What You Should Know About Motorcycle Accidents
Although many motorcycle riders are more cautious and skilled than other drivers on the road, they remain at greater risk of injury and death. Sadly, the small size of these vehicles makes them less visible and more prone to being involved in catastrophic crashes.
At the Pack Law Group, our personal injury attorneys understand the unique elements of these crashes, and we will tirelessly fight for the compensation you deserve. We understand the enormous physical, emotional and financial pain accident injury victims and their families endure, and we do everything possible to make the legal process smooth and stress-free.
Motorcycle Crash Facts
U.S. motorcycle fatalities hit a peak in 2008 with a record 5,112 deaths in just one year. While there were improvements over the next eight years, motorcycle deaths neared 5,000 once again by 2016. As a percentage of all motor vehicle deaths (13%), motorcycle fatalities are now double the rate they were just two decades ago.
In Virginia, there were 2,119 reported motorcycle crashes in 2017 resulting in 1,670 injuries and 108 deaths. Of the 108 people killed, 107 were motorcycle riders versus drivers of other vehicles or pedestrians. Despite common negative bias toward motorcyclists, 83.3% of motorcycle crashes involved no alcohol and many accidents either involved a rider avoiding another vehicle or no improper action.
Virginia’s Motorcycle Laws
Virginia includes these and other regulations as part of its motorcycle traffic safety program:
- All riders must wear an approved helmet.
- Motorcycles must have headlights, brake lights, a horn and a rearview mirror.
- If you have a passenger on your bike, your motorcycle must have a seat designed for two people or two seats.
- You are required to wear eye protection while using your motorcycle.
- Motorcycles may legally use HOV lanes (peak travel time, carpool lanes).
Knowing these laws is the first step to keeping you safe on the road. If you are involved in an accident, it is also helpful to be able to say that you complied with all applicable laws. This could prove invaluable when determining liability and fault in a motorcycle crash case.
The Most Common Cause Of Motorcycle Crashes
When a crash between a motorcycle and passenger vehicle happens, it is often because the driver of the car or truck wasn’t paying attention, or was otherwise negligent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of motorcycle crashes with another vehicle result from a car or truck turning left directly into the path of a motorcycle that is going straight, overtaking a larger vehicle, or passing.
Drivers often say that they “didn’t see” the motorcycle before a crash. This is the result of several things. In today’s society, it often stems from distracted driving. A driver believes that they have plenty of time and attention to stare at a cell phone while simultaneously navigating a busy road. It is also simple carelessness, which is not a legal defense.
How Does Helmet Use Impact My Motorcycle Accident Case?
Under Virginia law, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets that meet federal Department of Transportation safety standards. The statistics support this law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that motorcycle helmets saved approximately 1859 lives in 2016, and an additional 802 lives could have been saved if all riders and passengers wore helmets. The use of helmets reduces a rider’s risk of death by 37% and their risk of head injury by 69%.
Virginia law states that you must mitigate your damage by wearing your seat belt, wearing a helmet on a motorcycle, and practicing defensive driving. When you choose not to wear a helmet, the other side could argue that you failed in your duty to mitigate damage.
Additionally, if an insurance adjuster finds out that you were not wearing a helmet, they will use that fact to dispute liability and either decrease your settlement amount or refuse to settle at all.
Why Should I File A Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Motorcycle crashes are rarely minor events for the motorcyclist. These accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries because the rider does not have the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Not only are these crashes violent and traumatic, but they can also result in life-changing injuries and financial devastation.
Common injuries include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, muscle damage, road rash, biker’s arm and internal injuries. Medical care could be costly, and there may be a period when you are unable to return to work, limiting your ability to pay your bills.
Speak With An Experienced Attorney
We will put our legal skills to work on your behalf to ensure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve. A motorcycle accident can be traumatic, and we want you to have the peace of mind knowing that we are taking care of business while you concentrate on your recovery.