Summer is when many people dust off their motorcycles and head out to California roads for adventure and fun. Unfortunately, for these motorcyclists, unsafe left turn motorcycle accidents occur a lot when they are approaching an intersection where the car ahead is making a left turn. These accidents leave motorcyclists with severe injuries or fatalities. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we are highly regarded for helping motorcyclists who are injured in these accidents to recover compensation.
Understanding Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
According to the NHTSA statistics, 42% of deaths in crossing path crashes involve vehicles in front of a motorcycle making a dangerous left turn. As per California VC 21801(a), the driver of a car planning to make a left or U-turn should yield the right of way. Besides, he or she should ensure that no oncoming vehicles are too close constituting a hazard when making the turning movement and will continue to yield to approaching traffic until the turn occurs with reasonable safety.
A hazard, in this case, means that an oncoming vehicle is too close or is approaching at high speed that a sober person would realize it would be unsafe to make a left turn. When a left turn accident occurs, especially at an intersection, the driver of the vehicle is often at fault while the motorcyclist is the victim.
In most unsafe or dangerous left turn motorcycle accidents, drivers usually claim that they didn’t see the motorcycle approaching because of its small size or were unable to estimate the speed of an oncoming bike, thus causing the accident. These accidents mostly occur when motorists run a red light, are distracted, or disregard traffic signs.
Ways in Which Dangerous Left Turns Cause Motorcycle Accidents
Several incidences can result in unsafe left turn motorcycle crashes. Some of these ways include:
- A motorist pulls out of a driveway or street without taking time to check if the road is safe.
- A driver overtaking a motorcycle, cuts left to make a sudden turn, thus sideswiping a motorcyclist.
- Riders pass a car, blocking the motorcycle from the driver's view
- Disregard of traffic rules
- Los visibility at night
Apart from these causes, distracted drivers contribute to a considerable number of these kinds of crashes. A driver who is over the phone or texting might not have his or her eyes on the road, and by the time they spot a motorcyclist, it is usually too late to stop or avoid hitting the motorcyclist. It’s worth understanding that because of the big size of vehicles or trucks when two or more cars are involved in a crash, the injuries or damages are usually minor. But if an accident involves a car and a motorcycle, the motorcyclists are at a higher risk of suffering catastrophic injuries and, in some cases, death.
Keep in mind that as a motorcyclist, if you are involved in a collision with a bigger vehicle, you will be the person to lose because of the severe injuries you are likely to sustain. Therefore, you must contact a personal injury attorney if you are a victim of an unsafe left turn motorcycle collision because these legal professionals will help you recover damages from the driver at fault.
What to do After an Unsafe Left Turn Accident
Motorcyclists in most accidents are stereotyped as rebels who violate traffic rules when speeding or riding under the influence. Although statistics paint a different picture of vehicles being the main cause left turn motorcycle accidents, proving fault isn’t easy. Even if it is clear that the driver violated VC 21801(a), you will need evidence to back your claim. The evidence you need is available at the scene of the crash, which is why there are steps a motorcyclist who is a victim of a dangerous left turn motorcycle crash should follow to receive compensation. These steps are:
Seek Medical Examination
Your health and safety should always come first after a motorcycle crash. It is for this reason that your first step after an accident is to seek medical attention. Don’t be bothered so much about gathering evidence for your injury claims because if you die before receiving compensation, the payment received won’t be of any use to you.
Once you notice you have been hurt, call 911 or a family member to take you for a medical examination. But if there are no physical injuries, you should check the scene thoroughly to ensure no one has suffered any harm. If some people are injured, you should help them go for medical checkup and treatment.
Keep in mind that motorcycle accident injuries can be complicated. You might feel alright after the crash, but these injuries might manifest themselves later when they have done more harm. Neck or head injuries sometimes have delayed symptoms, so the earlier you go for a medical checkup, the better because your healing will be fast, and you will prevent long-term or severe side effects of the injuries.
Most left turn motorcycle crashes, as mentioned earlier, involve the driver in front, making a dangerous left turn without first checking the road for potential hazards. Other drivers and bystanders are usually witnesses in these crashes. Therefore, after receiving treatment, you should focus more on collecting information.
Find the license plate, model, ID number, year, color, and model of the car that hit you. The contact information of eyewitnesses who were present during the crash is also vital. In case someone is not willing to talk, you should inform the law enforcement officers at the scene so that they can compel the person to speak.
The other best way to gather info at the scene is by using your smartphone to take videos or pictures of the stage. Make sure the photos or video captures the number plates of the car that caused the crash. You can also take photos of the damages done on the vehicle at an angle that will enable experts to determine how the crash happened. Take pictures of your injuries and the damages done on your motorbike too.
Call a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Before talking to your insurer about the accident, you must contact a personal injury attorney specializing in motorcycle accidents. The reason being, after this type of accident, you might be confused, and when the insurance company of the driver approaches you with an offer, you might be tempted to accept it. An attorney will help you understand your rights before you enter into a contract with an insurance company. That way, you make a decision that will ensure you get the full compensation that can cover all your damages.
Take note that what you say after a crash can be used against you even if the driver of the car was the one at fault, hence the reason you should avoid saying anything that might be self-incriminating.
Injuries Sustained in an Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
In most left-turn motorcycle accidents, the motorcyclist is usually the victim, and he or she often loses big. The physical structure of the motorcycle and the big size of vehicles make the injuries sustained after an accident catastrophic or fatal. You might suffer injuries ranging from minor to severe. Some of the common injuries in these forms of crashes include:
- Broken legs
- Knee injuries
- Elbow and shoulder injuries
- Paralysis or spinal cord injuries
- Head injury
- Brain trauma
- Crushed foot
These injuries can affect various aspects of your life. They will affect you in that you will be out of work for a long time or permanently in the event you suffer paralysis or spinal cord injuries. For the period you will be out of work, you will lose significant income, and wages that you could be earning were it not for the negligent driver. The injuries sustained can affect other aspects of your life too, which is why the driver who is to blame for the accident should reimburse you for your losses and damages.
But to receive compensation for your loss, you need to prove that the car driver was at fault and that you are the victim in the accident.
Proving Fault in Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
Determining negligence in motorcycle accidents is about gathering evidence, preserving it right, and ensuring proper communication with your insurance company. The negligent party will not always accept blame even when it is evident that Vehicle Code 21801a was violated when the crash occurred. But if you retain the services of a proficient motorcycle accident injury attorney, proving fault will be a cakewalk.
Remember that if you, as the motorcyclist is the one to sue for the injuries where you are a victim of a dangerous left turn motorcycle accident, your descendants can also sue the liable party if you lose your life in the accident.
When you file a claim against the negligent driver, you become the plaintiff, while the driver of the car that caused the crash becomes the defendant or offender. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof, and you must demonstrate to the court that the car driver was negligent, and it’s what caused the collision that resulted in your injuries.
Some of the elements your attorney must demonstrate before the jury on your behalf include:
- The defendant owed you and other people using the road a moral responsibility to ensure your safety.
- The driver breached this legal obligation towards the motorcyclist
- The violation of this responsibility of reasonable care was the cause of your injuries
- The violation by the defendant or action by the defendant was the cause of the injuries
- The claimant sustained real injuries for which he or she is entitled to claim damages
On top of these elements, your attorney will need to work closely with accident reconstruction experts to determine fault. In most cases, mainly where there are no eyewitnesses or video footage of the collision, you will have to rely on physical evidence like the damages done on the motorcycle or car to determine fault. Proving a left turn motorcycle accident is not easy, which means you need to work with an attorney who has the right investigators and crash reconstruction experts to help demonstrate that you, as the motorcyclist, are the victim in the accident.
Your attorney could also rely on eyewitnesses to prove fault. Bystanders can give vivid accounts of the events leading to the accident. They could testify that the defendant, who is the car driver made a left turn directly ahead of a motorcycle. Additionally, the bystander could note that when making the turn, the driver failed to check if the road was clear before turning.
If the opposing side claims that the accident occurred because the motorcyclist was speeding, an eyewitness may help refute the claim by noting that when the accident occurred, the motorcyclist was riding at a safe speed.
Keep in mind that it is not all time that you, the plaintiff has to determine fault, especially in unsafe left turn motorcycle accidents. If the defendant violated laws intended to protect road users, the court uses negligence per se.
Negligence Per Se
As stated above, in some cases of a motorcycle accident, the plaintiff isn’t required to prove negligence. This is usually the case where the car driver has violated traffic laws or particular statutes meant to keep all road users safe.
Negligence per se is a theory in personal injury law that postulates a driver has acted negligently if he or she violates a statute causing another person to suffer injuries. In this case, you will have to prove that the driver was negligent and that the negligence was the main contributor to your injuries. If the defendant did something a sober person could not do under the circumstances or refuses to do something a reasonable person could do under the circumstances, then they acted negligently.
Note that the actions of a defendant are presumed negligent immediately, it is demonstrated that they violated a specific statute. In the case of a dangerous left turn motorcycle accident, the driver who caused the crash will be presumed negligent if:
- They violated California VC 21801(a), which requires drivers turning left to yield to all nearing traffic that is close to a hazard and wait until the road is clear to complete a safe left turn.
- The violation of VC 21801(a) was the cause of death, property damage or injuries
- The harm or death stemmed from behavior that VC 21801 or any other regulation was meant to prevent
- The victim of the accident is a person the VC 21801(a) or any other regulation was meant to protect.
Apart from violating VC 21801(a), if the driver violated any of the following traffic rules, the court will presume negligence:
- Reckless driving
- Drinking and driving
- Texting while behind the wheel
When proving negligence per se, your attorney needs to be prepared because the defendant is likely to rebut the presumption. Therefore, after you have determined negligence based on the law, the burden is going to shift to the defendant. It will be up to the defendant to prove that:
- The violation of VC 21801 or any other ordinance was reasonable under the circumstances.
- Considering the age and disability by the defendant, the violation was reasonable
- Reasonable care was breached while the defendant was trying to protect the law
- Conformity with the law increased the risk of an accident than nonconformity
- The defendant had an emergency that was not caused by personal misconduct
Challenges with Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
As a victim of this type of accident, you will encounter a lot of problems in your claim. The number one problem is that even if the police report clearly states that the driver of the car that hit you was responsible for the accident, the report is hearsay. The report will not be admitted as evidence in court. Insurers, on the other side, don’t need to consider the police report as evidence of the defendant’s negligence.
The attorney of the insurance company you are seeking compensation from will argue that you are the person responsible for the accident even if the police report says otherwise. They will try to assert that you were inattentive to see the car that was making a left turn in front of you. Others will argue that you were speeding, or you should have yielded.
Insurers will find endless excuses to deny you a claim and will do everything to shift the blame to you. As such, you might find that you are the one that needs to prove you were not at fault during the accidents, even if you are the victim. In such incidences, you will need the Personal injury Attorney Law Firm to come to your aid. We have experienced injury attorneys who understand all these tricks that insurers use to deny victims of motorcycle accident claims, which makes us the right people to represent you in your lawsuit.
Types of Damages you can Recover from a Left Turn Motorcycle Accidents
Victims of motorcycle accidents are allowed to seek compensation from the negligent party. In this case, the victim is the motorcyclist, and the defendant is the car driver. As such, an injury claim can help you recover past, current, and future doctor bills and lost income from the job you are unable to perform because of the injuries and compensation for destruction or damages done on your motorcycle.
Based on the extent of the injuries and suffering, you could also pursue pain and suffering damages. The decision on the amount to be awarded these damages mainly depends on the amount awarded in previous cases or the amount experts arrive at. You could still pursue punitive damages on top of other compensations, but these damages are aimed at punishing the defendant and not to repay you for the losses.
After an accident, a motorcyclist is likely to require extensive surgery and therapy to help the bones and muscles recover. In case the victim sustained spinal cord or neck injuries, he or she might suffer amnesia, paralysis, and other long-term medical conditions. A lot of money goes to the treatment, particularly those with no health insurance coverage, which is why these damages are available to cover all treatment-related costs, both present, and future.
In an unsafe left turn motorcycle accident, aside from the motorcyclist sustaining severe injuries, the motorbike receives serious damages. At times the damage is so severe that the bike can only be replaced and not repaired. If in your claim you seek repairs or a new bike, the amount awarded should be enough to cover the costs.
Pain and Suffering
When determining the amount to be awarded for this damage, the court puts into account many factors. Depending on the injuries, loss of limb, destruction on a property, and loss of motor function, your attorney should estimate the amount of compensation you should receive for the emotional and psychological harm brought unto you by the motorcycle accident.
Remember that the judge will award damages based on the factors you can prove. So, during your recovery, jot down what you feel every day because of the effects of the accident. That way, the court will award the amount you deserve.
Wrongful Death in Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
Most left turn motorcycle crashes leave the victims dead. In such cases, the descendants of the motorcyclist who dies from the accident are allowed to seek a wrongful death claim. The damages available under this type of lawsuit are different from those of a personal injury. Damages associated with this claim include:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Loss of future income the victim could have earned had he escaped death
- Reimbursement for loss of consortium and support
Find a Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
Despite California statutes being clear that drivers should yield when turning left in front of oncoming traffic, thousands of motorcyclists continue being injured and die from unsafe left turn motorcycle accidents. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we are concerned about making negligent drivers responsible for their actions. Our law firm does not charge any fees for the initial consultation, so feel free to call us today at 619-625-8707 to review your case.