Tennessee is one of the most dangerous states for motorcycle fatalities. A recent analysis found that the Volunteer State ranks among the top 10 for motorcycle deaths per 100,000 vehicles registered, in spite of having a universal helmet law. Motorcyclists who survive a crash are still likely to suffer serious injuries that result in extensive medical bills and a lengthy recovery.
If you were hurt in a Tennessee motorcycle crash that wasn’t your fault, you need experienced and aggressive legal representation. Our Morristown motorcycle accident lawyers at The Terry Law Firm have a proven track record of defending injured bikers. With law offices in Greeneville and Morristown, we handle cases in Hamblen, Greene, and Hawkins Counties, and throughout East Tennessee.
To schedule a free case review, please call (423) 586-5800 or send us a message online.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident in Morristown, TN
Determining accident fault is a critical aspect of an insurance claim. Motorcyclists injured in a crash with another vehicle are entitled to recover compensation for bodily injuries and property damage from the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, bias against motorcyclists can affect the claims process. Tennessee riders may also face pressure to prove that their own actions did not play a role in the crash.
Statistically, the driver of another vehicle is more likely to be at fault than a motorcyclist when the two collide. Every accident case — at least in theory — is decided on the merits. A motorcyclist, however, may have to overcome stereotypes about dangerous riders, even if they did nothing wrong. Further complicating the claims process is Tennessee’s comparative negligence system and short statute of limitations.
Negative Attitudes Toward Motorcyclists
Basic psychology indicates that people tend to be biased against those who are not like themselves. This bias appears to include the types of vehicles one drives. For example, a 2008 study found that cars drivers who did not have motorcycle licenses had more negative attitudes toward motorcyclists than drivers who were licensed to operate both cars and motorcycles.
“Bikers” in particular are likely to face social stigma that negatively affects them. They are asked to leave bars and restaurants for riding motorcycles or wearing biker colors. Some express fear of reprisal from employers and others who label them a “Biker.”
These biases tend to be reduced if somebody has a friend or family member who rides a motorcycle. But with riders representing a small minority of all motorists, the potential for bias against motorcyclists should be taken into account. This increases the importance of conducting a thorough motorcycle accident investigation and using evidence to prove fault.
Tennessee and Comparative Negligence
Possible anti-motorcycle bias also has implications in the context of Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system.
Under this system, which uses the “50 percent rule,” drivers are assigned a percentage of fault for an accident. A victim is allowed to recover accident compensation only if his or her fault is 49 percent or less. If a person is found to be 50 percent or more liable for the accident, he or she may not be awarded money for injuries and property damage.
Modified negligence makes it easier for the insurance company to deny a claim, since the insurer only has to show that the motorcyclist was partly to blame for the crash, for any reason. The insurance company might claim that the motorcyclist disobeyed a traffic law — such as speeding — or was weaving between lanes. The insurer could also claim that the motorcyclist lost control of the bike due to rider error.
Investigating the Scene of the Accident
Our East Tennessee motorcycle accident lawyers understand that motorcyclists in many cases face an uphill battle when proving accident fault. Overcoming anti-motorcycle biases and insurance company tactics requires fully investigating the crash and proving fault beyond any reasonable doubt.
Our dedicated personal injury attorneys at The Terry Law Firm take an assertive approach to investigating the scene of an accident. We use a wide range of resources, including accident reconstruction experts and engineers, to help determine the cause. The firm’s vast experience qualifies us to take on even the most complex and disputed cases. Expect compassionate, personalized attention and aggressive advocacy from our legal team. Talk to a lawyer now for free.
Compensation for Morristown Motorcycle Accident Victims
Many of the riders we represent are facing serious financial hardships due to their accidents. Depending on the circumstances in your case, our skilled Morristown motorcycle accident attorneys may demand compensation for:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Property damage to your motorcycle
- Lost income
- Reduced earning potential for the future
- Pain and suffering
You and your family should not be forced to pay for another driver’s negligence. To learn more about what types of compensation you may be entitled to receive, please call our law firm today.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Tennessee
Because motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars, riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. During a crash, riders lack the protection of a closed vehicle, which places them at greater risk of injury and death.
According to crash data, riding a motorcycle in Tennessee is particularly dangerous. An analysis by the Auto Insurance Center found that the state ranks eighth in the country in the number of motorcycle fatalities. Since 2000, fatal motorcycle crashes in Tennessee have more than doubled. Each year, Tennessee averages more than 130 motorcycle fatalities.
Although motorcycles represent a small percentage of total vehicle miles driven, around 15 percent of all deadly crashes nationwide involve a motorcycle. Per mile traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occur nearly 28 times more frequently than passenger vehicle fatalities.
In addition, more than 35 percent of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes result in a minor injury; more than 30 percent cause moderate injury; nearly 20 percent cause serious injury; and around 5 percent result in severe or critical injury.
The most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Road rash/scarring
- Broken bones
The Terry Law Firm understands that motorcycle injuries cause health complications that may prevent you from being fully mobile. If you are unable to come to us, our motorcycle accident attorneys can come to you. Evening and weekend appointments are also available by request. Schedule a free meeting now.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Morristown, Tennessee
In 2009, federal researchers noticed an alarming trend: Since 1997, the number of motorcycle crash-related fatalities had more than doubled — despite a 27 percent reduction in passenger vehicle fatalities. This led to the most comprehensive data collection on motorcycle crashes in the United States in more than 30 years.
The 2016 Motorcycle Crash Causation Survey (MCCS) undermines the popular belief that motorcycles are usually to blame for crashes with other vehicles. Failure by the other vehicle was the cause attributed to 64 percent of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes. Other significant findings from the MCCS include the following:
- In many crashes, drivers of the other motor vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and buses reported that they failed to detect the motorcycle or to discern that a dangerous condition existed. Specifically, the most common crash causes attributed to drivers were perception failure (56 percent), decision failure (38 percent), comprehension failure (3 percent), and reaction failure (1 percent).
- Another vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle was the most frequent crash configuration. Sideswipes, vehicles running into the back of motorcycles, vehicles making U-turns and three-point turns, and motorcyclists losing control while attempting collision avoidance were also frequent crash configurations.
- Fifty-one percent of the crashes, and 50 percent of fatal crashes, occurred on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Crashes more often occurred in urban environments and on arterial roadways. Most crashes took place in the daylight.
MCCS researchers expressed concern that despite numerous motorcycle crash prevention and mitigation strategies implemented since the 1980s, many of the same factors contribute to motorcycle crashes today.
The report concludes that many high-risk traffic encounters between motorcycles and other vehicles could be prevented if drivers were better able to pay more attention or anticipate and detect motorcycles at intersections, while turning, and during lane changes. Vehicle-based crash warning and prevention systems, such as collision warning systems, lane maintenance, and blind-spot assistance, do not reliably detect motorcycles.
Tips for Motorcycle Safety in Morristown, TN
Based on data from the MCCS and other studies, federal researchers have identified a number of ways that riders and their passengers can stay safe. They include:
- Always wear a helmet. Head injury represents the leading cause of death and disability in motorcycle crashes. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal motorcycle injuries.
- Get the proper training and licensing. Nineteen percent of crashed riders in the MCCS did not have a motorcycle license, and 5 percent had no license at all. Riders who had motorcycle training on an experienced rider course or competitive track course accounted for just 13 percent of crashes. Inadequate rider control skills contributed to 26 percent of crashes.
- Be cautious at intersections. In the MCCS, more than two-thirds of crashes occurred at intersections, including 50 percent of fatal crashes.
- Obey the speed limit. Traveling above the posted speed limit is highly correlated with both fatal and nonfatal motorcycle crashes.
- Be conspicuous. Use retroreflective parts, materials, paint, and garments to increase your visibility to other drivers.
- Stay out of blind spots. Many crashes are caused by drivers not seeing motorcycles. If you can see a driver’s mirrors, they should be able to see you, especially the driver’s side mirror. To be extra safe, avoid riding directly alongside a vehicle, since a change in direction could result in a collision. Maintain a generous following distance and pass quickly.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait to see legal assistance. Contact the trusted Morristown motorcycle accident lawyers at The Terry Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Limited Time to File a Tennessee Motorcycle Injury Claim
Tennessee’s relatively short statute of limitations for personal injury claims can place added pressure on an injured motorcyclist.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, it can take a couple of months to a couple of years to settle a motorcycle accident claim. Because the initial offer from the insurance company is likely to undervalue your claim, several rounds of negotiations may be needed when pursuing full compensation. Should the insurer fail to make a fair motorcycle accident settlement offer, the only option may be to file a lawsuit.
Tennessee law, however, provides just one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once the 12-month window has passed, it may be impossible to file a lawsuit.
Facing one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the country, Tennessee motorcyclists need to act quickly following a crash. Failure to do so can give the insurance company greater leverage and put your claim at risk. Talking to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney right after a crash puts you in the best possible position to seek maximum compensation.
Talk to a Morristown Motorcycle Accident Attorney Now to Get Compensation After Your Accident
Getting the right legal help for a Tennessee motorcycle accident can have far-reaching consequences. As medical bills pile up and you are unable to work, you may be under pressure to take a quick settlement from the insurance company. The insurance company knows this. Insurance adjusters see you as one case among many. Denying or delaying your claim isn’t personal. It is simply a business decision.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait to seek legal assistance. Trust The Terry Law Firm to investigate the crash, negotiate with adjusters on your behalf, handle all paperwork, and keep you informed at every step. Our attorneys prioritize individualized attention and compassionate service during clients’ time of need. Let us take care of the legal process so you can take care of yourself and get back to your life.
To request your free consultation, call us at (423) 536-62220 or contact us online.