Massachusetts roads offer drivers an abundance of options for scenic rides – from the rolling hills and farmlands in the rural areas of the state to the gorgeous coastal views in Cape Cod – there’s something for every rider to enjoy. While riding a motorcycle is a fun, exciting, and even cost-efficient mode of transportation, it does come with certain risks and dangers.
Statistics show motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in the event of a crash than a motorist. The State of Massachusetts has laws established that govern the rules of the road for both motorists and motorcyclists. If all drivers knew and obeyed these laws, the amount of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents would be greatly reduced.
If you or a loved one has been injured or wrongfully killed in a motorcycle accident, the personal injury lawyers at Kiley Law Group are here to help. Our founder, Tom Kiley, Sr., has been riding motorcycles much longer than the 40 years he has been a practicing personal injury lawyer. Our team can empathize with your needs and help you recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation. Call 888-516-2459, start a live chat, or fill out the online evaluation form.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Laws
Massachusetts has laws in place that are specific to motorcycle riders. These laws weren’t established to ruin motorcycle rider’s fun – they were enacted to protect riders from being injured or killed while on the open road.
Motorcyclists must obey the following laws in Massachusetts:
- License and registration: Any resident of MA who wants to ride a motorcycle needs to first obtain a valid motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on his or her driver’s license. You’ll also have to register your motorcycle with the RMV before it will be street legal.
- Helmet law: Massachusetts is one of the few states requiring motorcycle drivers and passengers of all ages to wear helmets. And you can’t wear just any old helmet – it must be approved by the Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a helmet can result in catastrophic injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident.
- Protective eyewear: Motorcyclists must wear eyeglasses, goggles, or a protective face shield approved by the DOT. However, there is an exception to this if your motorcycle is equipped with a windshield or windscreen.
- Handlebar law: The handlebars of a motorcycle cannot be higher than the motorcyclist’s shoulders when the person is properly seated on the bike. The reason for this law is again for safety, as tall handlebars can make handling a motorcycle more difficult.
- Safety equipment: A motorcycle must have certain safety features to be legally driven out on the open road. These features include a horn, mirrors, headlights, and a passenger seat and footrests if carrying a passenger.
- Sound emissions: A motorcycle cannot exceed a noise limit of 82 decibels when traveling at a speed of 45 mph or less and may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels at over 45 mph.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips
It’s suggested that every rider take a motorcycle safety course. In addition to formal instruction, you can learn a lot about safety from experienced riders.
The following are some safety tips that seasoned Massachusetts motorcyclists recommend to all riders:
- Wear a helmet. Riders and passengers should wear helmets not only because it’s a legal requirement, but because it could mean the difference between life and death if an accident occurs. A motorcycle rider who is not wearing a helmet is 5 times more likely to sustain a critical head injury.
- Gear up. You should never go out for a ride while wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt. Always wear the proper gear including gloves, eyewear, and properly reinforced pants, jacket, and boots. There is even gear that provides ventilation for cooling that is specifically designed for warm weather months – which can help you drive more comfortably and therefore more safely as well.
- Inspect your bike. Check your motorcycle over before going out for a ride. Things to check include tires, mirrors, lights, and fluid levels. Keep an eye out for spilled fluid, bulging tires, and loose vehicle parts. If you notice anything that must be maintained or fixed, don’t delay in taking care of it. A motorcycle part malfunction could easily result in an accident.
- Don’t drive drowsy. Riding a motorcycle can be physically exhausting, and motorcycle riders often keep pushing their limit even when tired. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. It can lead to delayed reaction times, impaired coordination, reduced vision, and other issues. If you’re doing a long-distance ride, set a rule for yourself to stop every so many miles to stretch and rest.
- Drive defensively. Never assume that other drivers can see you – always try to make yourself visible to those around you. You can accomplish this by using your headlights even during the day, wearing bright or reflective clothing, staying out of the driver’s blind spots, and signaling well in advance if you are going to change lanes or turn.
- Watch the road. When riding a beautiful route, it may be tempting to turn your head and take in the views. Nevertheless, a motorcyclist always needs to pay attention to the road ahead. Be on the lookout for sudden curves in the road, changes in road conditions, stopped traffic, and other potential hazards.
- Be cautious of semi-trucks. There are many semis and tractor-trailers on Massachusetts roadways, and these large vehicles can be especially dangerous to motorcyclists in a truck accident. Some motorcycle riders choose to avoid riding next to large trucks if at all possible since they create wind turbulence, have large blind spots, and make it difficult for other vehicles to see motorcycles.
- Know your limitations. When choosing a route, make sure to know your abilities. Don’t take a route that is more than you can handle. If you’re riding with a group that is riding at a speed that you are not comfortable with, hang back and go at your own pace.
- Check the weather forecast. Weather conditions in Massachusetts can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Wet or icy road conditions can quickly ruin a motorcyclist’s ride and lead to dangerous road conditions. Any rider who has ever been caught in the rain can tell you scary it can be to have zero visibility and be pelted by raindrops while trying to find shelter.
- Don’t drink and ride. Motorcyclists who drink and ride risk causing harm to themselves and others. The drinking and driving laws for motorists in general apply to motorcyclists as well. It takes a lot of skill and focus to safely drive a motorcycle, and alcohol can inhibit a motorcyclist’s reaction time, coordination, and judgment – among other things.
What to Do If You Are in a Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident
Tragically, even experienced riders who follow all of the safety tips above may be involved in an accident due to the negligence of those they share the road with. If you’re fortunate enough to walk away from a motorcycle crash, there are steps you can take after the accident to help manage your injuries and the financial repercussions of the accident.
Seek medical attention
Even if you don’t think that you have been injured, you should always call 911 and seek medical attention. The adrenaline rush your body experiences immediately following an accident may prevent you from feeling any pain. However, the full extent of your injuries may appear days or weeks later.
Traumatic brain injuries are common after a motorcycle accident and may be undetectable until the rider is examined by a medical professional. Other serious injuries that often go unnoticed are internal bleeding and broken ribs. Even if you feel fine, seeking medical attention after a motorcycle crash might just save your life.
In addition, your medical records serve as documentation of the motorcycle accident and can be valuable evidence when pursuing compensation later on. Your personal injury lawyer can use these records to prove that your injuries were not caused by a prior injury and when negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Speak to witnesses and gather evidence
When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene, they will gather contact information from the parties involved in the accident. However, they could make mistakes or forget to ask or include something in the report.
If your health allows you to, gather as much information as you can while waiting for the police to arrive. Collect the following contact information from all drivers and passengers involved in the accident:
- Full names
- Phone numbers
- Insurance information
- Make and model of vehicle
- License plate number
It’s also recommended to gather photographic evidence of the scene of the accident. This documentation can help you establish liability and may be beneficial during insurance negotiations. Take pictures of your motorcycle, the vehicle that hit you, weather and road conditions, and anything else that you think could be helpful to establish fault.
Speak with your insurance company and a motorcycle accident lawyer
You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident, even if you were not at fault. Remember that insurance companies want you to settle for as low an amount as possible. So while it’s important to notify your insurance company of the accident, be careful not to volunteer too much information. You may unintentionally say something that could be used to delay or deny your claim.
Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can make all the difference in your insurance settlement. The personal injury lawyers at Kiley Law Group have helped many injured victims in Massachusetts receive maximum financial compensation after their motorcycle accidents.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a Massachusetts motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact the personal injury lawyers at Kiley Law Group. The members of our skilled legal team firmly believe that motorcyclists have the right to be compensated for injuries and losses caused by someone else’s negligence.
The personal injury lawyers at our law firm work on a contingency fee basis. Your initial consultation with us is free and there is zero obligation. You pay absolutely nothing out of pocket, and we never charge a fee unless we win a settlement for you.
If you have questions or concerns after your motorcycle accident, contact Kiley Law Group today. Founder and senior partner Tom Kiley, Sr., is a fellow rider who appreciates your concerns and ensures that his entire team will understand too. Call us 24/7 at 888-516-2459, start a live chat, or fill out the online evaluation form.