Virginia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Any experienced motorcycle rider will tell you that riding a bike comes with inherent risks. It doesn’t matter how safely one drives, the actions of others and the lack of protection on a bike leave riders vulnerable to catastrophic injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,172 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2017. The good news is that number constitutes a 3 percent drop from the previous year. The bad news, motorcyclists are still 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than someone riding in a car.
Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
A motorcycle accident can cause significant damage and take a serious toll on a victim’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being. The specific damages awarded vary dependent on personal injury attorney, but the common damage types include the following:
- Medical costs, including medical transport, doctor visits, medication, and rehabilitation services.
- Lost wages for any time missed as a result of the accident.
- Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
- Wrongful death in the event a spouse, child, or parent is killed in an accident.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The actions of motorcyclists and surrounding vehicles can contribute to an accident. While some accidents only involve minor injuries, others can cause serious, life-threatening injuries or even death. The most frequent causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Speeding: Excess speed can cause drivers to lose control of their bikes, especially when taking curves. According to the Virginia traffic accident statistics, 6 percent of accidents were caused by a motorcyclist driving too fast. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported that speeding is a leading cause of single-vehicle accidents and accounted for 33 percent of all motorcycle deaths nationwide. According to the report, speed-related motorcycle deaths increased by 56 percent in 2017.
- Failure to yield: Failure to yield accidents most frequently occur at intersections when a passenger vehicle turns in front of a motorcycle. Many times, drivers insist that they never saw the motorcycle coming.
- Poor road conditions: Loose gravel, abrupt edges, and potholes are all dangerous for motorcyclists. These conditions can cause a driver to lose control of his or her bike and cause serious injury.
- Following too closely: Following too closely, also known as tailgating, is a common occurrence on the road. When drivers follow too closely, they may be unable to stop in time if a vehicle in front of them comes to a sudden stop. Tailgating a motorcycle is especially dangerous. Even low-speed accidents can cause serious injuries, and high-speed rear-end accidents are often fatal.
- Vehicle blind spots: Motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles and thus are more difficult to see. A driver may hit a motorcycle in an adjacent lane when the motorcycle is changing lanes in the car’s blind spot.
- Driving under the influence: Drunk driving is dangerous no matter what type of vehicle you are in. According to the NHTSA, 28 percent of motorcycle riders who were killed in 2017 were drunk.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle accidents are some of the most deadly accidents on the road. Motorcycles do not have the same protection that cars and trucks enjoy. If you ride a motorcycle, wearing appropriate protective gear, including a helmet, can save your life. Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur because of a sudden blow to the head or a penetrating injury. TBIs can occur when drivers are thrown from their bikes or when they are struck by other vehicles. TBIs can lead to memory loss, headaches, cognitive delays, or a persistent vegetative state.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is bruised or severed. When this happens, the injury can lead to full or partial paralysis. In some cases, the injured driver may regain movement, but in many cases, the paralysis is permanent.
- Road rash: Road rash is one of the most common motorcycle injuries. During a collision, a rider may slide along the roadway. The friction can scrape away the outer layer of skin. In severe cases, road rash can affect the underlying muscle and bone. Road rash can be extremely painful and lead to permanent scarring and/or nerve damage.
- Broken bones: While the head is protected by a motorcycle helmet, the rest of the body has virtually no protection. This makes broken bones very common in motorcycle accidents. A broken bone may require several months to heal and may leave the rider with chronic pain or limited mobility. For facial fractures, the victim may need to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Virginia Motorcycle Accident Statistics
A Few Facts About Motorcycle Accidents
Every year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles publishes annual crash data. The report gives valuable information to drivers about the causes and rates of Virginia accidents. According to the report, 2,119 motorcycle crashes were reported in 2017, a 10 percent increase from 2016. Here are a few more facts from the report that stand out:
- 107 riders were killed on the road in 2017. Of these, 102 were drivers and 5 were passengers. This accounts for a 48.6 percent increase from the previous year.
- An additional 770 riders were seriously injured in 2017. This accounted for 10 percent of all serious traffic injuries
- Motorcycle riders between the ages of 51 and 55 accounted for more deaths than any other age group (16), followed by 26 to 30-year-olds (14).
- There were 0 deaths for riders under the age of 18.
- 43.9 percent of all motorcycle accidents in Virginia in 2017 were single-vehicle crashes.
Virginia Motorcycle Accident FAQ
Riding a motorcycle, especially on the most perfect summer day, brings many Americans great joy. The thrill of riding a bike involves a combination of exhilaration and relaxation that make the experience wholly unique.
Under Virginia law, motorists must obtain a license specific to operating a motorcycle before riding a bike on the state’s roadways. Depending on your age and the level of classification of license you are seeking, there are certain steps you must take to obtain a motorcycle license.
While the steps required to obtain a license may seem complex and intimidating, the process, along with the state’s motorcycle safety laws are intended to make Virginia’s roadways safe.
Do I have to register my motorcycle?
Yes—you must title, register, and insure your motorcycle in Virginia.
Do I have to get a learner’s permit?
Yes, most individuals seeking to obtain a motorcycle license must first obtain a learner’s permit. If you are under 18 years of age, you must hold a learner’s permit for nine months. If you are over the age of 18, you must hold a learner’s permit for 30 days. If you are over 19 years of age, and you completed the Virginia Rider Training Program, you do not have to get a learner’s permit. However, you can only apply for a license after you have successfully completed the course. Upon completing the course, riders have 30 days to add an M, M1, or M2 motorcycle classification to your current license.
What are the restrictions for a learner’s permit?
Learner’s permits come with several restrictions intended to protect untrained motorcyclists. Riders holding a learner’s permit are only permitted to ride during the day between 4 a.m. and midnight. Riders with a learner’s permit must be supervised by someone who is at least 21 years of age. When supervising an inexperienced rider, adults must be alert and remain in close proximity to ensure they can provide immediate supervision. A supervisor may be a parent, sibling, or legal guardian who is 18 years or older. All riders with a learner’s permit are required to wear safety equipment, including a helmet.
What are the Class M designations and which one do I need?
Virginia has three motorcycle designations: M, M1, and M2. A license classified as M allows riders to operate two- and three-wheeled motorcycles. An M2 designation enables riders to operate two-wheeled motorcycles only. And, an M3 designation allows riders to operate three-wheeled motorcycles (trikes) only. Some motorcycle licenses permit riders to operate only motorcycles and no other motor vehicles.
What are Virginia’s motorcycle safety laws?
Motorcycles are relatively small vehicles when compared to passenger cars and commercial trucks. Oftentimes, the size of a motorcycle coupled with other vehicles’ blind spots make motorcyclists difficult to observe, which can contribute to causing accidents. In just one year, Virginia saw 1,792 motorcycle accidents, accounting for 1.4 percent of all traffic accidents resulting in injury or fatality. Of the accidents causing injury or fatality, there were 87 fatal-collisions and 1,404 accidents causing injuries. Motorcycle safety laws aim to protect riders and others on the roadways.
Virginia requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. The helmet must be designed to meet or exceed the standards set by the Federal Department of Transportation, the American National Standards Institute, or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
Additionally, riders must wear protective eye gear. Although Virginia law only mandates helmets that provide eye protection, all riders should also wear gloves, jackets, proper footwear, and pants. Adequately covering your body will reduce the severity of injury in an accident.
What injuries are common in motorcycle accidents?
By nature, motorcyclists are vulnerable to injury because the vehicle does not offer the protection of a steel frame and metal body like other motor vehicles. Unfortunately, in the absence of vehicle protection, motorcycle accidents often cause catastrophic injuries. Even an accident occurring at relatively low speeds can cause severe injuries and extensive damage. Wearing a helmet, long pants, long sleeves, boots, and gloves help protect your body against road rash and other cuts and scrapes.
Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Bruises, cuts, and abrasions.
- Road rash.
- Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
Any open wound, cut, or scrape is at risk of becoming infected. Individuals with underlying health conditions that compromise their immune system functioning are at significantly higher risk of contracting an infection. Conditions such as diabetes or treatments that reduce white blood cell count, such as chemotherapy, will lengthen the time required for an individual to fully recover.
Extending the healing process can increase the risk of infection. If you have an underlying health condition, you might require additional medical treatment or procedures for injuries that heal slower or become infected.
What damages can injured parties seek after a motorcycle accident?
Virginia allows injured parties to seek to recover three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages. Special damages, or economic damages, are those that have a specific cost that is easily quantifiable.
For example, economic damages may include:
- Past medical expenses.
- Future medical expenses.
- Past lost wages.
- Future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of personal property, including your motorcycle and personal property on your bike or person at the time of the accident.
- Medical aids, including wheelchairs, ambulatory aids, and other necessary medical equipment.
- Physical, cognitive, and psychological therapy expenses.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages, like economic damages, aim to make injured parties whole by compensating any intangible accident-related losses. Because general damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a set cost, they are more difficult to calculate.
Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part or function, such as a hand or your eyesight.
- Physical and/or emotional distress.
Punitive damages. Under some circumstances, Virginia law also allows accident victims to collect punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to restore the injured party, but rather to punish particularly egregious behavior with the hope of deterring similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages may only be awarded when the responsible party’s behavior was grossly negligent or intentional.
If a motorcycle crash resulted in injury or the loss of a loved one, contact Emroch & Kilduff for a free consultation to gain a better understanding of your legal rights.
A Virginia Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Recovering from an accident may prove difficult, but financial compensation can help you get back on your feet, both physically and financially, quicker.
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