With mild weather, a bunch of motorcycle shops (including a Harley dealer), dozens of scenic rides through the mountains, and the massive MountainFest Motorcycle Rally, Morgantown offers bikers plenty of opportunities to get their motors running and head out on the highway. Unfortunately, other drivers don’t always see motorcycles, and that’s when tragedies occur.
Because motorcycles do not have a cab, the injuries a rider could suffer in a crash are usually much worse than most car accident injuries. Morgantown’s motorcyclists understand this and usually drive accordingly. Automobile drivers, on the other hand, are often tempted to engage in risky or careless behavior, which can leave motorcyclists in danger of severe injuries.
Quoting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) said that 5,286 motorcyclists died in accidents in just one year and that motorcycle accident fatalities happened 28 times more than car accident fatalities.
Unfortunately, Morgantown is no exception, with serious and even deadly motorcycle accidents taking place every year due to negligent drivers and other factors that no motorcyclist can control.
If you suffered injuries because of a motorcycle wreck, or if you lost a loved one in a motorcycle wreck, contact Wagoner Desai, PLLC, for a free consultation with our Morgantown motorcycle accident attorneys.
What Are Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
The Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) has three classifications of motorcycles: street bikes, which include trikes; off-road bikes; and dual-purpose bikes. It includes scooters and mopeds in the street bike classification.
In a recent year, 39 people riding motorcycles in West Virginia lost their lives in motorcycle accidents. Of those, 14 did not wear a helmet.
(A quick note about helmets: West Virginia does require motorcyclists to wear them, although the lack of a helmet does not excuse another motorist’s negligent driving when it injures you. Even if you didn’t wear a helmet, don’t hesitate to call us for help with your motorcycle accident claim.)
Motorcyclists are rarely at fault for these accidents involving automobiles. In many cases, vehicle drivers simply do not see a motorcyclist.
However, other common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Unsafe lane changes by a vehicle.
- Speeding by another vehicle.
- Drivers operating under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other chemical substances.
- Distracted driving.
- Someone opens a car door into the path of a motorcycle.
- Left turn wrecks.
- Adverse road conditions, whether from weather or poor road maintenance.
- Inexperienced drivers.
- Defective parts or improper bike maintenance by a mechanic.
Morgantown Motorcyclist Fatalities
What Are Common Morgantown Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
Common injuries can range from:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, and cuts;
- Road rash;
- Strained muscles, sprained muscles, pulled or torn muscles; and other soft tissue injuries;
- Simple and compound fractures;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Internal injuries;
- Paralysis; and
Many of these injuries could lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. While the Social Security Administration defines a long-term injury as one that doctors expect to last longer than 12 months or to result in death, insurance companies may have their own definition of long-term injuries.
What Are Recoverable Damages?
West Virginia allows you to potentially recover three types of damages following a motorcycle accident, including punitive damages. However, the court does not order the defendant to pay punitive damages in an attempt to make you whole, but instead as a punishment for the defendant. West Virginia does require a bifurcated trial process for punitive damages, and it limits the amount of punitive damages you can receive.
The court orders economic damages and non-economic damages, on the other hand, to make you whole again. While the money does not remove a long-term or permanent injury, nor does it bring back a loved one, it can nonetheless reduce financial stress so you can concentrate on recovering or mourning the loss of your loved one.
What Are Economic Damages?
Special damages, or economic damages, have a specific value, such as the cost of a procedure. Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages. Even if you can go back to work, but you cannot do the same work you did before the accident, you may get partial future lost wages for the difference in your earnings.
- Expenses for medical equipment, including ambulatory equipment, safety equipment, and accessibility upgrades to vehicles and homes.
- Replacement or repair of the destroyed or damaged property.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
General damages, or non-economic damages do not have specific price tags attached to them. The court usually orders general damages if doctors expect your injuries to cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of use of a body part;
- Loss of use of a bodily function;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Wrongful death.
When to Contact a Morgantown Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at Wagoner Desai, PLLC?
Working with insurance companies to collect damages that you might be entitled to can be a difficult time. The insurance company will often try to deny your claim, or barring that, will offer you the least amount possible. Because insurance companies are in business to make money, any payout affects their bottom line; thus, they will look for any reason to deny your claim or give you a lowball offer.
When you call an insurance company to report your accident, only give the representative your name, the date, time, and location of the accident, and your Morgantown personal injury attorney’s contact information. Never give the insurance company details about the accident or your injuries—let your attorney handle that for you. You may say something that the insurance company twists out of context in an attempt to deny your claim. Put your case in the hands of an experienced Morgantown motorcycle accident lawyer instead.
If you suffer from injuries from a motorcycle accident, or you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, contact the Morgantown personal injury lawyers of Wagoner Desai, PLLC, at (304) 470-2056 or through our contact page for a free consultation.
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