Motorcycle Accidents And Medical Bills
Riding a motorcycle is thrilling, liberating, and sometimes terrifying. Many riders share a sense of peace and tranquility that comes with the connection in “being one with the road”. A sense of freedom that comes from being liberated from the four-wheel two thousand pound steel cage in which we normally experience the “open” road. But riding a motorcycle has a dark side. Often the danger associated with motorcycle riding has more to do with car drivers than with motorcycle riders. The reality is, motorcycle riders are often not seen by car and truck drivers, or are simply ignored. The fact is motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars and as such are more vulnerable to being missed by drivers who change lanes, execute turns, or exit driveways. While it is true that everyone is encouraged to drive defensively, for motorcyclists defensive driving is mandatory for survival. They must anticipate the unexpected and always have to accept the likelihood the SUV driver in the lane next to them probably doesn’t realize they are there.
While motorcyclists are more vulnerable than car and trucker drivers in an accident, it is just as likely for a motorcycle rider to be negligent in causing an accident. A key difference, however, is the consequence of that accident. Most car accidents don’t result in injuries. Most of those that do, the injuries are minor. Conversely, most motorcycle accidents do result in injuries. Many sustain serious injuries; and some result in death. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association 2014 traffic safety facts motorcyclists are 25 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic accidents per mile driven.
Given that injuries are common with motorcycle accidents, the concern over payment of medical bills is critical. In Oregon the law mandates that ALL liability automobile insurance policies included Personal Injury Protection benefits (PIP for short). PIP provides for a minimum of $15,000 in medical care following a car accident. Oregon PIP law, however, DOES NOT extend to motorcycles. This means that liability insurance companies DO NOT have to offer PIP on motorcycle policies; and most don’t.
Some motorcycle liability insurance policies will provide a medical payment provision in the event of an accident. The limits of the medical payments benefits are generally much less than PIP; usually only $5,000. A minority of insurance liability carriers offer full PIP benefits for motorcycle riders. Many others don’t offer ANY medical benefits. It is disconcerting that those vehicles on the road most susceptible to injuries are not protected by the motorcycle insurance policy they carry. Too often we represent individuals injured on motorcycles caused by the negligence of others who are unable to obtain the medical treatment they so desperately require because of financial hardship.
If you are a motorcycle rider it is imperative that you ascertain whether your insurance policy will cover you for medical treatment in the event of an accident. Obtaining a settlement for your claim from the at-fault driver will usually not occur until after you complete your medical treatment. Not getting the necessary medical treatment will also adversely affect your settlement position. If your motorcycle insurance company does not offer PIP benefits, or other medical payment benefits, it may be time to switch insurance companies. As motorcycle accident attorneys we have all too often seen clients without proper insurance and the terrible ramifications of that truth!