A collision between a pickup truck and a motorcycle in the Churchville community of Augusta County, Virginia (VA), left the biker dead. State Police and multiple news outlet have identified the deceased motorcyclist as 48-year-old Allen Mattejat of Staunton.
The fatal crash happened a little after 4 pm on May 26, 2017. The pickup driver was reportedly pulling out of driveway in the 1500 block of Route 42, which is also known as Scenic Highway Road. The site of the deadly wreck sits about a mile south of Union Church Road, along a two-lane stretch of state highway bordered by farms.
The motorcycle rider died from his injuries while being transported to a local hospital. He had been wearing a helmet.
The pickup truck driver was not immediately charged, but the official description of the fatal incident suggests that the motorcyclist had right of way. Virginia law requires drivers to wait for all traffic to clear before exiting a driveway or parking lot. Failing to yield right of way to motorcycle riders traveling at highway speeds often results in preventable injuries and deaths. As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration notes in its motorcycle safety fact sheet, “Motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2014 fatal crash data.”
The federal agency then states, “To keep motorcyclists safe, we urge everyone to share the road and be alert.”
The Texas Department of Insurance operationalizes that general advice by telling car and truck drivers to
- Search the traffic around you constantly and expect to see motorcycles.
- Check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic.
- Double-check traffic at intersections before you turn or pull out.
- Motorcycles can easily be hidden in traffic. Look for a helmet above, tires below, or a shadow alongside a vehicle that you can’t see around.
Whether state police file charges against the pickup truck driver or not, any evidence investigators collect that indicates negligence can be used by the deceased motorcycle rider’s family to support a wrongful death insurance claim. Mistakes behind the wheel do not need to be criminal to make a driver responsible for paying compensation and damages to the victims of those mistakes.
Consulting with an experienced and empathetic Virginia wrongful death attorney will help the grieving family access all the evidence they need, deal with insurance company representatives, and defend against attempts to assign blame for the tragic loss of life to the motorcycle rider.