Archive for December, 2014

West Virginia Motorcycle Riders Face High Risk of Injury

Dec 2014

Motorcycle collisions began to spike towards the end of April, as several deaths occurred during one of the first warm weekends. WOWK-TV reports the fatalities prompted safety experts to issue a warning to both drivers and bikers to be careful on the roads. Motorcycle riders taking their bikes out for the first time this season are also advised to check the bike carefully, looking at brakes and tires and run the engine.

Because motorcycle accidents start to increase as the weather gets warmer, May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided some tips for both motorcyclists and drivers to kick off this month-long focus on reducing motorcycle collisions.  Following safety tips can save lives and reduce driver liability for collisions. If a driver is responsible for causing an accident, an auto accident lawyer in West Virginia can help the victim or surviving family members to make a damage claim.

Keeping West Virginia Motorcycle Riders Safer

The number of motorcycle accident fatalities has increased dramatically in recent years, but 2013 finally saw some good news. According to preliminary reports from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there was a seven percent decrease in the number of motorcycle deaths in the early part of 2013. This reduction in the death rate is just the second drop in deaths to occur since 1997.

In West Virginia, there was a very large drop in motorcycle accident deaths from 2012 to 2013. While there were 17 motorcyclists killed in the first six months and 30 killed in the first nine months of 2012, there were just 13 killed in the first half of 2013. This was a 24 percent decline in the death rate. By the end of the first nine months, only 20 motorcyclists had been killed in 2013, which was a 33 percent decline as compared with 2012.

This is good news, but it should not be seen as an indicator that the roads are actually safer for riders. As Forbes points out, the reason there were fewer accidents in early 2013 is likely because there were fewer motorcyclists on the road. While 2012 had relatively warm and dry weather, 2013 was both much colder and much wetter, which prevented people from taking their bikes out as often.

There are better ways to reduce accident risks than simply hoping motorcyclists get bad weather and stay home. The NHTSA advises drivers to:

  • Look carefully for motorcyclists before changing lanes or merging.
  • Remember that motorcycle riders are much harder to see than cars because their vehicle is much smaller.
  • Avoid driving while distracted, keep focused on the road and be aware of the potential that a motorcycle rider is in your blind spot.
  • Give a motorcycle rider the full width of his lane to travel.

Motorcycle riders can also do their part by wearing bright clothing, communicating with hand signals and turn signals, staying sober and obeying speed limits. If both drivers and riders focus on safety, hopefully fewer motorcyclists will be killed in West Virginia in the future.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation.

Teaching West Virginia Kids to Avoid Winter Auto Accidents

Dec 2014

Driving can give young teens a sense of independence and can take the pressure off of parents to chauffeur their kids to school and extracurricular activities. While many young people in West Virginia  get their driver’s license as soon as they are legally allowed to do so, parents may be nervous about the day when their son or daughter gets behind the wheel.

Young people who are inexperienced at driving are at greater risk than other motorists of becoming involved in a collision. In fact, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows that a new teen driver has 10 times the chances of becoming involved in a car accident during his first year of driving a compared with someone who has had a license for a longer period of time. Drive Steady indicates that the most dangerous time of all for a teen driver is during the first six months of having a new driver’s license.

Young people are at great risk of collisions all the time when driving, which helps to explain why collisions are a leading cause of death for teens. However, it is especially risky when teens are behind the wheel during their first winter of driving. They may be unable to respond appropriately to bad weather conditions like snow on the roads; icy roads and snow falling. Parents need to help their kids prepare for these adverse weather conditions in order to reduce the chance of a serious or deadly car crash from occurring.

Helping Kids to Avoid Winter Driving Collisions

Primary reasons why teens have such a high accident risk is that they are not as good as older drivers at recognizing dangers and responding to hazards. They lack experience that they need to be good drivers, yet at the same time are overconfident in their driving abilities.

These problems could lead young people to take unnecessary and dangerous risk during a storm; or simply not to make smart choices when the weather is bad outside. Parents can help to mitigate the risk by preparing their sons or daughters to drive safely during the snow. Brand Connection has some tips for parents including:

  • Practicing driving with your teen. When the first snow starts to fall or there is ice on the ground for the first time, go to a big empty parking lot with your kids. Have them spin the car out and practice regaining control of the vehicle. Have them learn how to spot black ice on the roads, and learn what to do if they hit a patch of ice. Go over winter braking tips as well.
  • Keeping tabs on the weather. If it is bad outside and there is snow or ice in the forecast or on the ground, consider trying to keep your kids off the roads until the roads are clear and the weather has improved. While it is not always practical to avoid driving in bad weather, trips should be minimized.

Many schools and driver’s education programs also offer special winter driving courses. Parents may wish to enroll their kids in such a class to help them be as prepared as possible for winter weather.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation or visit

When is a Car Declared a Total Loss in a West Virginia Crash?

Motor vehicle accidents can cause expensive and devastating damage to individuals. After a crash causes an injury, getting compensation for the medical bills, loss of wages and pain and suffering is a top priority.

A personal injury lawyer can assist with the process of recovering monetary damages after a negligent driver causes a collision.

Crashes inevitably cause property damage as well. In cases where your vehicle is greatly damaged, property damage claims will be handled through an insurer.

Recovering money from your insurance company for a damaged vehicle can be a hassle. The insurer is supposed to pay for the cost of repairs if the vehicle is fixable. If the car cannot be repaired, the insurer should pay for the replacement value of the car.

Unfortunately, sometimes the insurer will decide your car cannot be fixed. In these cases, you are to be compensated for the value of the “totaled” vehicle. However, you will not necessarily be able to obtain enough money to replace the car with something comparable.

When is a Vehicle a Total Loss?

If the insurance company decides your vehicle is too damaged to be eligible to be repaired, the insurer may declare the vehicle to be a total loss. This happens if the cost of repairs would exceed the actual value of the vehicle. However, according to Claims Journal, this is not the only situation in which an insurance company will make the decision to declare that the car is a total loss.

If the insurer does not believe that repair is a practical option,  the insurance company will make the decision that the car should be “totaled.” This can happen especially with lower valued cars. For example, if a car is valued at just $4,000 and the cost to repair the vehicle would be $3,000, the insurance company may decide that it is not worth paying 75 percent of the replacement cost just to repair the car.

When the insurer totals the vehicle, the insurance company takes possession of the car and obtains a salvage title. The insurer can then sell the car as a salvage vehicle. If the insured driver wants to keep the car for any reason, the insured’s payout would be reduced by the amount that the insurer would have gotten at salvage.

The insured doesn’t get to decide how the damaged car will be classified. If the insurance company makes the choice the car should be totaled, then the insured will have to accept a payment for the replacement value.

This can be an issue if it is difficult for the insured driver to actually find another vehicle that he can buy for the amount of money that is being offered. It can also be a problem when the insured has a new car, which depreciates in value very quickly.

The insured may not be able to find a similar new car for the cost that the insurer provides. While an insured can’t typically decide if he wants the car totaled, it is sometimes possible to convince an insurance company to pay more than the initial offer for a totaled car. Doing this requires the aid of an experienced crash attorney.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation or visit