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West Virginia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Riding a motorcycle can be exciting and liberating. Unfortunately, riding a motorcycle also carries significant accident risks. In some cases, individuals drive irresponsibly, injuring motorcyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding and drunk driving disproportionately contribute to motorcycle accidents.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have rights to compensation under West Virginia law. You’ll want to speak to the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Salango Law, who will clarify your legal options and fight hard to help ensure you obtain compensation and justice. Contact Charleston motorcycle accident lawyers at Salango Law at 304-342-0512 to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney today.

Motorcycle Accidents

In 2020, there were more than 8,000,000 registered motorcycles in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. In the same year, 5,579 motorcyclist fatalities and 83,000 injuries occurred. According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, 38 people died in motorcycle accidents in West Virginia in 2020—an increase from 2019.

Compared to the drivers of other vehicles, motorcycle drivers are at a greater risk of accidents. In 2020, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely than people in other vehicles to perish in a motor vehicle crash and four times more likely to suffer injuries.

What Are Some Causes Of Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcyclists are more likely to be injured or killed in accidents because motorcycles are smaller than most other vehicles on the road. Additionally, other drivers may have difficulties spotting motorcycles, and motorcyclists’ practices such as downshifting and weaving can make them susceptible to accidents. Larger vehicle drivers may cause collisions with motorcycles when they:

  • Do not allow an adequate following distance between their vehicles and motorcycles
  • Fail to check their blind spots for motorcycles
  • Pass motorcycles recklessly without adequate caution
  • High beam motorcycles after dark
  • Tailgate motorcycles
  • Avoid passing motorcycles
  • Fail to let motorcyclists know when they want to make a turn
  • Assume—incorrectly—that motorcycles can stop as fast as cars can
  • Change lanes in close proximity to a motorcycle
  • Fail to exercise caution and look carefully before making a left turn or making a turn at an intersection
  • Drive in bad weather
  • Drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, violating the law

Motorcyclists can also contribute to accidents. Speeding can increase the risk of a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclist speeding was a major contributing factor to motorcycle accidents in 2020—34% of all motorcyclists in deadly crashes were speeding. Compared to passenger vehicle accidents, speeding plays a larger role in motorcycle accidents, as a lower percentage of passenger car drivers involved in fatal accidents—22% were speeding. For truck accidents, the percentages were even lower—16% for light-truck accidents and seven percent for large-truck accidents.

Motorcyclists can also cause accidents when they drink and drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk motorcyclists were responsible for a greater proportion of fatal accidents than drunk car drivers. Intoxication can impair a motorcyclist’s balance and coordination—skills crucial for driving a motorcycle. Additionally, the effects of alcohol on motorcyclists include:

  • Loss of inhibition, leading to riskier driving decisions
  • Impaired judgment
  • Reduced alertness
  • Diminished reflexes
  • Worsened ability to break—compounding with motorcycles’ already slower braking
  • Attention difficulties, which are especially problematic in busy areas

Additionally, motorcyclists can contribute to accidents and severe injuries by:

  • Failing to wear a helmet and protective equipment
  • Failing to inspect their motorcycles before each ride
  • Ignoring traffic laws
  • Riding motorcycles in bad weather
  • Riding too close to other vehicles
  • Failing to pay attention to road hazards

Furthermore, motorcyclists are vulnerable to accidents caused by debris on the road, such as grass clippings. Grass clippings can diminish the traction on the motorcycle’s tires, causing slips.

To stay safe, motorcyclists may consider taking a safety course. They can also make sure they are always visible to other drivers when they ride on the roads.

Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Motorcyclists can sustain severe injuries in accidents, including:

  • Lower extremity injuries, such as leg injuries, are the most common
  • Road rash—a severe skin abrasion
  • Facial fractures and disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Burns
  • Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions
  • Spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis

West Virginia Motorcycle Accident Claims

Individuals involved in motorcycle accidents can bring claims against those responsible for their accidents and recover compensation. In many cases, motorcycle accidents cause severe injuries, and in other cases, motorcycle crashes lead to deaths. Those injured in motorcycle accidents have the legal right to recover compensation from those who caused their accidents. When an individual dies in a motorcycle accident, surviving family members and the individual’s estate may also file legal actions to obtain compensation.

How Can You Sue Drivers Who Caused Motorcycle Accidents?

People who were injured in motorcycle accidents may bring legal claims against the drivers responsible for the accident. For a successful personal injury case, individuals—often with the help of skilled legal counsel —must show that:

  • The driver owed them a duty of care to drive reasonably and take adequate safety precautions.
  • The driver did something—such as speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol—that breached their duty of care.
  • The individual suffered a real injury.
  • The driver’s actions caused this real injury.

Negligence Example

For example, a driver is speeding twenty miles above the speed limit. The driver goes through an intersection without seeing a motorcyclist making a turn. The driver injures the motorcyclist, who suffers broken bones, a concussion, and burns. In this case, the injured motorcyclist may be able to establish that the driver was negligent.

  • First, the driver owed the motorcyclist a duty of care, as they both shared the road.
  • Second, the driver breached their duty of care by speeding through an intersection.
  • Third, the motorcyclist suffered injuries—broken bones, a concussion, and burns.
  • Fourth, if the driver had not blown through the intersection, the accident would not have occurred. The driver caused the accident.

The motorcyclist can legally establish all elements of negligence. The driver is legally responsible for the harm caused.

Can You Bring Wrongful Death Claims When People Die In Motorcycle Accidents?

When a family member passes away in a motorcycle accident, their loved ones—such as surviving spouse, children, or other dependents—may bring a wrongful death action against the person who caused the accident. Wrongful death claims must include the following elements:

  • The driver caused or contributed significantly to the victim’s death.
  • The driver was negligent.
  • The victim’s death affected surviving family members.
  • The death of the victim had a negative financial impact on the family.

What Compensation Is Available To Motorcycle Accident Victims?

In West Virginia, people injured in motorcycle accidents may recover compensation, including economic compensation and non-economic compensation. Economic compensation reimburses individuals for the measurable costs associated with the injury, including:

  • Medical fees
  • Lost wages
  • Physical therapy fees

In West Virginia, there is no limit to the number of economic damages an individual may recover in a personal injury lawsuit in Charleston. Motorcycle accident victims are entitled to as much economic compensation as is necessary.

Non-economic damages are also available in West Virginia. Non-economic damages account for the intangible effects of the accident, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, which are also significant. West Virginia imposes a cap on non-economic damages, limiting the amount individuals can recover.

What Can You Recover In Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

If the motorcycle accident caused a person’s death, surviving family members or the deceased person’s estate may recover compensation for:

  • Lost wages/Loss of Income
  • Absence of protection
  • Loss of services of the deceased
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial or cremation services

What If You Are Partially At Fault?

In many cases, multiple drivers may have made errors that led to an accident. Whether an individual can recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit depends on their responsibility for the accident. If others bear the majority of the responsibility for the accident, drivers who contributed to accidents may still recover compensation in proportion to their amount of responsibility. A driver who is 20% negligent will still recover 80% of any damages.

Time Limits On Motorcycle Accident Claims

West Virginia law imposes time limits on personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. After a motorcycle accident, people have two years to bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Unfortunately, missing the two-year deadline can have negative effects on your right to file a case. Consider speaking with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn more about how this deadline may affect you.

West Virginia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

People who ride motorcycles appreciate the freedom of the open road. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents can result in severe injuries and deaths, and speeding and drunk driving disproportionately affect motorcycle accidents.

Individuals involved in motorcycle accidents in West Virginia may consider seeking the assistance of a motorcycle accident attorney. If you or a loved one was involved in a motorcycle accident, Salango Law can assess your case and help you determine your best course of action. We aggressively pursue injury claims against at fault parties and we don’t back down to the insurance company who wants to settle your case for less than it is worth. Contact Salango Law motorcycle accident lawyers online or by calling 304-342-0512 to learn more about bringing a motorcycle accident case.