Hartford Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Many people are attracted to motorcycles due to their image, which historically links them with rebellion, freedom, and power. Motorcycles also offer an ease of maneuverability and the experience of traveling at highway speeds without the constraint of a metal compartment enclosing you. Unfortunately, as experienced Hartford motorcycle accident lawyers, we can tell you that these same draws make motorcycles more prone to accidents with other vehicles.
The rider’s openness also means that accidents, when they happen, tend to result in severe injuries. The lack of standard safety devices like airbags and seatbelts coupled with no reinforced passenger compartment exposes riders to excessive force during collisions. Additionally, protective clothing and helmets can only help so much when speeds reach or exceed 50 miles an hour.
Where, When, and Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are roughly 16 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than a passenger in a car, and their likelihood of suffering injuries is four times higher. The NHTSA also found that only 20 percent of all car crashes result in fatalities or injuries, but as our Hartford personal injury lawyers note, this number jumps to 80 percent for motorcycle crashes.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation reported that more than 50 motorcyclists die on the roads in the state every year. In addition, there were 68 motorcycle accident deaths in the state in 2021, which was the highest count in 30 years.
The Hartford Courant highlighted areas that routinely see more deaths and injuries from motorcycle accidents in Connecticut, and they include:
- Farmington Avenue/Route 6 in Bristol. From 2010 to 2013, there were 24 motorcycle accidents on this route, which exceeds roughly 4.4 accidents every mile. This street is a highly dense commercial area and features a left-turn intersection with multiple roads leading to and from it. When motorists fail to give riders the right-of-way, accidents happen.
- Interstate highways in Harford. Hartford has several interstate highways running through the county, and there were 42 motorcycle accidents on these roads in the same period. A lot of these accidents happened where multiple highways intersect before branching off to get to downtown.
- Routes 69, 72, and 229 in Bristol. These are more rural roads that had 46 motorcycle accidents happen from 2010 to 2013. Also, in total, the accidents on these roads worked out to 5.21 accidents per mile.
Multiple contributing factors could be the leading cause of these accidents, but a few of the biggest ones in Connecticut include:
- Alcohol use. Having alcohol present in the body can impair a driver’s reflexes, judgment, focus, and vision. So, since motorcycles are already more difficult to spot on the road, an impaired driver has an increased risk of striking a motorcyclist because they couldn’t react fast enough or didn’t look for them. Research showed that alcohol played a role in 27 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes.
- Cars making left-hand turns. A driver may fail to signal before making a left-hand turn and crash with a motorcycle, or they may fail to yield to oncoming traffic. Some drivers have challenges judging a motorcycle’s speed and distance, and they may start to turn left while the motorcycle approaches quicker than they realize.
- Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions can happen when a driver veers or drifts into oncoming traffic due to feeling fatigued, distracted, intoxicated, or falling asleep. Since most motorcycles only come equipped with one headlight, drivers may fail to realize that they’re driving straight for an oncoming motorcycle.
- Lane splitting. Lane splitting involves riding a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or on road lines. It also encompasses situations where vehicles drive in the same traffic lane as the motorcyclist and the driver doesn’t move into the other lane when they pass the motorcycle.
- Speeding. Excess speed is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents, and 34 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020 were due to excessive speeds. When drivers go too fast, they have far less opportunity to avoid a collision or brake than other vehicles.
The Insurance Information Institute showed that most motorcycle accidents happened between 3 and 9 p.m. on weekends and weekdays. While you could attribute these times to heavy rush hour traffic, the fading light and reduced visibility also factor into these peak crash times.
Hartford Law Firm Holding Negligent Individuals Accountable
Although riding a motorcycle offers freedom on the open road, it can also be risky because motorcyclists don’t have the same protection as traditional cars or trucks. Because of this, Connecticut has several important motorcycle laws that any rider should know before they hit the road.
If you sustain injuries from a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Hartford motorcycle accident attorneys to review your options. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and non-economic damages.
Eye Protection Law
Under CGS § 14-289d, all motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear protective eye gear — like glasses, goggles, or a face shield — if their motorcycle doesn’t have a windscreen or windshield.
Connecticut is one of 28 states with a partial helmet law, requiring that only specific riders have helmets on and fastened. CGS § 14-289g requires every motorcycle passenger or operator under 18 to wear a helmet or face a $90 fine. In addition, CGS § 14-40a (b) requires anyone who applies for a motorcycle endorsement to wear a helmet while they have a training permit. Failure to wear one could result in a $50 fine from the Hartford police department for the first offense and 30 days in jail or a $100 fine for any additional offenses.
In Connecticut, all motor vehicles have to provide proof of insurance that covers damage to property and bodily injury to people caused by the motorcyclist’s actions. The state requires all motorcyclists to have a minimum of:
- $10,000 for property damage per accident
- $20,000 for bodily injury per person and $40,000 per accident
Lane Splitting Laws
Connecticut laws give motorcyclists the same privileges and rights as other motorists, including the right to use a single traffic lane. So, CGS § 14-289b forbids more than one motorcycle to travel in a single lane simultaneously. Also, the motorcyclist can’t pass or overtake another vehicle in the same lane, and they can’t operate between lanes of traffic.
Motorcycle Endorsement Requirements
Riders don’t have to have a separate motorcycle license in Connecticut, but they do have to have a standard driver’s license and a motorcycle endorsement. Even though the law doesn’t require riders to get a new license, there are several steps to take to get this endorsement, including:
- Paying the required fees
- Testing for the permit
- Successfully completing a vision and knowledge test
- Optional riding time using a learner’s permit
- Completing a motorcycle training course, including skills and classroom training
If the operator has a learner’s permit, they can’t have passengers on the motorcycle. Any driver who obtains a motorcycle endorsement must wait 90 days before they can transport passengers, and 16- and 17-year-old operators can’t have passengers for six months after successfully getting their motorcycle endorsement. Once drivers reach the six-month mark, they can carry passengers. However, if they only have a single seat attached to the driver’s seat, the law only allows for a single additional rider. If they have two seats, they can have two additional people, and so on.
How Much Is My Motorcycle Crash Case Worth?
One of the deciding factors in determining how much a settlement is worth is proving who was at fault. The victim is responsible for providing as much evidence as possible to determine if another entity or person caused the accident. The settlement’s value can drop if the person can’t prove it. If the cause of the accident is unclear, your motorcycle lawyer and the insurance company may go to court.
Additionally, Connecticut has a modified comparative negligence law. This law dictates that the victim in a motorcycle accident will only be entitled to a settlement if they are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. Also, the court will decide how much the victim was at fault for the accident and subtract this percentage from the final settlement.
A settlement for a motorcycle accident will vary from case to case since many factors contribute to the final decision from the insurance company or jury. While damages greatly influence the settlement amount, there are other details to keep in mind. For example, many motorcycle crash lawyers use lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills to help calculate the loss.
Medical bills and lost wages are the easiest to calculate using wage reports and medical bills. However, pain and suffering or non-economic losses are much more complex, and it typically comes down to the motorcycle lawyer making an educated guess. To make this guess, the lawyer will look at similar accidents in Hartford and the compensation amounts. The victim may be entitled to compensation in the following common areas:
- Health or physical rehabilitation bills
- Home health aid service costs
- Home renovation costs to make it more accessible
- Vehicle modification for loss of limb
- Vocational rehabilitation bills
The damage amount will also depend on the available assets the at-fault party has. The final settlement may not exceed their insurance company’s liability limit if they don’t possess many material assets. Having a good motorcycle injury attorney can help the victim recoup proper compensation for their damages, but the most common settlement amounts are discussed below.
It can be complicated to figure out the damages regarding soft-tissue injuries since they are usually minor. However, the average payout typically gets close to the following:
- Ankle sprains – $15,000
- Herniated discs – $100,000 to $350,000
- Shoulder injuries – $20,000
- Whiplash injuries – $2,500 to $10,000
While soft-tissue injuries are much more common, they are usually not severe. As a result, injuries like a concussion may get a settlement ranging from $70,000 to $100,000, depending on the severity. On the other end of the spectrum, a traumatic brain injury can entitle the victim to a settlement of $185,000 up to $1 million in the worst-case scenarios.
Is Maryland an At-Fault State for Motorcycle Accident and Injury Claims?
Maryland is an at-fault state. So, if you were in a motorcycle accident and sustained injuries in Maryland, the negligence law will factor into your claim. The driver who was at fault for the accident is responsible for your injuries. The contributory negligence law may make you accountable for a portion of the damages and injuries from your motorcycle accident if a jury finds you partially at fault.
Hartford is a very scenic area, and city riding is a popular pastime for motorcycle enthusiasts. The roads that run through the city make it easy for motorcyclists to get from place to place, and the curvy roads provide unique challenges. If you’re new to the area or looking for scenic spots to ride in Hartford County, consider the following:
- Durham to Old Lyme (42 miles). This ride will take you through all the smaller towns in the southern part of Hartford, and you’ll end up in the Devil’s Hopyard State Park. You’ll experience scenic waterfalls and streams with dense forests on this curvy but short ride here.
- Route 49 (22 miles). This scenic ride through Pachaug State Forest in eastern Connecticut will bring you very close to the Rhode Island state line. You’ll drive on open stretches of road with hilltop views and farmland.
- Route 7 (40 miles). You’ll start at New Milford and end up in North Canaan with this route, and it’ll take you along the Housatonic River for most of the journey. You’ll experience wide-open scenery and tight curves.
- Stanford Springs to Quinebaug (22 miles). Navigate through very tight corners and hills through deep forest scenery and northeastern Connecticut’s residential area. If you get on Route 171, you’ll end up in the Bigelow Hollow State Park region, where you’ll experience tons of hills.
- Winstead to Granby (24 miles). This ride takes you right through the scenic Tunxis State Forest, and you’ll see perfect countryside views with exciting elevation changes and sweeping curves. This route will also take you to the Connecticut hills and the Barkhamsted Reservoir.
However, it’s important to note that city riding isn’t for everyone due to how busy and congested the roads can get. You have to be very aware of your surroundings to prevent accidents.
Hartford Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
Anyone who sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident should enlist an experienced legal team to help navigate the legal system. At Hassett & George, our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers have a reputation for fighting for the damages our clients deserve. No matter if your injuries came from an accident involving an off-road bike, street bike, moped, scooter, or another type of motorcycle, our motorcycle accident law firm is here to help. If you or your loved one has been in a motorcycle crash, we encourage you to reach out and contact us to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.
In addition to Hartford our injury law firm serves a number of locations in and around Hartford County including: Simsbury, Glastonbury, New Britain, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Danbury, Norwalk, Manchester, Windsor, Farmington, Windsor Locks, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Avon, Bloomfield, Bristol, Enfield, Newington, South Windsor, Southington, Plainville and more. We encourage you to fill out our secure online form to schedule a meeting with our lawyers today.