Motorcycle Accident FAQs

Virginia law states that the at-fault driver's insurance company is responsible for a victim’s medical bills and lost wages. But there are some stipulations of which all accident victims should be aware. The first is that the insurance company only needs to pay up to the policy limit. For instance, if the at-fault driver has $100,000 in bodily injury coverage, but the victim’s medical bills total $150,000, the victim would have to pay $50,000 out of pocket or find another means of compensation. Also, accident victims are responsible for paying their own medical bills as they are due, either via health insurance or out of pocket. The accident settlement will reimburse the claimant for these expenses and any expected future costs.

Who Is Typically Responsible for a Motorcycle Accident?

Exact statistics breaking down fault in Virginia accidents involving motorcycles are difficult to find. However, as with every accident, the at-fault party is the party responsible for damages. Drivers often cause motorcycle accidents in two different ways:
  • Failing to Survey: Motorcycles, being smaller than cars and trucks, are harder to see, and many drivers fail to notice them when changing lanes, pulling into traffic, or turning left at an intersection.
  • Distracted Driving: Because motorcycles are so much smaller than the average vehicle, a distracted driver may not be able to spot a motorcycle as quickly as a larger vehicle.

What Should Someone Do Immediately After Being Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?

After any motor vehicle accident, the first thing anyone involved should do is seek medical attention. Involved parties should do this even if they feel fine or only have a few scrapes and bruises. Accident victims, especially motorcycle riders, might have internal injuries that do not appear for days or weeks. The longer involved parties wait to address injuries, the more difficult they can be to treat — and link to the accident. Injured riders should also speak with a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The team at Tronfeld West & Durrett can protect injured riders’ interests and make sure they get the compensation they deserve. Because Tronfeld West & Durrett works on a contingency basis — meaning they do not get paid until they recover money for a client — there is absolutely no risk in hiring them.

What Damages Are Available in a Motorcycle Accident Settlement?

The most common damages available are for medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. These are objective costs to which a legal team and financial experts can assign specific dollar amounts. Compensation for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and mental anguish is also available although it is more difficult to determine. Punitive damages are also a possibility if the negligent driver was intoxicated.

What Is the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence?

The distinction between these two car accident laws is an important one. All states split damages between involved parties in an accident. However, the distinction considers who is eligible to recover compensation. Most states follow a comparative negligence law which allows involved parties to recover compensation if they are less than 50 or 51 percent responsible, depending on the state. For example, Driver A hits Motorcycle Rider B while left turning at an intersection. Because Driver A did not look closely enough before turning, he is 90 percent at fault. However, Rider B was speeding so he is 10 percent at fault. Driver A is responsible for 90 percent of Rider B’s damages; B is responsible for the other 10 percent (e.g., $1,000 of $10,000). Virginia, by contrast, follows a contributory negligence rule. It states that drivers or riders who share any responsibility at all for their injuries in an accident — even 1 percent — cannot recover any damages from the other driver. Riders in Virginia can speak with the team at Tronfeld West & Durrett for help building a defense against accusations of fault.

Can a Rider Recover Compensation If He Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

Yes. Even though it is against the law to ride a motorcycle in Virginia without a helmet, doing so will not bar a rider from recovering compensation. However, it can make recovering compensation difficult if the at-fault party is able to prove that the claimant’s injuries would have been less significant had he been wearing a helmet. For example, Rider B suffers a broken arm and a head injury after an accident caused by Driver A. Rider B can recover full compensation for the broken arm. However, if Driver A can prove the injury would not have occurred or that not wearing a helmet contributed to its severity, Driver A may not be liable for the costs of the head injury.

What Options Does a Rider Have After Being Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?

Virginia law does not require drivers to carry insurance. If drivers do not carry insurance, they must pay a fee and be able to pay for damages that occur from an accident. But this can leave many motorcycle riders out of luck. Because motorcycle accident injuries are often severe, it can be much more than the typical person can afford. Motorcycle riders can either use their uninsured motorist protection coverage or their health coverage to cover any medical bills. Riders can also sue the at-fault driver as a last resort.