Scenic views and open roads make Morgantown and other areas of West Virginia an ideal destination for motorcyclists. However, even the most experienced riders recognize the dangers of operating a motorcycle.
Motorcycle accidents tend to result in serious and potentially fatal injuries. Unfortunately, the majority of crashes involving motorcycles are caused by careless drivers, unsafe road conditions, and other factors outside of the rider’s control.
Although there are steps motorcyclists can take to avoid accidents and reduce the possibility of catastrophic injury, the unfortunate reality is that wrecks are sometimes unavoidable. If the negligence of another caused you to crash your bike, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
The Morgantown motorcycle accident lawyers at Colombo Law have extensive experience serving injured motorcyclists and their families throughout West Virginia. Please call (304) 599-4229 today for a free case review.
West Virginia Helmet Laws
The decision to wear a helmet is one of the most important steps motorcyclists can take to improve their safety. The State of West Virginia agrees – regardless of age, motorcyclists and their passengers are required by law to wear a helmet.
Helmets must meet the safety standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT-certified helmets meet the following requirements:
- The helmet must securely fasten to the rider’s head by either a neck or chin strap.
- The helmet must be designed to deflect blows, resist penetration, and spread impact forces.
- The helmet must be reflectorized.
- The helmet must not have any damage or defects in the outer shell, the liner, and/or the straps.
Although not required by law, it is also worth looking for labels stating that the helmet meets standards established by nonprofit groups such as the Snell Foundation and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These labels indicate that the helmet has undergone additional, independent safety testing.
Read More: Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In addition to helmets, West Virginia law also requires motorcyclists to wear some form of eye protection when operating a motorcycle. This may include a wind visor or face shield mounted on the motorcycle helmet, eye goggles, or shatter-resistant eyeglasses.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The most recent annual report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program recorded 154 motorcyclist fatalities in West Virginia over a 5-year period. One-third of those killed (50 riders) were not wearing helmets.
These statistics demonstrate the extreme danger of riding a motorcycle without a helmet. The data also show that an alarmingly high number of motorcyclists are disregarding the West Virginia helmet law.
Read More: Get the Facts on Motorcycle Accidents
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
There are two common scenarios involving motorcycle accidents: collisions with other motor vehicles and single-vehicle accidents. A host of factors can lead to crashes between a motorcycle and one or more vehicles, including:
- Driver inexperience. Teenagers and other drivers with limited experience behind the wheel may not have the real-world experience needed to know how to safely share the road with motorcyclists.
- Following too closely. Many drivers tailgate. This is a sure way to rear-end an innocent motorcyclist, especially in heavy traffic and poor weather conditions.
- Failure to check blind spots. Many drivers don’t check their blind spots before they change lanes or merge into traffic. This oversight can lead to a collision between the motorcyclist and the driver of the car. With limited options and little room for error, such an accident can be catastrophic for the motorcycle.
- Misjudging speed and distance. Because motorcycles are small, drivers in cars tend to think they are farther away than they actually are. This error in judgment can cause drivers to change lanes or turn in front of a motorcycle.
- Excess speed. Drivers who speed may have trouble judging how far away a motorcyclist is. Speeding also makes it harder to stop in an emergency.
- Carelessly opening doors. Not all motorcycle accidents occur when vehicles are in motion. Riders can suffer serious injuries in wrecks that occur when the occupant of a vehicle opens the door of the car into traffic.
- Driving while distracted. Texting and talking on the phone are two ways a driver could engage in distracted driving. A driver who is distracted may hit a motorcyclist or make sudden, unpredictable movements that endanger riders in the vicinity.
- Driving while intoxicated. Drivers who are drunk or high do not belong behind the wheel of a car. Unfortunately, drunk and drugged driving is all too common, endangering motorcyclists and everybody else on the road.
Motorcycle riders also have a high risk of single-vehicle accidents. Many different issues can lead to accidents in which only the motorcycle is involved, including:
- Dangerous roads: West Virginia is notorious for roads that are poorly designed and badly maintained. Potholes, loose dirt and gravel, and other issues pose a danger to all vehicles, but motorcyclists are much more likely to crash as a result.
- Vehicle defects: If any part of your bike is defective, the likelihood of an accident is higher. Defects of the handlebars, chain, brakes, tires, and other parts are especially dangerous.
- Collisions with fixed objects: From curbs and barriers to items that fall into the road, motorcyclists are at a high risk of being thrown if they collide with a stationary object. Accidents may also occur when the rider avoids hitting the object only to lose control of the bike.
- Bad weather: Rain, sleet, fog, snow, and ice can all lead to hazardous road conditions. Inclement weather increases the risk of a crash for the operators of all vehicles, but motorcyclists are especially vulnerable.
Just because another vehicle was not involved does not mean the motorcyclist is automatically at fault for the accident. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Colombo Law can help you identify all liable parties for the crash, such as the manufacturer of the motorcycle, the government entity responsible for a dangerous roadway, and others.
Who Is At Fault for Most Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcyclists have an undeserved reputation for recklessness. In reality, most riders take safety seriously. They also have every right to be on the road.
The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by careless drivers, not the riders. Unfortunately, drivers and insurance companies will often vigorously dispute liability for crashes simply because a motorcyclist was involved.
It is in your best interest to contact a Morgantown motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and start building a claim for compensation. Prompt legal guidance can prevent the liable parties and their insurers from taking advantage of you.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Without the protection afforded by seat belts, airbags, and other safety features, motorcyclists are much more likely to sustain serious and catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident. Even those who wear a helmet and other gear can suffer permanent impairment – or worse – as a result of their injuries.
The Morgantown motorcycle accident attorneys at Colombo Law have helped the victims of motorcycle accidents who are suffering from:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe bruising
- Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions
- Road rash
- Neck and back injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Temporary or permanent paralysis
- Burn injuries
- Organ damage
- Joint, tendon, muscle, and ligament tears
There is no such thing as a “small” motorcycle accident. Prompt medical attention is crucial and qualified legal guidance is a necessity if you or a loved one has been in a crash on a motorcycle.
Fatality is the worst case scenario in any accident. If your loved one died as a result of injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else, the attorneys at Colombo Law can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
As with all personal injury claims, you have a limited time to take action against the party or parties responsible for a motorcycle accident. This is known as the statute of limitations.
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for a motorcycle accident claim is two years. The same time limit applies in cases of wrongful death.
Two years leaves you little time to build a case and pursue the compensation you deserve. You do not have to go it alone. The Morgantown motorcycle accident lawyers at Colombo Law can build a strong case on your behalf, ensure that your claim is filed on time, and seek maximum compensation for your losses.
Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles in West Virginia
West Virginia motorcyclists are required to carry liability coverage that will pay for property damage and injury to others. The state-mandated minimum insurance requirements are as follows:
- $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $40,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
- $10,000 property damage coverage per accident
Though these are the amounts of insurance coverage you must carry to be compliant with the law, you may want to consider higher coverages to protect yourself in the event of a catastrophic accident. For example, uninsured motorist insurance can help pay for losses if you are injured and/or suffer property damage in a motorcycle accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance.
What Can I Be Compensated for After a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents can result in physical injuries as well as mental and emotional trauma. These can cost thousands of dollars in doctor’s bills and therapy expenses, as well as reduce your enjoyment and quality of life.
If someone else’s negligence caused your motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages that include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
The family members of a motorcyclist killed in an accident can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages as well. You and your loved ones may be entitled to recovery of expenses for funeral services and burial or cremation, medical expenses prior to your relative’s death, and loss of income and financial support, as well as damages for loss of society, companionship, and more.
What Is the Average Payout for a Motorcycle Accident?
Many accident victims are curious about how much they may be able to recover for their injuries and damages. However, until you speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer in Morgantown, it is impossible for us to answer this question with any degree of accuracy.
A variety of different factors can influence the amount of compensation available in a motorcycle accident claim. When you meet with our attorneys for a free consultation, we will review the facts of your case and advise you of your potential payout based on the following factors:
- The seriousness of your injuries
- The party or parties liable for the accident
- Insurance coverage available for the motorcycle accident
- The type and nature of of the losses you have experienced
- Your share of fault (if any) for the accident
Even if you are partly at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to some amount of compensation. Under the comparative negligence standard in West Virginia, the damages in your case are reduced according to your share of responsibility for the crash. So long as you are less than 50 percent at fault, you can still recover a portion of the damages in your case.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
Successfully resolving a motorcycle accident claim takes time. If someone else was at fault for the accident, it can take months of negotiations with the liable party or parties and their insurer(s) before reaching a fair settlement. The time investment increases if your case goes to trial; court dockets are often crowded, and it can take the better part of a year (or more) before the trial begins.
If negotiation and/or litigation leads to a favorable result, the time it takes to resolve your claim is worth it. At Colombo Law, we pride ourselves on providing not only knowledgeable legal guidance but compassionate and responsive service. We keep you updated at every stage of your case, listen to your concerns, and work with you to achieve an outcome that meets your needs after a motorcycle accident.
Why Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Investigating a motorcycle accident and building a claim based on the evidence is a challenging process. Although you may be able to gather some preliminary information on your own, it usually takes a lot more to prevail.
Colombo Law has the knowledge and resources to build effective motorcycle accident claims on behalf of our clients. We have intimate knowledge of the factors that cause these crashes, and we enlist the services of professional investigators, expert witnesses, and others to develop a strong legal strategy.
Our motorcycle accident lawyers also strive to protect your best interests as an injured motorcyclist. By contrast, the insurance adjusters who represent the people who hurt you don’t care about your best interests. They care about saving money and keeping you quiet until your case is closed.
After a motorcycle accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters or the other party’s lawyers. You may even be offered a settlement that seems fair.
Remember: Never accept the first settlement you receive. In many cases, the money you are being offered is much less than what you may deserve. Always discuss any settlement offers with a motorcycle accident lawyer before accepting.
How to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents
Drivers and motorcyclists alike have a duty to operate vehicles safely and obey the rules of the road. Although most motorcycle accidents happen because of negligence on the part of the driver of a motor vehicle, motorcyclists can take steps of their own to keep themselves safe and reduce the risk of a collision.
Some of the most important things you can do as a motorcyclist include:
- Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.
- Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.
- Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
- Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have.
- Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
- If a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn.
Dress for Safety:
- Wear a DOT-certified motorcycle helmet
- Wear eye protection.
- Wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet.
- Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.
- Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
- Remember – the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.
Apply Effective Mental Strategies:
- Constantly search the road for changing conditions.
- Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.
- Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.
- Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.
- Watch for turning vehicles.
- Signal your next move in advance.
- Avoid weaving between lanes.
- Do not engage in lane splitting; this is illegal in West Virginia
- Pretend you’re invisible, and ride extra defensively.
- Don’t ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Know and follow the rules of the road.
- Stick to the speed limit.
Know Your Bike and How to Use It:
- Obtain a motorcycle endorsement.
- Get formal training and take refresher courses.
- Practice riding.
- Develop your riding techniques before going into heavy traffic.
- Know how to handle your bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds, and uneven surfaces.
Remember: Give yourself space. People driving cars often just don’t see motorcycles. Even when drivers do see you, chances are they have never been on a motorcycle and can’t properly judge your speed.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
For most motorcyclists, the only step to take after an accident is to seek medical care. The injuries after a collision are often too severe to attempt further action. NOTHING is more important than your well-being, so the first thing to do is call 911 for assistance.
Paramedics may take you to the hospital immediately after assessing your injuries. If this is the case, you should focus on receiving treatment and following your doctors’ orders so you can recuperate.
However, in the event that you are not seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, there are additional steps you can take to start building your claim both at the scene and afterward:
- Get yourself (and your bike) out of the roadway; you do not want to run the risk of a secondary collision.
- Take photos of the accident scene.
- Get the name, contact information, and insurance information from the motorist (or motorists) involved in the accident.
- Speak to witnesses in the vicinity.
- Make note of where the accident occurred (look for street names and addresses, mile markers, and anything else that can help you identify the location of the motorcycle accident).
- Provide a statement to the police.
- Go to the emergency room or see a doctor promptly for thorough evaluation of your injuries.
- Notify your insurance company (insurers generally require notification of an accident within 30 days; check your policy for any specific deadlines).
- Never say anything to suggest you were at fault.
- Speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Taking these steps creates a record of the accident. It also serves as an effective foundation for filing a motorcycle accident claim.
Why Choose Colombo Law for Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
As one of the leading personal injury law firms in the state of West Virginia, Colombo Law has successfully handled numerous motorcycle accident cases. Our attorneys recognize the bias faced by motorcyclists on the road, in negotiations with insurers, and in the courtroom. Our approach is to counter this bias with concrete evidence.
Our firm works with some of the leading experts in the fields of medicine, accident reconstruction, finance, and economics to help us calculate fair compensation for your current and future physical, financial, and emotional hardships. We strive to recover the maximum amount of damages on your behalf, whether through negotiation of an equitable settlement or by taking your case to trial.
At Colombo Law, our attorneys understand how to effectively demonstrate the consequences of injuries caused by motorcycle accidents. Serious, catastrophic accidents change lives forever. Our motorcycle accident lawyers tell your story, providing the court with “before” and “after” pictures and producing “day-in-the-life” videos if necessary. We make sure the court understands how you and your family have been affected by the tragedy of your accident.
Our ability to combine compassionate legal services with aggressive legal representation allows us to maximize the compensation received by our clients involved in West Virginia motorcycle accidents. At Colombo Law, we refuse to let your future fall victim to an insurance company’s bottom line. We present evidence of what you have suffered, what you have lost as a result, and demand fair compensation.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Motorcycle accidents are traumatic events. The physical injuries riders suffer can lead to significant impairment and a wide range of mental, emotional, and financial difficulties that can be hard to overcome. If somebody caused the motorcycle accident through negligence, you should not be forced to “get on with your life” without receiving compensation.
At Colombo Law, our motorcycle accident lawyers offer free consultations to anyone who has suffered a motorcycle accident. With our No Fee Promise, we only charge you if we achieve a favorable result in your case.
Call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a free consultation. Our motorcycle accident lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.