Motorcycle accidents are a common occurrence in the state of California. While some of these accidents are usually minor, with no severe injuries recorded, others are devastating, leaving the rider, and other people involved suffering severe injuries. California has stringent traffic laws that should make the roads safe for all users, including motorists and bike riders. However, some users are usually negligent, and their careless behavior ends up causing severe accidents on the road. A motorcycle rear-end accident is among those that could leave a trail of destruction behind.
The good thing is that California's personal injury laws allow the injured to seek compensation from the negligent parties. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we are here to make things easy for you as you seek compensation for all the damages sustained in such an accident.
Understanding Motorcycle Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end accidents are some of the common types of collisions in the country today. Motorcycle rear-end accidents are those that occur when a vehicle strikes a bike that is in the same way of traffic from behind. Most of these accidents happen when the motorist is not paying enough attention to the road. If he/she is speeding, for instance, or if he/she fails to stop the vehicle on time, there is a good chance of hitting the car or motorcycle ahead in the traffic. Other factors could result in rear-end accidents, too, such as failed motorcycle brakes.
Motorcycle rear-end accidents can result in severe injuries for the motorcycle rider. Bikes do not enjoy the same amount of protection as other vehicles, where the driver and other passengers are enclosed inside the car. For that reason, a bike rider is likely to suffer more severe injuries if involved in any kind of accident, however minor that crash would be. Motorcycles are also less visible on the roads, placing them at significant risks, especially if they are ahead of a careless traffic driver. Even the most experienced motorcycle rider is at a higher risk of suffering from serious injuries when it comes to rear-end accidents.
When such an accident occurs, the first thing that should happen is to ensure that the rider is safe. Determining fault at that instant is also important to ensure that the rider will get his/her rightful compensation for all the damages sustained. Experts will be required to paint a clear picture of what happened at the accident scene and determine failure. More evidence needs to be gathered, in terms of damage to the vehicles involved in the accident and skid marks. Witness accounts will also be required so that experts can reconstruct the accident scene to determine the actual turn of events.
If, therefore, you or your loved one has been involved in a motorcycle rear-end accident, get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney will know the right kind of evidence to gather as well as the experts to call in to ensure that fault is determined. It will help prepare a strong case against the responsible party to ensure that the court is granting you the compensation you deserve.
Common Injuries in a Motorcycle Rear-End Accident
Motorcycles are quite popular today, as more and more people realize the many benefits they can get from them as modes of transport. Bikes are fast, convenient, and affordable in terms of fuel consumption. The only problem is that they require more skills to operate safely than cars and small trucks. Again, motorcycles are prone to severe injuries and fatalities when compared to other modes of transport. Any type of accident involving a motorcycle is devastating, resulting in more severe injuries. Some of the typical bike accident-related injuries in California include:
Severe Head Injuries
Severe head injuries are top in the list of some of the most common injuries related to motorcycle accidents. A motorcycle rider can suffer all manner of head injuries in an accident, including a cracked skull, brain injuries, and concussions. Note that concussions can range from mild to severe, depending on the nature of the rear-end accident. Some head injuries can be treated and allow the rider to go back to healthy living soon. Others can be severe, and some even fatal.
Broken bones are common injuries, too, in motorcycle accidents. The types of bones that get injured in an accident depend on the nature of the accident and how severe the crash was. If a motorcycle toppled over after it was hit from the back by a vehicle, the rider could have been thrown off his/her bike, landing on pavement. In that case, he could break his hands, wrists, legs, hips, or even neck. Again, some broken bones can heal in no time, while others can take time. Others may never heal properly, altering the life of the rider.
Sliding across pavement is a common occurrence when a motorcyclist is knocked over and thrown off the bike. The severity of such injuries depends mainly on the type of clothes the rider was wearing. Some of these damages can be a mild cut, scrape or bruise, and others can be more severe, resulting in nerve and muscle damage. Some road rash injuries take much longer to heal, and others do not heal completely.
The head and neck are the most vulnerable body parts after an accident. Neck injuries can get as serious as head injuries, though some can also be mild. A broken collar bone, for instance, is a temporary injury that will not take a long time to heal. However, there are more severe neck injuries that will result in paralysis and others, resulting in death.
It is because of such injuries that motorcycle riders are advised to use protective gear whenever they are riding on the roads. Even though motorcyclists cannot be 100% safe, the right protective clothing can reduce the severity of those injuries by a significant margin. Some of the protective equipment that is recommended in California include:
- A thick pant and leather jacket
- Knee and elbow pads
- Chest protectors that are well-cushioned
- A protective neck collar
- A solid, well-fitting helmet
- Leather gloves whose knuckles are reinforced by carbon-fiber
- Heavy plastic or leather boots
- Back and hip armor
What to Do Immediately After A Rear-End Motorcycle Accident
Accidents usually catch us unawares. Therefore, it is not easy to make the right decision on what to do immediately after the accident. However, being mentally prepared for any occurrence if you are a motorcycle rider can make a significant difference. There are several do’s and don’ts that accident victims are usually advised to do or to avoid, especially if they are planning to pursue compensation for the damages sustained. Here is what you should do to make things easy for yourself after an accident:
Get Medical Help
Getting medical attention immediately after an accident is essential, however minor the accident was. As mentioned above, most motorcycle accidents are serious, meaning that you may have sustained a severe injury even if you do not feel it at that instant. It is advisable to have yourself checked in a hospital to rule out any severe damage that might get worse with time. If you have sustained a severe injury, call the police or have someone else make the call on your behalf. Also, ensure everyone else involved in the crash is okay and checked for any injuries.
Start Gathering Information
After a rear-end accident, the most important thing for a bike rider is to gather as much information about the motorist who caused the accident and also about the accident as possible. It will help you in building a case against the negligent driver. Some of the information you should take at that instant include:
- The license plate number of the vehicle and any other vehicle that might have been involved in the crash
- The name, as well as the contact information of the suspected negligent driver and any other person in that accident
- The driver’s insurance information
- The model, year, make, color and anything else that could help identify the vehicle
- Contact information of any witness that would be willing to provide their statement
If any person in the crash flees the scene, is uncooperative or aggressive towards you, it is wise to call the police.
Gathering information in an accident scene is even easier today. Thanks to the advancing technology, with a smartphone at hand, you can take pictures and make a video of the accident scene, all of which could help build your case against a negligent driver. You can also take photos of your injuries and the motorcycle.
Get in Touch With a Personal Injury Attorney
An attorney who has experience in handling rear-end motor accidents would be your best bet in this case. Contacting such an attorney immediately after the accident will make things much easier for you. Your attorney will gather all the necessary evidence needed in building your case. He/she will also help determine the accident's actual cause and the negligent party. If you have suffered severe injuries, your attorney will be in charge of gathering information and ensuring that you are receiving the right medical care.
Again, you need a legal expert to negotiate with the insurer. Alone, the insurance company might take advantage of the situation to offer less than you deserve. That is why you need someone with the skills and experience to ensure that your rights are protected.
Be Careful With What You Say
It is easy to start apologizing to other people who have been injured in an accident, especially if you feel fine. While this may seem like a noble thing to do, it could be misinterpreted to mean that you are responsible for what happened. There are many things that, when said in an accident scene, could make it hard for you when you decide to pursue compensation in a civil court. Watch what you say and, if possible, say as little as possible, especially to the motorists and other people who might have been involved in the crash.
There are times a negligent driver will try to blame the accident victim. If he/she comes yelling at you and accusing you of causing the accident, do not be tempted to yell back. Politely ask him/her to get in touch with your attorney, and allow your attorney to handle the matter. The matter regarding who could have been at fault should always be left for the jury to decide.
Establishing Fault in Motorcycle Rear-End Accidents
As mentioned earlier, most rear-end accidents occur when a driver fails to stop their vehicle on time. If a motorist is following a motorcyclist too closely, he/she is likely to crash on the motorcycle if the traffic stops abruptly or slows down. The motorist will not have enough time to make the right decision, which is to prevent and avoid an accident. Other factors could also be involved in such an accident, though, including distracted driving. In establishing fault, there will be a need for evidence of how the accident occurred.
The first thing accident experts will consider is the driver's behavior at the time of the accident.s This will help prove or disprove that the driver was negligent, and that his/her negligence was the actual cause of the accident. An investigation into the driver's behavior will be conducted. There should be evidence that the driver acted in a way that differs from what a reasonable motorist in the same circumstances would have behaved to prove that he/she was negligent. California drivers are expected by law to act in a way that is reasonable and would not result in harm to other road users or property.
Some of the ways in which drivers could act negligently, causing motorcycle rear-end accident include:
- Distracted driving, which may include writing a text on the phone and driving at the same time. Using a radio, GPS, talking to passengers and eating are also distracting behaviors that could cause the driver to lose their focus on the road
- Failure by the driver to pay attention to what is ahead of them. It could be another vehicle, motorcycle or even a hazard
- Speeding in unsafe conditions. When visibility is reduced, or the weather gets treacherous, drivers are usually advised to slow down
- Not giving right of way to motorcyclists
- Failing to maintain control of one’s vehicle
- Driving too close to the car or motorcycle ahead
A common question that arises from most rear-end accidents is whether or not the vehicle or bike at the front could have caused the crash. Because of the nature of these accidents, it may seem impossible to assume that the bike could have caused the accident. The truth is that a rear-end accident could occur either way. This means that the motorcycle at the front could have been the leading cause of the accident. Here is how such accidents could occur:
- If a motorcycle’s brakes fail, it will not be possible for the vehicle following it to realize it soon enough to slow down or stop. If the car is moving at a considerable speed, a crash will be inevitable, especially if the motorcycle stops abruptly in the middle of the road.
- If the motorcyclist suddenly shifts into reverse, there may be no time for the driver in the back to stop or slow down.
- In case of an accident involving multiple vehicles, other vehicles could get involved in the accident, including a motorcycle and the vehicle following it in traffic.
- If the motorcyclist tries to get him/herself hit by the vehicle behind it for one reason or another
- If the motorcyclist is operating under the effect of alcohol or drugs
Even in such circumstances, the driver at the back usually shares some part of responsibility in the accident. It is because California drivers have a legal mandate to pay attention to what is ahead at all times, as well as to maintain a safe distance between them and anyone else at the front of them. The range helps them stop on time if an unexpected occurrence happens.
Types Damages in a Motorcycle Rear-End Accident
Several types of compensatory damages arise from a motorcycle rear-end accident. They depend on the nature of the accident and the types of injuries and property damage the accident victim has suffered. California personal injury laws allow a person who has suffered damages in an accident to file for monetary compensation for both financial and non-financial losses they have incurred in that accident. The damages recovered will enable the victim to seek proper medical care, as well as recover from other resulting injuries such as loss of the motorcycle and his/her earning capacity.
There are two types of compensatory damages in a motorcycle rear-end accident. They are:
- Monetary damages
- Non-monetary damages
Monetary damages are awarded by the court to help the plaintiff recover all the financial losses he/she may have incurred in the accident. The most common of these damages will include:
An accident victim requires medical care immediately after an accident. Any amount of money that he/she might have used to get treatment is usually the responsibility of the liable party. Once the person responsible for the accident is determined, the jury will hold him/her accountable for all the medical expenses the accident victim may have incurred.
Loss or Repair of the Motorcycle
It is expected that the bike will be damaged in the crash. Depending on the nature of the accident, the rider may need compensation to either repair or replace it.
Lost Earning Capacity
During the period when the rider recovered from his/her injuries, he/she may not have been able to go to work and earned money. If he/she was working well before the accident, he may need compensation to recover all the money he could have made by that time had the disaster not occurred.
Other monetary damages include loss of future earning capacity and future medical expenses. These are usually awarded if the rider suffered more injuries that might take a longer time to heal.
Non-monetary damages, on the other hand, seek to compensate for all the non-financial losses the plaintiff might have suffered in the accident. They are, for instance, suffering and pain.
In addition to that, the court might award the plaintiff punitive damages as a way to punish the at-fault party for his/her negligence. It is also a way to caution others against similar conduct on the road.
What If I am Partially To Blame for the Accident?
As mentioned earlier, rear-end motorcycle accidents can be caused by either the motorcycle rider or the driver in the back. If the rider were partly to blame for the accident, a California civil court would apply comparative negligence law to ensure that each party paid for their part of responsibility in the accident. Under this law, the driver will only be held responsible for their percentage of fault. The jury usually determines the rate based on the evidence presented in court.
This means that even if you feel partly responsible for the accident, there is still hope to recover part of your losses if you pursue compensation in a California civil court.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Firm Near Me
If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle rear-end accident and you would like to pursue compensation, there is no need to worry. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we have a team of experienced motorcycle injury attorneys that can take you through the legal process. We have a team of expert witnesses who can offer their professional assessment and efforts to help your case. We have enough skills and experiences that can enable us to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 619-625-8707 from any city in California, and let us help you understand your rights and options.