Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Riding your motorcycle to get around Tennessee roads can be fun and convenient, but it’s not without its challenges. Motorcycle riders often face unique challenges on the road. Also, they may suffer a lot more than drivers protected by various safety features and the protective barriers of an automobile in the event of an accident.
The rate of motorcycle fatalities in Tennessee is high and is surprisingly growing. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the number of motorcyclists killed in road accidents in 1998 was 42. This death toll rose to 168 in 2018 and leveled out at 150 in 2020.
At NST Law, we have seen many surviving motorcycle accident victims suffer serious injuries and damages, often in situations they didn’t cause. You have legal rights after a motorcycle accident in Knoxville. Contact our Knoxville personal injury attorneys today for a free case evaluation to determine the validity of your claim and its worth so that you can receive fair compensation for your harm.
Table of Contents
Important Tennessee Motorcycle Laws
Safety should always be your primary concern when operating a motorcycle on any roadway. For this reason, Tennessee has several laws explicitly created for motorcyclists. You must abide by the following rules to safely and legally operate a motorcycle in Knoxville:
- You must have motorcycle insurance to operate a motorcycle. The law requires that you produce proof of insurance before you can even register your motorcycle. Riding your bike without insurance or a suspended license could get you arrested.
- In Tennessee, every motorcyclist and passenger must wear a safety helmet. However, statistics show that a majority of riders that suffered fatalities as a result of road accidents didn’t wear a helmet at the time of the accident.
- The law requires that you only carry a passenger on a motorcycle equipped with proper seating and footrests. In addition, the passenger should wear a protective jacket with reflective tape to increase visibility on the road.
- Lane splitting, though very common on American roads, is illegal in Tennessee. When you’re stuck in a traffic jam, it might be tempting to pass between lanes to get to your destination faster. However, this practice is illegal and dangerous. The law dictates that a motorcycle operator “shall not pass and overtake” in the same lane occupied by a vehicle.
Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Knoxville
The many stereotypes associated with motorcycle riders, combined with the fact that motorcycles can be dangerous vehicles, risks severely limiting compensation for motorcyclists after an accident. A motorcycle accident is a lot more complicated to resolve than a car accident. The injuries the rider suffers are often more severe, and many make the mistake of assuming the process of litigation will be similar to any other type of vehicle accident.
It’s always best to prevent motorcycle accidents when possible. Operating your bike safely and responsibly is key to safeguarding yourself. Additionally, always watch out for others on the road because they have the advantage over you in the event of an accident.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents in Knoxville and risky or illegal behaviors you can avoid include:
Lane splitting is such a common maneuver that many inexperienced drivers may think it’s legal. Unfortunately, lane splitting is the leading cause of minor accidents involving motorcycles on Tennessee roads. Additionally, you can receive a citation for engaging in this illegal behavior.
Speeding is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), risky behaviors such as riding without a license and exceeding the speed limit were a major cause of motorcycle crashes in the United States in 2020.
Drunk driving is a serious problem on roadways, but operating a motorcycle while intoxicated increases the danger to the rider specifically. The NHTSA’s Center for Statistics Analysis found that one in every four motorcycle accidents that resulted in fatalities in 2016 in the United States involved alcohol use.
Motorcyclists are stereotyped to be careless, reckless, and even inconsiderate. However, according to a Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange (TRACE) report, careless driving by operators of cars and other non-motorcycle vehicles was responsible for more than 27% of motorcycle accidents in the United States.
Left Turns and Unsafe Lane Changes
Drivers often make mistakes when they turn left. However, motorcycle riders are more likely to make this mistake because of how convenient it is for them and how easily they can get away with it. As a result, unsafe lane changes top the list of causes of motorcycle accidents at intersections.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Riding on Tennessee roads can be an enjoyable experience for motorcyclists, but it can also be hazardous when accidents occur. Common motorcycle accidents that can lead to extensive injuries and other damages include:
More than half of all deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents are head-on collisions. In most of these cases, cars hit motorcycles from the front. Understandably, the motorcycle rider will suffer more grievous harm in a head-on collision between a motorcycle and a car.
Hit and Runs
Sometimes, drivers might panic and take off after an accident, especially when injuries are involved and they’re at fault. A motorcycle or any other accident where one of the drivers flees the scene is known as a hit and run. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.
Left Turn Collisions
A left turn collision is an extremely dangerous accident for a motorcycle rider, especially when another vehicle is making the left turn. The rider may be forced off the road or crushed if they don’t react fast enough.
Hitting Fixed Objects
One of the worst accident scenarios involving a motorcycle is when the impact of hitting a fixed object throws a rider from their bike. Death is possible if the rider fails to wear a safety helmet when expelled from their motorcycle.
A significant number of motorcycle accidents result from being hit from behind, especially at a traffic stop. Therefore, riders and their passengers are encouraged to wear reflective safety vests to minimize the chances of this type of accident by making drivers more aware of their presence.
What steps should you take after a motorcycle crash?
Here are the five critical steps to take after you’re involved in a motorcycle accident:
Step 1: Get to safety.
Analyze your surroundings and the situation you’re in, then get out of harm’s way. If you’re in the middle of a busy road, assess any injuries you sustained, then check the physical condition of anyone else involved in the accident. Get everyone to safety, preferably on the side of the road or in a parking lot or other clearing. Avoid creating additional hazards.
Step 2: Don’t remove your protective gear.
You may be in shock after an accident, and the adrenaline rush may prevent you from noticing injuries or feeling pain. Take a minute to catch your breath, then dial 911 to call for emergency services. Wait until medical personnel properly evaluate you before removing your helmet and other safety gear.
Step 3: Seek medical attention.
Even if you can’t see any physical injuries or feel fine, you should still get a professional medical checkup after an accident. Some of the most severe accident injuries are often not immediately apparent, sometimes taking hours or days to cause symptoms. By then, it can be too late to avoid long-term or permanent damage, including death.
Step 4: Collect necessary evidence at the accident scene.
Human minds perceive things differently; that’s why accident reports vary a lot. Therefore, it’s important to retrieve physical and corroborating evidence when possible. Use your phone to take pictures, write notes, and get contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. You should also get the insurance and contact information of other drivers involved in the accident.
Step 5: Speak with your insurance company and contact a lawyer.
The sooner you get a motorcycle accident lawyer, the higher the chances of reaching a quick and reasonable settlement. Note that insurance companies are businesses, and they’ll likely always try to protect their profits by settling for the least amount they’re required to pay. NST Law will help you analyze the circumstances of the accident to determine your claim’s worth and negotiate fair compensation.
Proving the Other Driver is At-Fault for a Motorcycle Accident
If another driver hits you, you can sue for damages beyond the amount the insurance company will pay, in some instances. However, you’ll need to build a solid case backed by strong evidence showing why you deserve additional compensation.
You will also need to prove the other driver is directly responsible or liable for the accident. For example, if they cut you off, failed to yield, or made an illegal turn leading to an accident and your subsequent injuries, you must be able to show that their behavior was the direct cause of the resulting incident and damages.
Additionally, your case largely hinges on the police report drawn up by law enforcement at the scene of the accident. Still, video and photographic evidence and witness statements can help recall and corroborate the events. Our law firm has the resources to consult with expert witnesses who can inspect the scene of the accident and create a reconstruction of the crash.
What are common motorcycle accident injuries?
A motorcycle accident can result in severe injuries and death for the rider. In almost every case, you’ll need an injury lawyer to assist with your insurance claim and a potential civil lawsuit.
Motorcycle accident victims often suffer the following injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Bone fractures
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Severe burns
What compensation can I receive in a motorcycle accident case?
The monetary outcome of any motorcycle accident claim often depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the accident, such as who’s at fault, the nature and extent of your injuries, and the severity of other damages stemming from the incident.
In general, if you’re involved in an accident, you can seek economic damages, including:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs
- Lost wages
- Property damages
In Tennessee, you can also pursue compensation for non-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
In certain cases, Tennessee law allows for punitive damages. These damages are meant as a punishment to the wrong party and not as direct compensation to the injured person. The party suing must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted egregiously or maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly (i.e., gross negligence). An example of a case that might involve punitive damages includes a motorcycle accident that results from a drunk driver’s behavior.
What if I'm partially at fault for a motorcycle accident?
In some instances, you may feel partly to blame for your motorcycle accident. Regardless, you should never admit guilt without first speaking with a personal injury lawyer. You can still receive compensation in Tennessee, even when you’re partially at fault for the crash. The state’s comparative fault system allows you to seek damages regardless of your percentage of shared responsibility as long as it’s less than that of the other party.
The most important pieces of evidence you’ll need to prove fault and recover damages are the police report, medical records, and expert testimony.
Why should I hire a Knoxville motorcycle accident attorney?
You should speak to a personal injury attorney at the earliest opportunity after a motorcycle accident. Since accidents involving motorcycles are complex, a Knoxville motorcycle accident lawyer with experience handling motorcycle accident cases can help you understand all the legal jargon, meet strict deadlines, obtain needed evidentiary support for your claim, and properly navigate the complicated legal process to secure fair compensation.
Why choose the Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at NST Law?
For over thirty years, NST Law has fought for injury victims’ rights, helping them obtain fair settlements. When you choose NST Law, our compassionate staff and dedicated lawyers will thoroughly evaluate the details of your case, providing you with the personal attention you deserve to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Contact NST Law today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation to determine your claim’s validity and worth and get started securing the compensation you need for your recovery.