While motorcycles are energy efficient, fun to drive and less expensive than cars and trucks, there are also inherent risks involved. If you’ve been injured due to another motorist’s negligence, you may wish to speak with a knowledgeable West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your legal options.
- What are the motorcycle laws in West Virginia?
- What are the main causes of motorcycle accidents?
- Can riding a motorcycle be safe?
- What are the most common motorcycle injuries?
- How should you handle motorcycle accidents?
- Why do I need a motorcycle accident attorney?
- How can Tiano O’Dell, PLLC help?
West Virginia Motorcycle Laws
Thousands of motorcyclists are injured or killed every year in collisions, and there are over 18,000 motorcycles registered in West Virginia alone. Motorcycle owners need to be aware of West Virginia state laws concerning motorcycles, to not only avoid fines or other penalties for violating those laws but also to stay as safe as possible on the road.
Laws Regarding Protective Gear
In West Virginia, motorcycle riders must wear the appropriate safety gear. While on the road, motorcyclists must wear eye protection, such as goggles, shatter-resistant safety glasses, or a face shield that complies with the American National Standards Institute for Head, Eye, and Respiratory Protection.
Windscreens and windshields on motorcycles must also be shatter-resistant. West Virginia follows a universal helmet law, so every person driving or riding a motorcycle must wear a helmet. Some states do not have such a restriction, but research has proven that helmets save lives and reduce the damage riders suffer from accidents.
Some motorcyclists take advantage of the small size and heightened maneuverability of their motorcycles to perform dangerous actions on the road. One common example is lane-splitting or sharing a single lane with another vehicle. This practice is permissible in some states, but illegal in West Virginia. Lane-splitting is dangerous, but some motorcyclists choose to do this to get around slower traffic. If you’re from another state or are accustomed to lane-splitting, be sure you cease this practice as soon as you cross into West Virginia.
Despite lane-splitting being illegal in West Virginia, you are legally permitted to share a lane with another motorcycle rider. Two motorcycle riders can ride side-by-side in the same lane, and this is common when motorcycle enthusiasts ride together or during motorcycle events. However, make sure if you choose to share a lane with another rider that you do so safely. Always use your turn signals and stay aware of your spacing between yourself and the other rider.
Motorcycle Insurance Laws
One more area of legal consideration motorcyclists should remember is West Virginia’s minimum insurance requirements. Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than typical passenger vehicles due to their size and the rider’s exposure to external elements, so insurance policies for motorcycles tend to be more expensive than typical car insurance. A motorcycle insurance policy needs to have the following amounts of liability coverage:
- $20,000 coverage for property damage
- $40,000 accident coverage
- $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person
West Virginia follows a comparative negligence law. This means if a plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for an accident, the amount of compensation he or she may receive will be reduced by a proportionate amount. For example, if you would have won $100,000 in damages for an accident, but a judge deems you 10% at fault for it, he or she would reduce your damages by 10%, leaving you with $90,000. For additional information regarding comparative negligence, speak with a qualified Charleston motorcycle accident attorney.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in West Virginia
In West Virginia, factors that contribute to motorcycle accidents frequently include:
- Roadway defects, hazardous road conditions
- Drivers of automobiles and other vehicles fail to look inside and rearview mirrors, causing crashes when changing lanes
- Cars and other vehicles cutting off motorcyclists
- Other vehicles not yielding the right of way to motorcyclists
- Other vehicles not seeing the motorcyclist
- Other vehicles cause up to 2/3 of motorcycle accidents that involve multiple vehicles
- Defective parts
- Mechanical failure
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, defective roads or any other reason, you and your Charleston, WV injury lawyer may seek compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and more. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, if we do take your case, there are no fees involved unless we win the case for you.
How to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are typically far more deadly than accidents involving typical passenger vehicles. If not fatal, motorcycle accidents commonly result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal organ damage, burns, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, or even wrongful death. It’s important to follow all West Virginia motorcycle and traffic laws and to operate your motorcycle safely to avoid serious or fatal injuries.
Share Lanes Safely
Although it’s legal in West Virginia to ride side-by-side with another motorcyclist in the same lane, make sure you do so safely. Remain a safe distance from the other rider without drifting out of the lane, and always signal properly. If you feel as though riding side-by-side is no longer safe, signal to the other driver that you are pulling ahead or behind and continue single-file.
Always take weather conditions into consideration. Motorcycles are more difficult to control in bad weather than enclosed vehicles. Cars have a much easier time driving on wet or slick roads than motorcycles, and motorcycle riders are exposed to precipitation. Chances are, if the weather is bad, you don’t ride your motorcycle. If you find yourself stuck on the road when bad weather hits, exercise extra caution and try to get off the road as soon as you can.
Many motorcycle accidents that involve a motorcycle and another larger vehicle happen because the driver of the other vehicle could not see the motorcycle. While riding your bike, do your best to stay visible to other nearby motorists. Cars have “blind spots” behind and to the sides of the driver where it is difficult for the driver to see, so avoid lingering in these areas for too long. Always use your turn signals when you change lanes or make turns.
Make sure your motorcycle’s lights are functional and your reflectors work before riding at night. If you can avoid riding at night, it may be a good idea. Motorcycles are much less visible than other vehicles even in broad daylight.
Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
A motorcyclist is 35 times more likely to get into a deadly accident than an automobile driver. Motorcycle crash injuries range from mild to severe and include the following:
- Disfigurement – facial disfigurement is often extensive, even when a helmet is worn
- Road rash abrasions – when thrown from the bike, the body is torn up as it comes in contact with the pavement
- Head trauma – brain injuries may result in dysfunction, loss of motor skills
- Spinal cord injury – severe spinal cord injuries may result in paralysis
- Multiple fractures – broken bones including arms, legs, ribs and other fractures
- “Biker’s Arm” – landing on arm may result in permanent nerve damage
When an automobile or truck driver is distracted and causes a motorcycle accident, the responsible driver should be held accountable for his negligent actions. Distracted driving is any behavior that takes the driver’s focus away from the task of driving, including talking on the phone, texting and driving, playing with the CD player, eating and much more.
Tiano O’Dell, PLLC may utilize the skills of accident reconstruction engineers and other experts in order to help determine the exact cause of the accident. Your West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney will then present the evidence in insurance negotiations and/or at trial to make the strongest case possible in order to obtain the compensation you deserve.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in West Virginia
After a motor vehicle accident of any kind, your first priority should always be to seek medical care for your injuries and alert the police there has been an accident. Even if you feel as though your injuries are minor, it is imperative you receive medical attention. Some injuries from a motorcycle accident may not manifest immediately, but a doctor can identify warning signs of serious damage early enough to prevent such wounds from becoming life-threatening.
Your doctor will provide you with a detailed medical report that will outline your injuries, the extent of the damage, your doctor’s treatment plan, and any permanent damage. This document will be vital in any subsequent lawsuits you file against a negligent driver if that is how your accident happened.
When the police respond to the accident, they will create a report detailing the scene of the accident, the damage, and statements from those involved and any eyewitnesses. This is another vital document that will help you and your West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney build a case if you intend to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
Seek Justice for Your Injuries
Connecting with a reliable and experienced attorney is essential if you want to secure fair compensation for your losses and injuries. Additionally, a lawyer will help you deal with insurance companies if you need to process a claim on your policy. Insurance companies try to avoid paying out as much as possible and can sometimes try to shortchange or stall insured motorists, but an attorney will ensure you receive the full amount allowable by your policy.
Some motorcycle crashes happen because of defective parts. If a manufacturer releases a motorcycle part that is defective in some way and that defect causes an accident, the manufacturer is liable for the resulting injuries and damages.
Your attorney will help you build a product liability claim against the manufacturer for releasing a hazardous part for sale. If a product is inherently defective due to a design flaw, the manufacturer will likely issue a recall on the part. If a manufacturing issue caused the defect, the manufacturer will recall the affected lots and address the problem.
The consequences of a motorcycle injury can be devastating. An attorney with experience can guide you through the complexities of a personal injury case. Whether there is one defendant or many, you should be able to focus on your recovery – not on legal issues.
Contact a West Virginia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
The West Virginia personal injury lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC have been awarded the Preeminent Client Review Rating by former clients. Additionally, as Top 100 Trial Attorneys, we are intimately familiar with personal injury law and courtroom procedure in Charleston and throughout the state of West Virginia. We utilize our skills to help our clients receive the compensation they deserve – as well as to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. We are compassionate plaintiff’s attorneys and we fight for them.
Most cases are settled out of court by skillful negotiations; however, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial for a court award if the insurance company does not offer a generous settlement. There are no legal fees involved unless we win your case. To schedule a free consultation, call our Charleston law firm at (304) 720-6700 or fill out our online free case evaluation form.