According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 1,778 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in 2014 alone. This statistic is especially alarming because injuries sustained in motorcycle crashes tend to be particularly severe, leaving many victims permanently disabled.Most motorcycle accidents are the result of at least one person’s negligence, so if you were injured in a crash caused by someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, it is critical to speak with an experienced Tappahannock motorcycle accident lawyer who can explain your legal options.
Motorcycle Accident Causes
Although motorcycle crashes can occur in a variety of situations, most accidents between motorcyclists and motorists involve head-on collisions. In many cases, these crashes are the result of a driver making a left-hand turn and colliding with a motorcycle that is either passing the vehicle on the left or traveling through the intersection in the opposite direction. Because motorcycles are so much smaller than passenger vehicles, many drivers fail to see them when changing lanes or turning. This size difference also makes it risky to closely follow a motorcycle, as rear-end collisions between cars and motorcyclists often result in serious injuries.
Road defects, such as potholes, uneven road surfaces, loose gravel, and cracked asphalt can also prove dangerous for unsuspecting motorcyclists. In these cases, an injured party may be able to hold the city or state accountable if a government employee or maintenance crew knew of the dangerous road condition yet failed to fix it. Unfortunately, filing a claim against the government is complicated and requires compliance with specific procedural guidelines. If you were injured in a Tappahannock motorcycle accident caused by a road defect, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Tappahannock motorcycle accident attorney who can walk you through the filing process.
Motorcyclists run a higher risk of sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries than other motorists because they do not have the advantages of airbags and seat belts. They are also more exposed to other vehicles and the road. Because they do not have the benefit of multiple layers of steel between them and the road or other vehicles, even minor collisions between motorists and motorcyclists can result in devastating injuries, including:
- Compound bone fractures
- Road rash
- Severe lacerations
- Abrasions and contusions
- Facial fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Organ damage
- Emergency transportation and treatment
- Multiple surgeries
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Hospital stays
- Nursing care
These costs can quickly drive an injured party and his or her family into debt, as motorcycle accident victims are usually unable to work immediately following their crash. In fact, many injured parties are required to take weeks or even months off work, which can make it impossible to stay on top of medical bills and household costs. Fortunately, motorcycle accident victims whose crashes were caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct can be compensated by the responsible parties for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Tappahannock Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In Tappahannock, all motorcyclists, including passengers, must wear helmets that meet federal standards. To be sure, a motorcyclist who fails to wear a helmet significantly increases his or her chances of severe injury in an accident. In fact, states with no mandatory helmet laws have a much higher rate of head injuries amongst motorcyclists involved in crashes. In 2012, Michigan repealed its helmet law by permitting motorcyclists over the age of 21 to opt out of wearing a helmet when riding. Within weeks of the repeal, hospitals noticed a drastic increase in the number of severe head injuries sustained by motorcyclists. Tragically, motorcyclist deaths quadrupled, and the percentage of those who passed away and were not wearing helmets increased from 14 to 68 percent. Hospital administrators also reported that as many as 10 percent of motorcyclists who failed to wear a helmet and were hospitalized passed away due to their injuries. In comparison, only 3 percent of riders who had been wearing helmets at the time of their crash lost their lives.
Wearing a helmet does not guarantee that a person will avoid injuries or death in a motorcycle crash, but it can significantly increase a motorcyclist’s safety and chances of survival in the event of a crash.
Tappahannock Motorcycle Accident FAQMotorcycle accidents are all too common in Tappahannock. To do our part, we’ve provided answers for some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear from clients regarding such accidents. If you have additional questions, reach out to the legal team at Emroch & Kilduff today.
How common are motorcycle accidents in Tappahannock?Motorcycle accidents are unfortunately much more common than accidents that involve other vehicles. While motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists constitute 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. The number of deaths from motorcycle accidents nationwide has doubled since 1997. Virginia itself registered 1,960 motorcycle crashes in the most recent year, more than 9 percent above the prior year.
What injuries do Tappahannock motorcycle accidents cause?Motorcycle accidents can cause almost every kind of damage to the human body that you can imagine. Motorcyclists are comparatively unprotected in the case of an accident, compared to the occupants of larger vehicles, like cars and trucks. As a result, accidents that might not pose a serious danger to larger vehicle occupants can pose serious harm to drivers and passengers of motorcycles. Even minor collisions with obstacles in the road or debris fallen from another vehicle can pose danger and even prove fatal. Motorcycle accidents can cause the motorcyclist and passengers to be thrown to the ground with significant force. If they are, catastrophic injuries, such as skull fractures, head wounds, spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and even decapitation, can result. In addition, motorcyclists are subject to injuries that other vehicle occupants are not, such as road rash. Road rash refers to a rash or abraded area on the skin caused by contact or impact with rough materials, such as gravel, pavement, sand, or other roadway material. “Rash” may make the condition sound minor, but in fact, road rash can abrade the skin to the nerve endings or even bone. Infection of the rash also poses a very real risk to motorcyclists. Motorcycle accidents can cause the following injuries:
- Broken bones, including those in the arms, legs, pelvic area, ribs, back, skull, and more
- Soft tissue injuries
- Muscle strain
- Internal injuries
- Amputated limbs or loss of body parts (such as eyes)
- Loss of bodily function
What should I do if I’m injured in a Tappahannock motorcycle accident?Injured victims in a motorcycle accident should take care to perform two tasks. First, and most importantly, protect your safety and your life. Second, take steps to obtain and preserve evidence about who or what caused the accident. Below, we discuss what to do for both steps. Preserve your safety and your life. If you are able, move to safety, away from traffic and any dangers (such as leaking fuel). Call 911 to report an accident, if you are physically able. If you need an ambulance, tell the dispatcher. If emergency medical technicians determine that you need emergency medical attention, they will take you to the hospital. If you travel with a first aid kit and can safely attempt first aid, do so, but take precautions. If you need to move or position yourself in a manner that might pose a danger to yourself, don’t. Let medical professionals take care of you when they arrive. After law enforcement indicates that you can leave the scene of the accident, see a doctor immediately to treat any injuries. See a doctor or go to an emergency room, even if you don’t feel you need to. A doctor should thoroughly examine you to diagnose any injuries that you might not feel or see. Obtain and preserve evidence about the accident. Anyone in an accident needs evidence about who or what caused the accident, because those questions become very important later on. We can’t stress enough, though, that preserving your life comes first. If you don’t live, nothing else is going to matter. You can piece together evidence later. However, if you can stay on the scene, law enforcement officers should report to the scene of all accidents that cause injuries and death. They will talk to all parties involved and take detailed notes about the scene, the environment (weather and time of day), and the causes of the accident. Tell the officer what you remember and know of the accident. If another person involved seems under the influence of alcohol or other substance, or acted in such a way as to cause the accident, tell the officer. You should also:
- Obtain a copy of the police report. It’s an important piece of evidence.
- Exchange insurance information and contact information with the other drivers.
- If eyewitnesses exist, talk to them and get contact information for them, as well.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and the vehicles, if you travel with a smartphone or camera.
- Medical information from the accident is also crucial evidence. Save all documentation from medical personnel that you see, including evidence of your visit, diagnostic tests—such as x-rays and lab reports, diagnoses, prescriptions for medication, and more.
What if I can’t pay my medical bills after a Tappahannock motorcycle accident?Call us right away. If you become injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another party, the at-fault party becomes financially responsible for the harm caused by the accident. But the law requires that you prove who or what caused the accident and that your injuries bear a direct relationship to the accident (and not some other cause). That’s why the gathering of evidence is so important after an accident. You need to know who or what caused the accident. If a driver of another vehicle caused your accident, you are entitled to either approach their insurance company and make a claim for the harm done to you, or to bring a Tappahannock motorcycle accident suit in civil court. Other potentially responsible parties include vehicle manufacturers, component manufacturers, and repair companies, if they manufactured defective equipment that caused an accident or failed to inspect and repair a vehicle properly. If a pedestrian or passerby caused the accident, talk to an attorney about your options. In some cases, pedestrians may have insurance coverage, or a Tappahannock motorcycle accident suit in court may prove the best solution. Under Virginia law, people injured in a motorcycle accident can seek damages in the following categories:
- Medical bills, current and future
- Wages lost from work stemming from the accident
- The lifetime value of earnings if the accident proved disabling
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering