Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
All too frequently, the failure of motorists to see a motorcycle results in catastrophic injury. The driver of the other vehicle either does not see the motorcycle before the collision or does not see it soon enough to avoid the collision. Our accident lawyers represent motorcycle crash victims nationwide to help them obtain compensation for their personal injury, medical expenses, and other financial and emotional hardships. Our nationally board certified civil trial attorneys have more than 50 years of collective experience helping victims of motorcycle accidents, ATV accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents. They work closely with motorcycle accident investigators and other experts to help ensure that justice is served.
Recovery from Motorcycle Accidents
Because motorcycles do not offer the physical protection that cars do, motorcycle riders are much more susceptible to catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), broken limbs, road rash, spinal cord injuries, and even wrongful death. You can also view our TBI Resource Guide for advice on dealing with the pain of living with a brain injury.
Each year, thousands of bikers are seriously injured or killed in motorcycle accidents, but they and their families do not receive the personal injury compensation to which they are entitled. Insurance companies often initially offer collision victims small settlements. This can leave motorcycle crash victims without the resources they need to pay for medical bills, rehabilitation, bike repairs, and other expenses. A motorcycle accident attorney will offer you a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by calling one now.
Our Indianapolis accident lawyers can determine the true value of your case and the amount to which you are entitled. We have obtained million-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Victims who try to handle their own legal affairs after a serious motorcycle accident are often left bearing the majority of the expenses from an accident that was not their fault.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Familiarize yourself with the information in the owner’s manual
- Check the tires
- Check to make sure the controls, lights, horn, and turn signals are working
- Check your mirrors to make sure you can see all around you
- Check to ensure adequate levels of fuel, oil, and, if applicable, coolant
- Check your brakes
- Make sure your stand folds up properly and, if you have a chain-drive, make sure the chain is in good condition and has proper tension
- Keep an eye out for road hazards
- Stay visible – keep your headlamps on, wear bright colors, and always signal
- Use your horn if you have to
- Stay out of blind spots
- Keep your eyes moving – do not focus on one thing; otherwise, you may not spot a hazard
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles, especially in the dark
- Check traffic at intersections before turning or riding through
- Check your blind spots by turning to look before changing lanes
- Avoid passing if a corner is coming
- Avoid riding at dusk; that is when visibility is at its worst
- Keep your face shield scratch free to avoid tricks with oncoming headlights
When automobile drivers act with little respect or regard towards motorcycle drivers, they put them at incredible risk for enduring injuries in motorcycle accidents throughout Indiana. Even though an automobile driver could be at fault, it’s much less likely for motorcyclists to recover compensation for specific injuries that occur in many motorcycle accidents.
Studies have found that motorcycles are much more dangerous than driving cars for a variety of reasons. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you are about 35 times more likely to die in an accident while operating a motorcycle as opposed to being a car passenger, and you are about eight times more likely to be injured while operating a motorcycle.
One of the major problems that many Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers must face is the stereotype that motorcycle accident victims are risky and reckless on the road. This stereotype makes defending motorcycle accident victims much more difficult.
What this page aims to do is give anyone the proper information that they need to prepare for a motorcycle accident case by providing a comprehensive overview of Indiana’s motorcycle laws and legal information, the actual Indiana Penal Code as associated with motorcycle laws, causes of motorcycle accidents, what you can do in terms of prevention, and the common questions that are associated with motorcycle crash claims and lawsuit information.
Driving motorcycles are substantially different than driving trucks or cars, and that’s exactly why motorcycles have their own unique set of laws and regulations that vary between states. If you aren’t familiar with Indiana’s motorcycle laws and regulations, this section will serve as a run-down of all the essential information you need to know.
Obtaining an Indiana Motorcycle Endorsement
There are a lot of regulations and laws that someone must go through to legally be able to operate a motorcycle in Indiana, and it’s important to understand that Indiana’s motorcycle license laws have changed in recent years. In the past Indiana offered a Motorcycle Only license, but today these are no longer distributed. Everyone must now apply for a motorcycle endorsement that is added on to a current operator, chauffeur or public passenger driver’s license. Also, Indiana used to offer a temporary permit and a learner’s permit, but today there are only learner’s permits.
Essentially, when it comes to operating a motorcycle in Indiana you must obtain a motorcycle endorsement that is an add-on to your valid operator, chauffeur or public passenger base license. In order to get a motorcycle endorsement you have two options. You can either obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit or you have to pass a Motorcycle Operator Safety Education course, which is based off the general Motorcycle Operator’s Manual.
In order to obtain an Indiana Motorcycle Learner’s Permit, you’ll have to visit your local Indiana BMV office and:
- Provide a valid operator, chauffeur or public passenger base license
- Present proof of identity, your Social Security number, lawful status in the U.S. and two documents that provide proof of residence in Indiana
- Pass both written knowledge and vision tests (Get there early!)
- Pay the $9 fee
Ride Safe Indiana (RSI) offers Basic Rider Courses that include 5 hours of classroom work and 10 hours of riding exercises. In the classroom you’ll learn about the following:
- Different types of motorcycles
- The impact of alcohol and/or drugs on motorcycle riders
- Protective gear
- Basic riding skills
- Riding strategies and mental skills
- Advanced turning and other physical skills
You are required to have a valid motorcycle learner’s permit to take an RSI course, and if you pass both the written and on-cycle examinations then you will qualify to waive the skills test when you go to get your motorcycle endorsement from the Indiana BMV.
New to Indiana?
If you are new to Indiana and have an out-of-state motorcycle license then you can transfer that license to an Indiana motorcycle endorsement, but you have to obtain an operator, chauffeur or public passenger Indiana driver’s license before you can add the endorsement. In order to get an operator license and add a motorcycle endorsement, you need to take knowledge and skills tests. There are certain circumstances for out-of-state safety courses to meet the same criteria for Indiana courses, but the course must have been completed within 1 year of applying for a motorcycle endorsement in Indiana.
Indiana Motorcycle Laws and Regulations
The following is a very brief overview of everything that you need to know in terms of Indiana’s motorcycle laws and regulations:
- Everyone under 18 is required to wear a safety helmet when operating or riding on a motorcycle, but this doesn’t apply when the motorcycle is operating off roads. Helmets are required for Learner’s Permit holders and there are no regulations in Indiana in terms of helmet speakers.
- It’s also important to understand that if you get in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet in Indiana you could face financial consequences, even if the crash was obviously not your fault. That’s because Indiana uses a comparative fault rule in personal injury cases, so the plaintiff shares some amount of blame for their own injuries, and financially that means the plaintiff must reduce damages compensation by the percentage that is equal to their portion of fault. In order to obtain any recovery for any motorcycle accident a cyclist must prove they were held to be 50% or less at fault.
- As previously stated, all eligible applicants must take a rider’s education program, but a rider can skip the education program if they pass a skills test.
- Passenger seats and footrests are required if you carry a passenger on your motorcycle.
- Handlebars can be no higher than 15 inches above the seat.
- Periodic safety inspections are not required in Indiana like in many other states.
- All motorcycles that were manufactured after January 1, 1956 must have rear-view mirrors, turn signals and a speedometer.
- Indiana has no regulations in terms of general maximum sound levels or muffler sounds that a motorcycle can produce, which is different from many other states.
- There isn’t a motorcycle Lemon Law coverage in Indiana.
- It is required to use your headlights during the day in order to make yourself more visible to other drivers.
- Two motorcycles can drive along side one another in the same lane when they have consent, but a motorcycle and another vehicle CAN NOT SHARE A LANE. There has been some misinformation online recently stating that lane sharing is legal in Indiana, but the Indiana Penal Code Sec. 9-21-10-6 states that a motorcycle, “may not be driven or operated in a manner that deprives another vehicle of the full use of a traffic lane.” In terms of motorcycle accidents, it’s probable that the majority of fault will be assigned to a motorcyclist if they were lane splitting.
- It is required that Indiana motorcyclists obtain Compulsory Liability insurance, with the minimum limits.
Indiana’s Penal Code
In order to fully understand the current motorcycle laws in Indiana we’ve provided the exact letter of the law in terms of Indiana Code 9-19-7 that deals with Motorcycle Equipment.
Sec. 1: Individuals less than 18 years of age, who is operating or riding on a motorcycle on the streets or highways must do the following:
- Wear protective headgear meeting the minimum state standards
- Wear protective glasses, goggles or transparent face shields
Sec. 2. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a motorcycle operated on the streets or highways by a resident of Indiana must meet the following requirements:
- Be equipped with handlebars that rise no more than 15 inches above the level of the driver’s seat, when occupied.
- Be equipped with brakes in good working order for both front and rear wheels.
- Be equipped with footrests or pegs for both operator and passenger.
- Be equipped with lamps and reflectors meeting the United States Department of Transportation standards.
- (b) A motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1956 is not required to be equipped with lamps or other illuminating devices under subsection (a) if the motorcycle is not operated at times when lighted head lamps and other illuminating devices are required under IC 9-21-7-2.
Sec. 2.5. A motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1956 is not required to be equipped with the following devices:
- A rear view mirror
- A speedometer
- Electric or mechanical turn signals
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents & Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 an estimated 92,000 motorcyclists were injured and about 4,600 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Some may assume that the majority of the fault for these accidents rests with the motorcyclists themselves, but the truth is that the number one cause of motorcycle accidents is automobile drivers who fail to see, or don’t look for, motorcycles while out on the road.
Forty percent (40%)of the 4,600 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2014 occurred because a car driver unexpectedly turned left while a motorcyclist was passing or going straight. Motorcycle crashes also happen very frequently when a car driver fails to check their blind spot before changing lanes, and when people park on the street and open their doors in the path of an oncoming motorcyclist.
Although motorist error is a major cause of motorcycle accidents, there still is a certain amount of blame that can be placed upon motorcyclists when they cause accidents through speeding, lane splitting or making unsafe lane changes. Alcohol is also a major problem involving motorcycle accidents, and 30 percent of the 4,600 motorcyclists who were killed in 2014 had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit.
Also, 25 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes occur when a motorcyclist loses control of their bike and collides with a stationary object. Other very common causes of motorcycle accidents include things like bad weather, poorly maintained roads, and motorcyclists who lack the training or experience maneuvering high-performance motorcycles.
What You Can Do to Prevent Accidents
There are many things every motorcyclist can do in order to prevent the likelihood of getting in an accident. Many prevention methods get overlooked or disregarded even though they can be crucial to saving thousands of lives every year.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to be as prepared as possible for any outing on a motorcycle, and this includes taking your initial safety courses and ensuring that you are legally allowed to be on a motorcycle. The following are some of the common prevention tips that can help you be safe while riding a motorcycle:
- Being aware of your surroundings
- Behave as if other cars can not see you
- Pay attention to the wheels of the cars around you
- Be very careful of any obstructions on a road
- Consistently check your mirrors
- Be cognizant of when cars are turning left at intersections
- Put your hands over your brakes near intersections and when approaching any stops to decrease reaction time
- Avoid getting rear ended by stopping on the side of a lane near intersections
- Try to avoid riding close in between cars while in traffic, and DON’T LANE SPLIT
- Don’t go through tight turns at high speeds
- Never drink and drive!
- Follow speed limits
- Purchase all necessary safety gear including a helmet, boots, globes, leather clothing and body armor
Motorcycle Crash Claim Questions and Lawsuit Information
There are a few steps everyone should know about when it comes to getting in a motorcycle crash, and there are many different questions that people have about their unique circumstances. This section will give you the appropriate steps to follow after a motorcycle accident in Indiana and answer the common questions that most people have about motorcycle crash claims.
Steps to Follow after a Motorcycle Accident
The following are the necessary steps everyone must take when in a motorcycle accident, if of course you aren’t too badly injured in the collision.
Take pictures and detailed notes
This is the major step that should be done immediately after an accident if you aren’t too hurt, and you’ll want to get pictures of your injuries, your motorcycle and the other vehicle involved in order to show the damages and further assist your lawyer’s investigation in the case. You should also keep record of any kind of medical treatment you receive, and any pain and suffering you experience after the accident.
Call your insurance company
Any delays in reporting your motorcycle accident to your insurance company could hurt your case, so it’s important to call your insurance provider immediately after the collision or as soon as you possibly can.
See a doctor
Even if you don’t think you were injured in your motorcycle accident, you need to see a physician as soon as you can. While your doctor examines you, it’s important to be specific about how the accident happened and any pain or injuries you suffered in the incident.
Consult an Indiana motorcycle accident lawyer
This is where we come into the picture, and the truth is that if you don’t contact us and tell us everything about your claim, you may not know the true value of it. We help guide you through the confusing legal process, and ultimately will help rid you of any financial burdens that resulted from the accident.
Common Questions about Motorcycle Crash Claims
The following section is dedicated to answering the important questions that many people have after suffering a motorcycle accident in Indiana.
How do motorcycle accident claims differ from car accident claims?
The main differences between the two claims deal with causes and injuries, and that’s essentially because motorcycle accidents can be caused by several factors that don’t normally apply to car accidents, and the injuries in motorcycle accidents tend to be much more severe. Motorcyclists also tend to face unfair biases from judges, insurance companies and juries. Assumptions of fault can often threaten a motorcycle accident claim without the help of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who helps chip away at these preconceived notions.
Should I see what the insurance company will offer me before I contact a lawyer?
NO! If you speak to an insurance adjuster without consulting an attorney you can put your claim or potential personal injury lawsuit in legitimate jeopardy. It’s particularly not the smartest move to handle insurance claims with motorcycle accident cases because it can result in a smaller settlement. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will look out for your interests, unlike the insurance company, and help fight them for fair compensation.
How do insurance companies determine fault in motorcycle accidents?
Many factors come into play when it comes to how insurance companies determine fault in motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately for motorcyclists, these factors sometimes don’t have much to do with whether or not they were actually the one responsible for causing the accident.
When an accident is reported to an insurance company an agent will begin investigating and reviewing the available evidence, which includes police reports, physical evidence and any other statements that were made at the scene of the accident by witnesses and those involved. Insurance agents tend to use seedy tactics to allow them to build a case against motorcyclists in order to justify denying their claim or reducing their settlements, which is almost always unfair and extremely costly for motorcycle accident victims.
The Indiana Comparative Fault Act allows responsibility for an accident to be divided. So long as an accident victim is less than 50 percent at fault for a particular accident, they can be eligible to seek compensation for their injuries. This gets tricky in terms of proving percentage of fault and is why an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer is always necessary.
What damages could I seek in a motorcycle accident personal injury case?
There are two categories of damages that a motorcycle accident victim can seek, and these include special and general damages.
Special damages are also known as economic damages and can include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Motorcycle replacement and repair expenses
- Lost wages or earnings if injuries prevent victim from working
- Loss of priceless or irreplaceable items
General damages are related to non-monetary losses and can include:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Physical or mental impairment
- Lowered quality of life
Also, if you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another person’s proven negligence then you can claim damages under wrongful death statutes for things like:
- Loss of companionship or love
- Loss of personal services or household
- Funeral and burial expenses