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In the Virginian Pilot on Sunday, May 13, 2007, there was a piece that a 22 year old motorcyclist was killed in a wreck. The accident happened in Norfolk, Virginia (VA) on Saturday and the young man died in a local hospital the next day. The driver that hit the motorcyclist has not been charged and the cause has not been determined.

Our firm, Hajek, Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton, P.C., routinely handles accident cases where our client got hit on their motorcycle or bicycle by a car or other vehicle. The injuries in motorcycle and bicycle accidents are often among the most severe. The injuries to the motorcyclist or bicyclist are often serious injuries, if not death, because the rider is so unprotected. When you have a vehicle weighing at least 3,000 pounds for the smallest car and 5,000 pounds for light trucks and SUV’s hitting the human body, bones are likely to be broken. Also even if a bicyclist or a motorcyclist wears all the recommended and required safety protection equipment there are still parts of the human body which are going to come in contact with metal of the automobile or the concrete of the roadway. So it is not uncommon that when a motorcycle or bicycle is hit by a motorist that there are terrible road burn injuries or other damage to the skin. Virginia and other states have different rules whether motorcyclist and bicyclist of different ages are required to wear helmets. In the absence of properly fitting head gear and without some luck, collisions between motorcyclist or bicyclist and cars are going to risk serious closed head injury or traumatic brain injury.

The nature of the roadway is often not conducive to safe bicycle riding. Typically, there are no bike lanes to ride on. Motorist often fail to see bicycles and motorcycles meaning the accidents are t-bone collisions where the car is essentially spearing the bicyclist or motorcyclist. Often the rider is thrown a significant distance from the two wheeler in these accidents. Despite some educational programs trying to encourage motorist to share the road, Virginia (VA) motorists still do not give proper attention to people on bikes. Many motorists also do not realize situations where a bicycle has the right of way or what the rules are as far as bicycles on the roadway. In urban environments like Norfolk, Virginia (VA) and Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) more accidents may occur with people on bicycles, because the motorist are not expecting to see a bicyclist as opposed to another car or pedestrian.

Safety and courtesy work both ways. Motorist should look out for bicyclists, and bicyclists and motorcyclists need to be careful given their vulnerability to injury in an accident.

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