When you ride your motorcycle in Albany, you become part of a statewide biker tradition. You travel long stretches of New York highways. You have easy access to parks, mountain trails, riverside drives, and city venues. Motorcyclists enjoy a sense of openness and freedom, but riding a motorcycle comes with a downside. As a biker, you face a heightened risk of sustaining injuries due to bad drivers on the road.
Like all motorists, when you ride in traffic, you run the risk of encountering a bad driver. Some motorists drink and do drugs, and still feel comfortable getting behind the wheel. Speeding motorists may travel too fast to control their vehicles. Rude drivers often fail to yield the right of way to other drivers. Drivers may cut you off when you’re making a turn, and sometimes they simply take over your lane. Even safe drivers have visibility issues sometimes. They may look but fail to see you and your bike in traffic.
Bad car and truck drivers don’t always cause motorcycle crashes. However, when they do, it often proves devastating for you and your family. Sometimes an accident impact overturns your motorcycle, causing crushing wounds as you fall to the ground. A serious crash often ejects you from your bike, resulting in serious, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries. Even after a simple crash, you may end up in the emergency room while the motorist simply gets back behind the wheel and drives away.
A minor injury often causes pain, suffering, and temporary disabilities. A major injury often disables you, inconveniences your family, and completely disrupts your life. Before a negligent driver injures you, you should know your rights and understand the other driver’s responsibilities. You should also understand how and why bad drivers cause completely preventable motorcycle accidents. If you have specific questions related to your Albany motorcycle accident, reach out to Finkelstein & Partners today.
More Traffic Means More Motorcycle Accidents
As in any metropolitan area, Albany’s traffic constitutes a primary contributing factor to motorcycle accidents and injuries. When a steady flow of cars, trucks, and motorcycles travel the same local roads and highways, more accidents occur. Given Albany County’s 300,000 plus regional population, you don’t anticipate big city driving hazards, but you must consider other traffic factors. Albany serves as the state capital, so daily traffic extends beyond speeding commuters and weekend leisure and entertainment enthusiasts. A steady stream of visitors increases regional traffic hazards.
Statistics published by the City of Albany document the 4,300 visitors who travel to Albany County each day. Legislators, college students, tourists, and international business representatives regularly enter and exit the area. Many extend their stays beyond a day or two, adding their rental cars, Ubers, Lyfts, and other vehicles to local traffic. As a motorcyclist, you can’t always escape the drivers who cause accidents and injuries.
Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries in Albany County
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles and the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research document statistics on motorcycles/vehicle ownership and New York State crash data. When you examine the data, you see a consistent trend of motorcycle/vehicle accidents and injuries.
Motor vehicle three-year accident statistics
- Total vehicle crashes: 26,808
- Total vehicle personal injuries: 6,028
- Total vehicle fatalities: 46
Motorcycle three-year accident statistics
- Total motorcycle crashes: 329
- Total motorcycle personal injuries: 252
- Total motorcycle fatalities: 14
As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains, motorcyclists appear overrepresented in traffic fatalities. The NHTSA reached this conclusion based on vehicle miles traveled. Annual national data consistently shows that a motorcyclist is 27 to 29 times more likely to sustain fatal accident-related injuries than a vehicle occupant.
Upon evaluating Albany County’s vehicle accident statistics, this trend becomes clear.
- The 7,159 registered motorcycles in the county represent slightly more than 3 percent of the total registered private and commercial vehicles.
- Motorcyclists make up 30 percent of the 46 crash fatality victims.
- In motor vehicle accidents, 22 percent of occupants sustained injuries.
- In motorcycle crashes, 76 percent of the occupants sustained injuries.
- In motor vehicle accidents, 0.12 percent sustained fatal injuries
- In motorcycle accidents, 4.8 percent sustained fatal injuries.
Why Motorcyclists Sustain Serious Injuries
NHTSA research has determined that motor vehicle drivers often cause or contribute to the most serious motorcycle accidents and injuries. That’s the primary reason behind the Department of Transportation’s annual Share the Road motorcycle safety campaign. Motorcycle/vehicle accidents occur largely due to the same risky driving behaviors that cause vehicle-to-vehicle crashes. Motorists speed, drive distracted, drive while drugged, and drive while under the influence of alcohol. As the campaign indicates, motorists also have problems sharing the road with bikers.
When a motorist’s actions cause a collision with a motorcycle, several factors contribute to the resultant injury disparities. A vehicle occupant has more protection, but that’s just the beginning.
- Bikers lack protection: Motorcyclists trade safety for an exciting open-air riding experience. Vehicle occupants have seatbelts, airbags, and steel-reinforced compartments to protect them during a crash. In many cases, a biker has only a helmet. While helmet use reduces the chance of head injury and brain trauma, it does little to protect the rest of a biker’s body. Some motorcyclists wear protective Kevlar clothing, gloves, and boots. This gear reduces but can’t entirely prevent, many of the potential accident-related injuries.
- Motorcycles have balance issues: Unlike a four-wheeled vehicle, a motorcycle usually has problems remaining upright after an accident. Two wheels make motorcycles less stable than a car or truck. When a car crashes into a motorcycle, it often overturns, even after a minor impact. The motorcycle’s weight often pins a driver to the pavement, causing lower extremity injuries.
- Motorists disrespect bikers: You never see “disrespect” listed as a factor in motorcycle/vehicle crash reports, but it actually constitutes a serious concern. A biker is a legally licensed operator, and a motorcycle is a legally registered vehicle. Unfortunately, some motorists drive as though they don’t recognize that bikers have the same legal rights as drivers of other vehicles. That’s another reason behind the Share the Road campaign.
- Some motorists can’t judge a motorcycle’s distance or speed: Motorists’ misperceptions frequently cause or contribute to motorcycle accidents and injuries. NHTSA statistics reveal that 42 percent of motorcycle fatalities occur when a vehicle makes a right turn in a motorcyclist’s path. Blind spot issues also create visibility concerns when a biker passes or overtakes a motor vehicle.
- Vehicle drivers have visibility issues: Motorcyclists often become accident victims as motorists overlook them in traffic. This goes beyond visibility and blind-spot problems. Visibility issues often occur due to a vehicle operator’s impaired or risky driving behavior. Vehicle drivers also cause crashes as they may struggle to notice a motorcyclist in adjacent traffic.
Why Drivers Struggle to See Motorcycles
The NHTSA page, Get up to Speed on Motorcycles, discusses a motorist’s role in helping motorcyclists stay safe on the road. Visibility is one of the key issues, but it’s more complicated than you might imagine. NHTSA documentation shows that a driver’s inability to see a motorcycle contributes to 41 percent of vehicle/motorcycle crashes.
This visibility dilemma occurs for several reasons.
- A motorcycle has a narrower profile than a car or truck.
- Motorists’ blind spots often prevent them from seeing a biker in an adjacent lane.
- Sunshine, fog, rain, and other environmental conditions affect a driver’s motorcycle-related perceptions.
- Construction equipment and natural landscaping hide motorcycles from a motorist’s view.
- Motorists don’t always notice a motorcycle while traveling in heavy traffic.
All of these visibility and perception concerns contribute to motor vehicle/motorcycle crashes. Still, motorists must recognize these often instinctive behaviors and prevent them from contributing to motorcycle accidents and injuries.
Inattentional Blindness and Motorcycle Accidents
Inattentional blindness isn’t just a trendy phrase to describe motorists’ visibility problems. It’s also a concept that considers a driver’s cognitive issues and how they contribute to motorcycle accidents. The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society uses the term when discussing the “looked but failed to see” phenomenon that often contributes to motorcycle accidents. This research concluded that drivers often don’t see a motorcycle in traffic due to the brain’s limited ability to perceive objects and conditions while driving.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The NHTSA and other safety agencies frequently study motorcycle accidents and injury causation. In one study, researchers found many common factors in biker accidents and injuries, and how they occurred. Sixty-seven percent of the serious or fatal injuries occurred when a motorist’s front end struck a motorcycle’s front end. 42 percent of the accidents where motorcyclists sustained disabling injuries also involved front-end collisions. Researchers found that the most severe crashes usually result in similar injuries.
This list shows injuries in their order of frequency.
- Lower extremity: multiple fractures and crush injuries (often multiple injuries)
- Upper extremity injuries
- Head and traumatic brain injuries
- Chest injuries
- Spine injuries
- Abdominal and other internal injuries
- Fatal injuries
Bikers sustain lower extremity damage more frequently than other injuries or conditions. These injuries often occur during minor impact accidents when a motorcycle overturns. Fractures, crush injuries, and other traumas occur when a motorcycle’s weight pins its rider to the pavement. Fractures happen more frequently than soft tissue injuries alone. Lower extremity trauma also causes fracture combinations.
Eighty-seven percent of the victims studied sustained one or more lower extremity injuries.
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic partial or full limb or digit amputations
- Multiple severe injuries
- Degloving of skin from underlying tissues
Upper-Extremity and Head Injuries
Motorcyclists sustain upper-body and head injuries less frequently than lower extremity injuries. If an accident injures a biker’s head, chest, spine, or another upper body area, the resulting injuries can prove more devastating than lower-body damage. Upper body trauma sometimes occurs when the impact of an accident ejects bikers from their motorcycles and sends them airborne.
Severe upper-body trauma often results from a secondary impact against the pavement, a pole, a wall, or some other stationary object.
- Mild, moderate, and severe brain injuries: Depending on the extent of the trauma, brain injuries often prove severe and disabling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical institutions have gradually begun to acknowledge that concussions do, in fact, constitute mild brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: When a biker sustains a spinal cord injury, the trauma may prove serious enough to cause varying degrees of paralysis. The degree of disability depends on the location and extent of the spine damage. Paralysis usually occurs in areas of the body at and below the damage location.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries occur even when the injured biker has no outward signs of trauma. Broken ribs pierce organs, causing internal bleeding. The heart and other critical organs sustain bruises and contusions upon impact.
Do You Need an Attorney to Handle Your Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?
Yes. When you sustain injuries in a motorcycle accident, we don’t recommend going it alone. In resolving your claim, you must interact with the negligent driver, the at-fault insurance companies, and all of the defense attorneys. If your case has complicated liability issues or complex injuries, the experience that the other side has with these issues will place you at a distinct disadvantage. When you have no experience evaluating injury damages, insurance companies don’t always negotiate fairly.
When you work with personal injury attorneys, they provide a long list of legal services, including:
- Investigate your accident
- Interact with insurers and attorneys
- Resolve liability issues
- Evaluate your injury claim
- Negotiate the best possible settlement
- File suit and try your case if necessary
- Handle your claim while you focus on healing
When you consult with an attorney, you will receive an initial, free consultation, and you won’t have to commit to taking action. You simply discuss your case and learn more about your legal options and then decide where you want to go from there. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation, during which you can determine your eligibility to pursue compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.