Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, often resulting in severe injuries or even the loss of life. According to a recent article, a multiple-vehicle crash occurred in York, Maine, involving two cars and a motorcycle. The incident unfolded when the motorcycle, traveling eastbound along the Maine Turnpike, collided with an SUV making a left turn onto Spur Road. Another SUV subsequently collided with the vehicles involved.

While the other drivers involved in the crash escaped with relatively minor injuries, the operator of the motorcycle tragically lost his life. The incident is currently under investigation, highlighting the importance of uncovering the underlying causes of motorcycle accidents.

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Motorcycle riders notoriously suffer high rates of serious injury and fatality in traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,579 motorcyclists died from traffic accidents in 2020. Given these significant safety risks, motorcycle riders and drivers alike should take extra precautions to minimize the risk of an accident.

For example, a recent news article reported that a motorcycle accident in Brunswick, Maine left a motorcycle rider in serious condition. The accident occurred as the motorcyclist was riding northbound when he collided with the side of a pickup truck turning onto an intersecting road. Despite wearing a helmet, the motorcycle rider suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital for treatment. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash.

How Can You Stay Safe When Riding a Motorcycle?

Though motorcycles are a dangerous form of travel, the NHTSA has recommended several tips for drivers and motorcycle riders alike to minimize the risk of an accident. First, before even getting on the road, motorcycle riders should make sure they understand how to operate a motorcycle safely. In addition to required motorcycle licensing tests, riders should practice riding a new motorcycle. Motorcycle riders can practice in a parking lot or around the neighborhood before riding on the road. Additionally, even experienced motorcycle riders may struggle when faced with rough terrain, slippery roads, or potholes. To be prepared for any road conditions they may encounter, riders should learn how to operate their motorcycle when dealing with inclement weather, debris, or other obstructions to the road.

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Hit-and-Run crashes and fatalities happen at alarming rates and can lead to severe injuries and consequences for all parties involved. According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in 2015, hit-and-run crashes occurred somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds, and in 2016 there were 2,049 fatalities that resulted from hit-and-run crashes. Additionally, a study conducted by ValuePenguin found that fatal hit-and-runs increased by 44 percent between 2010 and 2019.

In a recent news report, a well-known couple from Cornville suffered from severe injuries on their motorcycle after they were struck by a vehicle that failed to stop at a stop sign and fled the scene. The hit-and-run accident occurred at the intersection of Route 43 and Boardman Road in Maine. The vehicle that struck the motorcycle failed to stop at the stop sign and drove through the intersection. The injured couple was wearing helmets at the time of the crash but suffered severe injuries including broken bones. Both the jeep and the motorcycle were impounded.

A witness followed the perpetrator of the hit-and-run after he fled the scene, and neighbors helped capture the driver and held him until police arrived to arrest him. The driver of the vehicle was given a blood test and charged with aggravated operating under the influence, aggravated driving to endanger, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury. His bail was set at $50,000.

In Maine, those charged with Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OUI) may face serious criminal and civil penalties for any ensuing damages and injuries caused by impaired driving. An OUI refers to a motorist operating their vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. The threshold may vary depending on the type of vehicle the driver was operating.

In most personal injury and wrongful death claims, the injury victim or deceased’s estate must establish all the elements of negligence claims. In some cases, the at-fault party is the person operating the vehicle that the victim was a passenger. However, in Maine, passengers have the same right to recovery regardless of whether they were in the vehicle with the at-fault driver.

While the law permits the claim, injured passengers should be cognizant of how the state’s comparative negligence laws may play into their cases. In Maine, the law may bar a plaintiff’s action if their negligence is equal to or greater than the defendant’s. Unlike other states, a violation of a statute does not constitute negligence per se. However, the evidence may be used to support a negligence claim. Cases involving OUIs can present challenges to plaintiffs, especially if the defendant or other party claims that the plaintiff knew that the driver was under the influence. However, Maine law explains that a plaintiff’s awareness of a danger which results in his injury is not an absolute bar to recovery. This frequently comes up when an injured passenger knew that the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For many people, motorcycles are a preferred method of transportation for their day-to-day transportation needs. Motorcycles are often less expensive to buy and own when compared to a car, they are faster, and need less storage space and gas. For these reasons, motorcycles seem to be growing in popularity for both commuters and casual riders. However, motorcycles can also pose a number of unique dangers – especially when ridden without a helmet. This is why many states, like Maine, have implemented helmet laws in order to increase road safety for motorcycle operators and to encourage the community to engage in safer practices when they choose to ride a motorcycle.

In a recent news report, two Maine residents were killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. The two individuals were on their motorcycle when it collided head-on with an SUV coming from the opposite direction. The pair were traveling on their motorcycle when they veered into the lane of oncoming traffic. The driver of the SUV was transported to a local hospital with some complaints of pain, but his passenger was uninjured. Both motorcycle passengers were reported dead on the scene, and neither were wearing helmets.

Across the U.S., not all states have helmet laws. However, Maine has had a mandatory motorcycle helmet law since 1967. In Maine, violations of helmet laws can lead to a traffic infraction. Motorcycle and moped operators in Maine must always wear protective headgear or a helmet if they are under 18, under a learner’s permit or within a year of completing a driving test, or the passenger of a driver required to wear headgear.

A 28-year-old woman seriously injured as a passenger in a Maine motorcycle accident was awarded $2.5 million for life-changing injuries, according to the Bangor Daily News. The claim was against a 78-year-old driver. Another claim for damages against the motorcycle operator had been previously settled for an undisclosed sum. The case proceeded to trial after plaintiff rejected defendant’s settlement offer of $9,500. At trial, defendant driver was found to be 20 percent liable, meaning she is responsible for $400,000 of the damages.

According to news reports of the case, plaintiff was a passenger on a motorcycle operated in Kennebec County by a 30-year-old in June 2015. Defendant driver reportedly swerved suddenly to the right in order drive into the parking area of a bagel shop. This prompted the motorcycle operator to attempt to illegally pass the driver on the right. The two vehicles collided. The motorcycle operator suffered minor injuries, while plaintiff was seriously injured. After skidding 60 feet along the asphalt, she suffered road rash on 50 percent of her body and sustained fractures to both her left arm and hand. Her hand and arm are now disfigured and scarred, and she’s been left with residual weakness in both the hand and arm, with medical bills totaling $50,000.

Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise Nationally

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports Maine’s motorcycle deaths comprise 11.2 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state, despite the fact that motorcyclists comprise just 3.6 percent of all motor vehicle registrations. State totals ranged from accounting for 7.1 percent of deaths in Alaska to nearly 23 percent in Nevada. Maine motorcycle accident deaths spiked 33 percent from 2016 to 2017 (based on preliminary numbers) from 18 to 24.

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After Maine traffic homicide investigators concluded that a 25-year-old set off a chain reaction motorcycle accident which turned deadly during an I-95 charity ride in September, two other riders are suing his estate for personal injury damages. The collision occurred in 2017, during an annual charity ride to collect Christmas toys for children throughout the state.

Our Maine motorcycle accident attorneys know that while group motorcycle rides can be fun and have commendable goals, they also seem to be more prone to these type of collisions. Chain reaction crashes usually occur when a cluster of vehicles are traveling too close together. When motorcyclists are riding in a group, the riders try to stick together. Primarily this is done for the social advantage, the feeling of solidarity, purpose and camaraderie. There might also be some advantages safety-wise to sticking together; too many drivers don’t look twice for motorcyclists in their blind spots, but a group of riders rumbling together down the road is harder to miss.

However, riders packed closely together are at risk of causing a chain reaction motorcycle crash that might harm fellow riders. Making matters more complicated is that it can often be difficult to parse who the at-fault party is or, if there are multiple parties, how much fault to assign each person.

As we recently reported on our Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As riders hit the road each spring, they face the highest risks of the year. And already this month, we have reports of a slew of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents throughout the state, including the death of a 24-year-old Portland man and a motorcycle crash in Acton that resulted in serious head injuries for a Barrington couple involved in a Saturday evening crash.

Our Maine motorcycle accident lawyers also note safety advocates are focused on the other two-wheel riders hitting the roads this spring. Like motorcycle accidents, the number of serious and fatal bicycle accidents in Maine spikes each year as the last of the snow melts. Coastal Journal reports the City of Bath will be among those promoting Bike to Work Week on May 14-18, which culminates in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18. Fitness advocates and environmentalists continue to promote cycling as a means of physical activity that offers environmental benefits and cost savings of up to $8,000 a year for those who regularly bike to work.

Maine Bicycle Accidents:  Men at Risk

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and a prime time for Maine motorists to commit to watching out for motorcyclists as the summer riding season begins.

Because, statistically speaking, an accident is likely to be a non-motorcyclist’s fault.

“When motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right of way,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A man whose 53-year-old wife died in a Maine motorcycle accident in 2014 has settled his claims against the construction contractor in Augusta that allegedly failed to inspect and repair a dangerous pothole that reportedly caused his wife to lose control of her bike.

The plaintiff had been riding a motorcycle separately from his wife in Augusta when he watched her strike the pothole and saw the bike go down. The couple had married just six weeks earlier, and they were traveling with another pair to see a home in Manchester they were preparing to purchase. His original wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2015 in Kennebec County Superior Court, and it initially named not just the construction company but also the state, the state’s department of transportation, the city of Augusta, and a number of other defendants.

In the end, claims against all defendants other than the construction company were dismissed. This likely had to do with the fact that any claim against government agencies can be tough to prove, due to concepts like sovereign immunity and the difficulty of proving these entities owed a duty of care to the individual in question. But, as this case revealed, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no other avenues of compensation worth pursuing.

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