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Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents lead to thousands of devastating injuries and deaths yearly. Motorcycles make up only 3% of registered vehicles, but motorcycle crashes contribute to thousands of injuries and fatalities in traffic accidents.

Motorcycles are inherently dangerous because of their small size and lack of protection. However, human error is usually the root cause of many motorcycle accidents.

Were you or a loved one injured in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else? If so, personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you recover financial compensation from negligent parties.

Contact our motorcycle accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.


How Frequently Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?

While motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic deaths and 4% of occupant injuries in 2020, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

About 84,000 motorcycle riders were injured, and 5,579 died in accidents, increasing the fatality rate by 11% and the injury rate by 17% compared to previous years.

Types of Motorcycle Accidents

A motorcycle accident can occur in several ways, including:

  • Head-On Collisions: Head-on collisions occur when a motorcycle collides with the front of another vehicle. These accidents are the most common causes of catastrophic injuries in motorcyclists.
  • Rear-End Collisions: A rear-end collision occurs when a motorcyclist hits the back of a vehicle or vice versa. Rear-ends are less common than head-on collisions but are just as dangerous.
  • Side-Swipe Accidents: Side-swiping means hitting another vehicle traveling in the same direction. Common causes of motorcycle sideswipe accidents include driver inattention and irresponsible lane splitting.
  • Underride Accidents: Underrides involve vehicles sliding underneath large trucks. Unfortunately, motorcycles are small enough to completely slide under the bed of a truck during a collision.
  • T-Bone Accidents: A T-bone accident occurs when the front of a vehicle strikes the side of another, forming a T shape. T-bone motorcycle accidents usually involve cars failing to see motorcyclists before making left-hand turns.
  • Ejections: If a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop, the rider can get thrown off the vehicle and strike the ground with significant force (along with other objects in their path).

Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

Causes of motorcycle accidents usually stem from a combination of factors, including driver error and environmental hazards. Below are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:


Speeding is the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. When driving above the speed limit, a driver has less time to stop when they perceive danger, reducing the opportunity to react on time. At the same time, the vehicle responds more slowly to braking and more quickly to steering; the latter effect elevates the risk of losing control.

Furthermore, excess speed increases crash severity, potentially leading to more severe or fatal injuries.

Reckless Driving

Aside from speeding, other reckless driving behaviors, such as tailgating, making sudden stops, swerving, and cutting other motorists off, can take other drivers by surprise or encourage aggressive behavior.

Intoxicated Driving

Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is alcohol, which can reduce a driver’s concentration, coordination, vision, and reaction time.

According to the NSC, 27% of riders killed in motorcycle accidents in 2020 were alcohol-impaired.

Distracted Driving

Activities that take away a driver’s eyes and mind from the road can create a dangerous situation. Distracted driving encompasses texting, talking on the phone, using navigation tools, eating, drinking, etc. According to the NSC, cell phones are the most significant cause of driving distractions.

When a car driver is distracted, they have less awareness of other drivers (particularly motorcyclists). Moreover, they may fail to react promptly to hazardous situations or recognize motorcycles on the road.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is riding a motorcycle between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. It allows motorcycle riders to save time by bypassing other vehicles. So far, California is the only state to legalize lane splitting. However, it is a common practice among motorcyclists across the country.

Lane splitting is relatively safe when traffic moves less than 50 mph. However, the practice poses a certain level of risk regardless of speed because of how close motorcycles get to other cars. A collision may occur if a rider weaves between lanes and a car driver fails to see them before merging or if a rider gets trapped between two vehicles driving too close to each other.

Lack of Motorcycle Experience

Riding a motorcycle requires a certain amount of skill and experience. To obtain a license, motorcycle riders must pass a driver’s education course and a written test. However, a motorcycle license does not guarantee a driver’s safety skills. Similar to driving a car, it can take months or years for a motorcyclist to ride safely.

Countless motorcycle accidents stem from a lack of experience, with many riders tackling the open road while lacking practice. Many of these incidents involve younger riders with insufficient strength, skill, and expertise to drive a motorcycle with the least risk possible.


Fatigue is another leading cause of fatal accidents. A drowsy car driver or motorcyclist may have impaired vision, reduced coordination, and a slower thought process. These factors increase the risk of causing an accident, often by failing to react to dangerous situations or falling asleep at the wheel.

Inclement Weather

Rain, snow, and ice create slippery surfaces that can cause vehicles to hydroplane. Furthermore, storms create visibility issues, increasing the risk of colliding with objects or other vehicles.

Mechanical Failure

All motor vehicles require regular maintenance for optimum performance. Failure to maintain a passenger vehicle or motorcycle properly could lead to dangerous mechanical failures, such as tire blowouts, brake failures, and engine issues. Experiencing a vehicle problem while driving can lead to a motorcycle accident, especially when moving at high speeds.

Tire failures are the most common motorcycle defects. Motorcycle tires are more sensitive to wear and tear than regular tires, and their age and condition significantly impact a rider’s ability to drive safely and effectively.

Dangerous Road Conditions

Road hazards include loose gravel, potholes, uneven pavement, unmarked change lanes, debris, etc. These faulty road conditions may not affect a car but can be incredibly dangerous for a motorcyclist.

For instance, a passenger car may be able to drive over a pothole without a problem, but a motorcyclist driving over the same pothole could lose control due to the sudden jostling of the vehicle.

Left Turns

Left-turn accidents are the leading causes of motorcycle accidents at intersections, often causing T-bone collisions. A left-hand turn collision occurs when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist before turning left.

In most of these cases, drivers cite that they looked before making left-hand turns but still failed to see the motorcycle because they were not expecting one.

Car Doors

Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is passenger vehicle occupants suddenly opening doors facing the road. Motorcyclists may not have time to react and end up colliding with the open door.

Common Injuries in Motorcycle Collisions

Motorcyclists don’t have seat belts, airbags, and a surrounding protective structure like in passenger vehicles. Hence, they are at a high risk of significant injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries and other head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Fractures
  • Road rash
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Coma
  • Death

How to Seek Compensation for a Motorcycle Accident

If you or a loved one get hurt in a motorcycle crash caused by someone else, you could recover compensation through a personal injury claim. However, you will need to prove the following are true:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to you. All vehicle drivers and motorcycle operators have a duty of care to avoid injuring others.
  2. The defendant breached this duty of care. You must prove that the at-fault party acted negligently.
  3. You suffered a substantial injury. You must establish that you suffered significant physical, financial, or emotional harm from the accident.
  4. The defendant’s negligence directly led to your injuries. Lastly, you must prove causation between the defendant’s actions and the harm you’ve suffered.

How Do You Prove Negligence?

You need substantial proof to file a personal injury lawsuit. Viable evidence for your case may include the following:

  • Police report
  • Photos of injuries
  • Medical records
  • Surveillance footage
  • Documentation of the accident scene
  • Witness accounts
  • Expert testimony

What Damages Can You Recover?

Upon filing a legal claim, you could recover financial compensation for the following damages:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Lost wages
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death
  • Punitive damages

How Can a Lawyer Help?

Proving fault in a motorcycle accident can be challenging. If the circumstances are unclear, it can quickly turn into a ‘he said, she said’ situation.

An experienced lawyer can help you build a solid case and resolve any disputes that may come your way to recover a fair settlement from the negligent party.

Important Riding Safety Tips for Motorcycle Riders

Knowing the causes of motorcycle accidents is the first step to avoiding potential dangers on the road. Reduce your risk further by following these safety tips:

  • Always wear your helmet no matter what; helmets reduce the risk of serious injuries and death.
  • Stick to the motorcycle lane as much as possible; never drive in the wrong lane or counterflow.
  • Be careful when bypassing slow-moving or stopped traffic; avoid lane splitting at speeds higher than 50 mph.
  • Slow down when driving over slippery road surfaces, debris, and other road hazards.
  • Always be wary of other passenger vehicles and motorcyclists; practice defensive driving.
  • Stay away from large or light trucks.
  • Maintain your motorcycle regularly.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

Motorcycle riding is one of America’s favorite pastimes. However, a sunny afternoon drive can quickly turn deadly when a road user is negligent.

Human error is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. And while many of these incidents are caused by passenger vehicles, motorcycle operators usually suffer severe injuries in collisions.

If you or a loved one were hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you could be entitled to financial compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyer, LLC can help you navigate your legal options and fight for a fair settlement offer on your behalf.

Contact our attorneys at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free case evaluation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our law firm handles all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.


Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa