When a driver acts negligently and harms a motorcyclist, they should be held accountable for their actions. West Virginia motorcycle riders deserve to have representation they can rely on if they’re harmed in an accident. If you’ve been hurt because of a negligent driver, seek your legal options with an experienced Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC. We’ll represent your best interests and fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.
The costs of a motorcycle accident can be high. Between medical expenses, missing work, and the damage to your bike, you may worry about how you’re going to get the care you need and still maintain your other financial responsibilities. Our lawyers will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation so you can recover in peace.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
There were 39 fatal motorcycle accidents in West Virginia in 2018. A motorcycle accident can occur when anyone on the road acts negligently. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why motorcycle accidents happen.
- Sharing the Road. Many drivers may not be used to sharing the road with motorcyclists. If they don’t know how to safely pass a motorcyclist or how to properly share the road, it can lead to accidents.
- Distracted Driving. Whenever a driver is distracted, their eyes may be off the road, hands could be off the wheel, and they’re not focused on the task at hand. If any of these forms of negligent driving are occurring, the driver could hit a motorcyclist near them, whether they veered into their lane or hit a motorcyclist in front of them.
- Making a Left-Turn. Motorcyclists appear as much smaller objects than a car. When a motorist is making a left turn, they need to make sure the road is clear and that they have enough time to make the turn safely. They may not be looking for a motorcyclist and when they make the turn, they either collide with the biker or pull in front of them.
- Speeding. Going above the speed limit decreases the driver’s control of the vehicle. If they lose control near a motorcyclist, they could hit them and cause a serious collision. If a speeding driver needs to suddenly slow down, they may not have enough time to slow their vehicle before hitting the motorcyclist in front of them.
A skilled Charleston motorcycle accident attorney from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can investigate your case and find out how the other party acted negligently. The next part of building your case will be reviewing how the accident injured you.
Now that you’re more familiar with how motorcycle accidents occur, let’s take a look at some of the common injuries that can happen in a motorcycle wreck.
What Makes Motorcycle Injuries So Severe?
Motorcyclists share the road with other motorists. When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, they are at risk of sustaining serious injuries because their vehicle doesn’t offer the same protections as a car. A car has an outer autobody to absorb shock, seat belts to keep people in place, and airbags to help with the force of the impact. All these components work together to reduce injuries and save lives. Motorcyclists are significantly more exposed.
Balancing on a motorcycle can be difficult. If another motorist even bumps a motorcycle, the rider can lose control and fall. Without anything to absorb the impact, the motorcyclist can sustain potentially life-threatening injuries. Motorcyclists are at risk of the following:
- Brain Injuries. If the motorcyclist isn’t wearing a helmet, their chances of sustaining a traumatic brain injury increase. Severe brain injuries can result in disability or can be fatal.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. If a motorcyclist injures their spine in an accident, they could suffer complications for the rest of their life. The person could have issues with function and feeling below the injury site. This could result in paralysis.
- Broken Bones. When someone is falling, they may try to break the fall by holding out their arm or leg. If they land on their hand, arm, foot, or leg, that area will get the full force of impact, typically resulting in serious injury. Someone could break a limb or severely sprain their wrist or ankle, depending on the force of the crash. After sustaining damage, the biker could have nerve damage or have reduced range of motion.
- Road Rash. Motorcyclists can sustain road rash when their skin hits the ground. The friction can make the skin warm, tear the skin, and cause a severe injury called road rash. These burn injuries have different levels of severity. While surface-level road rash will likely heal on its own, the deeper the burn, the more severe the injury. If debris from the road like gravel or dirt gets into the broken skin, the injury can become infected. Medical attention will likely be necessary for recovery.
- Cuts and Bruises. Scrapes and bruises can occur from either hitting the ground or other debris from the crash.
If you sustained severe injuries, you may have needed to stay in the hospital, undergone surgery, or need medication as part of your treatment. Recovering from a motorcycle wreck can be expensive. Once the bills start to add up, you may worry about how you’re going to be able to afford them. That’s where an experienced Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC steps in.
We’ll review the damages you sustained from the accident. We’ll look at medical records, past medical expenses, and the expenses you’ll have in the future to figure out what you’ve lost in medical costs for this incident. Our lawyers will also calculate the lost wages if your accident prevented you from returning to work. You won’t have to worry about how you’re going to maintain your costs of living while going through the recovery process.
If your motorcycle suffered significant damage, we can seek compensation for those losses as well. Your compensation will include the damage done to your vehicle so you can get it fixed without worrying about the cost.
There’s another side of your compensation we’ll fight for that you may not have considered—the emotional, or noneconomic, damages of the accident. This can include the pain and suffering you may have endured as you lived with your injuries, loss of enjoyment of life if your injuries have impacted how you live, and mental anguish from any permanent effects of the injuries. It takes a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer to calculate the noneconomic losses you’ve suffered. We’ll make sure your compensation amount is fair for what you’ve been through.
How Can Motorcyclists Improve Their Safety?
As a motorcyclist, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind to decrease your chances of getting in an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests a few safety tips.
- Wear Protective Road Gear. One of the most important items a motorcyclist can wear is a helmet that meets the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Safety standard. A helmet absorbs shock and can reduce the severity of head injuries. Long, durable protective clothing and gloves can also help protect the skin.
- Check and Assess Motorcycle. Make sure your motorcycle is road ready. This means it has proper tire pressure and tread depth, the brakes work, your headlights and turn signals work, and all fluid levels are good before you ride. When you do this, you can find an issue and fix it instead of realizing there’s something wrong while you’re on the road.
- Be Cautious and Alert. Always remain cautious and obey traffic laws. Driving the speed limit, slowing at yellow lights, and stopping at red lights and stop signs will help reduce the chances of an accident occurring. When you’re driving cautiously, you’re passing with care and anticipating what other drivers may do. This can help you be a safer motorcyclist.
- Never Drive While Intoxicated. Alcohol and illicit substances impair your abilities to ride a motorcycle safely. If you know you’re unable to operate a motorcycle, seek other ways to get home. Call a friend for a ride, call a cab, or use a rideshare service. There are so many options at your disposal, and then you won’t have to worry about causing an accident.
While you can use these tips to make you a safer driver, sometimes you cannot avoid an accident when a motorist drives negligently. That’s where our lawyers can help.
What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents can happen at any time because drivers of regular-sized vehicles don’t always look for motorcyclists on the road. No matter how much a driver attempts to avoid an accident, they can still happen and have devastating results. It’s vital to know what to do after a motorcycle accident so that you can receive the immediate help that you need after a wreck that was likely devastating.
It’s important to note, though, that if you have serious injuries and cannot move without extreme pain, then you should not move from your position as that could cause further harm to your body. Emergency medical services will be able to help you when they arrive on the scene, but until then, you should not move.
However, if you are able to move and get to safety, then here are the steps you should take after being involved in a motorcycle accident:
- Call emergency services. After an accident, you are required to call the police so that they can come to the scene to evaluate it and make an official report. When you speak to the police, make sure that you remain objective about what happened and only tell them the facts, not your opinion. Don’t apologize for what happened as that could make you liable, whether you contributed to the accident or not. Emergency services will also be able to come to the accident scene to help provide medical care to anyone who needs it.
- Document the scene. To ensure that you have proof of the accident and to help police and other professionals determine what happened and who was at fault, you should take pictures of the scene. You’ll want to take pictures of the motorcycle, any other vehicles, the damages that both have, the roadway, weather conditions, and any other objects in the road or surrounding areas that contributed to the accident.
- Exchange information with the other driver or drivers. You’ll want to be able to contact the other drivers involved after the accident and have their insurance information in case you need to file a claim through their policy. If you decide to file a motorcycle accident claim later on, having their information will also help you. Some information to get from the other driver is their name, address, phone number, car make and model, and insurance information.
- Get witness contact information. Much like the other drivers, it can help you to get contact information from any witnesses who are willing to talk to you or the police. If you’re considering filing a motorcycle accident claim, then witnesses can help you verify your account of what happened and help determine the liability of the person responsible for the collision.
- Get medical attention. You’ll want to ensure that you get medical attention immediately after your accident so that you can get treated for any injuries you may have sustained. While you need to be treated for injuries so that you can begin healing, you’ll also want to be treated so that you have records of your injuries in case you decide to file a claim later.
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you might still feel confused about what to do next and how the motorcycle accident claim process works. A Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can answer any questions you might have and guide you through the legal process.
West Virginia Motorcycle Insurance Laws
When driving your motorcycle in West Virginia, you legally must carry motor vehicle insurance in case you are in an accident. You can attempt to avoid accidents as best as you can, but motorcycle wrecks are not always avoidable. When those accidents happen, you need insurance to cover you, which is why the state law requires you to carry a minimum insurance policy.
In West Virginia, you are legally required to carry an insurance policy for your motorcycle with the minimum coverage of:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person in one accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more people in one accident
- $25,000 for property damage in one accident
To be able to prove you have insurance at any point, you must carry your proof of insurance card with you whenever you are driving your motorcycle. That way, if an accident happens, you have your insurance information with you, and can exchange it with the other driver. This also means that the other driver involved must have their insurance information with them as well and should give you the information that you need if the accident was their fault.
When the other driver was at fault for your motorcycle wreck, you might want to do more than file an insurance claim. You might also be interested in filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Get Representation Today
Holding a negligent driver accountable for their actions can be difficult. It’s important to have an experienced Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer on your side so you can rest assured that you’re protecting your best interests.
DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. We’ll help you deal with insurance companies trying to get you to take an unfavorable settlement and gather the evidence necessary to show how the other party’s negligent actions caused your injuries and losses. To get started on your case, call our office for a free case evaluation today.