The Perils of Inattentional Blindness and Motorcycle Accidents

While any accident has the potential to cause catastrophic or fatal injuries, motorcycle accidents, in particular, are often devastating. With nothing to protect them in the event of a crash, motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to severe injuries. One of the most prevalent causes of motorcycle accidents is inattentional blindness, the phenomenon where individuals fail to notice unexpected objects or events when their attention is focused elsewhere. It’s the reason why a driver might look right at you but cut you off anyway. If it results in a crash, a Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyer can determine what legal options you may have.

The Nature of Inattentional Blindness

Inattentional blindness occurs due to the limitations of human attention and perception. When individuals concentrate intensely on a specific task or stimulus, they become oblivious to other stimuli in their environment, even if they are potentially hazardous. This cognitive phenomenon has been extensively studied in various contexts, including driving scenarios.

Motorcyclists are particularly susceptible to inattentional blindness due to their smaller profile on the road and the inherent risks associated with riding. Drivers of larger vehicles often fail to perceive motorcycles in their vicinity, especially when their attention is diverted to other factors such as phone usage, conversations, or distractions within the vehicle.

One common scenario involves drivers making left turns at intersections, where they fail to notice an approaching motorcycle due to inattentional blindness. Research indicates that drivers often look but do not see motorcycles, leading to devastating collisions that result in severe injuries or fatalities.

This is what happened to the son of one of our clients, a young Navy service member man was operating his motorcycle and at the same time and place, a truck driver attempted to make a left turn from the opposite direction. The truck driver had a duty to yield to all approaching traffic before making his left turn but failed to keep a proper lookout and notice the approaching motorcycle. The truck struck the motorcyclist while the bike was traveling at approximately 45 m.p.h., throwing him from his motorcycle and causing a traumatic brain injury to the motorcyclist, who tragically died as a result of the collision at the scene. Our firm (with co-counsel) was able to secure a $1.85 million wrongful death settlement for the service member’s mother.

Contributing Factors to Inattentional Blindness in Motorcycle Accidents

Several factors contribute to inattentional blindness in motorcycle accidents, including:

  • Cognitive load: High cognitive load, such as multitasking or engaging in complex mental activities while driving, diminishes the brain’s capacity to process peripheral information, increasing the likelihood of overlooking motorcycles.
  • Visual clutter: Busy or visually complex environments can overwhelm drivers’ perceptual capacities, making it difficult to detect motorcycles among the surrounding stimuli.
  • Expectancy: Drivers’ preconceived expectations about the presence of motorcycles on the road influence their attentional focus. When drivers do not anticipate encountering motorcycles, they are more prone to overlook them, especially when their attention is divided.

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Motorcycle accidents frequently result in a range of severe injuries due to the lack of protective barriers afforded by motorcycles compared to enclosed vehicles. Some of the most common types of injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Head injuries are a significant concern for motorcyclists, even when wearing helmets. TBIs can range from concussions to severe brain trauma, resulting in long-term cognitive impairment or disability.
  • Spinal cord injuries: The force of impact can damage the spinal cord, leading to paralysis or loss of motor function below the injury site.
  • Internal injuries: Organ damage, internal bleeding, and punctured organs are common in motorcycle accidents, often requiring immediate medical intervention.
  • Limb amputations: Severe crashes may necessitate surgical amputation of limbs due to irreparable damage or crush injuries.
  • Fractures and broken bones: The impact of a motorcycle accident often leads to fractures or breaks in bones, particularly in the arms, legs, and pelvis.
  • Road rash: Abrasions and lacerations caused by sliding along the road surface can lead to extensive skin damage and infections.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Sprains, strains, and tears in muscles, ligaments, and tendons frequently occur during motorcycle accidents, causing significant pain and mobility limitations.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation and find out what legal recourse you may have for your injuries. Our firm is dedicated to helping our clients get the financial compensation they deserve for the losses their injuries have caused and has a proven track record of success, having secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts.