Deadly Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia

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The number of deadly motorcycle accidents in Virginia is rising fast. Motorcyclists are only about 3 percent of road users but account for almost 13 percent of deaths.  Other drivers are often responsible for the deaths or riders.

From 2016 to 2017, deadly motorcycle accidents in Virginia rose 48.6 percent. The Commonwealth recorded the deaths of 107 riders and passengers in 2017.

Fatal accidents are always tragic. Although motorcyclists are aware of the heightened risks, nothing prepares their loved ones for deadly motorcycle accidents in Virginia. Many fatal bike crashes are caused by other drivers. At the Smith Law Center, we represent family members and the estate of deceased motorcyclists in wrongful death cases. Insurance companies often refuse claims over motorcycle accidents. Our trial lawyers will take them as far as the courtroom if necessary. Please contact us today after a fatal motorcycle accident.

What Causes Deadly Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia?

Although a significant proportion of motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle accidents, other motorists often cause deadly motorcycle wrecks. Here are some common causes:

Left-hand turns

Left-hand turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers on the road. Turning left on a busy road against oncoming traffic is very stressful. Often a car driver fails to see a motorcyclist or mistimes the turn.

Drunk driving

Drunk drivers account for more than a quarter of fatal accidents on the road of Virginia. Often an intoxicated driver fails to see a motorcyclist. Far too many motorcyclists attempt to ride a motorcycle drunk. A report in RideApart noted rider intoxication was a factor in about 27 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents.

A Driver Rear-Ends a Motorcycle

Rear-end crashes are common on the highways of Virginia. The type of low-speed crash that causes property damage in a car crash can be fatal for those on two wheels.

Improper Lane Changes

Car and truck drivers often fail to see motorcyclists in their blind spots, particularly when riders are moving fast. Sudden lane changes can be deadly for riders. Motorcyclists often crash when taking evasive action to avoid another vehicle making a lane change.

Debris on the road

Material on the road that poses little danger to a driver can be a death sentence to a motorcyclist. Gravel on the road can cause a biker to lose traction. Potholes and speed humps can also be fatal hazards. Riders should pay attention to the road ahead. In some cases, contractors or local authorities are responsible for rider deaths.

Bad weather

Bad weather can be extremely dangerous for motorcyclists. Heavy rain may render them invisible to other drivers while making surfaces slippery. Motorcyclists should wear visors and protective clothing. Always avoid riding in strong winds or snowstorms.  

Dooring

So-called ‘dooring’ accidents are hazardous to motorcyclists and cyclists alike. Often the driver or passenger of a parked car or truck opens the door without looking for an approaching rider. The motorcyclist may slam into the door, or take sudden evasive action causing a crash. Minimize the danger from dooring accidents by cutting down on your speed and not riding too closely to parked cars.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits After Fatal Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the death rate in motorcycle accidents is about six times that of cars and trucks.

Riders lack the steel frame of a vehicle to protect them. When a motorcycle accident occurs, the force and the sheer trauma of the impact can cause death at the scene. Severe head injuries are more likely in motorcycle accidents. When the negligence or carelessness of a driver causes a fatal motorcycle crash, the rider’s family may have grounds to file a wrongful death case.

There are special procedures in wrongful death cases that are different from personal injury lawsuits. However, the driver who caused a motorcycle accident must have been to blame for the wreck through carelessness, negligence, drunk driving, distracted driving, inattentive driving or another error.

The types of damages you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit include the following detailed under Virginia Code § 8.01-52. Damages may include reimbursement or compensation for:

  • Mental anguish, sorrow, and solace which can include the loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice given by the decedent; 

  • Loss of future income;

  • Loss of services including protection, care, and assistance; 

  • Medical expenses incurred due to the negligence of another driver;

  • Funeral and associated expenses;

  • Punitive (extra) damages when willful or wanton conduct has occurred;

In Virginia, a wrongful death case can be brought by either:

  •   The spouse of the deceased person

  •   The children of the deceased person

  •   A representative of the estate appointed by the will or by the state.

The law also considers adopted children or even stepchildren as children of the deceased. Parents of the dead rider or siblings may make a recovery if the deceased has no spouse or children.

Call an Injury Lawyer after a Deadly Motorcycle Accident in Virginia

At the Smith Law Center, we have helped the families of deceased motorcyclists for decades. We fight the insurance companies hard to achieve justice after a death. Many people who have lost a family member fail to come to terms with the tragedy in the weeks and months after the death. Our Hampton-based wrongful death lawyers will take on the insurance companies on your behalf. We will take your case all the way to trial if necessary. Please call us after deadly motorcycle accidents in Virginia at 757.244.7000.