Motorcycles are more popular than ever thanks to their greater affordability, maneuverability, and the hobbyist culture that surrounds them. However, with a smaller vehicle that lacks an exterior shell comes an increased risk of severe injury should a collision occur.
California motorcycle accident lawyers see a variety of damages arise from accidents, which can be broken down into two primary types: low-side and high-side crashes.
Understanding the difference between high-side and low-side accidents is an important part of being a safe driver; not only will you learn what risks you face as a motorcyclist, but you will also understand what to do after an accident based on what happens during the crash.
Here is an overview of high-side and low-side crashes on motorcycles and what to do after an accident occurs.
What Is a Low-Side Motorcycle Crash?
Of the two types of accidents, low-side motorcycle crashes tend to result in less severe injuries; however, they can still cause significant damage or even death. The term “low-side” refers to losing traction on the lower part of the motorcycle, causing the vehicle to slide out from underneath the driver and resulting in an accident while the driver is low to the ground on the leaning side.
For example, when a motorcyclist leans into a turn around a curb, the motorcycle tilts far enough to the side that either the front or rear wheel loses traction and slips. The motorcyclist then slides to the ground as the vehicle finishes tipping over toward the side in which it was already leaning. This type of accident is sometimes called a wipeout.
Low-side motorcycle crashes can be caused by many factors, not all of which are within the control of the driver. However, low-side accidents are more common with newer bikers, because they are not yet familiar with the correct speeds at which to approach corners and the extent to which they must brake mid-corner.
Poor road conditions and worn tires can also contribute to low-side crashes. Among other serious injuries, these crashes most often see varying degrees of “road rash” which can be quite damaging, leaving permanent bodily damage.
What Is a High-Side Motorcycle Crash?
High-side motorcycle crashes are the more dangerous of the two types on average, regularly resulting in catastrophic injuries such as spinal nerve damage, brain damage, and loss of limbs.
The term “high-side” refers to a driver’s position; while a biker is low to the ground during a low-side crash, they are fully upright during a high-side accident and are thrown off the motorcycle from above, rather than low to the side.
High-side motorcycle crashes are almost always caused by excessive speed, especially going into turns or on slippery surfaces such as puddles and wet leaves. In this type of accident, the rear wheel loses traction and then regains it with an uncontrollable jolt, causing the motorcycle to fishtail or shimmy violently from side to side.
This momentum is typically sufficient to throw the driver off of the motorcycle over the handlebars, where they may then be exposed on the roadway and in danger of other vehicles. This type of accident also occurs as the result of other drivers, typically in cars or trucks, striking the motorcycle and projecting the rider from the motorcycle.
What Do You Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
Whether you have been in a low-side or high-side motorcycle accident, the most important thing to do immediately afterward is to seek medical attention.
Some injuries, such as brain bleeds, may not be evident right away and should be evaluated by professionals before they become serious. The best way to do this is to call 911 to alert emergency personnel of the accident. Not only will they send an emergency medical team to assess you, but they will also send first responders to attend to the crash site and close road lanes or deal with debris as necessary.
As soon as you are able, collect as much evidence as possible from the crash. If you are well enough to take pictures or video before paramedics arrive, do so. Write down everything you remember, including the presence of any witnesses and the weather conditions.
Take photos of any injuries as well as pictures of damage to the motorcycle, skid marks, and the condition of the road in the event that potholes or other unpredictable conditions contributed to the accident.
Once you are safe and cleared of medical danger, reach out to a legal team. They can help you recover damages for your motorcycle and injuries, and help you understand your options for pursuing legal remedies where applicable.
Get Legal Help from a Trusted California Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
A motorcycle accident is a stressful time, but it does not have to be confusing. The attorneys at Lehr Law help motorcycle accident victims to recover damages for accidents and achieve the best possible compensation for their situation. Contact Lehr Law to schedule a consultation after your motorcycle accident.