Sometimes, there is no greater feeling than the freedom of the road on a perfect sunny day while on your motorcycle. Motorcycles offer a sense of freedom that car and truck drivers are unable to grasp, even with their windows down. Motorcycles allow their drivers to be present in nature and literally feel the sun on their back while going for a ride. Unfortunately, the joy of driving a motorcycle is sometimes overshadowed by the ever-present risk of severe motorcycle accidents. If you or a family member have received injuries from a motorcycle accident, contact an accomplished Richmond motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you are able. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
While coming up with the invention of the motor vehicle, much thought was initially given to the bicycle as a potential future motor vehicle. Motorcycles were,in fact, immediate descendants of the “safety bicycle.” During the nineteenth century, the first “motor”-cycle was made available to the public in England, and over the years, the motorcycle designs evolved to be more conducive to internal combustion engines. While Henry Ford’s Model T car paved the way for a future of four-wheeled motor vehicles, production continued on motorcycles and was expedited through mass production firms.
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Rising Number of Motorcycle Accidents
Throughout the country, the rate of motorcycle accidents has been on a steady increase, whereas the general trend of most traffic accidents has been decreasing since 2000. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a report on Motorcycle Crash Causes and Outcomes, noting that the number of motorcycle accident fatalities had more than doubled since 2000. The United States Congress, through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (“SAFETEA-LU”) directed the NHTSA to conduct a study of motorcycle crashes to develop a methodology for crash statistics to determine why this ongoing spike in accidents was occurring. The NHTSA also noted the rise in the number of registered motorcycles throughout the country in addition to a rise in the number of reported motorcycle accidents. The reports also indicated that over 50 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents reported throughout the country involved another vehicle. Approximately 42 percent of these two-vehicle fatal motorcycle accidents were the result of a vehicle which turned left while the motorcycle was going straight.
The NHTSA study was indicative of the ongoing issues which face motorcyclists throughout the country – most notably the failure of car drivers to take notice of their surroundings.
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How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia?
Virginia has implemented new severe distracted driving and drunk driving laws which has not only helped curb the number of car accidents throughout the state, but also the number of motorcycle accidents as well. Drivers who are not distracted at all, often miss a motorcyclist on the highways; distracted and drunk drivers will often not check their blind spots and will, unfortunately, run directly into a motorcyclist. The more constant presence of law enforcement on the highways who are specifically looking from drunk drivers or drivers on their cell phones, has helped curb the incidence of motorcycle accidents in Virginia caused by these drivers.
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents do still continue to happen throughout the state and the Richmond motorcycle accident lawyers at Christina Pendleton & Associates have seen the aftermath firsthand. After a slight spike in the number of motorcycle accidents in 2012, the number of motorcycle accidents in Virginia has decreased to approximately 2,000 accidents in 2014. Out of this number, less than 2,000 drivers were injured, and 75 were killed. These numbers have remained relatively stable over the last five years, despite the ongoing fluctuation in the total number of motorcycle accidents in the state.
Many car drivers like to tout the fact that motorcyclists speed down roadways and end up causing accidents. However, the Virginia statistics indicates that the majority of motorcycle accidents were not caused by any one violation. The majority of all motorcycle accidents in Virginia were not caused by speeding, distracted driving, or drunk driving, and instead, involve perfect weather conditions where the motorcyclist was driving on a straight road without any impairment. The federal statistics, as discussed above, also indicate that over 50 percent of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle.
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Types & Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents are unfortunately caused by the negligent behavior of other vehicles on the road. Many ordinary passenger vehicles and trucks do not anticipate the addition of a motorcycle on the highway and therefore do not properly look for them in their rearview mirrors. As a result, motorcycle accidents have been found to occur due to distracted drivers, or drivers who change lanes without yielding.
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Negligence and Tort Law
The idea of a “tort” is one which dates back to nineteenth-century British common law. A tort is essentially an action by one person (the tortfeasor) which results in an injury to another person. The responsible party was typically held responsible for the resulting damages in these actions – a notion that has led to the modern negligence actions, or personal injury claims. In a negligence action, a person may be responsible for damages if they acted outside the scope of what a reasonably prudent person would do. For example, if a driver of a car changed lanes without looking in the lane next to them and without properly signaling, they may be liable for any resulting damage which occurs from an accident which they cause.
Virginia is, unfortunately, a contributory negligence state, which is a principle relatively few states follow. It essentially means that if a motorcyclist is even one percent at fault for the accident or resulting injuries, the motorcyclist will be unable to claim any damages in court. This could be the case if a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet. Even if the car driver blatantly disregarded the rules of the road in turning or speeding, the lack of a helmet could have impacted the full scope of injuries, and therefore the victim may be unable to pursue a claim against the car driver. However, it is important to discuss the intricacies of your case with a seasoned Richmond personal injury lawyer prior to making any settlement decisions.
Drivers are not required to be insured in Virginia, which can sometimes lead to tricky situations if you want to negotiate with an insurance company. Drivers instead are required to pay an annual fee to the state rather than provide the state with a proof of insurance. However, these uninsured drivers are required to cover the amount of damages caused if they injure another person on the roadways.
It is important that you not accept a settlement agreement with an insured driver’s insurance company too soon after an accident. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and will, therefore, attempt to coerce you to sign a settlement agreement shortly after the accident occurs which is often far less than the worth of your claims. The insurance company will not calculate the amount of future damages caused by ongoing injuries, and will not take into account the inability to hold a job in the future because of your injuries. A personal injury claim filed by you and your experienced Richmond motorcycle accident attorney will take all of these items into account in calculating the true value of your injuries.
What Are Common Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents?
Unfortunately, many motorcycle accidents result in severe injuries or the loss of life of the motorcyclist. Any major accident which pits a multi-ton vehicle against an individual who is not adequately protected will lead to extreme injuries. In the case of motorcycle accidents, injuries can include:
Many motorcycles will no longer be able to participate in the average daily activities they once enjoyed after a motorcycle accident. While helmets are able to ensure most motorcyclists do not receive serious brain injuries, this does not protect the rest of the body, including the spinal cord, from taking a serious impact. Even a small impact to the spinal cord could lead to permanent paralysis. This devastating scenario is all too common for motorcyclists who follow the rules of the road, only to be sideswiped by a distracted driver.
The last thing any victim wants to do is deal with the ongoing legal disputes that arise after a motorcycle accident. However, the Richmond motorcycle accident lawyers at Christina Pendleton & Associates are well-versed in motorcycle claims and will work hard to ensure you are compensated for your injuries so that you can focus on what is important: your recovery. The stress of an accident, the resulting injuries, and the potential loss of employment all take a toll on an injured person. Our attorneys will work to alleviate this stress by taking on the burden ourselves so you can try to get back to a normal life.
As the victim of a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to bring a claim for your related damages against the responsible driver. These damages may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
If you have been in a Virginia motorcycle crash and are seeking compensation, let the injury lawyers at Christina Pendleton & Associates help you with your case. We know the tricks insurance companies try to use. We can give you experienced representation so that you do not fall victim to aggressive insurance adjusters, causing yourself to lose out on money to cover all of your damages. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
Christina Pendleton & Associates | Richmond Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Christina Pendleton & Associates. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling personal injury claims stemming from motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle accidents are unfortunately quite severe, given the nature of the motorcycle and the lack of protection it offers to its riders. You should not be forced to go through the pain of terrible injuries and the financial crush of these medical expenses. Our attorneys will work closely with you to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our office at 804-250-5050 today for your free case evaluation.
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