- From Horror to Hope, Surviving a Traumatic Motorcycle Accident
From Horror to Hope, Surviving a Traumatic Motorcycle Accident
Matt Creasey clearly remembers the crash, which took place one midsummer morning on a hilly and winding road lined with parked cars.
“I was driving to work. It was a downhill road with a steep angle and sharp left turn. There was on-street parking all the way down, so there were a bunch of parked cars that lined the sidewalk. Halfway around the curve I realized I was going too fast, so my natural inclination was to apply the brakes abruptly, but when you do that on a motorcycle it stands you straight up. I started sliding straight for the back of a car … I was supposed to kick the bike away from me, but I held onto it. (The bike) slid on its side with me holding onto it and it went underneath the car by the gas tank. It threw me over top of the car in kind of a cartwheel, somersault thing 60 feet down the road.”
He remembers the full-size car he ran into.
“I hit the car so hard it opened the trunk. It was an old cop-type of car, maybe a Caprice Classic, that style … a big, cream-colored car.”
He remembers his beloved, demolished bike.
“It was a Suzuki SV650 V-Twin — a cool Japanese naked-style café racer — just a tank, the engine and the seat. It was totally trashed, like 100 percent absolutely dead. (After the accident), they just hooked a chain onto it and dragged it onto a flatbed. It was done.”
He remembers the emergency room, where he arrived after a 40-minute trip via ambulance.
“They took me to the emergency room at a major hospital where my step-dad (an ER physician) was working at the time. I remember there was blood on the room’s ceiling where it had been sprayed by other accident victims.”
He remembers the painful road rash and his lengthy recovery.
“I still have scars. I still have asphalt in my shoulder. I think about the care afterwards, the Novocaine jelly I had to rub all over me just so I could get anywhere near water, because it was excruciating to take showers. Both of my arms, and the tops of my feet, and my shoulders had no skin on them left, and they were just weeping and bleeding for a long time. It was gross.”
Most of all, he fondly remembers his lifesaving helmet.
“My mom bought me the helmet early for my birthday. I’d only had the helmet for two days and it cost her like $550. It was an Arai Quantum. That helmet saved my life. Lucky to be here for sure. Could’ve killed me. If I’d hit my head just right, I’d be dead.”
Accidents happen. But they don’t have to be fatal.
Despite his injuries, the total loss of his prized bike, and the painful months of recovery that followed, Mr. Creasey was lucky. He experienced a motorcycle accident and lived to tell about it. Other riders aren’t so fortunate.
In Michigan last year, for example, nearly 140 cyclists died. In fact, over the past 30 years, the number of motorcycle fatalities annually across the state has more than tripled. At the same time, the total number of Michigan motorcycle collisions actually fell. It might seem counterintuitive that motorcycle-related deaths have risen while accidents were dropping, but in part that could be due to the state’s more lenient helmet laws which, since 2012, have allowed riders age 21 and over to eschew wearing helmets if they meet the following criteria:
- Hold a medical insurance policy with at least $20,000 coverage
- Pass a motorcycle safety class or have held a motorcycle endorsement two years or longer
Riders might attribute the reduction in total motorcycle accidents to a greater ability to see road hazards if they are permitted to ride helmet-free. But whenever accidents do happen, it’s apparent they’re more severe if bikers aren’t wearing helmets. According to the University of Michigan’s Injury Center, for example, head injuries have risen significantly since the state’s helmet law was changed, and the need for “invasive neurosurgical procedures” (a.k.a. brain surgery) has nearly doubled over that time.
Like it or not, avoiding helmets may cause pain in the brain … and the pocketbook.
Deciding whether to wear a helmet or not may be one thing, but Michigan bikers have yet another painful issue to contend with: some of the highest motorcycle insurance rates in the nation. Cost comparison site Value Penguin, which is part of LendingTree, reports that annual insurance premiums in Michigan are more than 40 percent higher than average premiums charged to motorcyclists nationally. Where you live can make a meaningful difference in what you’ll pay — even within the state. For instance, according to Value Penguin, a rider living in Alpena would spend less than $900 per year on average for motorcycle insurance, while someone in Detroit would have to dole out more than $2,000 for the same kind of coverage.
All this leads us to conclude that while riding a motorcycle in Michigan (or just about anywhere) can be liberating and enjoyable, it can also be risky and expensive. And while it’s certainly within your rights to do so, riding without a helmet can truly mean taking your life into your hands.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident Statistics
In 2018, the Michigan State Police reported there were 2,728 motorcycle accidents in Michigan, which resulted in 2,004 injuries and 134 deaths. Overall across the state, there were approximately 519,800 total vehicle accidents, resulting in 1,470 fatalities. That means the odds of a motorcycle accident being fatal are about one in every 20 accidents, while the chances of being killed in all types of vehicle accidents are about three in every 1,000 incidents.
Across the state, around seven percent of all licensed drivers possess motorcycle endorsements, with the lowest percentage being Wayne County (4.9 percent) and the highest being Ogemaw County (12 percent). In 2019, Keweenaw County had the highest percentage of motorcycles involved in accidents (3.3 percent) while Missaukee County had the lowest — not a single motorcycle-related accident occurred in the county that year.
Motorcycle fatality percentages in 2019 were highest in Ontonagon, Kalkaska, and Ogemaw Counties — where half of all traffic fatalities involved motorcyclists. In Wayne County, by comparison, only 16 percent of traffic fatalities were motorcyclists, but that county also had the single highest number of motorcycle-related deaths — 122 people that year.
Hopefully you won’t meet us by accident … but if you do, we’re here to help.
We know it’s tempting to leave your helmet in the garage and to hit the highway with your hair freely trailing in the wind, but please be careful and stay safe. Watch out for road hazards, be alert for inattentive drivers who might not see you, and never pass other vehicles on the right side of the road. You — and the people you love — have too much to lose.
While Mr. Ceasey’s accident wasn’t caused by another driver (he wryly admits it resulted from his own speed and a tight curve on a winding road), many motorcycle accidents involve two or more vehicles. If you experience a motorcycle accident resulting from the negligence of someone carelessly driving a car or truck, or even another carefree biker — give us a call. The experienced motorcycle law lawyers at Mike Morse Law Firm can take a look at the circumstances surrounding your injuries and help answer all of your questions. Our dedicated team has won some of the top settlements in Michigan for motorcycle accidents victims. To learn more, call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946), or click here to get in touch. We’re here for you 24/7 and there is absolutely no cost or obligation unless we win for you.