In 2021, nearly 6,000 people were killed in motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. This makes up 14% of traffic fatalities. Because motorcyclists are exposed to the elements, they are more likely to sustain injuries in an accident.

What is a motorcycle accident lawsuit?

In 2021, nearly 6,000 people were killed in motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. This makes up 14% of traffic fatalities. Because motorcyclists are exposed to the elements, they are more likely to sustain injuries in an accident. Some states may not require motorcyclists to carry the same insurance protection as those who drive cars, leaving them at risk. If a motorcyclist is injured in an accident, they may want to know how compensation works for their case. Talking to an attorney is the best way to understand motorcycle accident lawsuits.

Understanding motorcycle accidents

A motorcycle accident can differ from a car accident involving two vehicles. Injuries are common when an accident involves a motorcycle, and many of these accidents result in fatality. The NHTSA states that traffic fatalities are 28 times more likely to occur for motorcyclists than for those in a passenger vehicle. When a person is in a motorcycle accident and they do not get the compensation they deserve from an insurance company, they may file a lawsuit for one of the following reasons:


A negligence lawsuit happens when the at-fault party caused a motorcycle accident that resulted in injuries due to a preventable distraction or reckless driving. Usually, a lawsuit is filed if the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver will not cover damages. The motorcyclist must prove that the driver was driving carelessly and that the negligent driving caused the accident and, therefore, the injuries and property damage. Some of the negligent behaviors that can cause a motorcycle crash include the following:

  • Cutting off a motorcyclist in traffic.
  • Failing to notice a motorcycle rider.
  • Driving under the influence.
  • Speeding or driving too slow.
  • Swerving into a motorcyclist.
  • Failing to yield to a motorcycle.

In some cases, negligence may happen on the part of the government. If a road is not properly maintained or signs are not posted appropriately, a motorcyclist might bring a lawsuit against the county or state for not taking safety precautions within its jurisdiction.

Defective product

Another common reason people file a lawsuit after a motorcycle accident is because of defective parts on the motorcycle or a faulty product altogether. For example, if a motorcycle has defective brakes that do not allow it to stop, the rider may sue the manufacturer for providing a faulty product that caused them to get in an accident that resulted in injuries. The rider may ask for compensation for the following:

  • Lost wages and earnings due to time missed at work.
  • Medical bills related to treatments for accident-related injuries.
  • Mental damages for pain and suffering related to the accident.

If a case goes to Court, a judge will decide the amount of compensation to the plaintiff. Compensation amounts fluctuate based on various factors, including the severity of the injuries, the laws in the county and state, and the number of people involved.

Are there different types of compensation?

In a personal injury case for a motorcycle accident, a rider may seek two main types of compensation: economic and non-economic. These are sometimes referred to as special and general damages, respectively. Special damages include costs for the following:

  • Income lost in the past and potential wages lost in the future.
  • Services required during the plaintiff's recovery.
  • Medical bills and treatments that arise from injuries.
  • Repairs and replacement of damaged property.

General damages can be difficult to measure and are those that:

  • Cause pain and suffering.
  • Cause disfigurement or disability.
  • Damage a plaintiff's reputation.
  • Take the joy out of life.

Motorcycle riders may be able to include punitive damages in their lawsuit claims as well. Punitive damages are awarded to plaintiffs who prove that the driver who caused the accident disregarded traffic and safety laws, putting their life at risk. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, some plaintiffs might file a wrongful death lawsuit if they lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident. Family members and spouses can file a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who was killed in a motorcycle accident due to negligence or wrongdoing by another party.

The impact of motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle accidents hurt more than just the people involved. Communities and families are also affected by the outcome of a motorcycle accident. If a rider is killed, it can devastate the people who care for them. Communities feel responsible for their citizens, and losing someone in a vehicle-related accident affects all drivers living in an area. The National Safety Council reports that more than half of all motorcycle fatalities occur on urban roads. Additionally, more than half of all motorcycle accidents that end in a fatality are among those wearing helmets, while 83% happen when the weather is good.

About 50% of motorcycle accidents happen during the day, leaving the other 50% to take place after dark. These facts demonstrate that motorcycle crashes can occur regardless of some of the current safety measures. Most accidents involving motorcycles happen because of the inconspicuous nature of the vehicles. Measures some communities implement to help prevent motorcycle accidents include the following:

  • Requiring riders to use headlights during the day.
  • Requiring riders to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
  • Requiring riders to wear light-colored helmets.

However, these strategies are not always enough to prevent negligence or keep motorcyclists safe. Although many motorcycle riders wear helmets, which is the law in many states, these protective devices cannot always prevent injury. When a motorcycle accident involves another vehicle, something that happens more than half the time, a rider has a high chance of suffering injuries. These injuries may be life-changing and worth more compensation than an insurance company wants to pay out.

Adverse events associated with motorcycles

Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, but it comes with some risks that all riders should be aware of before they take their bike on the road. The following are significant dangers to motorcyclists:

Car doors

If a parked car on the side of the road suddenly opens its door when a motorcycle is going by, it can stop the rider's movement. If they hit the door at high speed, they can fly off the motorcycle and be seriously injured. This is not something that most drivers of passenger cars need to consider. Motorcyclists must pay close attention to cars and people in congested areas with cars parked along the road.

Gravel on the road

Loose gravel on the road is not a major problem for cars and trucks with wide tires. However, the thinner tires with less grip found on a motorcycle can slip easily on gravel. This can cause the bike to lose traction and the driver to lose control. If the rider swerves into the other lane or goes off the road, they may be injured.


Intersections are narrow and typically have many cars waiting to turn. A motorcycle that gets too close to another vehicle or turns without being seen can cause a collision. A driver who takes a corner too quickly could hit a motorcycle that had the right of way because they were moving too fast to see the rider.

Bad weather

While car drivers must be vigilant when the weather turns bad, a storm can be even more dangerous for motorcyclists. Because a motorcycle rider is not covered or protected from the elements, pouring rain or high winds can be more distracting and difficult to ride through. Some roads may not have a safe area to pull off the road to wait for the weather to improve, forcing the motorcyclist to drive despite the unsafe conditions.

Other drivers

Every driver needs to be aware of other cars on the road, but a motorcyclist is more vulnerable to the mistakes made by motorists in cars and larger vehicles. For example, when a car gets rear-ended, they have a bumper and rear area to help take some of the impact. However, a motorcycle rider only has one small wheel between them and the front of the car that hits them, and they will feel the effects of the accident more than someone in a car or truck.

Decisions regarding liability

Taking a motorcycle accident injury claim to Court means leaving the decision about who caused the accident and who gets compensated to a judge or jury. The judge or jury decides the amount of compensation each victim receives. A motorcyclist who takes a personal injury claim to Court must have proof that the other party or parties caused the accident. Photos, eyewitness testimonies, and an official police report can help a plaintiff argue their case. Discussing options with an attorney can help motorcycle accident victims understand their case and potential compensation.