There has been a sharp increase in motorcycle accidents both nationally and in Virginia in recent years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 5172 individuals were killed in motorcycle accidents in the U.S. in 2017, more than double the number that were killed in 1997 (just two decades earlier). In Virginia alone, there were 107 motorcycle deaths and 2017, which was a 50% increase from 2016, and the highest number recorded in a decade.
The growing number of motorcycle accidents (and serious injuries and fatalities that result from them) in recent years is due largely to the problem of distracted driving. More and more drivers are participating in dangerous activities such as texting while driving when they are behind the wheel. When their focus is completely on their phone and not on the road where it should be, it is more difficult for drivers to see motorcyclists who are riding near them.
When someone gets hurt in a motorcycle crash, one of the first questions they often ask is whether or not they need to obtain legal counsel. A lawyer does take a percentage of any settlement obtained as their legal fee, so it is fair to ask if it would be worth it to retain an attorney after being injured in a motorcycle accident. The answer to this question depends largely on the specific circumstances of each case.
For example, if your injuries were fairly minor, the facts of the case are not in dispute, and you were given a settlement offer by the insurance company that you are happy with, you might not need to get an attorney involved. In a case like this, you may just want to take the settlement and put the whole incident behind you.
If, on the other hand, your injuries are moderate to severe and there are complications in the case such as more than two parties that were involved in the accident and disagreements over who was at-fault, you may not know the extent of your injuries yet, and a thorough investigation may be required to determine exactly what happened. In this type of situation, you cannot count on the insurance company to conduct a fair investigation.
It is important to remember that insurance adjusters, although they may be friendly with you and assure you that you will be “taken care of”, are not looking out for your best interests. They work for the insurance company, and the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for the accident injury claim, which of course is at odds with your goal of obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries.
How an Attorney can Help in a Motorcycle Accident Injury Case
By retaining the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer after being hurt in a motorcycle crash, you gain an advocate who is working to protect your interests. A lawyer who has practiced for several years has an in-depth understanding of the law, and they will know the common tactics insurance companies typically use to diminish the value of a claim or deny it all together.
This is especially important in a state like Virginia, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. This is a high bar to clear, and you can be sure that the insurance company will use this against you by trying to get you to admit at least partial fault for the accident. Your lawyer will provide strong legal guidance to help ensure that you do not say or do anything that could jeopardize your right to recover compensation.
An attorney can help you in several other ways as well, such as:
- Properly valuing your claim: If you have never been injured in a motor vehicle accident before, you might not be familiar with the types of compensation you may be entitled to. This may include compensation not only for economic losses such as medical costs and lost wages, but also for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life.
- Dealing directly with your insurer: Dealing with the insurance adjuster can be very stressful, especially when you are also trying to recover from an injury. Your lawyer will be able to negotiate directly with your insurance adjuster and handle all the other complex legal tasks, so you can focus on getting recovered and getting your life back on track.
- Preparing for the possibility of litigation: When you retain an attorney, they will be ready to take the case to trial if the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith. Oftentimes, just the potential for costly and protracted litigation is enough to compel the other side to make a reasonable settlement offer.
Speak with a Seasoned Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident in Virginia, it usually makes sense to at least speak with an attorney to review your case. At Olmstead & Olmstead, we can provide a free consultation and case assessment, so you will be fully advised of your legal rights and options and be able to make the most informed decision on whether or not you want to retain legal counsel. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 703-361-1555. You may also message us through our web contact form or visit our office in Manassas, VA at your convenience.