While the rate of motorcycle-involved collisions has been declining, riding a motorcycle is still more inherently dangerous than driving a car. You have no protection surrounding you, and on just two wheels, it’s easier to slip and find yourself on the pavement. Additionally, the smaller size of motorcycles means they frequently wind up in the blind spots of larger vehicles, and some drivers don’t have the same respect for motorcyclists as they do for other motorists.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash in Carmel, Indiana, and are looking for experienced legal representation, reach out to our Carmel motorcycle accident lawyers today.
If you enjoy motorcycling, Indiana is one of the best places to live. We have hundreds of miles of open roads, like State Road 450 and the Crawford-Perry County River Loop, that wind through farmland and other beautiful scenery to make each ride special. Plus, you’re just a day trip away from other great destinations like Chicago, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Want to attend a huge biker fest? Head to Beanblossom, IN, via State Road 135 South.
However, all that fun can come with a price. In 2019, Indiana saw nearly 2,500 motorcycle operators involved in collisions — 106 of those operators had fatal accidents, and more than 1,600 had non-fatal injuries. Wearing a helmet, protecting yourself with proper motorcycle attire, and riding carefully can only protect you so much; other motorists on the road with you can put you at risk.
Carmel Motorcycle Attorneys Fighting For Your Rights
It’s important to determine who is responsible for a motorcycle accident because the insurance of the party at fault must cover medical bills for anyone else who was injured, as well as property damage, like a totaled bike. Sometimes the at-fault party must also pay other damages, such as lost wages if an accident victim is out of work following an accident, or pain and suffering for serious accidents with devastating injuries or resultant long-term disabilities.
Often the party at fault is another motorist, like someone who negligently ignored a traffic signal. Other types of negligent driving behavior seen around Carmel and Hamilton County include:
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving, such as texting or eating while driving
- Speeding or going too fast for conditions like bad weather or low visibility
- Not obeying traffic laws and signage
- Aggressive driving (tailgating) or road rage
- Operating an unsafe vehicle
- Driving while fatigued
Sometimes a dram shop — a commercial establishment selling alcoholic beverages — is at fault for overserving a customer. And third parties like motorcycle manufacturers, repair shops, and safety inspectors can be at fault too, as can contractors or municipalities at road construction sites.
When a collision happens between a motorcycle and another vehicle, how is it established who was at fault? Sometimes law enforcement officers decide who was at fault, based on the accident scene, statements from the parties involved, witnesses, and local cameras that catch crashes. Other times, if the case is more complicated, a judge must make that determination in traffic court. It may be that multiple parties are at fault, not just one motorist.
What If The Motorcyclist Was Partially At Fault?
Under what is known as comparative fault law in Indiana, it is possible to assign fault to more than one person. It could even be that you, as the operator of a motorcycle, were partially at fault in an accident. A motorcycle crash lawyer can help explain how this works.
In accidents where multiple parties are at fault, a percentage of fault is assigned to each. In order to collect damages, your portion of fault may not exceed 50 percent. This is a reason why many individuals elect to partner with a motorcycle accident lawyer. If there is any question about comparative fault, they want to make certain they are not excessively blamed for the accident in error, which could reduce their damages to nothing.
Indiana Laws and Regulations For Motorcycles
Because motorcycles have more inherent vulnerabilities than other types of vehicles, as discussed above and in the section below, they have their own special laws in Indiana. Here’s what you must know about Indiana motorcycle laws and regulations:
- Helmets are required for those under 18, except when riding off-road, and they are also required for all permit holders.
- State-funded rider’s education programs are available to reduce the likelihood of accidents, but they can be skipped if the operator passes a skill test. Some other states’ programs are honored in Indiana for people who move here from elsewhere.
- Handlebars may extend no more than 15 inches above your seat.
- If you carry passengers on your bike, a passenger seat and passenger footrests are required.
- Any bikes made after January 1, 1956 must be equipped with turn signals, a speedometer, and rearview mirrors.
- You must use your headlight whenever riding, even in daylight hours, to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- You are permitted to ride abreast of another motorcyclist in the same lane, provided they give consent to this, but you may not ride alongside another type of vehicle or weave between lanes (aka lane splitting).
- You are required to carry at least the minimum mandatory liability insurance, which is $25,000 in bodily injury per person, $50,000 in total bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident.
Safety inspections are not required, and there is no “lemon law” for motorcycles in Indiana either, so it is incumbent upon operators to ensure their bikes are well maintained and meet safety requirements for their own good.
Rural Roads in Indiana
The gorgeous rural roads of Indiana are one of the great pleasures of motorcycle riding in our state, but they also contribute to accidents, directly or indirectly. Data show that more fatalities occur on rural roads here than other locations despite their lower traffic volume comparatively.
First, there is the lack of divisions you find on larger highways, like the Interstates that traverse Hamilton County and nearby areas. No median means it’s easier for another vehicle to cross into the oncoming lane, causing a head-on collision. While these accidents happen less frequently than other types of crashes, when they do occur, they tend to produce more serious injuries and fatalities.
Rural roads are more subject to rough conditions and slippery surfaces. They aren’t typically maintained as frequently as other highways, and they may not be plowed or salted as soon as other roads in inclement weather. The lack of lighting on these roads also exacerbates their danger. These conditions are bad enough for cars but even worse for motorcycles, which have a harder time maneuvering safely over bumpy pavement and icy asphalt.
One element that makes rural bike trips so fun is also a detriment: their curves. While the winding pathways of these roads add interest and fun, it can be tough to see what’s coming around the bend, whether that’s a motorist heading towards you or approaching behind you.
Another vehicle might be operated by a driver under the influence, which is quite common in rural areas where people can’t walk to bars and restaurants. They may be speeding or passing because there tend to be lots of slow farm vehicles on these roads. You may not realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
The lack of safety features on motorcycles is another problem. We mentioned the bodily protection that the frames of cars and trucks automatically provide for occupants. But they also have a windshield, seatbelts, and airbags that serve as backup safety devices in case of an accident.
Furthermore, new car models these days have better accident prevention measures and warning signals, such as an alarm if you get too close to another vehicle. Motorcycles don’t typically have this level of security, making you at higher risk of getting hurt.
Rider experience and defensive driving come into play here. Watching your speed — even operating below the speed limit – and anticipating dangers is essential. You have to always assume other motorists will be driving poorly. And of course, you have to take care that you yourself don’t veer into oncoming traffic, watch out for roads that drop off suddenly with no shoulder, and never indulge in speeding, lane splitting, or other illegal behaviors.
There are a few other concerns to be aware of with rural roads:
- Debris is less likely to be cleaned up right away after an accident or someone loses their load.
- Tire blowouts can occur more frequently due to rough conditions (you or another motorist), leaving little buffer space to get out of traffic.
- Animals are more likely to be in the road, including deer, the further you travel away from urban areas.
- Fatigue can be an issue for all motorists, including motorcycle riders, and the calmness that makes these roads so attractive can also lull you to sleep.
- If you’re from Carmel, venturing out into the countryside on your bike means you may not be as familiar with the roadways there, unlike people who live in the area and may speed along almost on autopilot — a hazardous combination.
Representing Indiana Motorcycle Riders
Our Carmel personal injury lawyers have already listed many dangers for motorcyclists on Indiana roads, including Hamilton County. But believe it or not, there are other risks you should be cognizant of as well.
Many motorcyclists involved in accidents turn out to be less experienced than other bikers. Lack of experience, often coupled with young age, can make operators take risks or not recognize dangerous situations until a crash is imminent. Why do so many young people operate motorcycles?
They may be less expensive than automobiles and easier to park in tight quarters, making them desirable for young adults just starting out on their own. Young people often don’t have families, so they don’t need the extra space larger vehicles provide. And they like the cachet of freedom and rebelliousness that motorcycles give them.
Motorcycles are more vulnerable to poor road conditions than four-wheeled vehicles. We talked about precipitation and potholes on the road, but they also are more likely to slip in oily patches and on sand, wet leaves, gravel, and slick metal manhole covers.
Finally, there is the reduced visibility of motorcycles on the road, real and perceived. They blend in more easily with their surroundings and may appear and disappear in a driver’s sightlines. Furthermore, other drivers may have difficulty judging the speed and distance of a motorcycle as compared with other vehicles. They may not allow enough stopping space or may cut into a motorcyclist’s lane because of this.
Serving Carmel, Indiana
Carmel is a popular Hamilton County suburb of the state capital, Indianapolis, and was originally known as “Bethlehem” until a post office naming prompted a change to something that wasn’t already in use elsewhere in the state. Settled by Quakers in the early 19th century, Carmel has a claim to fame as the site of one of the first traffic signals in the US.
One of the reasons motorcyclists like living in Carmel and southeastern Hamilton County is that they have easy access to the city while still being able to hop on a highway and visit more rural areas. Whether you’re following the White River downstate, heading to Eagle Creek Park, or circling the Geist Reservoir, you’ll never run out of beautiful places to ride. The Charles C. Dream Wilderness is another fantastic destination.
Fancy watching non-motorized bikes in a race? Head to Carmel’s Rollfast Gran Fondo. Visitors also enjoy the local farmers market, the events at the Carmel City Center, and shows in the Arts & Design District. For nature watching, you can’t beat a quick bike trip to the Kawachinagano Japanese Garden.
Carmel Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
We understand that no matter how carefully you ride, sometimes motorcycle accidents are unavoidable. Whether you or a family member has been in an accident, consulting with a Carmel motorcycle accident law firm can be one of the most important steps you take afterward.
They will help you sort out comparative fault and represent you to get the damages to which you’re entitled. To make sure your rights are protected after a motorcycle accident, call us today at (317) 762-4186, or reach out online to let us know how we can assist you.
Some of the locations in and around Hamilton County our law firm serves include: Fishers, Noblesville, Indianapolis, Greenwood, and more.