Motorcycles and their operators sometimes have a bad reputation for safety. Nonetheless, nearly 194,000 motorcycles were licensed in Virginia in 2019. That same year, 89 drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in the state. Another 1,638 were injured — 668 of them seriously.
Motorcycle accidents often involve catastrophic injuries. While motorcycles were involved in only 1.5% of all Virginia traffic crashes, they accounted for 10.8% of all traffic fatalities and 9.3% of all serious injuries. There is simply little to protect motorcyclists without the normal vehicle safety features like seatbelts, airbags, and fully enclosed spaces. For those injured or killed, and their families, life will never be the same.
At The Thomas Law Firm, PLLC, I have spent more than 26 years using my legal experience and expertise to represent a wide range of clients — including motorcycle accident victims — in North Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico, and Petersburg, Virginia. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Insurance companies will try to use negative motorcyclist stereotypes to reduce or negate personal injury claims, even when those injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence. Here are some steps you should take after a crash to strengthen your case:
Call law enforcement
Get all necessary medical treatment for your injuries
Don’t admit fault to anyone and try to remain calm
Exchange information with the other driver involved in the crash
Write down the names and contact information of any witnesses
Take photos of the motorcycle, vehicles, roadway, and any debris
Don’t post any photos or other information about the crash on social media
Contact your motorcycle insurer
If anyone representing any potentially liable party or their insurers calls you, do not speak to them — tell them you are consulting an attorney
Retain a personal injury attorney
There are laws in Virginia that strictly govern the operation of motorcycles.
Lane splitting is illegal. Lane splitting is operating a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. Although motorcycles are permitted to travel two abreast in the same lane and in HOV lanes with passengers, they are not permitted to split lanes.
Helmets and eye protection are required for both operators and passengers. If the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield, eye protection is not required, but the helmet requirement is always in effect.
Operating a motorcycle requires a motorcycle license. Your regular driver’s license is insufficient.
Motorcycles must be equipped with headlights, taillights, brake lights, horns, and rearview mirrors.
Liability insurance is not required on your motorcycle if you pay an annual $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee, but if you cause a crash that injures others, you can be held personally liable.
Virginia is an “at-fault” state for auto accidents. This means the person found to be at fault for a crash is responsible for paying damages to others injured in the incident. Virginia auto owners may also purchase medical payment coverage to use for medical expenses incurred before a personal injury claim is settled, but this coverage does not last long — especially if your injuries are severe.
Virginia is also a pure contributory negligence state. This means if you are found to bear any fault for a crash, you are not allowed to recover damages from any other driver. This is why it is vital that you have a personal injury attorney who can prove that you were not negligent in any way. The other driver’s insurance company will do everything it can to prove that you were at least 1% at fault to avoid paying any settlement.
If your spouse or loved one was incapacitated in a motorcycle crash, you can file a personal injury claim on their behalf. If a loved one was killed but would have had a personal injury claim had they survived, certain beneficiaries to the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim, including the surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren. If there are none, the parents, siblings, or any other household dependent may file a claim, followed by any beneficiary to the estate. Personal injury and wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of injury or the date of death.
For example, if your spouse suffered a serious head injury in a motorcycle crash that renders them incapable of making decisions, holding a job, or even taking care of normal daily activities, your attorney can help you file a personal injury claim. You would seek not only compensation for property damage and immediate medical expenses, but compensation for future medical expenses, your spouse’s loss of income throughout their lifetime, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Virginia law also allows punitive damages.
Establishing negligence of the other party is critical to your ability to recover damages on behalf of your loved one. The cost of taking care of an incapacitated spouse, or dealing with the fallout in the wake of their death, can be devastating.
Establishing that you bore no fault for a motorcycle accident is vital to filing a claim and receiving compensation. You need an experienced personal injury attorney who can fully investigate the crash, hire crash and medical experts if necessary, and negotiate with the opposing party’s insurers from a position of strength. You need an attorney who will fight to hold the person responsible for your damages accountable for their negligence.
You don’t have to face the aftermath of a devastating motorcycle accident on your own. There is help available. If you have been injured or a loved one incapacitated or killed in a motorcycle accident in North Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico, or Petersburg, Virginia, time is short. Call me at The Thomas Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a free consultation.