The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm represents personal injury victims in California by seeking compensation for them. One of the major personal injury areas we handle are motorcycle accidents. We invite you to get in touch with us as soon as possible so that you can have enough time to recover from your injuries as we fight to get you compensated. Here are some of the common frequently asked questions that will help you know more about how we can help you if you were involved in a motorcycle accident.
When Should You File a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident?
Insurance companies will always try to settle the claim for as little compensation as possible, even if it means the plaintiff receives no benefit at all. Therefore, as you focus on your medication and recovery, it is always wise to leave the case to a professional attorney to deal with the insurance company. If it is evident that you deserve compensation and the party “at fault” is not willing to cooperate and take liability, you should let the jury decide the case by filing a lawsuit against them.
Often, motorcycle riders are perceived to be reckless on the road. This misconception compromises the facts in most accident cases. For that matter, when involved in an accident, whether injured or not, it is very important to seek services of a reliable personal injury attorney who is familiar with motorcycle accidents to learn more about the law and avoid unnecessary liability. With a reliable attorney, you might be able to recover the following damages after a motorcycle accident:
- Lost wages
- Motorcycle damages
- Medical costs
- Physical injuries
- Future treatment bills
How Frequent are Motorcycle Accidents in California?
Motorcycle accidents continue to grow in numbers over the years. About 13% of motor vehicle deaths in California are a result of motorcycles. As per the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), usually, motorcycles are less stable and visible on the road, which makes them more vulnerable to accidents compared to cars, especially on adverse weather conditions. They also lack an enclosed system to shield the rider and the passenger, which together exposes them to the risk of serious injuries or even worse death in case of an accident. Depending on the distance covered by the motorist, the risk of death during a motorcycle accident is almost 30 times more than that of cars.
What are The Risk Factors Leading to Motorcycle Accidents?
Every motorcycle rider is at risk of accidents when out on the road regardless of their riding experience. Below are examples of factors that make motorcycle riders more prone to accidents:
- Age - Since the 1970’s all through to 2005, motorcycle riders below the age of 29 were more frequently involved in fatal accidents. However, in the last few decades, people involved in fatal motorcycle injuries are 50 years old and above.
- Sex - Regardless of age, about 90% of motorcycle accidents deaths reported involve male riders.
- Alcohol impairment - Certain amounts of alcohol content in the blood will cause poor judgment on the road. More than 25 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities in California involve riders with a blood alcohol concentration that is more than 0.08%, which is over the state’s legal limit.
- Not using a helmet - Motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet whenever on the road as per California Vehicle Code Section 27803. The motorcycle rider is violating California Vehicle Code if he/she or the passenger is not wearing a helmet. The use of helmets saved an estimate of about 1,722 lives in 2015. Helmets reduce serious head injury risks by 69% and the risk of death by approximately 37%.
- Unlicensed riders - Over 25 percent of all motorcycle accident deaths involve riders without licenses, which only means that the riders have not met the necessary qualifications for riding a motorcycle on a highway to obtain the license. In 2016, of all the 4,600 motorist deaths reported, among them, 1,250 individuals lacked a valid license.
- Time of the year - There are some times of the year when roads aren’t properly visible because of hazardous weather conditions such as mist and fog.
What Are The Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries?
Motorcycles accidents expose the rider and the passenger to severe injuries and the worse, even death. Below are common known causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Malfunction of the bike parts
- Adverse road conditions, especially when construction is ongoing, can make motorists lose control
- Loose gravel on the ground makes the bike unstable
- Collision or crushing of stationery objects on the roadway can also be fatal
- Automobiles were pulling just in front of a motorcycle while at top speed
- Automobiles merging in the lane meant for motorcyclists
Typically, motorcyclists are subject to certain specific types of injuries, depending on how the bike falls during an accident and the availability of proper personal protective equipment on the rider. When a rider uses appropriate protective equipment and a helmet while on the road, chances for serious injuries become minimal in case of an accident. Below are examples of common motorcycle injuries:
- An accident can lead to the breakage of joints, especially the elbows, pelvis, shoulder, wrist, knees, hips, and fingers
- Bones breakage
- Road rash
- Injury on the head
- Injury on the eye
- Loss of body limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Disfigurement of the face
What Should You Do After Getting Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
There are two things that one should focus on after getting involved in a motorcycle accident. That is:
Whenever in a motorcycle accident, you should immediately seek medical attention for examination. You must see a doctor even if you feel perfectly fine after a crash because some injuries can be internal. Some injuries such as the neck, head, or back injuries can take even days before symptoms reveal when injuries get checked early by the doctor, the higher the chances of treatment and prevention of future more severe health problems.
Try To Collect More Information About The Accident
If you cannot meet with your attorney after the accident, you mustn’t sign any kind of document or accept any type of fault. If possible, also you should consider taking photos and videos of the injuries and damages caused on your motorcycle with your smartphone. The following are examples of information you should try to find out when involved in an accident involving motorcyclists, multiple vehicles, or pedestrians.
- Name and contact information of everyone involved in the accident
- Find out the license plate numbers of every vehicle involved in the accident
- Find out the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Check out the year, model, and color of any vehicle involved
- Consider checking the driver’s insurance information
- Ask for contact information of at least one eye witness
Sometimes after the accident, other parties involved may not be willing to give you their information and also might want to become aggressive towards you. In such a situation, you should consider including the police. Beware of what you say after an accident even when the other driver comes out yelling at you so that you can admit the fault of the accident. Whatever you speak out, never accept the responsibility of the accident, even if you think you might have caused the accident in some way.
The question of who caused the accident should be left for the court to decide hence the need for involvement of a personal injury attorney. If the accident is no fault of yours, you deserve full compensation for all your injuries and damages caused.
What Damages Can You Receive in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
The motorcycle rider can get damages for any type of harm incurred in an accident and any financial loss. There are a variety of damage options available, depending on whether there was an injury or death as a result of the accident. Below are the most common damages involving a motorcycle accident that bereaved families of the victims involved in the accident can claim including injured pedestrians if any:
- Wages lost
- Lost capacity/capabilities of earning
- Loss of body limb or disfigurement
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Hospital and medical bills
- Suffering and pain caused
- Medical supplies and medication
- Damages for the loss of a consortium for an intimate or domestic partner
What Happens If My Domestic Partner/Spouse Dies in a Motorcycle Accident?
You have all the rights to file a claim for damages in case of the wrongful death of your spouse/domestic partner under the California wrongful death laws. The bereaved families might be able to file a lawsuit claim even if their loved one is no more. Any person who can be entitled to property owners of the decedent under California intestate succession laws can file a wrongful death compensation claim. Examples of such people include: surviving domestic partner/spouse, any children or grandparents if any.
If the defendant is found guilty of the death of your spouse/domestic partner, with the help of your injury attorney lawyer you should be able to claim the following damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Get compensation for the sudden demise of your companionship and support
- Compensation for the lost wages the victim would’ve made if he/she was still alive
Who Is at Fault If a Motorcycle Malfunction Caused The Accident/Crash?
Some accidents by motorbikes are a result of the defective parts of the machinery, which, even if you’re an experienced rider and have been riding carefully, you might not notice. A manufacturing defect happens when there is a deviation in the design of a part of the machine which occurred during assembling, thus rendering the motorcycle dangerous in some way.
Mostly in such accidents, the motorcyclists have no idea what happened or what caused the crash. However, as per California product liability laws, you can sue the company that manufactured, sold, or designed the defective part for damages caused. If it is evident that there is a part defect on the product, the company responsible can suffer strict liability for the defects on the part design and failure to warn customers of the mistakes for proper precaution.
For most lawsuits involving product liability, the plaintiff must prove a few things to the jury hence the need for a personal injury attorney. As the injured motorcyclist you have to show that:
- The product was faulty when the defendants gave/sold it to you
- You suffered an injury as a result of the faulty/defective part
- You used the product in a reasonable and usual manner as anyone else would
- The defendant(s) manufactured, designed, and sold the faulty/defective part
Remember that these product defects include even all custom-made motorcycle parts, aftermarket parts, and mass-market products. The manufacturer can also be liable for any injuries and damages caused by using motorcycle parts that are not compatible and fail to warn the users to be aware.
How Do You Determine if The Driver is at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
Under California negligence laws, the negligent party in a motorcycle accident is liable for any damages and injuries caused. After an accident, one may be confused, and you might not be able to determine who was negligent in the incident. For that matter, you should consider finding the services of a reliable attorney for proper legal representation. Motorcyclists are presumed to be the cause for most accidents, which means most drivers will always try to argue innocent in a motorcycle accident. With the Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, you can rest and recover at ease while our able attorneys handle your motorcycle accident case.
To recover the damages and injuries caused, the plaintiff or the surviving family members must file a compensation claim from the negligent driver and prove that they acted negligently hence causing the accident. If evidence available demonstrates that the driver did not act like a reasonable careful person during the event of the accident, the judge will rule the negligent party liable for any injuries and damages.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that presumes defendants to have acted negligently in an unreasonable manner that leads to a person’s injury by violating a law, statute, or ordinance such as traffic violation. This theory always comes up in most personal injury lawsuits involving motorcycle accidents. Negligence per se is usually just a presumption, which means the defendant can choose to defend his/her self by arguing that the reason for violating the law was reasonable at that time, depending on the circumstances.
In order the injured rider to prove negligence per se, he/she needs to show that:
- There was an injury or death as a result of the defendant's violation of statute, law, or ordinance
- The injury or death caused resulted from an ordinance or regulation meant to prevent such accidents
- The injured person was a member or employee of the group, the ordinance, regulation, or statute is supposed to prevent
Further, negligence per se in a motorcycle accident happens when the motorist violates traffic laws such as speeding, failure to yield, reckless driving, distracted driving, failure to keep the vehicle in good condition, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
What Should You Do If The Other Driver Involved Says that I am Responsible For The Accident?
The other driver might be the reason for the accident and still try to make you admit the accident fault. Whatever you say could be used against you by the defendant. Therefore, you should be careful what you speak after the accident, insisting on talking to your injury attorney before signing any kind of document. The liability of the motorcycle accident is a legal question that can only be determined by the jury.
Although sometimes you might think you’re the reason for the accident, the other driver can also be partially at fault. According to the comparative fault law of California, in a situation where more than one individual shares the responsibility of the accident, the court will need the injured party to receive compensation based on their level of fault. The degree of carelessness that contributed to the accident for all parties involved in the accident determines comparative negligence. For instance, in a situation where your motorbike headlight or brake lights are faulty at night, and you get involved in an accident, you will get held comparatively negligent in the case.
When Should You Blame Poor Road Conditions for My Motorcycle Accident?
A car can maneuver on roads with uneven pavement, loose gravel, and potholes with less destruction, unlike motorcycles. Motorcycles happen to be very sensitive to the condition of the road because of their design and lack of stability on the ground. Adverse road conditions such as cracked cement, damaged road signs, potholes, unfunctional light posts, water leaks, and loose gravel render motorists more prone to crashes and accidents.
According to California premises liability law, if the property that leads to your motorcycle accident was not well maintained and in a reasonably safe condition, one can file a lawsuit against the property/premise’s owner. To get your deserved compensation if you get injured in a city property such as parking lot or a public roadway, you must prove the elements below to the jury:
- The state/city had noticed the dangerous condition of the premises long enough to have done something to prevent such accidents
- You were injured and harmed due to the dangerous condition of the premises
- The premises were in a dangerous condition when the accident occurred
- The state or the city controlled or owned the premises
How Long Do I Have To File a Lawsuit For My Motorcycle Injury Case?
According to California compensation laws, generally, you have about two years from the accident’s date to file a lawsuit. However, in a situation where the plaintiff is unable to discover the negligent cause of the accident and injury, the time frame for gathering the correct information can be extended. If your motorcycle accident claim involves a government entity, one is required to file a lawsuit within six months after the date of the accident. On the other hand, if the motorcycle accident involves a minor, he/she is required to file a lawsuit before their 19th birthday unless there is a government claim that requires the minor to file the claim within six months after the accident.
Do I Need to Retain Professional Experts After a Motorcycle Accident to Determine Damages and Liability?
Besides your injury attorney whom you need through the entire case after an accident, you might also need biomechanical and biomedical experts to help you prove that the accident led to your injury or death of a relative. Lifecare experts and doctors can also be equally important in a trial in case you need to prove a wrongful death or injury of a victim.
What is The Importance of Insurance Coverage in a Motorcycle Accident?
Every motorcycle owner should have his/her liability insurance cover. Unfortunately, if you do not own liability insurance, you might not be able to recover damages for your injury. However, victims of the accident, like passengers, can be able to recover all their damages since they do not need to carry any liability insurance. You will need uninsured motorist policy if you need compensation in a situation where the other party responsible for the accident is underinsured or uninsured.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or any member of your family is involved in a motorcycle accident in California, you should seek the services of a personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights in such a case. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, you can confidently be sure of the right legal representation of your motorcycle accident case. At the same time, you will have time to focus on important matters like your health. You can reach us through our phone number at 619-625-8707, and our attorneys will start looking into your motorcycle accident case immediately.