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Common Types Of Motorcycle Accidents

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According to The National Safety Council, while motorcycles make up just 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States, motorcyclist injuries accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities and 3% of all occupant injuries in 2021. While people may assume that common types of motorcycle accidents occur simply because motorcycles are smaller and less stable vehicles, these accidents are often caused by drivers making reckless and rule-breaking decisions. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have grounds for pursuing a personal injury claim. Steelman Gaunt Crowley has extensive experience handling motorcycle accident cases and may be able to answer your questions about personal injury claims and your legal rights. Consider reaching out to us today for a free initial consultation at (573) 341-8336.

What Are the Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents?

Some of the most common types of motorcycle accidents include: 

  • Left-turning cars
  • Lane-switching vehicles
  • Head-on collisions
  • Lane splitting
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Corner turning
  • Speeding

Left-Turning Cars

Motorcyclists encounter a dangerous set of circumstances each time a car makes a left-hand turn in front of them. The car may strike a motorcycle that is driving straight through the intersection, either passing the car or attempting to overtake it. While this kind of accident is also common between cars, it is far more dangerous when it occurs between a car and a motorcycle, because motorcycles are smaller than cars and a motorcycle’s occupants are not as protected from road hazards as those of an enclosed vehicle. While there may be exceptions, if a car hits another vehicle during a left turn, the left-turning car is often found at fault.

Lane-Switching Vehicles

Accidents can occur when a car in a lane adjacent to a motorcycle attempts to merge while next to the motorcyclist. Perhaps they are not paying attention, or the motorcycle is in their blind spot. This presents a dangerous situation in which the vehicle may hit the motorcycle.

Head-on Collisions

This kind of accident is among the most likely to result in a fatality for the motorcyclist. Often, when a car hits a motorcycle head-on, both vehicles are driving at high speeds, making the situation especially dangerous.

Lane Splitting

This occurs when a motorcycle weaves between stopped or slow-moving vehicles, often in situations of high traffic congestion. This ill-advised practice can lead to accidents because the car and the motorcycle are close together, the motorcyclist is maneuvering in small amounts of space, and the drivers of cars, trucks, SUVs, and other enclosed automobiles are often not expecting the motorcycle to pass them outside the bounds of a designated travel lane. 

Driving While Intoxicated

A significant number of all accidents are the result of driving while intoxicated. Driving while impaired can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists, as motorcycles do not provide the same level of protection to the individuals operating them as cars do to their drivers.

Corner Turning

Corners can be dangerous for motorcyclists because the motorcycle may hit sand, gravel, or another unexpected material that causes its tire to lose traction. They may also be dangerous if the motorcyclist misjudges how tight the corner is and fails to calibrate their deceleration accordingly.


Another common cause of fatalities in motorcycle accidents is speeding. Since motorcycles are lightweight, they can often go very fast, reducing the reaction time available for responding to roadway hazards and creating dangerous conditions that may lead to an accident. 

What Is the Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

While there are several common types of motorcycle accidents, you may be wondering which of these types accounts for the greatest total number of accidents. The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is the failure of other motorists to be aware of motorcyclists on the road and to take the necessary precautions. In these scenarios, the driver of another vehicle, not the motorcyclist, is often at fault. If you have questions about liability, or if you believe you may have a personal injury claim, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Steelman Gaunt Crowley to review the details of your case and evaluate your legal options. 

What Are the Common Injury Patterns in Motorcycle Accidents? 

One of the most effective ways to save lives in motorcycle crashes is to wear a helmet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets saved close to 2000 lives in 2017. Even with a helmet, however, motorcycle accident injuries may still occur. Some of the most common injury patterns in motorcycle accidents include:

  • Lower extremity injuries, or injuries to the lower part of the body such as the legs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet. A motorcyclist’s legs are exposed when riding. While these injuries are typically not fatal, they can result in disability.
  • Upper extremity injuries or injuries to the upper part of the body, such as the shoulder or arms. These may occur if the motorcyclist is ejected from the vehicle, or if the motorcyclist uses his or her arms to brace for the fall.
  • Injuries to the thorax or upper trunk of the body, where the heart, lungs, and other vital organs are protected by the ribs. Blunt force trauma might lead to broken ribs, which can then puncture vital organs.
  • Head injuries, which may occur due to motorcyclists being launched from their vehicles. Examples of these sorts of injuries may include skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, brain swelling, and concussion, among other injuries.
  • Face and neck injuries such as broken noses or broken jawbones or teeth. If a motorcyclist is struck from the rear, they may suffer whiplash, impacting their ability to control head and neck movement.
  • Abdominal injuries, such as injury to the liver or the spleen as the result of the force of the accident. In these cases, the motorcyclist might not be immediately aware of the injury as internal injuries are not always immediately obvious.
  • Spinal injuries which can lead to paralysis, respiratory problems, and incontinence, among other issues.

How a Lawyer May Be Able To Help

Many of the common types of motorcycle accidents can have long-lasting impacts on motorcyclists, resulting in severe and ongoing health injuries even when they do not result in traffic fatalities. If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury as a result of a motorcycle accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, physical impairment, lost wages, and other expenses. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help. The attorneys at Steelman Gaunt Crowley have over 75 years of experience fighting to recover compensation for their clients. Reach out to us today and schedule your free initial consultation by calling (573) 341-8336.