Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident in Missouri?
Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements
Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local Missouri motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.
Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a Missouri attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.
How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?
A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:
- Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
- More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause or contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
- Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
- Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.
What Are the Missouri Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?
In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. Missouri mandates that:
- It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle or motor-tricycle unless the operator has a valid license that shows the operator has successfully passed an examination for the operation of the vehicle. Active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces may waive the driving skills portion of the examination by submitting a proof of completion card from a military Motorcycle Rider Training Course.
- Any person at least 15 1/2 years of age who, except for age or lack of instruction in operating a motor vehicle, would otherwise be qualified to obtain a motorcycle or motor-tricycle license or endorsement, may apply, with the written consent of the parent or guardian of such person, for a temporary motorcycle instruction permit to operate a motorcycle or motor-tricycle.
Although most states hold motorcyclists to the same minimum insurance requirements as car owners, Missouri is an exception. To legally ride a motorcycle in Missouri you must show the state that you are financially responsible before they will issue you a registration and let you out on your motorcycle. There are a few ways to prove financial responsibility:
- By purchasing liability insurance.
- Placing a $60,000 bond or deposit on hold with the Department of Revenue.
- Filing a real estate bond with the Department of Revenue.
- Cash/securities deposits.
- Opting to self-insure (for companies and religious organizations).
To fulfill Missouri’s motorcycle insurance requirements, you must have liability insurance to help cover costs associated with property damage and bodily injuries suffered by other in an accident you cause. To legally ride in Missouri, your motorcycle insurance policy must include the following minimum coverage limits per accident:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $10,000 per accident for property damage
Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Missouri is one of 19 states that have universal helmet laws. This means that all motorcyclists must wear a protective helmet at all times, regardless of age or skill level. A motorcycle helmet can help protect you from serious head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Therefore, even if you travel to another state with more relaxed laws, it is still advisable to wear a helmet.
Since Missouri law does require you to wear a motorcycle helmet, you may face a ticket or a fine if you do not have one on during a crash. However, insurance companies cannot use lack of helmet use as a reason to reduce your settlement. Still, many injured riders find their motorcycle accident claims reduced or denied for this reason anyway. The insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.
Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.