May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. When the spring and summer months roll around and the weather turns warm, we begin to see more motorcycles on the roads. Even though the experience of riding in the open air can be very exciting, the risks and dangers that come with operating a motorcycle become more apparent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, current research shows that motorcycle deaths accounted for 15% of the total fatalities in 2013 and that number has continued to increase in 14 of the past 16 years. Because of various contributing factors, motorcyclists are more likely to die in a crash than occupants in a car.
Motorcycles and their riders are harder to see than other drivers on the road. Therefore, certain driving habits are more important during this time of year than any other. If you are operating a car or truck, it is very important to never drive distracted, which would include driving while sleepy, while texting or on the phone, or while eating or drinking. We also need to be more aware of sharing the road with motorcycles; make sure you know where your blind spots are and never tailgate a motorcycle.
If you choose to operate a motorcycle, keep in mind that you need to always obey traffic laws and make sure that you have the proper licensing. The laws of West Virginia mandate that all motorcycle riders wear a helmet and it is equally important that it be DOT-compliant. As with operating a car or truck, never ride while impaired and avoid riding in bad weather, which can also cause accidents attributed to road conditions that are wet or slick. One of the most important considerations when driving motorcycles on our roadways is to make sure you have adequate insurance.
More often than not, we have clients come into our office needing our services because of a motorcycle collision where either the driver or the accident victim does not carry adequate insurance to cover the damages. This poses a very big issue. We see those involved in motorcycle collisions often have injuries that are more serious, therefore more costly. When someone hits you while you are operating a motorcycle, it is important to have enough insurance coverage that will allow you to be compensated for the injuries that you sustain. It is vital to review your insurance policy BEFORE getting on your motorcycle to be sure that your coverages are high enough to protect you if you become the victim of an accident.
To give you an example, our office represents a gentleman who was struck while riding his motorcycle by a young woman who pulled out into the roadway without any regard to the safety of the driver. In fact, the young driver claimed that she did not see the rider before moving into the roadway. After significant injury, the motorcycle rider required several surgeries, with medical bills, to date, totaling over $275,000. The young woman that struck our client only had $100,000 in liability coverage and our client only carries $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage on his motorcycle policy. Between the two, the amounts do not come close to adequately compensating our client for his medical bills, let alone pain and suffering or lost wages. We also see way too often car collisions that occur when the driver that hits a motorcyclist is not insured AT ALL. This is when it is important to have adequate uninsured motorist coverage as well, to protect you if this situation were to ever become your reality. Even though the at-fault driver may get a citation for not having insurance, you still will not have the benefit of insurance coverage to help cover your injuries.
Please make sure that if you chose to operate a vehicle that you do so more carefully and cautiously during this time of year. Share the road with our fellow motorcyclists, and if you ever become the victim of a collision while operating your motorcycle, please contact The Miley Legal Group. We have experience in dealing with motorcycle and car accidents and we can help you.
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