Our local news station, WDRB, reported today about an Indiana motorcycle accident in Switzerland County. There were two people on the motorcycle. The driver was fatally injured and the passenger sustained injuries serious enough to be flown to a Cincinnati hospital.
The motorcyclist ran into a deer on State Road 156. The Harley-Davidson then crossed into the other lanes and was struck by another vehicle. Neither the driver nor the passenger was wearing a helmet.
As an attorney, I understand the impact this situation will have on the family members. I’ve stood with families in hospital rooms and even at funerals. No one wants to make light of the seriousness of the loss.
However, as tragic as this accident is, it can be a learning opportunity for the rest of us. I uploaded a post last month about motorcycle passenger injuries. Now that summer is underway, we’re going to hear more stories about accident-related injuries and Indiana traffic fatalities. It’s an unfortunate fact on our Indiana roadways.
First and foremost, if you ride a motorcycle, please wear a helmet. I don’t know if that would have prevented the serious injuries and death in Switzerland County. What I do understand is the statistical proof that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce your risk of head trauma.
Next, as I wrote about in the post I referenced, above, a motorcycle passenger has a claim if he/she is involved in an Indiana motorcycle accident. In this circumstance, the driver is deceased. The passenger can still file a claim against the estate of the deceased driver.
To clarify a common misconception, an “estate” is not just something for wealthy people. When someone dies, the property, assets and debts usually become part of an estate. This estate includes the insurance coverage that someone has at the time of their death that might cover the personal injury claim of the passenger.
While I understand this sounds harsh, recall that the motorcycle passenger had such serious injuries so as to be flown to the University of Cincinnati Hospital. From experience, I can tell you that this helicopter flight alone probably resulted in a $30,000 to $50,000 medical expense.
To put that in perspective, a licensed driver in Kentucky or Indiana is only required by law to carry $25,000 per person in liability insurance. In other words, sometimes a personal injury claim is the only way an injured party can recover their medical expenses and their other out of pocket expenses. Typically, these types of motorcycle wrecks involved underinsured motorist coverage, from the passenger’s own automobile insurance, as the damages far exceed the available insurance coverage.
The Switzerland County Indiana motorcycle accident is a lesson for every motorcyclist and passenger. The WDRB story didn’t report specific information about the passenger, so we don’t know if he/she is a minor, relative or simply a friend. Hopefully, this individual will make a full recovery and begin to move forward. We wish them the best.
The simple lesson for all of us is that before the car or motorcycle wreck ever occurs, make sure you have at least $100,000 per person of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on every insurance policy you have for every vehicle. This is sound advice that applies whether you choose to represent yourself in an injury claim and/or whomever you may hire as your personal injury lawyer.