Riding a motorcycle in bad weather is fundamentally different from driving a car in rain or snow. Any inclement weather increases the risk that a motorcyclist will lose control and get into a serious collision. And bikers are vulnerable to serious injuries whenever they crash.
Helpfully, motorcyclists can reduce the risk of an accident. Our Winchester motorcycle accident lawyer provides his best tips for staying upright when the weather won’t cooperate. Our firm can also help if you are involved in a crash. Please contact Correll Law Firm if you have questions about your rights following a collision.
How to Ride Safely in Rain and Snow
Probably the best way to avoid a crash is to not ride in the first place. Virginia doesn’t get a lot of snow, but when we do, the roadside is littered with vehicles that have lost control. Rain also increases the odds of hydroplaning, which occurs when water builds up under your tires and the car literally floats on top of the water, losing contact with the road.
If you do need to go out in the rain, we recommend:
- Inspect your bike before heading out, paying close attention to your tires. Ensure the tires have sufficient tread and the correct air pressure. You want the tires to grip the asphalt as well as they can.
- Substantially reduce your speed. You have plenty of time to get where you are going. The speed limit is the maximum you can go when the weather is perfect, so drop 10 miles an hour, at least.
- Complete turns before accelerating. This will allow you to maintain smooth control of your bike. The risk of skidding is highest when you are making a turn.
- Avoid riding through puddles. You don’t know how deep they are, and a deep pothole can upend a motorcycle.
- Never follow too closely. You never know when you will need to stop your bike, and you don’t want to collide with the car in front of you. You need more distance to come to a stop in bad weather.
- Do not ride close to the center line. If your bike slips, even a little, you could get thrown into oncoming traffic. You also need to anticipate other motorists skidding in the rain or snow.
- Wear all required safety gear. A helmet will improve the chances of surviving any accident. Also a jacket can provide protection to your arms if you are thrown from the bike.
- Turn on your headlight. Poor weather reduces visibility, and you want to stand out so that no motorist strikes you.
- Be careful of black ice. A thin layer of ice can form on the road, which is difficult for motorcyclists to see. Nonetheless, it is very slippery
By following these tips can reduce—but not entirely eliminate—the risk of a collision. As mentioned above, it’s probably best not to even take your motorcycle out when the weather is terrible.
How Bad Weather Impacts a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Poor weather can play a role in any motorcycle accident claim. For example, the motorist who struck you might claim they couldn’t see because the skies were overcast or the rain was coming down too hard. A motorist might also blame you for not having your headlight on or for riding dangerously in the rain.
If you lose control of your bike, you might be contributorily negligent. In Virginia, any contributory negligence will bar you from receiving compensation for a collision. In practice, you only need to be a little responsible and you won’t receive a penny from the defendant. The driver who struck you has an incentive to claim you were not riding safely—for example, you were speeding, which is why you hydroplaned and lost control of your motorcycle.
Legal Claims Based on Poor Road Conditions
In some situations, you might even sue the state for your accident. For example, a giant pothole could have led directly to an accident and injuries. The government needs to keep the roads reasonably safe for the public, and failing to fix a pothole they know about could make them liable for your accident.
Under Va. Code § 8.01-195.6, any claim against the state or a transportation district requires filing a notice of claim within one year of your accident. This isn’t an optional claim—it’s required, otherwise your claim is barred in many cases. This deadline is much shorter than for other accidents, so reach out to a Winchester motorcycle accident lawyer for assistance. You want to submit a notice to the proper agency with all requested information.
What to Do after an Accident in Poor Weather
You should document the accident just as you would in any other crash. Remember to call the police to come to the scene of your accident. Be patient—there might be many vehicles off the road, and the police are responding to calls as fast as they can. You also need to be vigilant, because other vehicles on the road could skid and end up crashing into you as you stand on the side of the road.
Take pictures of all vehicles involved but also the state of the road. If you ran into a giant pothole, you should take a picture. You might also return a few days later after the rain has all evaporated so you get a better picture of the size of the pothole.
Also go to the hospital as soon as possible. We always recommend that our personal injury clients begin to receive treatment immediately. This is an important way to document the severity of the accident.
Call a Winchester Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Virginia sees its share of bad weather, which directly leads to accidents. You deserve compensation whenever someone negligently causes your collision. Someone who is driving too fast in the snow or rain is engaging in risky behavior. They should pay compensation if you end up in an ambulance following a collision. Call Correll Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and discuss the odds of bringing a personal injury claim.