Motorcycles are typically less expensive and use less gas than cars, making them a more cost-effective form of transportation. What’s much more expensive, though, is the cost of a motorcycle injury.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that motorcycle accidents result in more serious injuries and have a higher average cost than car accidents; riders are protected by nothing more than what they are wearing, and an accident that might have resulted in nothing more than a fender bender for two car drivers can cause debilitating or even fatal injuries for someone on a motorcycle. Even when motorcycle accidents don’t involve a collision with a much heavier vehicle, the rider still risks hitting the pavement at a high speed and getting caught underneath their bike.
The cost of a motorcycle accident extends far beyond the damage done to the vehicle and may include hospital bills, rehabilitation, and lost income (if the rider is temporarily or permanently unable to return to work). In 2012, the Government Accountability Office determined that 82,000 motorcycle riders had been injured in crashes and 4,502 people died in motorcycle accidents. The GAO estimated that the initial collective cost of those injuries and fatalities was over $16 billion. Breaking that down further, the GAO found that on average, a fatal motorcycle crash cost $1.2 million while a non-fatal motorcycle crash could cost anywhere from $2,500 to $1.4 million, depending on the severity of the rider’s injuries.
It’s not just the motorcycle rider, their insurance company, and their family who pay for motorcycle injuries. The CDC reports that the US public pays a significant proportion of the cost due to factors including high insurance premiums, taxes, and lost tax revenue. In fact, one study looked at 105 motorcyclists hospitalized at a trauma center and found that 63% of the cost for their care was covered by public funds (primarily Medicaid).
Reducing the Cost of Motorcycle Accidents
While motorcycle accidents have a far-reaching, rippling economic effect, the most devastating costs are those paid by riders whose quality of life dramatically changes after their crash and those paid by the families who lose a loved one in a fatal accident. With all the economic and non-economic devastation caused by these types of accidents, reducing them needs to be a priority.
One of the most important things that motorcycle riders can do to protect themselves is to wear a helmet. Florida does not require you to wear a helmet if you are over 21 and have at least $10,000 in medical insurance, but riding with a helmet is still a safety measure that all riders should follow regardless of whether or not it is mandated in their state. According to the CDC, unhelmeted motorcycle riders who are injured in crashes face substantially higher health care costs and use substantially more of a hospital’s critical resources than helmeted riders. Unhelmeted riders are also twice as likely as helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain injuries, which could kill them or leave them permanently disabled and in need of in-home care.
If you’re a motorcycle rider in Florida, don’t take unnecessary risks—always wear a helmet and make sure that any passengers you ride with have a helmet as well.
Of course, riders who wear helmets can still suffer severe injuries, especially if a larger vehicle crashes into them. If you or a loved one is injured by a negligent or reckless driver, the burden of the injury costs shouldn’t fall on your shoulders. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney to learn how to hold the negligent driver accountable and recover damages for your injuries.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”