Bad Weather Motorcycle Accidents
Ehline Law is all about liberty. We get it that riders deserve to ride whenever they want, without having to be molested. But sometimes mother nature steps in and wreaks havoc. If this happens, and a third party caused or created a condition that caused you an injury, you may be able to recover money damages from the parties who increased the chances, or risk to a third party, of serious bodily harm, or even permanent impairment.
Bad Weather and Pre-Existing Conditions.
Adverse weather, when combined with an already dangerous condition, can exacerbate and increase the harmful effects of motorcycle accidents. Seniors, who already have pre-existing conditions, or due to their slower ability to heal and resist injury, are at a high risk for a permanent injury or death when bad weather hits.
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Hazards – You Take Your Victims as You Find Them.
Not all inclement weather cases accidents directly. Sometimes, a defendant fails to take steps to avoid dangerous conditions, in the care or maintenance of a danger zone. It could be that a simple barrier, with movable orange cones was left on a freeway road construction job, and a flash flood that was caused by a storm, washed away the temporary barrier.
Even when the downpour ceases, a motorcyclist could end up being swallowed up by the trench and killed if the rider reaction time is weakened due to poor visibility of the hazard.
The sad fact is, it could be a pothole that is now filled in with water. If all a rider sees, is a wet road surface, and he or she is unable to distinguish there is a concave hole in the asphalt, the rider will end up being thrown from the bike, or go underneath the motorcycle, and crushed by its substantial weight.
Under the eggshell skull theory, when a victim is predisposed to injury, such as when they already have a bad knee or a bad back, the tortfeasor is required to pay the extra money in damages. This is because the pre-existing injuries were made worse. A great example would be an older adult with a bad leg.
Also, we already know that the older we get, the slower our judgment and reaction time becomes. Accordingly, a reasonable motorist would assume that elderly people are riding, and adjust their driving behavior in inclement weather to take this into account.
60 and Up? You Are at Great Risk!
Statistics show that riding becomes exponentially more danger for bikers 60 years of age or older. In a wreck the senior is still held to the same standard as any other driver, to ride reasonably safe for road conditions. However, driving in bad weather is not recommended for any rider, but especially not for people already at increased risk. Especially hot weather can increase an elders’ risk for dehydration, etc. The point is, know yourself and know your limitations before suiting up.
Protective Gear and Seniors.
So if you’re elderly, it is smart to know what the outdoor conditions are, well before the time you plan to be riding. Make sure you wear protective riding gear tailored for the weather. (cold weather versus hot). Obviously, a rider must do a safety check of the bike, tires, perform regular maintenance, etc.
And this should be finished before saddling up. If a dangerous condition was covered up or made worse by rain, it could mean the person responsible for is liable to pay. In fact, it may be a human-made danger. All victims will endure pain, suffering, and loss in the form of money damages.
Since seniors may get injured, even more, the defendants will have no choice but to pay out the additional money to cover the extended care, etc., of the senior. Law schools call this the “eggshell skull theory.”
Seniors Must Accept Limitations.
So the lesson learned is: Seniors need to understand their limitations and motorists need to be safe in watching out for frail riders. Both have a duty to traverse the roads safely for the conditions. If you’re poor, or a service member is trying to avoid being UA, you may have no choice but to ride in bad weather.
- Get the Right Bike – Are you a daily rider going to and from work? Is this just an enduro style dirt bike for frequent recreation? Do you live in a part of California that snows or rains often? Or is it dry, desert area, or the beach? Like the right riding gear, each bike is designed to bring certain comforts, and desires. Comfort becomes reduced, the stiffer and more high performance the bike. Support goes up if the bike is heavier, or has storage for things like briefcases, food, etc. Slower, heavier bikes do not have the same “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” abilities to respond and react to dangers. (the brakes, and engines are faster and lighter, and the stopping distances are reduced with a high-performance race bike.). There are many more considerations, but hopefully, you get the point?
- Avoiding Fatigue – Riders must to stay hydrated. Especially, they should not drink and then drive. Most of all they need to eat right and sleep sensibly. Bad weather only compounds the torment of sleep deprivation. So you older riders beware. You need to be rested and ready before considering moving down the road.
- Lower Visibility – Reduced Reaction Times: When you’re visually impaired, or when your sight is reduced due to overcast, or rainy conditions, slow down. Pull off into a safe zone. Some daredevils like to get crazy in the rain and do burnouts, etc. Don’t do it. Aside from the injuries, a rider more attuned to his or her surroundings, and not engaging in dangerous horseplay, is in a better position to stay safe. It is also more likely that an observant rider will have more reaction time. Only then can they negotiate a dangerous maneuver.
- The road trip. One example of fatigue based upon a bike type is the road trip. Race bikes typically do not allow a rider to lean back, put their feet up, etc. They are very fun for short distances. The rider is generally leaning forward with the abdomen and chest resting on the gas tank and seat. But on long trips, it is easy to see how the jarring, stiff suspension would force a rider to wear a kidney belt.
And rice rocket riders often do wear things like special belts. Even if you’re on a comfortable Goldwing style bike, extended rides can take their toll on your body. This remains especially true when you’re an older rider. Emotionally and physically, these trips require a rider to be well rested.
One advantage of a large bike means you could pack a tent and sleeping bag quickly. Sportbike riders would probably want to have a preset route. Obviously, they would want rest points like hotels, motels, a youth hostel, or a friend’s pad. These riders must recharge their batteries. Just don’t get caught dead not being rested and revived.
Cold Weather Riding.
In the Golden State, most riders don’t even think about cold weather riding. We ride when it is sunny, warm and inviting. But if you live in Big Bear, or Lake Arrowhead, or the high desert, cold weather riding is a fact of life. An inexperienced rider may be too daring for his good. And this rider could venture into a colder temperature situation. Accordingly, this rider may get frostbitten, or even die from exposure. This is no joke.
You should always wear wool, or some other special cold weather gear if you plan on cold weather. You may need metal spiked snow tires or chains. Wear gloves that allow you to brake and accelerate with your fingers, unhindered.
Wear sturdy, insulated boots, preferably with Gore-Tex technology. Stretch and run in place before riding and protect your body from chilly, freezing winds. Make sure there are no tears in your gear that let cold wind inside. Don’t let your skin get numb, or your nose to get blue. Look for cold weather-related malaise and get to a doctor if you’re having symptoms of hypothermia.
It is clear that riders are totally exposed to rain, wind, and objects of all sizes when riding. Especially true is the increased risks of injury when there is no strengthened windshield or metal frame with sheet metal armor provided by a passenger car.
Not to mention the safety of a strengthened bumper. So it may be fun to experience nature blow by you at high speed in the rain, the ugly truth is that you must slow down and be careful in the rain. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a really great PDF here that goes into detail on ways riders can stay safe and sane in the rain.
- Be most cautious when it first starts to rain.
“A wise motorcyclist will stop for a cup of coffee when it starts to rain; who knows, it could all be over in 15 minutes, and you won’t even have to put on the rainsuit.” (p.41)
Strong winds can create problems for a motorcyclist. A constant 25-mph wind from the side can make for less- than happy riding. (p.42)
Don’t get caught daydreaming in bad weather. You have to be sharp. There is a greater risk of an object or particle to fly up and hit you in wet, or in windy conditions.
Visibility if sharply reduced and obscured in inclement weather. Things riders must be particularly vigilant about are oil slicked roads that are very slippery. Sections of slick pavement obscured or covered over with pools of water, such as the tracks of a rail car.
Open Manhole Covers.
Even an uncovered utility hole, sewer entrance, or pothole puddled with water can kill. Always remember that oil floats on top of the water in suspension. This means the first few hours of rain are like an oil spill on the pavement. Think about it. Use common sense.
- Rain Rated Tires.
Make sure if you ride in the rain often, that you’re using rain rated tires. Grip in the rain is life and death. The more the grip, the greater your chances of not sliding out, or dropping the bike. Spend the most on the items that give you a survivor’s edge.
Desert conditions have been known to be so bad that a helmeted rider could cook his brain and ride off the road unconscious. Bottom line, heat make you sleepy. In some cases, heat can kill you. Heat, cold, or any extreme condition can also agitate you, and throw you out of your comfort zone.
As discussed above, drink lots of water, and pay attention to your temper, and frustration. Get to a shady area and rehydrate if you’re feeling angry, helpless or down in the dumps. These feelings like anxiety, lack of concentration, etc., are signs of heat stroke, or heat exhaustion. Buy a turtle back style water bladder and sip from it often. Do what you can to avoid the symptoms.
For example, wear the correct clothing. It is hot, without sacrificing safety, wear gear that lets your skin breathe. Drink lots of water and avoid sports drinks. Water is the building block of all life, and staying hydrated can save your life.
Head Protection Tips.
Protecting your head is probably the single most important task. Get a helmet with a visor that opens and shuts easily, or use a full face mask. Get a helmet with air vents so you can be cooled when in motion by the air funnel.
In any event, make sure to cover your arms, legs, head and face with some form of sun protection. There are lip balms, like Bees Wax, or Chapstick, that you can also use to help avoid drying out and blistering.
Skin Protection Tips.
Exposed skin, even with sun block, or sun tan lotions, will cause your perspiration to increase, and that will evaporate off your body quickly when you’re whipping down the road. Loose clothing or special clothes that allow your body to wick sweat at optimum levels are best.
Dehydration Prevention Tips.
If you are dehydrated from being a drinker, not in shape, fat, obese or a senior you have a much greater risk of heat-related afflictions and conditions. Drink water!
Lawyer Hiring Tips.
If you suffered a spill on your bike in inclement weather, and want to consult with a phenomenal lawyer due to adverse conditions, retain Ehline Law Firm Los Angeles Motorcycle Lawyers. We fight hard to get people windfall like compensation for the serious afflictions of fallen riders that were caused by another. For more help from a motorcycle lawyer, call (213) 596-9642 or check out our website.