Your motorcycle may be more than a vehicle for you. It may be a symbol of freedom and adventure. You may enjoy driving it to and from work or going on hours-long rides. Unfortunately, despite your training, experience, and best efforts, anyone can find themselves involved in a crash. Vehicle drivers often cause accidents with motorcycles. If you were injured in a motorcycle crash caused by someone else, do not hesitate to reach out to our Wisconsin motorcycle accident lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC.

With offices in Plover and Marshfield, Studinski Law, LLC serves clients throughout Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Waupaca. Call (715) 343-2850 to schedule a free initial consultation. We are here to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

Negligent Driving Leads to Motorcycle Accidents

When everyone on the road is aware of their surroundings, obeys the law, and drives cautiously, motorcycle and vehicle accidents are entirely avoidable. However, negligent behavior can lead to serious collisions.

Some of the most common types of negligent driving that cause motorcycle accidents are:

  • Vehicles making left-hand turns in front of motorcycles
  • Vehicles changing lanes into a motorcycle
  • Speeding
  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Lane splitting

Motorcycle Accident Injuries

In some situations, motorcycle accidents cause only mild-to-moderate injuries like road rash, lacerations, and minor bone fractures. All of these require immediate medical attention, yet individuals can recover from them relatively quickly and usually regain full functioning and feeling, albeit with a few scars.

However, because motorcycle riders are not protected like vehicle drivers and passengers, they often suffer serious-to-catastrophic injuries in a crash, including:

  • Death
  • More serious bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries, which may lead to full or partial paralysis
  • Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Long-term or permanent disabilities
Wisconsin Motorcycle Accident Statistics | Studinski Law, LLC

Pursuing Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver or rider, contact our Wisconsin motorcycle lawyers today. When a collision is the result of another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing, then you have the right to attempt to hold that person responsible for their actions and obtain compensation for your injuries.

To move forward with a personal injury claim after a motorcycle crash, you will need evidence of the other person’s improper actions. This requires investigating the accident. At Studinski Law, LLC, we understand you may not know where to start. Besides, you have your hands full with your recovery. That is why we are here to review the police report, go over photos and videos of the crash, speak with witnesses, hire experts, and more. We are ready to dive into your situation to determine liability. It’s necessary to speak to a traffic accident lawyer.

Once we determine who is responsible for your injuries and potential compensation, we can move forward with a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Whether negotiating directly with an insurer or taking your case to court, we will pursue compensation for your:

  • Medical expenses
  • Wage loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Property damage, when applicable
  • Punitive damages, when applicable

Factors That Could Reduce or Bar Your Financial Recovery

As a motorcyclist, there are actions you may have taken prior to the accident that could reduce your recovery or prohibit you from obtaining any compensation. Under Wisconsin’s contributory negligence law, you may not recover compensation for personal injuries if you are more than half at fault for the accident that caused them. Additionally, if you are 50 percent or less at fault, your financial recovery will be reduced by the proportion of your responsibility. Therefore, if the court determines you were 25 percent at fault for the crash, then your compensation will be reduced by one-fourth. Some of the factors that could cause the court to find you contributed to your own injuries are speeding and lane splitting.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Laws – Helmet & Eye Protection

Adult motorcycle riders in Wisconsin are not required to wear helmets. Only those who are 17 years or younger or driving on an instructional permit must wear an appropriate helmet. While it may be in your best interest to always wear a helmet, Wisconsin law does not require you to. Therefore, if you are not wearing a helmet when the accident occurs and this results in an injury or more serious injury, the at-fault driver cannot use this against you. The at-fault driver cannot say you were negligent for not wearing the helmet and try to reduce your compensation since you had no responsibility to wear one.

However, Wisconsin does have some requirements for motorcycle riders. While operating a motorcycle on public roads, you must wear eye protection such as a face shield, glasses, or goggles, unless your motorcycle has an appropriate windshield. If you were not wearing the appropriate eye protection at the time of your accident and you suffered an eye injury, the at-fault driver could try and use this against you. Speak with one of our Wisconsin motorcycle accident attorneys right away.

Call A Skilled Wisconsin Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

While you may be able to get up and walk away from a minor motorcycle accident, you might also have suffered catastrophic injuries in a crash. If you are facing a long recovery, disfigurement, or disability after an accident, do not try and seek compensation alone. You will benefit from working with our motor vehicle accident lawyer who have hands-on experienced with motorcycle injury cases. We know how to investigate your claim and prepare for any allegations of contributory negligence. Call us today at (715) 343-2850 to schedule a time to discuss your case.

We serve clients in Wood County, Portage County, Waupaca County, Marathon County, and surrounding areas.

Motorcycle Accident FAQ

How Many People Are Injured in Wisconsin Motorcycle Accidents?

Each year approximately 2,150 motorcycle crashes occur on Wisconsin roads. In 2019 (the most recent year of data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)), over 1,500 motorcyclists were injured in accidents.

Source:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Final Year-End Crash Statistics (2019)

How Many People Are Killed in Wisconsin Motorcycle Accidents?

Wisconsin motorcycle deaths totaled 82 in 2019. According to WisDOT, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities in 2019 represents a tragic three-year high (82 motorcyclists were also killed in crashes in 2016).

Source:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Final Year-End Crash Statistics (2019)

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?

The most common cause of motorcycle accidents in Wisconsin is the negligence of other drivers. Issues such as distracted driving, following a motorcycle too closely, failure to check blind spots, and speeding all significantly increase the risk of a crash.

However, driver negligence is not the only cause of motorcycle accidents. A number of motorcycle crashes, in fact, are single-vehicle accidents caused by:

  • Dangerous roads, including:
      • Potholes
      • Loose gravel and other materials in the road
      • Uneven pavement
      • Improper maintenance
      • Inadequate grading
  • Motorcycle defects, including:
      • Tire blowouts
      • Defective brakes
      • Engine failure
      • Defective fuel tanks and fuel systems
      • Faulty handlebars
      • Defective headlights and tail lamps
  • “Near-miss” accidents involving:
      • A driver cutting off a motorcyclist
      • Passing and merging errors
      • Motorcyclists run off the road by other vehicles
      • Objects that fall into the road

In each of these cases, one or more parties may be liable for the injuries and damages suffered by a motorcyclist. For example, government entities may be liable for dangerous roads, the manufacturer of a motorcycle or part may be liable for a defect, and the at-fault driver may be liable for a near-miss accident.

What Regulations Apply to Motorcycles in Wisconsin?

As with drivers of other types of vehicles, motorcyclists in Wisconsin are subject to a number of laws and regulations concerning safe operation, licensing, and more. Some of the most important things all motorcyclists in Wisconsin should know include:

  • Definition:
      • Legally, a motorcycle is a vehicle with three or fewer wheels that is “capable, under ideal road conditions, of speeds in excess of 30 mph with a 150 pound rider.”
  • Licensing:
      • Those who operate a motorcycle must hold a valid Class M motorcycle license OR a motorcycle instruction permit.
  • Safety Gear:
      • Wisconsin does not have a universal helmet law (i.e., motorcyclists are not legally required to wear a helmet while riding).
        • BUT: Riders and passengers who are younger than 18 are required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
        • In addition, anyone operating under a motorcycle instruction permit must wear a helmet.
      • All motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear protective eye gear, such as approved glasses, goggles, or a face shield.
  • Equipment:
      • The handlebars of the motorcycle may not “rise more than 30 inches above the lowest point of the top of the driver’s seat when the seat is occupied.”
      • The brakes and handlebars of the motorcycle must be in safe working order.
      • Motorcycles must be outfitted with a functioning muffler.
      • When riding at night, the motorcycle must have:
        • One forward-facing headlight or head lamp that shines a white light visible to a minimum of 500 feet.
        • One rear-facing reflector, taillight, or tail lamp, a minimum of 2 inches in diameter, that emits a red light “visible from all distances from 50 to 500 feet.”
      • Motorcycles must be equipped with at least one rearview mirror positioned “to reflect to the operator a view of the roadway for a distance of 200 feet to the rear.”
  • Seating:
      • No more than two people may ride on a motorcycle while it is in operation. The motorcycle must be outfitted with an extra seat and mounted footrests or pegs for the passenger.

Motorcyclists are also required to obey the rules of the road.

Sources:

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles, Motorcycle or Moped License

Wisconsin State Legislature, § 347.15

Wisconsin State Legislature, § 347.40

Wisconsin State Legislature, § 347.485-347.487, 347.489

What Insurance Issues Are Involved in Wisconsin Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcyclists are subject to the same minimum insurance requirements as other motorists. If you ride a motorcycle, you must carry the following insurance coverage:

  • $50,000 liability coverage for the injury or death of more than one person
  • $25,000 liability coverage for the injury or death of one person
  • $10,000 liability coverage for property damage

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault driver, including by filing a claim with his or her insurance company. Unfortunately, a number of drivers in Wisconsin do not carry the required insurance coverage. Others may only carry the minimum insurance required by law, which may not be enough to cover damages for serious injuries in a motorcycle accident.

Your lawyer can advise you of your options for recovery in an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Source:

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles, Minimum Insurance Requirements

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of serious injury in the event of an accident than motorists in other types of auto accidents. Therefore, the first priority for riders after an accident is to Seek Medical Attention. Emergency workers on the scene and staff at the hospital will evaluate your injuries and provide prompt, potentially life-saving treatment.

If you are treated and released at the scene of the accident, however, there are additional steps you can take to record necessary information for your motorcycle crash claim:

  1. Exchange Information with the Other Driver. If you are in an accident with another vehicle, get the contact information, insurance information, and details on the vehicle from the other motorist.
  2. Take Pictures at the Scene. Photograph the damage to your motorcycle and your injuries. You should also take photos of the area around the accident site (traffic lights and signs, road conditions, etc.) to document conditions at the time of the crash.
  3. Speak to Witnesses. If any bystanders saw the accident, you should talk to them before they leave the scene if you can. Their testimony may support your claim that the other driver was at fault or some other factor caused the accident.
  4. Give Your Statement to the Police. In Wisconsin, accidents must be reported to the police in the event of an injury or death, $1,000 or more in damage to private property, or $200 or more in damage to government property. When you dial 911, always ask for the police to respond. Tell the officer who arrives on the scene what you saw and experienced. Your statement will be included in the accident report, a copy of which you or your attorney can later request from the police.
  5. Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured or you have lost a family member in a motorcycle wreck, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can advise you of your rights, handle communications with the insurance company, and build a strong case on your behalf.

As you recover from your injuries, keep a record of anything you remember about the accident. You should also organize all medical bills and other documents that show the type of losses you have sustained.

Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?

If you try to handle the case on your own, you risk not recovering the full compensation you deserve after a motorcycle accident. An experienced lawyer can help with many aspects of your claim, including:

  • Investigating the Accident. Thorough documentation of the scene is important for establishing how the accident occurred and who may be at fault.
  • Evaluating Your Injuries. By assessing your medical records and consulting with experts, your attorney will be able to determine what injuries you suffered in the accident and how extensive they are.
  • Calculating Your Damages. A motorcycle accident lawyer will fully document your injuries and other losses and hire experts to determine the monetary value of damages in your claim.
  • Negotiating a Fair Settlement. The insurance company will likely attempt to pay you as little as possible. An experienced motorcycle lawyer knows how insurers operate and will negotiate on your behalf for a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injuries.
  • Taking Your Case to Trial. Many accident claims are resolved without going to court. However, you need to know that your lawyer has the trial experience to represent you effectively and pursue a verdict in your favor.

Throughout the course of the case, your motorcycle accident lawyer can answer any questions you may have and address concerns that may arise. Having an attorney should give you peace of mind that someone is acting in your best interest.

How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

As with other vehicle accidents in Wisconsin, you have 3 years to pursue compensation for injuries you sustain in a motorcycle crash. If you fail to file a claim within the statute of limitations, you will generally be barred from recovering damages in your case.

If your loved one was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, you unfortunately have less time to pursue compensation for your loss. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin involving motor vehicle accidents (including motorcycles) is just 2 years.

Read more: Why Is the Time Limit Different for Wrongful Death Claims Involving Vehicle Accidents?

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