does not have a distinct license for driving a motorcycle. Instead, you can legally drive one if you have a standard license with a motorcycle endorsement.
Obtaining the endorsement generally involves paying a fee for the test, passing a test, and completing a training course. It’s also possible to get a learner’s permit for riding a motorcycle with specific restrictions.
Under Section 14-289g of state law, riders under eighteen must wear a helmet while on the bike. The law also requires people using a training permit to wear a helmet.
Section 14-289d covers vision protection. If a motorcycle has a windshield on it, that suffices. If not, you need to wear goggles, glasses, a face shield, or an appropriate equivalent.
Drivers with a learner’s permit and anyone who’s received a motorcycle endorsement less than 90 days ago cannot have passengers. Drivers under 18 cannot have passengers until six months after obtaining the motorcycle endorsement.
Once you can carry a passenger, you must have a distinct seat meant for the passenger on the bike. Attachments, like sidecars, are also acceptable.
Motorcycles cannot share a traffic lane, pass another vehicle in the same traffic lane, or drive between existing lanes. Motorcyclists must have liability insurance.
Beyond these laws, the general rules of the road and any other relevant legislation passed by appropriate government entities apply. Specific cities and counties may have additional laws governing the use of motorcycles, so make sure to check the local rules before you start riding one.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Here are some quick tips for staying safe on the road.
Tip 1: Wear A Helmet
While some people don’t like wearing helmets, and state law doesn’t require that most people do so, it’s always better to have a proper helmet on. This is also important if you plan to go across state lines. For example, New York requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, so you must wear one if you want to ride there during your trip.
Tip 2: Take A Safety Course
Safety courses can help you learn helpful defensive riding skills. These are particularly valuable for new motorcyclists. Taking safety courses may also benefit your case if you get into a collision. If you have a documented history of safety training, it may be possible to argue that no rider could reasonably avoid the situation you were in.
Tip 3: Wear Safety Gear
Safety gear for riding a motorcycle can significantly reduce your risk of injury in a collision. Beyond helmets, safety gear should include a jacket, pants, shoes or boots, and gloves for whole-body coverage.
Tip 4: Be More Visible
While sleek black outfits may look cool, they can also make it much harder to see you. Wearing brighter colors that stand out from the surrounding area and putting reflective tape on your clothing can make it much easier for other drivers to notice you. This reduces the risk that they’ll drive right into you.
Making yourself more visible can also reduce your liability during a collision. If you’re taking clear steps to help other drivers see you, then others have less excuse for not noticing you. In some cases, this may be enough to swing a judgment in your favor and let you collect damages.
Tip 5: Avoid Bad Weather
Motorcycles just aren’t as good in bad weather. Wind, rain, and other weather events have a measurable impact on road safety, with the government citing almost one in five crashes as being weather-related. Motorcycles, as smaller and lighter vehicles, are far more vulnerable to this than most other vehicles. Rain is especially dangerous.
Tip 6: Don’t Drink and Drive
Never drive a motor vehicle too soon after drinking alcohol. If you intend to ride out and have a few drinks, you can reduce your risk by controlling when you drink.
Humans reduce blood alcohol content at a steady rate of 0.015% per hour. That’s approximately .25 ounces of ethanol. For context, a single beer is about 0.02% blood alcohol content. If you drink one beer, you can be completely sober in about an hour and twenty minutes.
Connecticut law says that you’re legally intoxicated if your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or above (about four beers), but even having a BAC lower than that can impair your driving. If you’ve had too much to drink, find somewhere else to stay until you can sober up.
Liability and Fault in a Motorcycle Accident
Fault is a major consideration for motorcycle accidents.
Section 52-572h of Connecticut law covers negligence and liability for damages, which applies to most motorcycle accidents. Connecticut is what’s known as a modified comparative fault state, which means you can only seek damages if you’re 51% or less at fault in the accident.
If you meet this criterion, then even if you’re partially at fault, you can aim to recover damages from the defendant. However, damages are usually decreased by the proportion that you were negligent.
For example, if you’re 25% at fault in an accident and the defendant is 75% at fault, you can recover up to 50% of the damages because you’re subtracting your fault from theirs.
Determining liability can be complicated and may involve many factors. Helping minimize your liability in a motorcycle accident is one of the main reasons to hire a CT motorcycle accident lawyer.
Compensation for Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident
Compensation for injuries in a motorcycle accident mainly falls into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are payments to offset monetary losses caused by the accident. These can include things like the cost of medical care, loss of property and wages, and legal expenses.
Medical care is often the most expensive part of a motorcycle accident case. The costs of care can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is part of the reason Connecticut requires drivers to carry liability insurance.
Lost wages can also be significant, especially if you’re unable to work for an extended period or have to take a lower-paying job as a result of the incident. Property loss is usually a minor part of economic damages but can serve to replace destroyed motorcycles and safety gear.
Non-economic damages cover things that aren’t clear monetary losses but still affect you. These can include things like pain, emotional suffering, or mental damage as a result of the accident.
It’s best to not go overboard on these things or try to stretch beyond the truth. However, if you have ongoing pain and limitations as a result of a motorcycle collision, you may have a reasonable case for non-economic damages.
Courts may impose punitive damages in cases where someone was exceptionally or willfully negligent. However, these are usually low in Connecticut, often capped at the cost of attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs.
Statute of Limitations
Like most states, Connecticut has a statute of limitations that affects how long you have to bring a case. For motorcycle accidents, attempts to recover damages are usually personal injury cases held in civil court, which means there’s a two-year limit from when the incident occurs.
Most people file cases long before reaching this limit, but things like treatment for injuries in a hospital can delay the start of a case.
Paying For A Lawyer
In most cases, you do not have to directly pay your CT motorcycle accident lawyer. This is because most cases happen on a contingency basis.
In contingency cases, lawyers get paid as a part of the fees they win in your case. Legal costs can be (and usually are) included as a specific part of the damages you ask for in a motorcycle accident case, on top of any other damages you seek.
Your attorney gets this money if they can recover the damages for you. However, if you don’t win the case, you don’t owe any fees to your lawyer. The fact that you only pay if you win (and the money comes from what you win) means that you can afford a lawyer working on a contingency basis regardless of your income.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, CT Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you’re worried about getting into an accident, or you already have been, contact our CT motorcycle accident lawyer today. Professional legal advice can help you determine the best course of action and recover any damages you may be legally entitled to.
We have locations across the state of Connecticut from Bridgeport to New Haven to Hartford. Contact us today for a free consultation.