Bedford Motorcycle Accident Attorney
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. If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident or have lost a loved one in a fatal crash, you may benefit from retaining the services of an experienced Virginia motorcycle accident attorney.
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. We work closely with our clients, and we provide ongoing updates on the progress of your case, so you are always kept informed.
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 towards 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
Motorcycle laws vary from state to state, and it is the responsibility of the rider, whether a Virginia resident or visitor, to know what is required of them on the roads. The Commonwealth includes these and other regulations as part of its motorcycle traffic safety program:
- All riders in Virginia must wear an approved helmet.
- Motorcycles must be equipped with headlights, brake lights, a horn, and a rearview mirror.
- If you have a passenger on your bike, your motorcycle must be equipped for two people. This means that it has 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 Virginia’s roads. But if you are involved in an accident, it is also helpful to be able to say that you were in compliance 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
There is a common misconception that motorcyclists are reckless drivers who have a “need for speed” and are the ones who cause most of these dangerous crashes. While these tragedies occur, they are rare and not the norm.
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. As mentioned earlier, motorcycles have a smaller profile than other vehicles, so they are more difficult to notice on the road. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there!
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. The motorcyclist did nothing wrong, but the other driver didn’t take enough time to scan the area before starting their turn.
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%.
Duty to Mitigate Damage
If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your motorcycle crash, that fact could change the outcome of your personal injury case. Virginia law states that you must mitigate your damage, so you have an obligation to limit the extent of the damage caused by a motor vehicle accident. This is done by wearing your seatbelt, 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.
While this will impact your case if it turns into a personal injury lawsuit, it can also affect your negotiations with the insurance company if the case settles out of court. Negotiations occur before a claim turns into a lawsuit, and once the 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.
The careless driver that caused your accident should be held responsible for your damages. Some of the losses that you can claim in a motorcycle accident case include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
What Should I Do Next?
After a motorcycle accident, you should do everything possible to protect your right to recover the compensation you deserve. Some of the guidelines you should follow to keep those rights intact include:
- Seek medical care immediately to document your injuries and get the attention you need.
- Take photographs at the scene and get the names and numbers of witnesses.
- Avoid disposing of or repairing your damaged motorcycle until you speak with an attorney.
- Keep your motorcycle in a safe and secure place to use as evidence in your case.
- Avoid speaking with insurance company representatives, signing paperwork, or giving statements until you consult with an attorney.
Speak with an Experienced Virginia Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is your right to hold the negligent parties responsible for the losses and injuries you have suffered. At the Pack Law Group, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys offer aggressive representation for accident victims and their families.
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.
Contact us today at 540-586-7225 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your motorcycle accident case.