It is a traumatic experience to receive the life-altering news that a loved one has died in a motorcycle accident. As a surviving family member of a motorcycle accident victim, you likely have many questions about the events leading up to the accident and who may be responsible. The aftermath of a loved one’s motorcycle accident death can fill with uncertainty, grief, and confusion.
As you navigate the difficult process of making arrangements following your loved one’s death and figuring out how you will move forward, you may encounter many questions and challenges.
Understanding the rights of a motorcycle rider and the laws that pertain to motorcycle accidents resulting in a fatality is crucial, and seeking legal assistance from a wrongful death lawyer can help you make informed decisions and support your family through the process.
Seeking Justice After the Death of a Loved One in a Motorcycle Crash
Sadly, many motorcycle accidents end in fatalities. The sheer nature of a motorcycle colliding with a vehicle is a destructive force where the rider is often the most at risk of suffering life-ending injuries. In the U.S., motorcyclists account for approximately 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths. In a period of just one year, over 5,000 individual riders or passengers on a motorcycle will lose their life in a motorcycle collision. The deaths of motorcyclists continue to rise.
As the family of a motorcycle accident victim, you may feel a responsibility to seek justice on behalf of your loved one. If your loved one’s death was the result of the negligence of another party or driver, you might have a basis to seek damages against those at fault through a claim or lawsuit for wrongful death.
How Do Most Motorcycle Accident Deaths Occur?
It is easy for insurers or other parties to try to pin the blame for a motorcycle crash on the victim that lost their life. However, the reality is that accidents do not occur spontaneously. Often other drivers put the life of a motorcyclist in peril.
When an accident between a vehicle and a motorcycle rider occurs, the reckless actions of a motor vehicle driver may have led to your loved one’s death. When another driver causes your loved one’s death, they may, in turn, be liable for the harm they cause.
Common causes of motorcycle accident deaths include:
- Distracted drivers. Car drivers preoccupied with things other than the road ahead of them are at higher risk of causing accidents and harm to others near them. Motorcycle riders are particularly in danger of distracted drivers as they may fail to see them riding beside the vehicle or may fail to see them stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.
- Drivers under the influence. Vehicle drivers that drink and drive or are under the influence of drugs suffer significant limitations in their ability to drive safely and remain aware of others on the roadways, such as motorcyclists.
- Reckless driving. Reckless or aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating or making sudden lane changes can endanger the life of a motorcyclist. Just one bump from a vehicle can send a motorcyclist out of control or will cause them to fall off their bikes onto the pavement and into the path of other traffic.
- Failure to follow traffic signs and laws. The purpose of all traffic lights, signs, and laws is to maintain order on the road and prevent chaos. When drivers fail to follow the rules, they can cause catastrophic accidents involving motorcyclists and others on the road.
- Speeding. Driving at excess speeds makes it more difficult for drivers to identify motorcyclists and dangers on the road that they would otherwise be able to avoid. Speeding makes it harder for drivers to react and stop when necessary.
When Is a Motorcycle Accident Death a Wrongful Death?
Not all motorcycle accident deaths are wrongful deaths under the law, but many of them are. When the actions of other drivers or parties on the roadways contribute to the death of a motorcyclist, they may be negligent under the law and, in turn, liable for the damages that occur.
A wrongful death is any death that the negligent actions of another individual or party caused.
Who Can Bring Forward a Wrongful Death Claim After a Motorcycle Accident?
Wrongful death claims are not open to anyone to make. To file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit on behalf of a family member killed in a motorcycle accident, the individual bringing forward the claim must have standing under the law. Different jurisdictions may have varying interpretations and rules as to who may bring forth a wrongful death motorcycle accident claim.
In general, it is close relatives that may file such an action. Additionally, the familial relationship between the victim and interested claimant and who survives the deceased victim will play a part in who can bring the claim.
For example, in most states, the law gives preference to a spouse to bring forward a wrongful death claim after a motorcycle accident death. However, if at the time of the victim’s death, they were not married or the spouse is no longer alive, then other family members may be able to bring the claim on the victim’s behalf.
In some states, it is not the family directly that brings a claim of wrongful death but rather a representative of the decedent’s estate. Speaking to a wrongful death attorney can help you better understand who may bring a claim of wrongful death for your family member after their death in a motorcycle crash.
Family members who may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit include:
- A Spouse
- Surviving parents
- Other dependents
Filing a Claim for a Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Versus Filing a Lawsuit
The legal recourse and options available after a wrongful death from a motorcycle crash can depend on the circumstances and facts surrounding your loved one’s death and the parties involved.
When considering what you will do following your loved one’s unexpected passing from a motorcycle accident, you should discuss your rights under the law with a motorcycle accident wrongful death attorney.
In many instances when a wrongful death occurs in a collision between a motorcycle rider and vehicle, there is liability insurance in place that may cover some, if not most, of the possible damages.
It is common for most wrongful death cases to proceed through an insurance claim on behalf of the motorcycle accident victim. Through negotiations between your attorney and the insurer, you may reach an agreement as to the damages to your family. However, if an agreement is not possible or there are material facts or issues in dispute, your attorney may suggest filing a lawsuit against the insurance company or the party at fault through the court.
In most cases of a motorcycle accident death caused by negligence, a claimant may have the choice to file a claim, lawsuit, or both, depending on the coverage available and the circumstances of the case.
The Damages the Law May Entitle You to Pursue as Part of a Motorcycle Wrongful Death Case
No amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. Seeking compensation through a wrongful death case does not take away your grief, pain, or unimaginable loss. The compensation for damages you may seek through a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is to help your family find stability and security as your process the loss of your loved one and continue to live your lives as best you can.
A wrongful death motorcycle accident attorney can guide you through the calculation of compensation that may be available in the case. Where the accident occurs can affect the damages available to a family seeking a wrongful death claim. Understanding the extent of monetary compensation your family may be eligible for under the state’s law can help you work through negotiations of a wrongful death claim or possible lawsuit.
Motorcycle accident wrongful death damages may include:
- Medical expenses incurred after the accident but before your loved one’s death
- Pain and suffering experienced by your loved one if they survive the initial impact from the crash
- Loss of income and contribution of your loved one to the family
- Pain and suffering and loss of companionship of the family members filing the claim
- Benefits, inheritance, and other monetary losses that occur because of your loved one’s unexpected and premature death
What Should You Do After the Sudden Loss of a Loved One in a Motorcycle Accident?
Navigating the path following the death of a loved one in a motorcycle crash is difficult. You may not know where or how to start handling the mountain of responsibilities and obstacles that may arise after the tragic and sudden loss of your family member.
With patience and purpose, you can approach the challenging time to try to help your family and yourself through it while protecting any rights you may have to seek justice for your loved one.
Take Time to Grieve
There is no set time for you to grieve; you must go through the process at your pace and with the understanding that you will have many ups and downs. While some may find relief in handling affairs sooner rather than later, others may need more time to feel ready to face the difficult responsibilities that await. Take your time to take care of your needs and the needs of other family members that may be suffering with you.
Seek Support From Your Network
It is not always easy to ask for help, but it is sometimes necessary. Whether the help is support from your closest friends and family or professional help from a mental health provider, you should do what you can to help yourself through this overwhelming and difficult time.
Speak With a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
It may not be first on your list, and it may be something you are not looking forward to but contacting a motorcycle accident wrongful death lawyer may actually help you more than you may think.
As you grieve, process your loss, and make the decision to protect and help your family moving forward, the last thing you want to manage is the day-to-day phone calls, messages, or inquiries from insurance companies and other possible interested parties. A motorcycle accident attorney can take this added pressure and stress off of you and your family to allow you the space and time you need to handle your personal affairs.
By calling a wrongful death attorney, you can protect your loved one and your family’s rights and allow them to handle the legal aspects of the aftermath of a motorcycle accident death. If you lose a loved one, you may recover compensation that can facilitate your family’s future and recovery after your tragic loss.