If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the physical injuries can be severe and there is normally a long road to recovery. Further, the financial implications can also be overwhelming as you might be unable to work.
If you sustained injuries in a California motorcycle accident that were caused by someone else's negligence, then you will need a personal injury lawyer with knowledge in representing injured motorcycle riders and how to negotiate with the insurance companies.
At Injury Justice Law Firm, we have a clear understanding of the legal process involving motorcycle accidents and can handle your case from start to finish.
Our goal is to help you get you maximum financial compensation that you are entitled to recover from the harm due to the motorcycle accident.
In the tragic situation where you have lost a family member due to another person's negligence, then we can help you pursue a wrongful death claim.
Those injured in motorcycle accidents often suffer more severe consequences than any other motorists on the roadways.
Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident on California roads can be an overwhelming process, but in addition to your medical needs and any damaged property concerns, you need to explore your legal right to compensation.
When motorcycle accidents are caused by negligence, state law allows victims to recover compensation for their economic and non-economic losses.
In accidents involving serious injury or disability, the compensation victims could receive can be significant.
Consult with an injury lawyer early in the process with experience dealing with motorcycle accidents is crucial to the resolution of your case. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will review the laws below.
California Civil Code: Comparative Fault
While many states in the country mandate that motorists who are more than 50% at fault for an accident are entitled to no compensation, California is not one of them.
Instead, under Sections 1431 and 1431.2 of the California Civil Code, motorists in the state benefit from a comparative fault standard. Section 1431 states:
- “An obligation imposed on several people is presumed to be joint, and not several, except under Section 1431.2, and in the special cases in the title on the interpretation of contracts. This presumption can be overcome only by express words to the contrary.”
Section 1431.2(a) states:
- “In an action for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, based on comparative fault principles, liability of each defendant for non-economic damages will only be several and not joint. Anyone is liable only for the amount of non-economic damages in direct proportion to their percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall e rendered against that defendant for that amount.”
Essentially, motorcyclists involved in auto accidents in California are entitled to compensation from the other driver to the extent the other driver caused the accident.
Lane Splitting Law in California
In 2016, the state of California legalized lane splitting. This means that motorcyclists who utilize the efficient mode of cutting between cars travelling to their destination are legally entitled to do so.
The new traffic law defines lane splitting as:
- “driving a motorcycle with two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
In response to the new law, California Highway Patrol has issued guidance on lane splitting. This guidance will undoubtedly be considered in determining fault when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident.
CHP's guidance includes:
- “Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting, including width of lanes, size of surrounding vehicles, current roadway, weather, and lighting conditions;”
- “Danger increases at higher speed differentials as overall speed increases;”
- “It's safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic;"
- “Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles, such as big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.”
- “Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane splitting.”
- “Be visible – Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.”
- “Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored and reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.”
California's Helmet Law
In California, motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. In accidents resulting in a head injury that could have been prevented if a helmet had been worn, a judge is apt to rule that the motorcyclists are not entitled to as much compensation because they violated the helmet law.
Chapter 27803 of the California Vehicle Code provides that passengers also must wear helmets when riding a motorcycle, providing that:
- “It's unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle if the driver or passenger is not wearing a safety helmet.”
When Other Motorists Are at Fault
Many motorists are negligent and ignore motorcyclists on the roadway, driving in a way that endangers the motorcyclists.
This type of behavior is illegal and should always bear considerable weight when allocating fault in an accident.
The most common motorcycle accident occurs when a car turns in front of a bike, hits the motorcyclist while they are changing lanes, or runs into rear of the biker at an intersection stoplight.
Some of the most common reasons a car driver did not see a motorcyclist are speeding, blind spots, distractions, not paying attention, or tunnel vision where they only look for other vehicles.
A motorcycle easily fits into several blind spots and many drivers who are only looking for other cars fail to even notice a motorcycle until it's too late.
Motorists that fail to do the following are at least partially at fault in an accident:
- Failure to check blind spots before turning or switching lanes;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Failure to signal or failure to turn on headlights;
- Driving while too tired;
- Faulty equipment;
- Dangerous road conditions.
Pursuing Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Most often, those involved in a motorcycle accident will incur huge expenses, including but not limited to:
- Emergency medical costs;
- Ongoing physical therapies;
- Loss of wages while unable to work;
- Property damage.
Motorcycle accident losses can be up to 12 times higher than losses from car collisions. Our personal injury lawyers can help you recover many of the expenses from the motorcycle crash.
Medical bills - serious injuries in motorcycle collisions can cause overwhelming medical expenses. You could be entitled to recover costs for staying in the hospital, surgeries, doctors' visits, ongoing treatment, physical and rehabilitative therapy, and chiropractic care.
Lost wages - if your injuries prevent you from being able to work, then all your lost income could be included in a claim for recovery. If you injuries leave you permanently disabled, our injury attorneys can calculate your future losses and recover for your reduction in earning capacity.
Pain and suffering - motorcycle crashes often cause many different types of injuries. Some are temporary, such as road rash, broken bones, or a concussion. Some are disabling, such as a spinal injuries and a traumatic brain injury.
California law allows for compensation for the pain and suffering associated with these injuries but there is not a fixed formula to calculate the exact compensation.
Put simply, in order to recover the maximum amount from an insurance company that you are entitled, you will need the help of a a motorcycle accident attorney who possesses the knowledge and skills to best evaluate your claim.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Help
We have the expertise to negotiate with insurance company representatives and seek maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Our personal injury attorneys can investigate the crash, preserve evidence, speak with witnesses, obtain photographs, and evaluate fault and potential compensation.
We can determine all the parties that could be liable for your accident and access the value of your claim and ensure any settlement you accept fully compensates you for the losses.
We can file a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in negotiations with the insurance company.
Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation at (818) 781-1570 to learn how we will fight for your rights.