Now that summer is here, people all throughout West Virginia will be dusting off their motorcycles and getting back on the road. However, while many motorcycle riders may have spent the winter months waiting to get back on their bikes, most drivers don’t pay a second thought to motorcyclists until they encounter one on the highway.
A disturbingly large number of motorcycle accidents are caused by car and truck drivers who either do not see a motorcyclist or do not accurately perceive how their driving behaviors put motorcyclists at risk. Ultimately, every driver has a legal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. With that said, though, there are some things that motorcyclists can do to protect themselves from inattentive or distracted drivers:
- Ride predictably: Ride your motorcycle in a way that doesn’t take other drivers by surprise. Signal all your turns and lane changes, and avoid trying to cut through traffic by repeatedly switching lanes.
- Stay visible: Make an effort not to linger in a driver’s blind spot, especially on multi-lane highways and freeways where lane changes are common. Additionally, avoid riding in between traffic lanes or in any other places where drivers might not expect to see motorcycles.
- Keep your distance: Stay a safe distance away from other vehicles at all times. Do not ride too closely behind another vehicle or turn out in front of an oncoming car or truck.
- Stay sober and alert: Alcohol and drugs (including legal prescription medication) can significantly impair your ability to operate your motorcycle. Never go for a ride when you are under the influence. Being overly tired or distracted can be just as dangerous – if you’re not confident in your ability to focus on the road, don’t get on your motorcycle.
- Wear appropriate protective gear: If an accident happens, a helmet and protective clothing can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.
What to do if an accident happens
If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to take steps to protect your rights. This is true even if you don’t initially think the accident is all that serious, since it is very common for motorcycle accident injuries to get worse over time.
Immediately after the accident, determine if anyone is injured and needs emergency assistance. Once first responders have been called, exchange insurance and contact information with everyone involved and get the contact information of any witnesses present. If you have a camera handy (including the one on your phone), take pictures of the scene of the accident and the damage to the vehicles involved.
If you are injured – even a little bit – seek medical attention as soon as possible. Pay special attention to symptoms like headache, dizziness, confusion and nausea, as these could be symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.
If you have been seriously injured or you are having difficulties working with the insurance companies, it is best to schedule a consultation with an experienced West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney. Do not give any recorded statements until you have talked with a lawyer. The lawyer will review the facts and circumstances of your case to advise you on your options for moving forward and seeking financial compensation for the injuries you have suffered.