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Motorcycle riders are exposed to more danger on the road than motorists because there is no protection from the elements if there is an accident. For that same reason, motorcycle riders are more likely to be in an accident since motorists may have difficulty seeing them.

Injuries from motorcycle accidents can be as serious as spinal cord damage, which could leave the biker paralyzed, or with a permanent brain injury. The medical bills that stem from such an accident can become a heavy burden for a family.

Often, motorists are at fault when there is a collision with a motorcycle and when that is the case, motorists can be held accountable. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Winston-Salem, it is important to speak with an experienced injury attorney who can help you understand your rights.

What are the Laws Regarding Motorcycles in Winston-Salem?

North Carolina requires that all motorcycle riders wear helmets that comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Helmets that meet the standard will provide coverage that is specifically designed to protect the head and brain in a crash. Failing to wear an approved helmet could result in a fine at any time.

The state also requires motorcycle riders to:

  • Maintain a driver’s license with a motorcycle permit
  • Maintain minimum insurance requirements, including $30,000 in liability for one person, $60,000 in liability for all persons involved in a single accident, and $25,000 for property damage
  • Limit passengers to the number that the bike is designed to carry

A person would incur a fine of $25 and it would be an infraction if they are found not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Winston-Salem. Not wearing a helmet may impact a motorcycle accident case in that potentially, jurors may attribute some degree of fault to the injured person for not wearing a helmet. In North Carolina, the consequence of that is potentially fatal to the claim because if a jury were to think that the injured person was negligent by not wearing a helmet, their claim would be precluded. They would not be able to recover money damages for their injuries.

Physical Injuries Common to Motorcycle Crashes

It is no secret that motorcycle crashes can inflict life-altering injuries on riders. Even if these people make the responsible choice to wear a helmet and other protective gear, even a slight contact with another vehicle or a sudden swerve can result in collisions that have a catastrophic effect.

It is not uncommon for motorcycle riders to suffer road rash, severe cuts and scrapes, broken bones, separated joints, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries. A defendant who is responsible for the crash is always liable to provide compensation for these losses, no matter how serious they may be. A Winston-Salem motorcycle accident attorney could help to pursue these payments.

How Could a Motorcycle Accident Impact a Person’s Life?

Of course, the physical injuries that can result from biker crashes are significant. Even so, the plaintiff who demands payments for only medical costs sells themselves short. Motorcycle incidents can affect every part of an individual’s life.

The physical injuries often come with a component of pain. This does not appear on a medical record but is certainly a compensable loss as it affects a person’s quality of life. Many riders also lose out on significant income when a collision leaves them unable to work for the foreseeable future. Working with a Winston-Salem motorcycle accident attorney could help parties to place an accurate value on a claim for damages.

The Time Limit to Demand Compensation

No matter how severe a person’s losses may be following a motorcycle crash incident, they have only a limited time to seek compensation. This concept is codified into law, and only in very rare instances can people avoid this requirement.

According to North Carolina General Statute §1-52, plaintiffs have three years following an injury to demand payment in court. This same concept applies to cases that seek compensation through settlement, as insurance companies will refuse to negotiate if this time limit has expired. Hiring a Winston-Salem motorcycle accident attorney could help to pursue claims that meet the statute of limitations.

Contributory Negligence

Compensatory damages reimburse an injured person for losses following an accident. Those expenses may include lost wages, medical bills, or vehicle repair/replacement. To be eligible for compensatory damages, however, the biker cannot be at fault for the accident or the injury.

North Carolina follows a pure contributory negligence standard for all accidents involving motor vehicles. A motorcycle accident attorney in Winston-Salem can guide a motorcyclist through the concept of contributory negligence, but basically, under pure contributory negligence, an injured person loses the right to recover any compensatory damages when they had any fault in the accident or the injury. The amount of fault that is attributable to each party does not alter that.

Does Not Wearing a Helmet Impact Shared Liability?

A rider that fails to wear a helmet may not have caused the accident. However, if any injuries sustained were the result of not wearing a helmet, which is required by law for motorcyclists in North Carolina, then that rider may be unable to recover damages under contributory negligence.

Under the same statute that requires motorcycle riders and occupants to wear helmets, it addresses the question of negligence or contributory negligence. Basically, the law says it is not negligent per se or it is not automatically negligent to not wear a helmet. It would still be a question of fact for the jury to answer but it is not automatically negligent.

Working with a Winston-Salem Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Since motorcycles lack many of the safety features present in automobiles, many people often have a presumption that the biker was reckless. An unrepresented person may never overcome that presumption, even if fault is with the motorist.

Being involved in a motorcycle accident can be a traumatic experience and the aftermath can be overwhelming for many people. That is why it is imperative to contact an experienced Winston-Salem motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you navigate through this difficult process, provide sound advice as to your next steps, and fight for the compensation you deserve.