There are challenges driving any kind of vehicle in the rain. Motorists in general do not love driving in the rain. However, for motorcycle riders, wet weather provides far more dangers than it does for the cars and trucks sharing the road.
Although it may create a jolt in a passenger car when the driver finds an unavoidable puddle on the road and realizes it disguises a pothole, that same puddle and pothole combination could cause a motorcyclist to lose control and go off the road or into another vehicle. Like a bicycle, a motorcycle is going to be impacted much more quickly by changes in road conditions, particularly when the road is wet.
Close to one-third of motorcycle accidents happen in wet weather. In the Northeast, that can mean ice, snow, or hail, in addition to rain, so this challenging condition happens all four seasons, regardless of how warm or cold it is outside.
Motorcyclists know these problems too well and tend to avoid riding in wet weather. But as the saying goes, the one predictable thing about the weather is that it will change. A person could leave under sunny skies and come across a thunderstorm anyway.
But if they do ride in wet weather and get into an accident, motorcyclists are left in a vulnerable position for covering medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Unfortunately, personal injury protection (PIP) funds, the monies set aside for medical bills and property damage within no-fault insurance plans that New Jerseyans turn to following an accident, are not available for motorcyclists in the Garden State. A motorcyclist cannot get this in their own plan, and they cannot turn to the PIP coverage in the plan of another motorist involved in an accident, either.
Therefore, how do motorcyclists get their medical bills covered from an accident? Getting funds to cover these bills will require turning to their own health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or union benefits package. This is possible only if motorcycles are not excluded from the plan. An additional issue in this is that the health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or union benefits package will turn to the driver of the car that hit the motorcyclist for reimbursement for the bills that are covered.
Both because motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other people on the road and because New Jersey’s insurance laws for motorcyclists are complex, riders should consult with an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer after an accident.
Road Hazards for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists are accustomed to postponing or changing their transportation if it is raining outside, but sometimes the precipitation hits while the rider is on the road. In that case, a number of hazards are possible.
Of course, these are hazards for every vehicle on the road, but the impact on the motorcyclist is much greater:
- Rain. Even a light rain can cause the motorcycle wheels to lose traction. It may well also cause a visibility problem. Either result of a light rain can mean loss of control of the vehicle.
- Speed. About two-thirds of motorcycle accidents result from excessive speed.
- Water and mud kicked up by other vehicles. A tall vehicle, particularly an 18-wheel truck, will send water spraying everywhere; depending on the speed the vehicle is going, that water will hit with force on the windscreen of the motorcycle. This wall of water will cause the bike to slow down, and then the rider’s body will move forward on the bike, all at once.
- Altitude and cold. The effect of precipitation on the road, regardless of how light or heavy it is coming down, will be made worse as the motorcycle is heading up to a higher elevation or in cold weather.
- Potholes. With visibility and traction challenges, it is more likely a motorcyclist will hit a pothole on the road that may well have been avoided in sunny, warm weather. Potholes can make a motorcyclist completely lose control of a vehicle.
- Train tracks. These are tricky for motorcyclists regardless of weather, as the wheels can get stuck on the tracks, but more so when the wood between the rails is wet and the motorcycle can lose traction.
- Edge breaks on traffic lanes. This happens when there is a gap between lane lines from wear and tear, often because one lane is used more than the other. Those edge breaks require caution for a motorcyclist, who will have to slow down when going over them.
- Expansion joints. These are pieces of metal that connect sections of road together. In a bridge, they are referred to as bridge joints. The joints are important because they allow concrete to expand without cracking. They can create large gaps in the road that can trip up a motorcycle wheel.
- Gravel. Like wet roadways, gravel will cause wheels to lose traction, and that can cause the bike to slide out from under the rider.
- Roadway debris. Objects that fall or are thrown onto the road are hazards for any vehicle on wheels but particularly dangerous for a motorcycle. These objects could also hit the rider after another vehicle drives over it. It does not need to be a big object to cause a problem for a two-wheel vehicle; it could be as small as a rock.
- Animals on the road. Reducing speed and maneuvering around an animal on the road can cause accidents when a motorcycle or a motorist moves into another lane of traffic to do so. It is important to check mirrors and blind spots before doing so. Driving at speeds at which one can react safely is the best course of action, but of course, this does not always happen.
How Can Motorcyclists Get Compensation Following an Accident?
Because a rider will need to turn to their own health insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or union benefits package and motorcycle accidents are not always covered by these plans, a motorcycle accident victim may want to consult a lawyer to seek compensation.
This may be the best course of action particularly if:
- The accident was caused by a car that pulled into the motorcyclist’s path in an unsafe lane change.
- The accident was the result of a car sideswiping a motorcycle.
- The accident was caused by a car rear-ending a motorcycle.
- The motorcyclist was forced off the road by a car or truck.
Seeking the advice of a lawyer is particularly important in an accident that results in a fatality, to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The term wrongful death makes one think of a criminal case, but wrongful death suits are a civil action, separate from any criminal cases that may result from the fatal accident.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Fight for Victims of Motorcycle Accidents
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, the experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr are ready to help. We have a 40-year record of winning for victims in court and settlements. We will thoroughly investigate the accident to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.