There are more than 2,000 motorcycle accidents on Virginia’s roads every year. In many of those accidents, riders are at a disadvantage against motorists with large vehicles who inevitably attempt to shift the accident’s blame onto the biker.
What Steps Should You Take Following a Motorcycle Accident?
If you have been in a motorcycle wreck, the initial steps you take can have a big impact on the outcome of your situation.
If You Were Injured in a Motorcycle Accident:
- Get medical treatment. Your health should be your first priority.
- Call the police. A police report will help capture valuable information.
- Talk to witnesses and get their contact information.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Do not post about your accident on social media.
Suppose you have suffered injuries from a motorcycle crash, and the negligent driver who caused the collision is refusing to pay for your damages. In cases like that, you need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. The accident and injury attorneys at Rutter Mills have represented injured riders in Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton Roads, and throughout Virginia to fight back against negligent motorists and their insurance companies. Our team will investigate your accident and prove who was at fault, even if it means going to court.
Prepare for Arguments that the Rider Caused the Accident
Virginia is one of the few remaining states that apply a pure contributory negligence rule to accident cases. Although the rule has been gradually narrowed over the past several years, the foundation is if a party contributes to the accident that caused injuries, that party will not be able to collect damages from the other negligent party. Negligent drivers and insurance companies will use this rule as the first line of defense in every motorcycle accident case.
The first key to pre-emptively overcoming this defense is to keep your bike in good operating condition, including:
- Using good tires and periodically checking brakes, steering, suspension, and other control systems.
- Replacing worn components.
- Maintaining all fluid levels and lubricating critical joints as needed.
- Verifying that all lights and electrical wiring are in good condition, with no fraying wires, shorts, or corrosion.
The rider should then consistently operate the bike in the safest manner possible, including:
- Riding within speed limits and reducing speed to accommodate temporary adverse weather and other conditions.
- Wearing adequate protective clothing, including a helmet that is less than five years old (Virginia law requires riders to wear helmets with face shields or safety goggles).
- Avoid lane splitting, which is illegal in Virginia.
- Give adequate warnings to oncoming motorists of their presence, for example, by slightly wobbling the front of the bike (i.e., the “SMIDSY” maneuver).
These bike maintenance and riding practices will allow you and your Virginia motorcycle accident attorney to demonstrate your attention to safety to refute claims that you contributed to the accident.
Create a Record of the Accident: Collect the Evidence
You should gather as much evidence of the motorcycle accident as possible as soon as you can after it happens. The negligent driver that caused the accident will have their version of the accident’s circumstances, and your best opportunity to tell your story is through objective facts about what happened.
- If you can, use your phone to take multiple photographs of the accident scene from several angles.
- Record traffic and weather conditions, the time of day when the accident occurred, the angle of the sun, and any road hazards or other conditions that might have contributed to the crash.
- Get names and contact information from any witnesses.
- Have your bike inspected by a mechanic and get an inspection record immediately after the accident.
Dealing with Insurance Companies: Consult with a Virginia Motorcycle Accident Attorney First
A negligent motorist’s insurance company will generally try to settle accident claims quickly. In most cases, the insurance company’s claims adjusters or attorneys will contact you to get your version of the motorcycle accident.
You should not agree to an interview with a representative of any insurance company other than your own. Further, you should not accept a settlement check from a negligent party’s insurer or sign anything from that insurer before consulting with your motorcycle accident lawyer. Your comments to a negligent party’s insurance company may be used in subsequent litigation to support an argument that you were partially to blame for the accident. Similarly, if you accept a payment or sign any documents from an insurer, you might waive any claims you have for a more significant damages award.
Even if you believe your losses and injuries are minor, you have nothing to lose if you consult an attorney before resolving your claims. In addition to your immediate medical claims and the damage to your bike, you may have a claim for damages to reimburse you for your anticipated future medical expenses, your lost wages, any pain and suffering that you are experiencing, and your loss of companionship with your loved ones as you spend time recuperating from your injuries.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers for Virginia Riders
The Newport News, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk motorcycle accident attorneys at Rutter Mills are consistently rated among the top attorneys in their field. We have helped motorcycle riders recover the most significant damages awards they deserve and get back on their bikes as quickly as possible after they have suffered injuries in crashes with negligent motorists. Please call us to speak with a Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer after your accident as soon as possible.
When you’ve been injured, you’ve got a lot at stake - but so does the insurance company. Walking into the court room with a serious lawyer makes all the difference. Watch our video to learn more about Rutter Mills. Your lawyer matters.
“Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than being hurt or ill. And nobody likes to ask for help. But when you need it most, we’re at our best. We give our clients the confidence and support they need to know they’ll be taken care of – that they’ll get the best outcome possible, even in the face of a very bad situation.”
– Brother Rutter