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Motorcycle Accidents

In 2022, 206 motorcyclists died, and 2,869 were injured in North Carolina motorcycle accidents. These collisions can cause more severe injuries than most automobile accidents, even at similar speeds. Victims can suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, damage to the internal organs, fractures, and even death. Recovering from a motorcycle accident is draining physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. 

Motorcyclists deserve fair compensation from the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, insurance companies often seek the lowest possible payout. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Maginnis Howard are committed to getting you the best settlement or verdict.

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

The first thing to do after a motorcycle accident is contact emergency services. Everyone involved should first address any injuries and be examined by a medical professional. If injuries are minor, the victim should collect contact information and as much evidence as possible. We recommend taking photos and videos of the crash and surrounding areas, as this could be useful in court. If a victim has to be taken to the hospital or is incapable of gathering information, they should try to ask a family member to collect this information.

In the following hours, you’ll need to obtain a copy of the police report and continue to document the details of the accident. Finally, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf and get the best possible settlement.

Why Do I Need an Attorney?

Personal injury cases can be fraught with complications. First and foremost, victims must battle the insurance companies whose interests often lie in their bottom line. In motorcycle accident cases, there can be even more hurdles regarding juries and harsh North Carolina codes.

Jury Bias

Insurers frequently treat motorcycle accidents with an added bias. Those who don’t ride may think the motorcyclists are participating in an inherently dangerous activity, so they are at least partially responsible for any accident. In cases where a personal injury suit goes to trial, a Judge may remind the jury to expel preconceived notions about motorcyclists. Nevertheless, bias of that nature is difficult to remove from a legal proceeding.

Our attorneys will show that you did everything you could to operate your motorcycle safely, including wearing a helmet and protective clothing, and that the real reason the accident occurred was the defendant’s recklessness.

Contributory Negligence

North Carolina has a harsh legal rule referred to as contributory negligence. This rule can be used as a complete bar to a personal injury recovery, including those on behalf of passengers. The at-fault driver (or defendant) can try to argue that the victim was injured partly due to their negligence. Under contributory negligence, the defense can use evidence proving the victim was at fault to release liability. In other words, if the crash victim is even 1% responsible for the accident, they may lose out of thousands of dollars. It can be challenging to overcome this law in court. Therefore, a personal injury attorney should assess the evidence and advocate on your behalf.

What Injuries Are Common in a Motorcycle Accident?

Whether or not a crash is fatal, injuries from a motorcycle accident can be life-altering. Common injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Symptoms can be immediate or delayed but require immediate medical attention. Sudden trauma to the brain causes behavioral changes and death.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries – Damage to the spinal cord of any caliber can result in loss of sensation, chronic pain, or paralysis.
  • Fractures – The lack of protection surrounding the body means fractures are common among crash victims and survivors.
  • Internal Injuries – These injuries can be less obvious and, therefore, deadly. Examples include bleeding around the lungs and tears to the aorta, liver, spleen, kidneys, and more.

How Much Can I Get for My Injuries?

There is no one-size-fits-all settlement or verdict in a personal injury case. The crash details impact the amount a victim can recover, the availability of insurance coverage, the extent of the injuries, and more. In broad terms, a motorcycle accident victim can sue for compensatory damages (monetary compensation for your losses) of different types.

  • Medical Bills: Perhaps the most common form of damages, medical expenses can be a significant financial strain on the victim. Medical damages will cover the cost of the immediate treatment. Sometimes, an experienced personal injury attorney can obtain future expenses for continuing and lifelong treatment.
  • Lost Wages: Accident victims who need time off to recover from their injuries can sue for lost wages. For the more extreme cases, such as long-term disability or being forced to change careers entirely, you may be entitled to the loss of future income as a result of your injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages that compensate victims for emotional distress. These are non-economic results of an accident that leave victims with long-lasting trauma.
  • Punitive Damages: A form of compensation awarded to the victim of personal injury assessed solely to punish the defendant. These damages are uncommon, as the victim must prove the offender’s intent or willful misconduct.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Some estimates indicate up to 75% of motorist/motorcycle accidents are the motorist’s fault. The most common causes of accidents, both fatal and non-fatal:

  • Distracted Driving – Cars or motorcyclists who don’t give their full attention to the road reduce reaction time to unexpected events
  • Visibility – Passenger vehicles have a more difficult time seeing motorcyclists, especially if the driver is distracted
  • Right of Way Violation – Cars that do not yield properly to a motorcycle’s right of way can be much deadlier for the cyclist than for passenger vehicles
  • Speeding and Weaving – Motorcyclists operating at hazardous speeds, weaving quickly between lanes, passing cars without warning


Motorcyclists can mitigate the risk of injury by following Traffic Safety guidelines such as:

  • Preventing Drunk Driving – Alcohol-impaired riders made up 42% of single-vehicle motorcycle fatalities in 2019.
  • Becoming Properly Licensed – 31% of fatalities involved unlicensed motorcyclists.
  • Wearing a Helmet – A helmet is the most effective tool for riders against TBI and other head injuries.
  • Avoid lane-splitting – Even as a cyclist, your responsibility remains to respect the rules of the road. Therefore, it is illegal for riders to weave through lanes of traffic or change lanes without warning.

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found fatalities for motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than for passenger vehicle operators. Therefore, all drivers need to remain aware of their surroundings and especially conscious around motorcyclists.

Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney can help you file suit. Our firm’s lead personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard, has successfully litigated complex motorcycle accident cases. He has recovered millions for victims of negligent drivers of both private and corporate vehicles.

Our office provides free consultations for personal injury cases and charges only a contingency fee. This means you don’t pay unless we win. To schedule a meeting with one of our personal injury attorneys, visit our contact page. We have conveniently located offices in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Fayetteville. Our staff may request some documentation relevant to the case to understand your situation better.

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