Motorcycle accidents can leave riders so severely hurt that they never fully recover. Every year on Ohio roads, from Cleveland to Columbus and beyond, motorcycle crashes lead to deaths. Nearly 200 motorcyclist fatalities occur every year in the Buckeye state, with thousands more injuries.
At Plevin & Gallucci, our Cleveland motorcycle accident lawyers not only understand the pain you are going through, but also what it’s going to take to get your life back on track.
Ohio Motorcycle Accident Compensation: What damages can I recover?
Ohio is an at-fault state. This means that the person who is “at fault” for a motorcycle accident can be held accountable by those who are injured. State law protects the rights of motorcyclists by allowing them to seek damages if they are injured by someone else’s negligence. (Ohio Revised Code 2315.33)
An astounding 42% of all motorcycle crashes involve a vehicle turning left while a motorcycle is going straight or passing a vehicle. We also see a lot of head-on collisions. Many accidents are caused by speeding, driving while intoxicated, distracted driving, failure to signal, lane splitting, and reckless driving.
Our attorneys know that the injuries suffered in motorcycle wrecks can cause physical, financial, and emotional anguish for entire families. We can help you secure financial compensation for past and future medical bills, physical impairments and disfigurements, pain and suffering, lost wages and future earnings, loss of companionship, and loss of property. Our recent settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases involving injuries or death have ranged from very small, to up to $6M.
Ohio Motorcycle and Helmet Laws
Most motorcycle operators and passengers do not need to wear a helmet in Ohio, per state law. This, unfortunately, may lead to more injuries and deaths for those who choose not to wear a helmet: on average, in states without a universal helmet law, 59% of motorcyclists killed in crashes were not wearing helmets. Ohio does, however, require that novice riders and anyone under 18 years old wear a helmet while operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. Additionally, all bikers, no matter their age or experience, must wear eye protection unless wearing a mask with a windscreen.
Ohio motorcycle insurance law says that you must insure your motorcycle. Liability insurance is the minimum insurance for motorcycles in Ohio.
What about lane splitting in Ohio?
Lane splitting in Ohio is a common concern for motorcyclists. Lane splitting, when motorcyclists share the lane with another vehicle to pass it, is legal in some states. In Ohio, motorcyclists must not ride more than two abreast in a single lane, except on paths that are specifically for motorcycle use. Motorcyclists and bicyclists should ride near the right side of the roadway as practical, except when “unreasonable or unsafe to do so”:
Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. (O.R.C. 4511.55)
Ohio Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Ways to Prevent Them
Besides a helmet, there is little to protect a motorcycle rider from his or her surroundings. You are 40 percent more likely to die in a motorcycle crash if you’re not wearing a helmet. At the very least, in a motorcycle accident involving another vehicle, the biker almost always suffers the worst injuries.
Here are the most common motorcycle accident injuries our office comes across:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Road rash
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle damage
- “Biker’s arm” (when a rider holds out his or her arm to brace their fall)
- Injuries to the knees and feet
While you can never be completely protected from motorcycle accidents, the following steps will greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a motorcycle crash:
- Purchase helmets that fit well and bright clothing that increases visibility.
- Never drink and drive.
- Ride the speed limit and don’t tailgate.
- Only split lanes when it’s safe to do so.
- Always signal.
- Never enter an intersection unless you’re sure the other drivers see you.
- Be aware of cars that may turn left in front of you and other situations where cars may not see you. Be sure you are visible to the drivers around you at all times.
- Maintain your motorcycle properly, including turn lights, brakes, oil and fuel levels, and mirrors.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Crash: Contact an Attorney
The moments after a motorcycle accident are hectic. If you’ve been in a crash, you may have been seriously injured. If possible, however, anyone in a crash should take the time to do the following steps to ensure their own safety and put themselves in a position to best protect their legal rights:
- Stop and remain at the scene. Summon emergency services if necessary. If you have been injured, do not move. Wait for emergency medical personnel to arrive.
- Take photos of the crash site, the damage to the vehicles, and your injuries.
- Gather information about the parties involved. Get phone numbers and addresses for anyone involved in the motorcycle accident and anyone who may have witnessed the wreck.
- Be very specific when writing down details. There is so much going on after a crash that you won’t remember everything that’s happening. Writing down times, locations, positions, and more could go a long way toward proving your case if you are not at fault.
- File a police report and make sure to get a copy.
- Do not discuss the specifics of the accident and do not admit fault. Do not give any statement to an insurance company until you have spoken to an attorney.
- Don’t repair your motorcycle. You may be tempted to do so, but preserving your motorcycle and having it examined by an expert is crucial to your personal injury case.
After each of these steps, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash, call us today at 1-855-4-PLEVIN or contact us online. The consultation is always free, and we’re always standing by to help.
Motorcycle Accident Legal FAQs
Can I get compensation for my injuries?
Unless the accident was entirely your fault, you can seek compensation for your injuries. Even if you think part of the fault may lie with you, you should still speak with an attorney about seeking compensation.
Does it matter whether I was the operator or a passenger?
Yes. Passengers are almost never at fault, so they are in a better position to secure compensation. A passenger can recover damages from either the driver of the motorcycle he or she was riding or the other vehicle in the crash — or perhaps both.
What’s the process for getting compensation?
Typically, most cases start with filing a claim with an insurance company. But an insurance company will likely offer you a lowball figure to settle the claim. It may take an experienced injury attorney to make sure you are fully compensated for what happened.
What does comparative negligence mean when determining who is liable for a motorcycle accident?
Comparative negligence assigns a level of fault to drivers based on how their carelessness contributed to the crash.
Will my health insurance coverage or paid sick leave from work limit my recovery for a motorcycle accident?
Your own health insurance carrier could mandate that you reimburse them out of your settlement for monies paid to treat your motorcycle accident injuries.
I was in a motorcycle accident, but I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Can I still recover damages from the other driver?
Different states have different laws requiring helmets and what the repercussions are if you fail to do so. In Ohio, the law is age- and experience-specific. Anyone under 18 or who is considered a novice must wear a helmet. If you have suffered a head injury but were not wearing a helmet, it does not necessarily eliminate your chances of recovering any compensation. It could, however, factor into your case if it’s proven that your decision to not wear a helmet contributed to your own injuries.
Do I have to tell police if I am involved in a traffic accident?
Generally speaking, yes. If there has been an injury, death or property damage, you must call police, who will write an accident report.