Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia provides a good reminder about the importance of providing clear and compelling evidence about how an accident happened when suing for injuries sustained in a car crash.

beachy-feet-1-857585-m.jpgMr. Ratliff was killed in September 2010 in a tragic accident near Petersburg that occurred when the motorcycle he was driving collided with a car driven by Mr. Knight. Ratliff’s estate later filed a claim with State Farm, asserting that the accident was covered under the uninsured motorists’ provision of Ratliff’s auto insurance policy. That provision, according to the Court, provided for benefits of up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident in the event that Ratliff was involved in a crash with an uninsured driver. State Farm denied the claim, however, stating that Ratliff wasn’t covered because he was primarily responsible for the accident.

The estate later sued the company for breach of contract and violation of West Virginia’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. Prior to trial, the District Court granted State Farm’s request to strike from the record expert testimony offered by the estate. Kevin Theriault, an accident reconstruction expert, had completed a report on the crash in which he determined that Knight’s car drifted partially into oncoming traffic shortly before the accident occurred. The District Court agreed with State Farm that Theriault’s proposed testimony didn’t meet the requirements for admission as expert evidence.
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1173983_get_your_motor_runnin.jpgIn the past, we at the Wolfe Law Film have discussed the dangers of common activities like motorcycle or ATV riding. The injury and fatality statistics would no doubt be worse if the State of West Virginia did not require riders to wear helmets. Yet in neighboring Tennessee, there is a movement that bears watching: libertarians are pushing to have their state’s helmet law overturned.

They have succeeded to the point of putting the so-called Motorcyclist Liberty Restoration Act before the Tennessee legislature. The Act would end the requirement that motorcycle riders ages 21 and older wear a helmet. Proponents of the Act argue that even if the law saves lives — indeed, one proponent’s life was saved when he had a collision with an SUV — adults should still have the freedom to not wear a helmet if they choose. “Government is not our mom and dad,” says Representative Glen Casada, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Critics point out that there are obvious problems with this philosophy. First, the current law saves lives. The only state to succeed in repealing a helmet law — Pennsylvania in 2003 — saw the number of traumatic brain injury cases rise to more than double the previous rate. Second, the cost of injury is borne by state taxpayers as well as those directly involved in the accident. In Tennessee, if the brain injury rate were to more than double, the state would end up paying more than $1.12 million per year. This amount does not include long-term care, which usually comes with a significant price tag.

While opponents of the bill have begun to organize, the bill’s supporters claim that wearing a helmet should be a matter of common sense, not government nannying. What no supporter has addressed is whether taxpayers should have to pay for their choice to go without a helmet.

Although in West Virginia, there is no bill pending that would outlawing motorcycle helmets, legislators appear eager to ease helmet requirements. Recently, the House of Delegates passed a bill by 93-3 that would delete one of the performance requirements for helmets, stating that it was too difficult for state police to enforce.
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motorcycle.jpgThe son of the Chapmanville mayor died in a motorcycle accident on Route 10 in Logan County, West Virginia. Cory Price, a 21-year old firefighter, collided with an oncoming Plymouth Neon that had strayed across the center divide. Price was taken to Saint Mary’s Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

The Neon driver Thomas Lee Dillon claimed that he lost control of the car before it crossed the center divide. The cause is not yet known, but the Logan County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the accident. Meanwhile, Logan County mourns the loss of a “popular and heralded community servant” who belonged to the Logan Fire Department and the Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department, and was an EMT with the Logan County Ambulance Authority.

Many people love taking their motorcycles out on winding country roads, but this form of transportation is one of the riskiest in the country. In 2006, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were 35 times more likely to get into a fatal crash than someone in a passenger car. The State of West Virginia requires motorcycle riders to wear safety helmets and eye protection, and use headlights during the day. Yet even if you operate your motorcycle safely according to the law, your exposure makes you vulnerable to a serious accident. Cory Price did not appear to be responsible for the fatal collision, though there is no evidence of whether he wore a helmet. Several West Virginia counties, such as Harrison, have alarmingly high fatality statistics. Those who don’t die may have to live with serious spinal cord or brain injuries for the rest of their lives.
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The Martinsburg Journal reports that a woman died last week in a motorcycle accident on Winchester Ave. in Darkesville, West Virginia. According to the West Virginia State Police, the woman was a passenger on the bike and she died when the motorcycle ran off the road and hit a utility pole. The driver of the bike fled the scene after the collision, but was discovered by authorities some time later and was airlifted to the hospital for treatment. State troopers responded to the accident after being notified, but were unable to get there before the woman lost her life. Officers continue to investigate the circumstances and cause of the accident.

1091607_motos_28.jpgThe Wolfe Law Firm would like to express our condolences to the family of the victim of this terrible accident. Unfortunately, as West Virginia motorcycle accident attorneys, we know just how dangerous motorcycles can be, and fatalities are not uncommon when such wrecks occur. This accident illustrates not only the dangers of being a passenger on a bike, but also the extreme consequences that can result when a bike operator does not exercise an appropriate standard of care. Of course, the authorities have much investigating to do to determine the cause of the accident, and the driver may have run off the road avoiding a small animal or his bike may have malfunctioned in some way. In cases such as these, it is important to thoroughly inspect what happened to determine who or what was responsible for the accident.
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motorbike.jpgA West Virginia motorcycle safety course is helping to decrease accident rates statewide, according to a recent article on the News and Sentinel.com. On May 19, 2010, the news outlet reported that a non-profit motorcycle safety and training course called The West Virginia Motorcycle Safety Program is offering free weekend classes for beginners and experienced riders from now until October.

Funded by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the program includes classes such as a Basic Rider Course and an Experienced Rider Course. Each class is taught at one of seven sites throughout the state, including a 24,200 square-foot outdoor site on the campus of West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Motorcycle drivers will learn safety techniques, riding skills and defensive driving methods through a combination of outdoor drills, exercises and indoor classroom work. Courses are taught either over one day (Experienced Course) or over the course of two days (Basic Course), and always over the weekend.

motorcylemountain.jpgThe long, cold winter has many West Virginians dreaming of motorcycle rides through the countryside in the warmer months ahead. The Mountain State has miles and miles of breathtaking scenery that are perfectly viewed from the comfort of your motorcycle in the open air. But as you set out to ride, it’s important to remember that you have to protect yourself at every turn.

To start, all riders in West Virginia must wear a helmet. Most accident-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases are results of crashes involving motorcyclists, so it’s vital that you wear a helmet to ensure your safety. Also, you must have a Class E driver’s license, which permits anyone 16 or over to ride a motorcycle. Finally, wear protective gear when you ride, such as gloves, knee and elbow pads, sturdy boots and long-sleeved outerwear.

Avoid Motorcycle Accidents According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes in the U.S. involve another vehicle. In most of these cases, says the Foundation, the motorist is at fault, not the motorcyclist. This is due to several reasons. First, motorcycles are easy to unintentionally ignore because of their small size relative to the other vehicles on the road. Second, motorcycles can easily fit into a driver’s blind spot, making them virtually invisible. Third, motorcycles may look farther away than they really are, especially given the fact that it’s hard to gauge a motorcycle’s speed.