Motorcycle Accident Litigation in West Virginia
There are few things that can compare to hitting the open road on your motorcycle. This is particularly true in the Mountain State, where winding roads practically call to motorcyclists. Yet as too many West Virginia bikers have learned firsthand, riding a motorcycle can be dangerous – particularly when it comes to other drivers on the road with you.
Motorcycle accidents often result in severe or even fatal injuries. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- property damage
- pain and suffering
- and more.
A skilled West Virginia accident attorney can help you with the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Based in Charleston, West Virginia, Johnstone & Gabhart represents injury victims throughout the state. We are fierce advocates for our clients, working hard to help them obtain maximum compensation for their injuries. Our law firm offers free initial consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Why Motorcycle Accidents Are So Dangerous
Their speed, lack of padding, proximity to the pavement, and difficulty of being seen by other drivers put motorcyclists in a particularly precarious position, regardless of whether or not they follow the laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle accidents are on the rise.
In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S. In West Virginia that same year, there were 28 fatal motorcycle accidents. 19 of those West Virginians who died were wearing helmets. Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to be killed in a fatal accident compared to drivers and passengers of other motor vehicles.
During that same time period, 84,000 people were hurt in motorcycle crashes across the U.S. Motorcyclists are vulnerable to motorcycle accident injuries no matter how careful the riders might be or how much protective gear they might wear. They simply do not have the protection of the surrounding padding and metal provided by vehicles.
When motorcyclists are hurt, their injuries are often catastrophic. Common motorcycle accident injuries include broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage or paralysis, and internal organ damage. If a motorcycle accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP, our legal team has more than 50 years of combined experience representing motorcycle accident victims. We put this experience to work to help our clients get the compensation and justice that they deserve. We handle all types of accident claims, including:
- Driver negligence
- Municipal liability
- Repair shop and product liability
No matter how your motorcycle accident happened, we’ll take on the insurance company for you – and win. Reach out today to talk to a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney about your case.
West Virginia Motorcycle Laws
West Virginia motorcycle laws essentially require motorcycle riders to adhere to rules of the road applicable to vehicle drivers and pedestrians. There are also laws requiring them to wear certain protective gear and regulations related to lane-splitting and lighting.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in West Virginia
In 2016, 72 percent of vehicle/motorcycle crashes occurred when the motorcyclist was hit from the front. Only 7 percent of motorcycles were impacted from behind. Some of the most common causes of accidents involving cars and motorcycles include:
- In 41 percent of vehicle/motorcycle crashes, the vehicle driver was turning left, but the motorcyclist was going straight. The driver turning left hits the motorcyclist broadside, or the motorcycle rider rams into the side of the vehicle.
- The motorcyclist slams into obstacles in the roadway like sand, gravel, a fallen tree branch, etc.
- A distracted driver suddenly changes lanes in front of the motorcyclist.
- A car fails to slow down or stop fast enough and hits the slowing or stopping motorcyclist from behind.
- The driver of a parked car opens the vehicle door just as a motorcyclist is riding by, causing the rider to ram into the door
- The motorcyclists lose control on a road that is slippery due to rain or snow.
- Alcohol use by either the vehicle driver or motorcycle rider or both.
Most Common Types of Injuries
Out of the 88,000 motorcycle riders or passengers each year who survive a motorcycle accident, many are injured so severely that their lives are changed forever. The three most common types of injuries include:
- Broken bones: When the accident happens, the reflex of riders is to put their leg down on the ground to keep the bike from toppling over. Instead of keeping the bike upright, the leg is broken. Also commonly broken are arms and wrists, as the natural tendency is to put the arm out to break the fall. Broken shoulders and pelvises are also common.
- Road rash: The rider or passenger may be thrown off of the bike in such a way their body skids across the roadway. Even with protective gear or heavy clothing, the friction may cause the clothes to be ripped off and the skin seriously burned. Road rash can be so severe that it may be life-threatening.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): When the head hits the ground, whether or not the person is wearing a helmet, the brain is jostled and may violently hit the sides of the hard skull, causing either temporary or permanent brain damage.
All of these injuries, along with other broken bones, internal injuries leading to massive bleeding, and organ damage, can be life-threatening. At a minimum, they can be life-changing as the injured person tries to adapt to life with a permanent disability.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation Near You in West Virginia
If you were a rider or passenger in a motorcycle accident, the law provides a way for you to receive a motorcycle accident compensation from a party whose negligence caused your injuries. Negligence is a legal concept that essentially means that someone acted carelessly. A person may be considered negligent if they failed to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation.
If you can prove that another driver was negligent in some way, then you may be entitled to financial compensation (damages) for your losses. You are generally entitled to collect damages for:
- All of your medical expenses, both current and those you anticipate incurring in the future. An expert may need to review your medical records to determine if you will need future medical and/or surgical care.
- Long-term medical or nursing care. Some patients with multiple injuries or traumatic brain injuries may need lifelong nursing care, medications, and therapy.
- Rehabilitation costs. This may be long-term and may include physical rehabilitation, speech therapy, or occupational rehabilitation that is necessary to help you return to your normal functioning.
- Lost wages that you can document as a result of being unable to work, or loss of earning capacity because you will be unable to work in the future or have to change careers due to the injury.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment of life when, due to your injuries, you are unable to participate in activities you enjoyed prior to the accident.
- Property damages to reimburse you for the loss of your motorcycle and protective gear.
Our West Virginia motorcycle accident attorneys will work directly with you to understand the nature and specifics of your accident. From there we will begin building the case for litigation. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle for compensation that is fair, we are ready to go to court in pursuit of advocacy. Our comprehensive knowledge and experience are only exceeded by our commitment to your well-being. We encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible.
When to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
After a motorcycle accident, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Being in any type of accident can be incredibly traumatic. While you are attempting to recover, you may also be getting calls and letters from an adjuster for the insurance company.
The insurance adjuster’s job is to resolve the claim for as little money as possible. For this reason, it is critical that you consult with an experienced WV motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. An accident attorney can protect your interests and ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.
In many cases, insurance companies ask motorcycle accident victims to give a statement or sign paperwork in the immediate aftermath of a crash. They do this for a reason: to get you to say or do something that will give them a strategic advantage in any personal injury lawsuit that may come. By working with a lawyer, you can avoid these pitfalls – such as signing documents that would allow the insurer to dig into your medical history and find other potential causes for your injuries.
An attorney will handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf, which means that you don’t have to deal with annoying calls or worry about slipping up and saying something that can harm your case. They will also start an investigation into the crash, gathering evidence to support your claim. This may include obtaining a police report, interviewing witnesses, gathering medical records, and compiling medical bills and other proof of your financial losses. At the same time, they will research WV law to start putting together a case for compensation.
By reaching out to a West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney right away, you can maximize the likelihood of getting a top-dollar motorcycle accident settlement. Our legal team will get to work right away to help you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.
How a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
After a motorcycle accident, an insurance adjuster may approach you and tell you that they take full responsibility for the collision on behalf of their insured. They may even offer you a settlement. While it can be tempting to take the money so that you can move forward with your life, it is often a mistake.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. One of the ways that they do this is by paying out as little as possible on legitimate claims. If you accept the settlement offer from the adjuster, there is a good chance that it won’t be nearly enough money to cover your losses.
After a motorcycle crash, particularly one that involves severe injuries, you may need ongoing medical care for months or even years. You may not understand the full extent of your losses right away. For example, you may not realize that your earning capacity has been limited by your injuries.
The best way to get maximum compensation for a motorcycle accident is by working with a personal injury attorney. Studies show that people with legal representation recover as much as 40% more in personal injury claims compared to people who represent themselves. The bottom line? You can’t afford to not hire a motorcycle accident lawyer.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys don’t settle a case until they know the full extent of our client’s injuries. We aggressively advocate for our clients throughout the negotiation process. If the insurer isn’t willing to offer a fair settlement, then we will take the case to trial to fight for our client’s rights.
If you have been hurt in any type of motorcycle accident, we can help. Reach out to our law office today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Help for Motorcycle Accident Victims
A motorcycle crash can lead to life-changing injuries, including both physical injuries and emotional trauma. Our law firm can help you get the money that you need to move forward with your life.
Johnstone & Gabhart is dedicated to helping West Virginians get maximum compensation for their motorcycle accident claim. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with our Charleston accident attorneys, call 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.
I Only Have Minor Injuries. Do I Really Need a Lawyer for My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
As a general rule, it is a good idea to at least consult with a personal injury attorney before making any decisions or talking to an insurance adjuster about your case. During a free initial consultation, you can get an estimate of what your case is worth and a better understanding of your rights and options for pursuing a claim.
Insurance companies rarely offer full value for any accident case unless the victim is represented by counsel. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to hire a lawyer, even if you only suffered minor injuries. In West Virginia, contact Johnstone & Gabhart to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
How Can I Afford a Lawyer for My Motorcycle Accident Case?
Personal injury law firms handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront. You will only pay a fee if your lawyer recovers money for you through a settlement or verdict at trial. The amount that you pay will be a percentage of your total recovery.
Insurance companies are notorious for making lowball settlement offers to people who aren’t represented by an attorney. The best way to get top dollar for your claim is by hiring a skilled West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney. Call Johnstone & Gabhart today to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
In West Virginia, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including motorcycle accident lawsuits. This means that – with a few exceptions – you have 2 years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. If you fail to do so, then you may not be able to recover any money for your losses.
In addition, because evidence can be lost and witness memories fade, it is critical that you reach out to a seasoned West Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. In Charleston and beyond, contact Johnstone & Gabhart for a free initial consultation.