Motor vehicle crashes involving motorcycles are often very serious for motorcycle riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists account for 14 percent of traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2019. Approximately 84,000 motorcyclists were injured in crashes that same year. In West Virginia, 11 percent of roadway fatalities in 2019 were motorcyclists.
In most cases, motorcyclists suffer more serious injuries than car or truck passengers in an accident. Motorcycles don’t offer nearly as much protection as other vehicles, so riders often end up with severe injuries, even in crashes where passenger vehicle injuries are minor.
At Prim Law, we’ve helped many West Virginia residents and their families pursue fair compensation for motorcycle accident injuries or wrongful death. During your free initial consultation, we’ll help you understand the details of filing a claim.
Call our Hurricane office at 304-201-2425 to schedule a consultation or connect with us online.
Who can file a claim?
If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, you can file an insurance claim. If the crash was caused by another person’s negligence or deliberate recklessness, you may even be able to sue the liable party. In West Virginia, the statute of limitations to initiate a lawsuit for a motorcycle accident is two years.
West Virginia practices comparative fault laws, which means every party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault relative to the damage they caused. Importantly, parties who are found more than 50 percent at fault are not allowed to sue for damages.
Should you hire an attorney for a motorcycle accident claim?
You are not required to hire an attorney to file an injury claim with an insurance provider or to sue the liable party. However, the claims process is often complicated and is even more challenging for victims who are recovering from serious injuries. A personal injury attorney can help victims know what their options are and understand the entire claims process better.
Hiring a lawyer can also simplify the process, speed up negotiations with the liable part and their insurance providers. Moreover, many insurance providers will offer better settlements to victims with legal representation because they don’t want to risk the time and expense of going to trial.
What types of damages can you sue for?
There are two types of damages you can sue for in West Virginia: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those related to the amount of money the accident cost you. For example:
- Lost wages during your recovery
- Lost earning capacity (if you are now disabled and unable to continue working in your profession)
- Medical bills
- Cost of household tasks you can’t perform (e.g., cleaning, cooking, etc.)
There are also non-economic damages, and these are more subjective:
- Loss of consortium (loss of sexual ability/physical affection)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in your life
If the liable party in your accident was particularly reckless, a court may also impose punitive damages. These damage are intended to punish the liable party for his/her negligent behavior.
How much compensation can you get?
Because of West Virginia’s comparative fault laws, the amount of compensation you can sue for depends on your percentage of fault in the motorcycle accident. You can only receive compensation for the percentage of the accident you weren’t liable for. For example, if you seek $100,000 in damages but were 10 percent liable for the accident, you would only be awarded $90,000.
The amount of economic damages you receive is based on the cost of the relevant expenses. Common expenses are medical bills, reduced earning capacity, and lost income.
If you also sue for non-economic damages, the court decides how much compensation to award you. In West Virginia, there is a cap for non-economic damages: $250,000. For victims with catastrophic injuries, the limit is $500,000.
What documents do you need to start a claim?
Here’s what you need to start an insurance claim after a motorcycle accident:
- Details about the accident: circumstances and any contributing factors
- List of involved vehicles: make, model, color, and license plate number for each one
- Statements from witnesses who saw the accident (include contact details if possible)
- Insurance information for all parties involved
- Documentation of injuries/damage to all involved people and vehicles
- Your medical bills, diagnoses, and treatment information
- The police report of the accident
Taking pictures and recording key information is one of the most important things to do after a motorcycle accident.
If the liable party’s insurance provider doesn’t offer a fair settlement, you may choose to file a lawsuit. In many cases, the standard insurance settlement isn’t enough to cover lost wages, reduced earning capacity, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
How long do injury cases last?
Every case is different, but most personal injury lawsuits last at least a few months. This is the time it usually takes to complete depositions and gather evidence. Your case is also subject to the court’s schedule, so if you end up going to trial, it could take over a year. Appeals may take more time.
Contact Prim for help with your motorcycle accident claim
Motorcycle accidents are often life-altering events, and they can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. In many cases, the initial insurance settlement offer is not enough to cover all of your long-term recovery costs like medical bills, physical therapy, and lost wages.
At Prim Law, we know that trying to pursue compensation after a motorcycle accident in West Virginia is a complicated and often frustrating experience. We have helped many riders and their families navigate the claims process and obtain fair compensation for injuries or wrongful death.
If you aren’t sure how to file a motorcycle accident claim, contact our team. Your initial consultation is free, and we’ll help you understand your legal options. Get started today by contacting us online or calling our office in Hurricane at 304-201-2425.
For more information on motorcycle accident claims, like Prim Law on Facebook.