There are few things that are more exhilarating than hitting the open road on a motorcycle. But no matter how careful of a driver you are, riding a motorcycle can still be incredibly dangerous. In 2021 alone, there were 2,048 motorcycle crashes in Virginia – including 105 fatal crashes and 1,573 accidents that caused injury.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party – which may be another motorist, a manufacturer, or even a government agency responsible for maintaining the road. Through this type of lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and other losses. An experienced Virginia Beach motorcycle accident attorney can help.
The Jeff Brooke Team advocates for injury victims throughout Virginia. We work hard to help our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries – and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, reach out to our law office.
Who Is at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents can have a number of different causes, such as:
- Cars making a left-hand turn
- Distracted driving
- Low visibility and/or poor weather conditions
- Failure to yield
- Drunk and/or drugged driving
- Reckless driving
- Dangerous road conditions
- Unsafe lane changes
- Defective motorcycles or bike parts
- Sudden stops
In many cases, the underlying cause of a motorcycle accident is another person’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence is a legal term that means the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. If another person’s negligence caused your motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them with the help of a Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyer.
Negligence has four elements. Each of these elements must be proven to recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim:
- Duty: the at-fault person (defendant) owed a duty of care.
- Breach: the defendant breached (violated) that duty in some way, such as by running a red light.
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or but for cause of the accident.
- Damages: the victim (plaintiff) suffered losses as a result of the accident.
Negligence is not always clear-cut. There may also be cases where the injury victim was somewhat at fault for the crash. In these situations, the rule of contributory negligence will apply.
Virginia is one of just a handful of states that follows a pure contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if the injured party contributed in any way to their accident, then they will be barred from recovery. Because this rule is incredibly harsh, it is critical to hire an experienced Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer to represent you in a motorcycle accident case.
Filing a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident
If another person or entity caused your motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Potential defendants in a motorcycle crash case include:
- Negligent drivers;
- Negligent bikers;
- Motorcycle manufacturers (if the accident was caused by a defective product);
- Property owners; and/or
- Government agencies.
For example, if you crashed your motorcycle after hitting a large pothole, you may be able to file a claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining that road. Alternatively, if your brakes fail, then you may be able to pursue legal action against the manufacturer of the motorcycle and/or the brakes for that defect. Similarly, if another driver causes your crash by cutting you off in traffic, then you could file a claim against them for your losses.
The process typically begins with sending a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. A demand letter will set out the facts of the case, the legal reason that the insured is liable for the accident, and a demand for damages (compensation). The insurance company will typically respond with a counteroffer – but because Virginia is a contributory negligence state, they may also try to deny the claim entirely. For this reason, you should not try to handle a personal injury claim on your own.
Having a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can make a huge difference. They will investigate the accident itself while researching Virginia law to support your claim. Your attorney will aggressively advocate for your right to full compensation – and won’t back down in the face of shady insurance company tactics.
Most cases are resolved through settlement, rather than trial. It may still be necessary to file a lawsuit to preserve your rights. Even after filing and serving the lawsuit against the defendant, your lawyer will continue to negotiate a settlement agreement.
If the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation for your injuries, then your Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyer will take the case to court. They will then make arguments, present evidence, and question witnesses before asking a jury to return a verdict in your favor. Working with a seasoned personal injury attorney with significant trial experience can often help you avoid going to court – and can help you obtain a favorable outcome if your case does go to trial.
Compensation in a Virginia Beach Motorcycle Accident Claim
In any personal injury claim, the plaintiff may be entitled to three types of damages. Economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory damages because they compensate an injury victim for their losses. Punitive damages are designed to penalize a wrongdoer who acted intentionally or recklessly.
Economic damages pay for your direct financial losses. This may include things like lost wages, reduced earning capacity, property damage, medical bills, and future medical treatment. You can prove these damages through documentation like invoices, estimates, pay stubs, and bills.
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses. These losses can be harder to prove, but they are no less serious than economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional trauma, scarring, and disfigurement.
Finally, punitive damages are awarded in cases that involve intentional or reckless conduct, such as drunk driving. Because most personal injury cases are based on negligence, punitive damage awards are rare. Your Virginia Beach motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for punitive damages based on the facts of your case.
Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident? We Can Help.
Motorcycle accidents often cause serious or even catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), internal organ damage, and broken bones. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, you will need an aggressive attorney who can fight for your right to full compensation.
The Jeff Brooke Team represents injury victims who have been hurt in all types of accidents, including motorcycle collisions. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Virginia Beach motorcycle accident attorney, give us a call at 757-552-6055 or fill out our online contact form.