The beautiful weather and the ever-rising fuel prices have led to an increased number of motorcyclists on the roads of San Diego. Although motorcycles are an appealing mode of transport, compared to cars, they are five times more likely to injure you in a crash and thirty times more likely to cause fatalities after an accident. The open nature and the two-wheel design of motorcycles make collisions devastating, leaving victims with catastrophic injuries or even death. The families of the victims are left with piling medical bills and a wake of devastation. With the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, you don’t have to fight for justice alone after you or a family member being involved in a motorcycle accident. We will focus on fighting for your justice while you focus on recovery from injuries and a period of devastation.
Motorcycle Laws in California
California motorcycle laws are not different from those of motor vehicles. However, there are specific different laws that are meant to protect motorcyclists and other road users. Some of these laws and regulations include:
- CVC 27803
CVC 27803 states that all motorcyclists must wear helmets all the time. The helmet to be worn must meet the standards of the U.S. Department of transportation.
- CVC 26709
The law requires all motorcycles to have left and right mirrors.
- CVC 27801
Under this law, drivers or riders are prohibited from equipping their motorcycles with handlebars that put them more than six inches above their shoulder heights while seated on the seat.
- CVC 2400
The Vehicle Code was enacted to prohibit drivers from driving at a deficient speed, slow enough that it slows down the normal flow of traffic or blocks other motorists unless the low speed is necessary for safety.
- CVC 22517
The VC prohibits motorists from leaving the doors of their vehicle open unless they are sure that doing so is safe and will not affect traffic flow.
VC 2400 and VC 22517 were enacted to protect motorcyclists during lane splitting and sharing. It is legal in California for motorcyclists to share a lane side by side with other motorists. The law also permits lane splitting where motorists maneuver two lanes of the road to get around vehicles. With lane splitting and sharing being legal and risky to motorcyclists, the two laws help protect motorists and reduce the risk of accidents.
The law also requires motorcycles to have working turn signals both in the front and the rear-end. California laws also offer protection to victims of motorcycle accidents by requiring motorcyclists to have minimum insurance coverage of:
- five thousand ($5,000) for accidents causing property damage,
- fifteen thousand ($15,000) for crashes causing a single injury, and
- thirty thousand ($30,000) for multiple injuries in a single accident.
The laws further require motorcyclists involved in a crash to report it to the DMV. You should notify the accident within ten days after the crash. Failure to report within that period or not to report entirely might attract license suspension by the DMV or the California Highway Patrol.
Individuals who can Sue after a Motorcycle Accident
Under personal injury, any individual who sustains injuries from a motorcycle crash can file a claim against the negligent party. If the individual who suffered the injuries succumbs to those injuries, the family can file a lawsuit for wrongful death. The people to be sued include reckless drivers and the relevant authorities in charge of roads that are in a dangerous condition. In the event, the accident occurred due to faulty parts, the manufacturer, distributor, or designer of the parts will be held liable for negligence. The purpose of filing the lawsuit is to help you recover damages for:
- Motorcycle damages,
- Physical injuries,
- Medical costs,
- Lost income, and
- Future medical treatment.
When planning to recover damages for all the losses incurred after a crash, reach out to a personal injury attorney for maximum settlement. Going to claim to the insurer without professional help from an attorney will lead to lower compensation since insurers are after making profits.
Frequent Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle crashes can be caused by many things. However, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Car doors
When drivers are parked in spots that are parallel to a busy road and leave the car door open, an oncoming motorcyclist is likely to crash with the door leading to severe injuries.
- Lane splitting
It is referred to as driving between two lanes. The act is legal in California, and it is dangerous, especially if the motorcyclist is inexperienced.
- Motorcycle defects
Designers or manufacturers, at times, fail to do proper testing of parts before distributing them to consumers. When these fault motorcycle parts reach the market, they result in many accidents and deaths. If you notice that you or a family member was in a motorcycle collision because of a faulty or defective part, you can hold the manufacturer, designer, or seller liable for negligence.
Speeding is a significant cause of all types of accidents. When a driver or motorcyclist is speeding, it becomes difficult to see objects on the way or to react to prevent a collision. The collisions resulting from speeding have many impacts that lead to fatalities or catastrophic injuries.
- Tailgating a motorcyclist
Tailgating is defined by CVC 21703 as following a motor vehicle too closely. In the event of a sudden stop when tailgating, a rear-end collision is going to occur. They are a common cause of motorcycle accidents when drivers follow too closely or when there is a sudden or abrupt stop.
- Unsafe road changes
When a motorcyclist or driver is overtaking, he or she should signal when changing lanes or check his or her blind spot to avoid a collision. If you change lanes blindly, you increase the risk of a crash.
- Loose gravel on the road
Motorcycles are two-wheeled, which means they are less stable. If there is loose gravel on the street, the risk of a crash occurring is higher due to the low stability of motorcycles.
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Alcohol or drug use
- Riding on the wrong side of the road
- Improper turning
- Collision with stationary objects.
Common Injuries Associated with Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycles are conventional means of transport that have simplified commuting, enabled riders to enjoy scenic drives, and avoid traffic. They, however, offer riders and their passengers little protection. Other motorists also are not aware of motorcyclists on the road, which increases the risk of crashes. Motorcyclists are prone to specific types of injuries after a collision. The primary reason for the injuries being that motorcycles offer no protection to riders because they are not enclosed. The common types of injuries a motorcyclist is subject to include:
- Road rash
Despite the majority of motorcyclists wearing protective gear, the impact of the collision leaves them with cuts and scrapes. If the road rash is severe, it can leave the victim with internal injuries, scarring, or blood loss. The type of injuries occurs when the rider is trapped between the motorcycle and the road, for instance, after sliding along a rough surface, leaving the skin exposed. It is easy to protect yourself from road rash. All you need is putting on protective gear whenever you are getting on your bike for a ride.
- Brain injuries
This type of injury is among the frequent catastrophic injuries that are caused by motorcycle crashes. Damage to the brain can occur even with the helmet on. The impact of the collision causes trauma in the head after the head of the biker hits a stationary object or a pavement. The trauma can lead to concussion, skull fractures, hematoma, brain inflammation, and brain bruising. A brain injury can leave a patient with temporary or permanent paralysis, speech disabilities, psychological and emotional disorder, memory loss, loss of motor control, and learning disabilities. Loss of bodily function can cause many problems to families and victims hence the need to put on a helmet before riding a motorcycle. Helmets reduce the risks of suffering from traumatic brain injuries by sixty-nine percent.
- Facial injuries
Although motorcycle accident facial injuries might not lead to fatalities, disfigurement can lead to emotional and psychological trauma. Loss of self-esteem and a sense of identity are also due to facial injuries. These side effects of facial injuries can further lead victims into drug abuse, depression, and social anxiety. The damages can, however, be avoided or reduced through wearing a full-face helmet.
- Leg injuries
These fall under the non-fatal motorcycle crashes injuries. They mostly involve the legs, and the most common types include broken bones, foot injuries, soft tissue injuries, and amputation. Motorcycle accident victims who are amputated are those whose lower body is trapped between a car and the pavement, two cars, or between a vehicle and a stationary object. After a crash involving the lower parts like the legs, some victims lose mobility permanently and endure chronic pain. To prevent these types of injuries, you can wear protective gear with a riding armor, and motorcycle boots tailor-made to prevent leg injuries.
- Spinal cord Injuries
The majority of spinal cord injuries are associated with motorcycle crashes. On the other hand, spinal injuries are the leading cause of partial or complete paralysis. Bikers are at risk of suffering spinal injuries in a collision because they are exposed on a motorcycle, and the spinal cord, which is a fragile part of the body can lacerate, break or get damaged. The paralysis, in most cases, is temporary, and the victim can regain mobility. However, in some instances, the victims become permanently paralyzed. The effects of these injuries are severe because not only do they require high medical costs, the victims are left unable to work or dependent on their loved ones for almost everything. When it comes to spinal injuries, the side effects are devastating, hence the need for maximum compensation. Retain the services of a motorcycle injury attorney so that they can calculate the damages for medical bills, future treatment, lost wages, and capacity to earn in the future and pain and suffering.
- Wrist injury and scaphoid fractures
When a biker collides with an object, the impact ejects them from the motorcycles. They try bracing themselves using the hands leading to wrist injuries. The force involved can result in nerve damage, tendon, bone fractures, and deformity. The scaphoid bone also suffers fractures in the process since it is at the base of the wrist.
Liable Parties in Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions
Cars are very different from motorcycles on the issue of stability. A vehicle will smoothly run on an uneven pavement without even noticing, but a bike is likely to make you crash on such road conditions. Some of the road conditions associated with motorcycle accidents include water leaks, potholes, loose gravel, metal plates, and broken light posts. If a road is in poor condition, the authorities are responsible for the accidents and all the damages stemming from it.
The Premises Liability law of California requires property owners or occupants to exercise a reasonable duty of care on it to:
- Maintain the premise.
- Inspect the property.
- Repair any conditions that pose a danger.
- Warn people about the risks they are exposed to while on the property.
If you were riding on the pavement of a public park and your bike crashes because of loose gravel or a pothole, you should file a lawsuit against the local government agency in charge of the roads in the park. To recover damages from such authorities, you must prove the following:
- The city or the local government-owned or controlled the premises,
- At the time of the crash, the property was in a dangerous condition,
- The hazardous condition posed a foreseeable risk of the type of injury sustained,
- The city, county or state was aware of the hazardous condition long enough to protect against it,
- The plaintiff was injured, and
- The dangerous condition was instrumental in causing the injuries or harm sustained by the plaintiff.
Any time you get into a motorcycle collision due to poor road conditions, the state government, county government, or the city should be held liable for negligence and should compensate you for all the losses.
Compensatory Damages in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Damages are available to be recovered after a motorcycle accident for the financial loss or injuries associated with the crash. The problem is that many people don’t know how much they should be compensated hence settling on guessed figures or approximations. The amount to be paid is reached after an investigation on the specific crash. Motorcycle accident injuries carry the highest share of compensation. A simple emergency checkup will have you part with your money. The amount increases further if it’s a severe injury or when you have to be hospitalized. Even after treatment, therapy is needed to help you get back into your routine. The cost of therapy also keeps going high each day because of the advancement in technology. It’s therefore critical that you are compensated an amount enough to cover the harm and any other losses that you might have incurred.
When settling for an amount of compensation, don’t take your insurer’s first offer. The reason being insurers use estimations by categorizing specific injuries, the average cost of treatment for the damages, and the way they affect your life, in the long run, to come up with an approximation. They use an insurance adjuster to evaluate your accident and then come up with an offer within their estimates.
On the issue of settlement in motorcycle crashes, most claims are settled out of court. It’s an efficient way of compensation because it doesn’t take much time. In such events of out of court settlement, the at-fault driver’s insurer calculates the cost of damages then sends an offer to the plaintiff. When you receive such an offer from an insurer, you should know that it isn’t the maximum amount, so you don’t have to take the offer. A good settlement offer will cover the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium for the loss of a spouse or domestic partner
- Long-term medical care
- Loss of future income
- Medical supplies.
If any of the above compensatory damages are left out in the settlement and you have proof to back your claim, then you can request more from the insurer.
Proving what your Motorcycle Injury Compensation Should be
After rejecting the first offer from the negligent driver’s insurer, the next step should be sitting with your attorney and crafting a letter of demand. The letter should contain the costs that you have incurred because of another driver’s recklessness or negligence. The evidence to be used in the letter should come in the form of:
- Accident investigation report from the police officers at the scene,
- Evidence collected at the scene of the crash,
- Expert testimonials,
- Estimates from repair, and
- A list of items other items you own that were damaged during the collision.
With all the proof to back your need for a better settlement, insurers are likely to give in and offer fair compensation. They try a lot to avoid a trial settlement because they end up parting with hefty amounts than in an out-of-court agreement. Some of the benefits of settling the claim out of court is that:
- You get compensated sooner,
- Much of your time isn’t invested in the case, and
- You can’t risk losing the case and all the compensation after the crash.
Going to trial should be the last option after an insurer has declined your request for more damages, whether you have the chances of winning or losing a case or not, factor in the emotional and trial costs before deciding.
Factors Influencing Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Certain elements are going to affect the amount of settlement, whether you settle the claim in court or out of court. Some of these factors include liability, negligence, and hard dollar value. Responsibility is a significant factor that affects the outcome of a claim. California is a comparative liability state meaning that every party involved in a crash shares a portion of the blame. Some of the factors that affect the liability of an individual in a motorcycle crash include:
- Whether all parties were adhering to traffic laws,
- Aggravating factors like weather,
- Exigent circumstances, and
Each party will be assigned its percentage of negligence, and then an amount is determined based on the percentage of negligence. If you are the person who made a claim and shared a portion of neglect, the amount of compensation is reduced based on the degree of fault from your side.
Insurance policy limits also dictate the maximum amount of compensation you get. If you have purchased a liability coverage policy whose limit is $5,000 in California, despite the losses or harm incurred, the amount of compensation will be limited to this amount. But if you have sustained injuries in the line of duty working for a company, the minimum amount of damages to be awarded is likely to exceed the insurance policy limit.
Prejudice against motorcyclists is also another thing that affects compensation. Despite motorcycles becoming a convenient means of transport, people still have a negative perception about them, and this might go further into impacting your claim. Investigating officers, jurors, and even the insurance adjusters might bring in the misconceptions about motorcycles in an application. The outcome of this might be a denied claim or reduced compensation.
Find a Motorcycle Accident Attorney near me
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, speak to one of our attorneys at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. We understand that no lawyer can give an exact amount of compensation you will receive from an insurer or the court. Hence, we have investigators and professionals who will analyze your claim and negotiate with the insurance to maximize your recovery for the injuries and damages without giving false hope. Call us today through 619-478-4059 for questions regarding motorcycle crash lawsuits.