What Happens After a Motorcycle Accident?
There are over 800,000 registered motorcycles in California. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2016, 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes. Motorcyclists are often stereotyped as reckless and negligent, and while there is an inherent risk in motorcycle driving, injured motorcyclists are entitled to file a claim against the driver at fault. Due in part that motorcycles generally provide very little protection, this type of collision usually results in more severe injuries for the victims involved. The inherent risk of driving a motorcycle means that the burden of proving the negligence of the at-fault driver is even greater, on the other hand, this can lead to a higher settlement offer. If you have experienced the wrongful death of a loved one because of a motorcycle accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuitto receive monetary compensation.
What Are the Common Causes of a Motorcycle Accident?
According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you are 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident. Motorcycle accidents do not necessarily happen more often than car accidents, but since motorcycles lack the enclosed protection that vehicles have, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer from serious or fatal injuries when they are involved in a collision. For this very reason, California has a universal helmet law that requires all riders and passengers to wear a helmet, and those who fail to do so could be fined. Studies show that safety helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
The following are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Driving under the Influence (DUI) - In many cases, filing a civil case will be in addition to the criminal charges against the negligent drunk driver.
- Dangerous road conditions and hazards- Unsafe road conditions, such as potholes can be the cause of an accident. In these cases, the motorcyclist can file a claim with the city or state to receive compensation for the damages. Filing a claim or lawsuit with the government requires a different process than a regular civil case. Government claims are much more time sensitive. The statute of limitation is six months, with the point being to alert the city of the hazard. There As mentioned government entities are protected by what is called sovereign immunity, which means that any public entity is not liable for personal injury. However, in California you are still able to file a claim, and it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney if you have been injured on government property.
- Head on collision- Accounts for 56% of motorcycle accidents. These types of accidents are often fatal for the motorcyclist. Left turn accidents (frontal collisions [web link]): This type of collision occurs when a vehicle fails to see or yield for a motorcyclist when completing a left turn. Frontal collisions account for 42% of all motorcycle accidents involving a vehicle.
- Motorcycle lane splitting- This is often seen during peak traffic hours when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of stopped traffic. Under California Law, lane splitting is not illegal if done in a “safe and prudent manner.” However, motorcyclists can still be fined if found operating a motorcycle in a reckless and negligent manner. All are expected to obey the same traffic rules as other drivers and are encouraged to exercise extreme caution. Nevertheless, if a motorcyclist is found partially at fault for a collision, it does not mean that the motorcyclist is not eligible for compensation. Instead, the biker is deemed partially at fault for the collision since California is a comparative fault state. This means that the motorcyclist will receive a reduced amount of compensation.
- Distracted Driving: A study by Social Science & Medicine discovered that strict state law bans on cell phone usage reduce motorcycle fatalities by 11%. Distracted driving includes:
- Texting and driving
- Phone usage
- Changing music
- Eating and driving
What are the common injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident?
- Road Rash
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck Injuries
Who is at fault in a motorcycle accident?
The person at fault, the defendant, will be found liable for the injuries sustained. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when filing a motorcycle accident—in some cases, there can be more than one party at fault. In California, the comparative fault law allows for the injured victim to be partially compensated, even if they too were negligent in some way leading up to the collision.
Those responsible for a motorcycle accident could include:
- City/ government
What should I do after a motorcycle crash?
We understand that filing a lawsuit will not remove all pain and suffering, but it will help alleviate and compensate the victim of all costs and damages. In order to do so, there are important steps that must be taken to recover from the damages.
- Medical attention- Before contacting a lawyer or your insurance company, it is essential that those involved in an accident seek medical attention if they are injured. Even if you feel that you are not injured, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a doctor, especially after a motorcycle accident. Many times, even if you think you feel “fine” right after the crash, it is possible that days later you might wake up with neck, back, or head injury symptoms. The sooner you receive treatment and take preventative measures, the sooner you will recover.
- Make, model, and color of vehicle at-fault
- License Plate number
Call the police
- File a police report
- Do not say anything that would be misinterpreted as you admitting fault.
- Contact your insurance—Even if the other driver is at fault—inform your insurance company of the accident.
Who pays for the damages?
Even if both parties are ensured it is a rare occurrence that the insurance company will compensate you for what is fair. If you were injured, you have the right to expect compensation from the person at fault. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident it is important that you prove the at-fault driver’s negligence, so that you have a painless and speedy recovery. As mentioned before, motorcyclists are stereotyped as reckless and careless, therefore, insurance companies do everything in their power to mitigate the defendant’s liability and minimize the amount that they will compensate for the injuries.
The damages in a motorcycle accident could include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Medical expenses
- Hospital bills
- Pain and suffering
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
In order to receive the compensation that you deserve, you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. This is a complex process that requires high attention to detail to ensure that you are not burdened with expenses that you should not have to pay. Our firm is highly experienced in insurance policies and accident litigation. We urge you to speak to a lawyer before filing a claim. For further questions about motorcycle accident lawsuits in California or to further discuss you case please request a consultation on our site or call us at (510) 988-5566