Summertime is ride time for motorcyclists across Indiana. It's also the time many new riders take to the roads. Some are riding for the very first time, but others may have ridden years ago. The risk of motorcycle accidents in Indianapolis is especially high for these riders.
Our Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorneys know that a significant portion of these crashes are due to drivers of passenger cars and trucks failing to pay attention and use reasonable care to watch for and practice safe driving around motorcycles.
Case-in-point was seen recently in Oaktown, about 2 hours south of Indianapolis. There, according to recent news reports, the driver of a pickup truck crossed the center line and drove into the path of the motorcyclist on U.S. 41. The motorcycle driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while the passenger was critically injured. The driver of the pickup was arrested, and authorities said he was three times over the legal limit for his blood-alcohol concentration.
Unfortunately, such crashes are not extremely uncommon.
Indiana Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The Indiana Department of Transportation reports that between 2006 and 2015, there were 1,201 people killed in Indiana motorcycle accidents. Tens of thousands more were injured.
Just in 2015 alone, there were 108 motorcycle fatalities in the state.
Nationally that year, there were nearly 5,000 people who died nationally in motorcycle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Risk for New (Older) Riders
It's well established that younger motorists in general are at higher risk for serious injury and death. They are inexperienced and tend to take risks other drivers don't, particularly if they are males.
However, when it comes to motorcycles, it's not that many "new" riders lack any experience. As The New York Times reported, the issue is that an increasing number of "second-time" riders are buying up bikes. These are primarily men over 40 who may have ridden in their younger days, but gave it up when they started families. As their families move out, they have more money in the bank and decide to get back into riding.
Problem is, the bikes these days are more powerful. Older riders are rusty, but may be overconfident of their abilities, particularly in inclement weather or other poor road conditions. Additionally, older individuals are more prone to injuries that are more serious. Someone who is 60 will generally suffer more severe injuries than someone who is 25, controlling for all other factors.
On top of this, as the Times reported, death rates among motorcyclists have been climbing as states have begun repealing their motorcycle helmet laws.
As the Insurance Information Institute reported, Indiana's universal helmet law covering all riders was enacted in 1967, but then repealed in 1977. It was reinstated in 1984 for those 17 and younger. Safety advocates have pushed for this law to be revisited on multiple occasions, but thus far, no action has been taken.
Compensation for Indiana Motorcycle Accidents
Regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet or even whether you are found to be partially at fault, you may still be able to collect damages.
I.C. § 34-51-2-6, which is the state's comparative fault law, the system is one of modified comparative fault with a 51 percent bar. Basically what that means is that if you are deemed more than half responsible for the crash, you cannot collect damages. However, if you have some responsibility - but less than 51 percent - you can still collect damages from at-fault drivers, though they will be proportionately reduced.