Matthews North Carolina personal injury and auto accident attorneys and Charlotte North Carolina personal injury and auto accident and motorcycle accident attorneys.
Motorcycle injury law is a subset of personal injury law.
With few exceptions, the operation of motorcycles and similar vehicles is governed by the same duties of care and rules of the road, both statutory and decisional, as are applicable to automobiles and motor vehicles generally. Common law principles developed with respect to motor vehicles in North Carolina generally will also be applicable to motorcycles.
In North Carolina, motorcycles along with golf carts, travel trailers and similar types of vehicles are covered by the “Miscellaneous Type Vehicle Endorsement.” This endorsement, when attached to the Personal Automobile Policy, will allow your vehicle to be considered a covered auto and extends insurance coverages to your motorcycle named in the declarations.
Unfortunately, accidents involving motorcycle riders result in a higher percentage of serious injuries. The harsh truth about motorcycle accidents is that they have a very high rate of mortality, often turning into wrongful death cases.
Specific Duties of Care Owed by and to Motorcyclists
Most motorcycle accident cases are at times more complicated as there are certain technicalities and factors that make the determination of liability especially difficult.
All motorists owe the duty to keep a reasonably careful lookout under the circumstances. The duty is not met by merely looking; one must look in an observant manner and is charged with seeing what a person in the exercise of ordinary care of higher degree of care, under certain circumstances, would have seen.
Most importantly, this duty is not lessened or relieved merely because a motorcycle is somewhat harder to see. Your failure to see an approaching motorcycle may be proof of your failure to exercise a reasonable careful lookout.
A motorist's duty to keep a proper lookout may encompass lateral lookout as well as ahead. Thus, in one case defendant backed across a highway using only a rearview mirror and without looking laterally, which resulted in a collision with a motorcycle, the defendant was found negligent in failing to exercise lateral lookout.
Statutes Requiring Motorcyclist to Wear Protective Headgear
There has been a proliferation of statutes and ordinances requiring operators of motorcycles and like vehicles to wear protective headgear. They are typically penal in character, applying sanctions to those who fail to wear an approved type of helmet, and have been upheld across the United States with few exceptions against a variety of constitutional challenges.
Thus, in one case involving an appeal from a criminal conviction, the statute was upheld as a valid exercise of the police power, having a real and substantial relationship to the safety of the motoring public, and was not merely an attempt to legislate for protection of individual motorcyclists.
Another decision sustained a similar regulation against an equal protection challenge, the court holding that there was no unreasonable discrimination when all members of a given class were treated equally.
Generally, the cases upholding such legislation agree that motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury than drivers of enclosed vehicles and the consequences of that vulnerability, such as loss of control, might endanger other motorists; thus, motorcycles and like vehicles are readily distinguishable from other more substantial vehicles.
In North Carolina there is a statute that requires all operators of motorcycles and mopeds to
wear on their heads, with a retention strap properly secured, safety helmets of a type that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
In State of North Carolina v. Kenneth Calvin Anderson the motorcycle operator challenged the constitutionality of the statute requiring protective headgear for bikers. The North Carolina Supreme Court concluded the
statute requiring wearing of protective headgear by operator of motorcycle on public highway bears real and substantial relationship to public safety and was valid exercise of General Assembly's police power.
Most recently there was a push by freedom-loving motorcyclists in North Carolina to repeal the requirement that all bikers wear safety helmets. However, this effort was blocked. You can read more on it here.
Statutes Requiring Bicyclists to Wear Protective Headgear
In North Carolina there is a statute that requires everyone under the age of 16 to wear protective headgear. In addition, the law places the responsibility upon parents and legal guardians of the minor.
§ 20‑171.9. Requirements for helmet and restraining seat use.
With regard to any bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right‑of‑way:
(a) It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person below the age of 16 to knowingly permit that person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when the person is so engaged he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person below the age of 16 to knowingly permit that person to be a passenger on a bicycle unless all of the following conditions are met:
- The person is able to maintain an erect, seated position on the bicycle.
- Except as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection, the person is properly seated alone on a saddle seat (as on a tandem bicycle).
- With respect to any person who weighs less than 40 pounds, or is less than 40 inches in height, the person can be and is properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat.
(c) No negligence or liability shall be assessed on or imputed to any party on account of a violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section.
(d) Violation of this section shall be an infraction. Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, any parent or guardian found responsible for violation of this section may be ordered to pay a civil fine of up to ten dollars ($10.00), inclusive of all penalty assessments and court costs.
(e) In the case of a first conviction of this section, the court may waive the fine upon receipt of satisfactory proof that the person responsible for the infraction has purchased or otherwise obtained, as appropriate, a protective bicycle helmet or a restraining seat, and uses and intends to use it whenever required under this section.
Common injuries in motorcycle accidents are multiple bone fractures, neck injuries, head traumas and in about 13% of cases - death. Similar to other subsets of personal injury law, motorcycle accident law is centered around determining liability, causation and damages.
In North Carolina, the law allows you to recover 1) property damages; 2) medical expenses; 3) lost wages; and 4) pain and suffering.
Your property damage claim may generally consist of the following: repair of your motorcycle, market value of your motorcycle if it's a total loss, rental vehicle and loss of use damages.
If you are dealing with a total loss situation, you should refer to Section 11 NCAC 04 .0418. TOTAL LOSSES ON MOTOR VEHICLES. This Section states in relevant parts: If the insurer and the claimant are initially unable to reach an agreement as to the value of the vehicle, the insurer shall base any further settlement offer not only on published regional average values of similar vehicles, but also on the value of the vehicle in the local market. Local market value shall be determined by using either the local market price of a comparable vehicle or, if no comparable vehicle can be found, quotations from at least two qualified dealers within the local market area. Additionally, if the claimant represents that the vehicle actually owned by him was in better than average condition, the insurer shall give due consideration to the condition of the claimant's vehicle prior to the accident.
The insurance company of the at-fault driver should reimburse you for any and all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that are related to the accident. The insurance adjuster should not dictate how long or where you may seek treatment.
You may also be able to recover your lost wages, if your employer can verify your missed time from work and you have a note from a doctor releasing you from work.
Pain and suffering accounts for the non-quantifiable inconveniences, discomfort and disruption that you may be experiencing at this time.
At Semirog Law we work with personal injury and motorcycle accident cases on daily basis.
We will provide you with caring and compassionate one-on-one representation, as we know well how stressful your situation can get. We fully understand the issues, concerns, and inconveniences that you might experience.
The first few days and weeks following your motorcycle accident are vital to the progression of your case. Do not hesitate to call us:
We will never charge you a fee unless we obtain a settlement for you. And we never charge a percentage of the property damage settlement. In other words, all money paid to fix or replace your vehicle will go directly to you.
Index of Relevant Terms:
- Absolute Divorce
- Contributory Negligence
- Imputed Negligence
- Defenses to a Negligence Lawsuit
- Driving and Texting in North Carolina
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive Damages
- Res Ipsa Loquitur
- Short Sale
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Truck Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Wrongful Discharge from Employment