In 2018, it was estimated that the number of motorcycle owners in the United States totaled 13,158,100. This number is up 2.5 million from the last ownership survey conducted in 2014 by the Motorcycle Industry Council. Of that number, approximately 12,231,000 were operational on the roadway. Not only does that equate to miles on the road, but risks for injury when accidents happen.
The fatalities in a motorcycle accident are 27 times more likely than those accidents that involve passenger cars only. With this many accidents and fatalities, learning to make the right safety choices while riding a motorcycle is imperative, especially when longitudinal joints may be present.
If you find that you are injured or a loved one has died due to a motorcycle accident that resulted from a deteriorated longitudinal joint, you may be entitled to compensation.
What is a Longitudinal Joint?
If you have driven on a paved road, you have seen a longitudinal joint. When road construction crews repave a road, you notice that they often do it one lane at a time. In most circumstances, this is done to help with the ease of traffic down any given road. When they complete the roadway like this, they create a longitudinal joint.
These joints aren’t just limited to the center of the roadway. They can be found on the sides of the roadway or along any type of seam work. Longitudinal joints have a history of deterioration, much quicker than the road surface itself, creating an even greater danger for anyone on two wheels.
Common Terms Used with Longitudinal Joints
You need to understand some terms before you can go any further learning about a longitudinal joint. The creation of this joint will play a large role in the way that it may deteriorate later on.
- Cold Lane – a lane that has been previously paved and the temperature is at or near ambient temperature, allowing it to support traffic loads
- Hot Lane – the lane that is currently being laid, often the hot paving temperature
- Joint Overlap – the width that the hot lane overlaps with the cold lane
- Low-Density Area – the part of the cold lane at a lower density than the rest of the cold lane. This area is most often at the outer edge of the cold lane taper in the joint overlap area
- Extra Material for Compression – the material beyond the anticipated final mat thickness, as it is compressed, its thickness decreases, and it becomes denser
Longitudinal Joint Deterioration
The deterioration of the longitudinal joint is often the reason that pavement begins to fail. In many instances, people only think about the centerline where the two mats meet but rarely consider the shoulders, curbs, and gutters as potential deterioration points. When laying the pavement, construction workers often do one side at a time – for the sake of traffic.
The first mat is laid with unconfined edges to help achieve a specific density from the edge when it is compacted. When the second mat (on the other side of the road) is laid, it is paired with the already cooled pavement (with a different density) and an unconfined outer edge. Depending on the number of layers being put on the roadway, several different density variations could be present.
When deterioration occurs, it not only causes the joints to fail but for the material to come out onto the roadway. There may be large holes in specified areas, or there may be a divide in the length of a roadway from the longitudinal joint’s failure.
The deterioration of the longitudinal joint can present a hazard for motorcycle riders, causing injury. Motorcycle riders can take precautions to ensure their safety on the road, even when these types of road failures occur.
Motorcycle Safety Tips for the Road
Just like you take safety precautions when driving a car, there are steps you can take to make yourself safer on the road on a motorcycle. While there is no guarantee that following these safety tips will prevent injury or accidents, it can help prepare riders to be more proactive about their driving and the possibility that an accident could happen.
- Always wear a helmet. Helmets are not required in all states, and some may only have certain age requirements. You should always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle because it can help reduce the risk of sustaining a critical head injury. All of the helmets used by riders should be DOT-certified.
- Wear the appropriate riding gear. Wearing clothing appropriate for riding on a motorcycle can help reduce the risk of road rash in the event of an accident. Items like boots, leather clothing, and gloves can help reduce skin injuries. Adding reflective tape to your clothing may help other drivers see you.
- Obey the law. The faster your ride, the longer it will take to stop on a motorcycle. If you are driving recklessly, you are more likely to get into an accident than if you are following the proper rules.
- Be a defensive driver. Yes, even on a motorcycle, you need to hone in on your defensive driving skills. Don’t assume that everyone on the roadway is going to make the right choice. Keep yourself out of blind spots, anticipate driver maneuvers, and use your signal in advance.
- Take a class. It is possible that when you got your license to drive a passenger vehicle, you took a course to help you with your test. There are motorcycle classes that can help you fine-tune your motorcycle skills, making you drive better and be more aware of your surroundings.
- Drive alert and sober. Drinking and drowsy driving are not a good combination in a car, let alone on a motorcycle. Make sure you are well-rested and sober before starting up your engine.
Safety Checks Before You Hit the Open Road
Before hitting the pavement, you should make sure that your motorcycle is operationally in order. You aren’t the only one that needs to be prepared to ride. Your motorcycle does too.
- Tires should be checked for any cracks, bulges, or excessive wear. You should also make sure they are properly inflated per the recommended psi.
- The area under your motorcycle should be clear of any indication that you may have a fluid leak.
- All of your lights should work – headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
- Your fluids should be checked weekly and refilled as needed.
- Double-check to make sure your clutch and throttle are working as they should before take off.
- Make sure you can see out of your mirrors, and they are adjusted correctly for optimal viewing.
- Check your front and rear brakes to ensure they are working correctly. If they aren’t, you should refrain from riding until you have them checked out and fixed.
- Give the horn a toot to see if it makes a sound. You never know when you will need to alert someone of your presence with it.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries from Longitudinal Joint Deterioration
Motorcycle accidents create a high potential for serious injuries up to and including death. Unlike a passenger vehicle, motorcycles do not have the protection surrounding the driver or riders. Without the safety items like airbags or restraints, injuries can become severe relatively quickly. In cases with longitudinal joint accidents, the motorcyclist may end up being thrown from the bike or crash into another vehicle, either scenario creating extreme danger.
Even with a helmet on, head injuries are common in motorcycle accidents. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) from impact during the crash could result in long-term side effects. These effects may include seizures, sleep apnea, difficulty thinking/concentrating, and various others depending on the area of the brain that is impacted.
Road rash is more than just bumps, bruises, and scrapes. Road rash has the potential to leave a motorcycle rider disfigured or leave them with permanent nerve damage. This injury occurs when the rider slides across the pavement during the accident. Depending on the impact and the rate of speed they slide, the pavement could scrape away clothing, skin, muscle, and in some instances exposing the bone. Besides permanent nerve damage, frequent infections and other skin conditions can result from road rash.
Broken bones and fractures are very common in motorcycle accidents. Hard impact during a crash can cause bones to break or fracture. The most commonly broken bones in a motorcycle accident include the skull, ribs, collarbone, and bones within the arms and legs. Depending on how the accident occurred, fine facial fractures may occur, which is why a full-face helmet is important.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The body is very unprotected when riding a motorcycle, so it is no surprise that one of the major injuries is spinal cord injuries. Depending on the severity of the impact, spinal cord injuries could result in numbness below the injury or paralysis in one or more regions of the body.
One of the hardest injuries to diagnose is an internal injury. At first glance, there may be no indication that an internal organ has been damaged or bleeding is occurring within the body or brain. Whenever there is an accident, it is important to be checked out, even if you feel fine. Professionals are trained to spot the signs of internal injuries, which can end up being fatal.
Fatalities occur more often in motorcycle accidents than in passenger vehicles. The body is extremely vulnerable when riding a motorcycle, making the injuries potentially deadly. In these cases, the family members of a victim may seek out a wrongful death claim.
Types of Damages
The types of damages in a motorcycle accident case usually fall within the realm of economic and non-economic losses. On some rare occasions, the judge or jury may require a defendant to pay out punitive damages, but that is often to teach them a lesson for a habitual or egregious offense.
Economic damages are the quantifiable damages that you will ask for in your injury claim. These will be provable to the defense or insurance company, showing how much it has cost you to recover. Medical bills, lost wages, therapy bills, property damage, and other amounts that can be proven are eligible for economic damage recovery.
Non-economic damages are not as easily assigned in cases. These damages often result from the injuries but are not visible. Amounts assigned by you or your lawyer might be for pain and suffering or mental anguish. If the accident was extremely severe, you might even be asking for compensation for loss of consortium.
Who Pays for Longitudinal Joint Deterioration?
In the United States, there are over 4.1 million miles of public highways, including 615,000 bridges. In general, the responsibility of maintaining the roadways is up to the state and local governments, with these jurisdictions covering approximately 97% of these roads. The remaining roadways are in national parks, on military bases, and Indian reservations and are taken care of at the federal level.
With the passing of the National Highway System (NHS), the federal government has taken some of the burdens off of these state and local governments for the roadways. Depending on the stretch of roadway you are on when the accident occurs may determine who is responsible for the maintenance of that road.
To determine who is responsible for paying your injury claim, speak to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
TorkLaw for Motorcycle Accidents in Longitudinal Joint Cases
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to a deteriorating longitudinal joint, or someone you love was killed, TorkLaw offices can help you get the compensation you deserve. As the #1 most trusted motorcycle accident law firm, we take our job seriously when we pursue your case.
Our offices are available 24/7 to provide you with free and confidential case consultations – when it is convenient for you! We can be reached by phone at 888.845.9696 or through our online contact form.
When you need a motorcycle accident lawyer that handles longitudinal joint deterioration cases, TorkLaw is the name you can trust.