Motorcyclists in Southern Minnesota have the legal right to expect drivers of other vehicles to share the road responsibly. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Too often, drivers crowd motorcyclists out of lanes, turn into the path of oncoming motorcycles, and engage in aggressive or careless driving that puts bikers at risk.
It’s not as if motorcyclists didn’t already have hazards to worry about. Poor road conditions limit maneuverability and control. Road debris, soft shoulders, and wildlife (especially deer) create a constant menace to safe travel.
Bikers have scarce protection against injury in a wreck – often little more than a helmet and padded gear to protect them from road rash. Even at low speeds, motorcyclists suffer severe injuries or die when their bikes collide with other vehicles or a stationary objects, or when they lose control and have to bail.
If a Rochester-area motorcycle accident leaves you or a loved one injured or worse, and it wasn’t your fault, you likely deserve compensation. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help. Contact Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers today to learn more.
Patterson Dahlberg – Lawyers for Injured Motorcyclists
In the ten years since its founding, Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers in Rochester, Minnesota, has achieved more than $120,000,000 in settlements and judgments on behalf of its injured clients and their families. Our attorneys practice personal injury and workers’ compensation law exclusively.
We believe innocent victims of other people’s irresponsible conduct deserve attorneys with the skill and experience to face down large insurance companies and well-funded opponents. We pride ourselves on providing personalized, compassionate client service. With Patterson Dahlberg, you’ll always know what’s happening in your case and get a prompt answer when you call us with a question.
The Stats on Motorcycle Accidents Plaguing Minnesota Roads
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) collects and publishes detailed records of motorcycle crashes (and other motor vehicle accidents) in the Land of a Thousand Lakes. They’re not pretty. Every year, dozens of motorcyclists die in accidents on Minnesota roads. Around a thousand more bikers get injured annually on average. According to OTS, the greatest concentrations of motorcycle injuries and deaths occur in-and-around the Twin Cities, not surprisingly. But Olmsted County sees its share of motorcycle accident-related tragedy, too.
OTS also reports the “first harmful event” in statewide motorcycle crashes. Far-and-away, the most common contributing factor to motorcycle accidents is an action by another motor vehicle. In particular, motor vehicles cause motorcycle crashes when they fail to yield the right-of-way to a motorcycle, drive carelessly, make improper turns, and follow too closely. Motorcyclists colliding with fixed objects, losing control and flipping/rolling over, and running into wildlife usually place a distant second, third, and fourth on the list of accident-precipitating events. The bulk of all motorcycle crashes happen in the evening.
Finally, OTS collects and reports data on factors affecting injuries and fatalities. Men are far, far more likely to get injured or killed in motorcycle accidents than women (representing 85% of all bikers killed or injured), which isn’t too surprising considering men also make up the vast majority of motorcyclists. Another unsurprising fact: helmet use plays a significant role in preventing motorcycle fatalities. In any given year, roughly two-thirds of all motorcycle fatalities involved a rider or passenger not wearing a helmet. Also, around 40%, on average, of all fatalities involve a biker with alcohol in his/her system.
Legal Liability for Motorcycle Crashes in Minnesota
Unlike the laws applicable to four-wheeled vehicles, Minnesota does not require motorcyclists to carry “personal injury protection” (a.k.a. PIP or “no-fault”) insurance covering them for injuries they sustain in an accident. Motorcyclists have the option of purchasing this coverage, however. If they purchase PIP coverage, motorcyclists injured in a wreck can seek compensation from their own insurer for their injuries regardless of who is at fault in an accident, up to the limits of their policy.
When motorcyclists do not carry PIP insurance, or when the injuries they sustain in an accident exceed the limits of their coverage, the circumstances of an accident may entitle motorcyclists to take legal action for damages against the party at fault. Any of the following parties may have liability to injured motorcyclists and the families of bikers killed in accidents:
- Other drivers (and their employers, if applicable). The statistics above show an unfortunate reality: drivers of four-wheeled vehicles pose a significant danger to motorcyclists. When a car or truck carelessly runs a motorcycle off the road, cuts a motorcycle off, or fails to yield the right of way, the driver of that vehicle may have legal liability for the motorcyclist’s injuries and losses. When the motorist who causes the accident is on the job and behind the wheel of a company vehicle, that driver’s employer may also face liability.
- Municipal governments and road agencies. Preventable road hazards can cause motorcyclists to lose control. Everyone understands that roads take a beating throughout the year in Minnesota. No road surface is perfect all the time. But, when a government agency responsible for maintaining roads in a minimally safe condition fails to do its job, it may have liability to injured motorcyclists who lose control because of a road condition that should have been fixed.
- Bike equipment manufacturers. Sometimes fault for a biker’s injuries lies with the companies that make bikes, bike parts, and biker safety equipment. When those products have defects that make them unreasonably unsafe, anyone injured as a result of the defects can seek compensation from manufacturers.
- Alcohol vendors. Under Minnesota’s so-called “dram shop law,” when an intoxicated person (say, a drunk-driver) causes injury to others, those injured can seek compensation from anyone who “illegally sold” alcohol to the intoxicated person.
- Present and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages and loss of ability to earn an income;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages in certain cases in which the defendant shows “deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.”
These are just a few examples. Every motorcycle accident has its own unique facts and circumstances. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can investigate an accident and identify the parties who may have legal liability to an injured client for damages. In the typical motorcycle accident case, those damages may include compensation for:
Your Rochester, Minnesota Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If a motorcycle accident in Southern Minnesota leaves you injured or mourning the death of a loved one, do not wait to contact the skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers. You may have the right to recover significant compensation if you act soon. Contact us today 507-424-3000 or visit us online to schedule a free case consultation with a member of our team.