Billings-area motorcycle enthusiasts know well the risks associated with a motorcycle crash, and highway driving can pose a particularly risky situation for motorcyclists. According to the Montana Highway Patrol, nearly half of motorcycle accidents statewide took place on U.S. highways last year. Interstates in Montana were the second most deadly roads for motorcyclists in 2011.

Regardless of where they take place, motorcycle accidents often occur because of the negligence another driver. Given the speed involved and the disparity in size between a car and a motorcycle, highway accidents present an especially high risk of severe injuries and staggering medical expenses.

A recent motorcycle accident on U.S. Highway 10 in Laurel tragically claimed the life of a motorcyclist. The collision was a hit-and-run caused by an intoxicated driver who recently turned himself in to police. Now the 22-year-old is facing serious criminal charges, including vehicular homicide while under the influence. If convicted of that crime, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Fortunately, most motorcycle accidents do not result in death. Nonetheless, accidents often cause serious injuries with lasting consequences. In many cases, the driver who is at fault will try to deflect responsibility onto the motorcyclist, or insurance companies may try to shift blame in order to minimize payouts to injured riders.

Negotiating with insurance companies to receive fair compensation for physical and emotional injuries can be a tricky process. In some cases, the full extent of injuries will not become apparent until long after the accident.

Accepting an insurance settlement without first seeking legal counsel may deprive an accident victim of the appropriate compensation amount. Montanans who have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident should be wary of accepting settlement offers without a full understanding of victims’ rights under our state’s personal injury laws. Likewise, family members of deceased accident victims should be aware of the options for filing a wrongful death claim to hold the responsible party accountable.

Source:, “Man connected to Laurel motorcycle fatal charged with vehicular homicide,” Drew Trafton, June 11, 2012