One of the best parts of living in southern California is the weather, which allows residents to enjoy outdoor activities all year long. One such activity is riding a motorcycle, which as any avid rider will tell you, is one of the most exhilarating ways to enjoy our beautiful weather and the scenery. In fact, there are more registered motorcycles in California, than in any other state, with almost 814,000.
An unfortunate result of having more motorcyclists on the road is there will be more chances for them to be injured in a motorcycle crash. If you have suffered an injury on the road, call Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney Joshua Glotzer today for a free consultation. We have 20 years experience helping our clients collect compensation.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Assist You After a Motorcycle Accident
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer understands the obstacles motorcycle crash victims and their families face following a wreck. For victims or families who lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, there is nothing that will ever make them whole again, but having an advocate fighting on their behalf can help, including:
- Having someone on their side who can take the burden of negotiating with insurance companies and taking legal action off their shoulders so that they can concentrate on their health and/or family’s well being;
- Making sure that an insurance company makes a fair offer to settle a case including filing a lawsuit and taking a case to trial if an insurance company fails to negotiate a settlement in good faith;
- Assisting them in bringing those at fault for their pain and suffering to justice;
- Only charging for legal services if the attorney is able to obtain a recovery for their injured client;
- Enabling them to prevent others from having to suffer like they have; and
- Allowing victims to afford the medical expenses necessary to have the highest quality of life possible after suffering a catastrophic injury.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney knows the law governing complicated legal issues and can help you obtain the compensation and results that you’re entitled to under California law. Insurance companies often avoid telling injured motorcyclists about comparative fault and will deny a claim outright if the injured victim is not represented by an attorney.
The insurance company will usually blame the motorcyclist, maintaining that they split lanes, ran around a car, or that they made an illegal turn. They will then deny liability and the injured motorcyclist won’t know that they’re entitled to compensation.
Who is Liable for Your Motorcycle Accident?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, who is responsible? In the vast majority of accidents involving a motorcycle and an automobile, the driver of the automobile is found to have violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way, or simply failed to see the biker. The primary factors involved in motorcycle collisions are automobile drivers who:
- Fail to see the motorcyclist;
- See the motorcyclist, but vastly underestimate the speed at which the biker is traveling;
- Fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists;
- Have no understanding of how to safely share the road with motorcyclists;
- Tailgate motorcyclists, and
- Change lanes or back out of a parking spot without checking for motorcyclists.
When a driver makes a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist because he or she either fails to see the motorcyclist, or underestimates the speed at which the motorcyclists is traveling, the consequences are likely to be tragic. Drivers who hit motorcyclists could also be exceeding the speed limit, may be distracted, or may be driving while fatigued—any of which could result in a serious accident with extremely severe injuries to the motorcyclists.
What Compensation Could You Receive for Your Injuries?
The actual compensation you could receive for the injuries sustained in your motorcycle accident are dependent on the circumstances surrounding your accident and the level of injury you sustained. You may be entitled to one or more of the following damages:
- Your medical expenses, past, present and future, related to your motorcycle accident could be compensated. These medical expenses could include emergency room charges, hospital expenses, surgical procedures, the cost of rehabilitative services or assistive devices, prescription drugs and other medical expenses related to your accident.
- If you were unable to return to work following your motorcycle accident, you could be entitled to recover lost wages. If your injuries were severe enough that you will never be able to return to work, you could be compensated for future lost income.
- Pain and suffering damages could be owed to you as compensation for the physical pain you suffered as a result of the injuries sustained in your motorcycle accident. The type of injury, the level of pain, and how long that pain can reasonably be expected to continue will factor into these damages.
- If you suffered a catastrophic injury such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, you could be entitled to damages for the mental pain and anguish you have suffered.
- In some instances, your uninjured spouse could be entitled to recover damages for loss of marital companionship, sexual relations, comfort and affection—also known as loss of consortium.
- In the event of death, certain family members and relatives can pursue a wrongful death claim
- Finally, if your accident was the result of deliberate or malicious actions by another person, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
Additional Sources of Compensation After Your Motorcycle Accident
If the other driver in your motorcycle accident was negligent, or failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care, you may be able to seek damages. Your motorcycle accident could also have been caused by a defective motorcycle or motorcycle part, in which case you could pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
If faulty design, manufacturing or labeling was responsible for your accident and subsequent injuries, your attorney will show what specific defect caused your accident and how. Experts may be brought in to thoroughly analyze the accident, as it must also be shown you were operating the motorcycle as it was intended to be operated.
Potential Liability of Motorcycle Driver
Accidents can sometimes involve motorcycles with issues such as lane splitting, cutting off other cars, and going into bicycle lanes to make turns. At times, the person driving the motorcycle may have some liability for the accident. In these cases, the injured motorcyclist may still be entitled to compensation because California is a comparative fault state.
Assuming a person has a million dollars’ worth of injuries, and a court or jury should finds that a Plaintiff motorcycle rider is 20% at fault, they will still be entitled to $800,000 in compensation. An experienced motorcycle lawyer can still maximize recovery even with a finding of some fault, whether at 50%, 80%, or 99% recovery. The amount we recover can have a positive impact on the motorcyclist’s life.
Los Angeles Motorcycle Accidents
According to the California Highway Patrol, California, and particularly Los Angeles, has seen an increase in motorcycle fatalities.
- In the state of California, motorcycle collisions and fatalities resulting from those collisions increased 23 percent from 2003 to 2012.
- Los Angeles County in particular saw a spike in motorcycle accidents—a 49 percent increase from 2003 to 2012.
- Many of those motorcycle accidents in Los Angeles County were particularly deadly, with 59 percent more motorcyclists killed in collisions in 2012 than in 2010.
Really, the only safety features afforded a motorcyclist—if the biker takes advantage of them—are a helmet and leathers to protect the limbs in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, only about half of all motorcyclists across the nation wear a helmet when they ride a motorcycle.
Motorcycle Accidents Nationwide
In 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported the following motorcycle accident data from the National Highway Safety Transportation:
- In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 4,668 people died in motorcycle crashes across the nation , a number which was actually down 6.4 percent from 2012.
- Injuries for motorcyclists across the U.S. were also down 5.4 percent from 93,000 in 2012 to 88,000 in 2013.
- Because of the lack of protection afforded motorcyclists, they are 26 times more likely than those in a passenger car to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured.
- Fewer motorcyclists—by a wide margin—die in states with motorcycle helmet laws. While motorcycle helmets do save lives, many states have dropped helmet laws, making wearing a helmet voluntary rather than mandatory.
How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?
No matter how well a motorcyclist rides, as with car and truck accidents, other factors, such as other drivers’ mistakes, could lead to them being involved in a wreck. While no definitive reason was found explaining why motorcycle wrecks and fatalities saw such a sharp rise in Los Angeles or throughout California, a few factors that could have contributed to these crashes are:
- A driver of a car or truck failing to look for or see a motorcyclist;
- Defective parts;
- Poor road conditions;
- Reckless driving and speeding by automobiles and trucks.
When Police Bias or Jury Bias Gets in the Way of Your Settlement
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are often seen as thrill-seekers who routinely exceed the speed limit and take unnecessary risks. Movies with motorcyclists don’t help this stereotype—think of “Easy Rider,” which depicts motorcyclists as free-spirited, law-flouting, drug-fueled outlaws. Some people think only of a gang, like the Diablos, when they think of motorcyclists. Despite the fact these are nothing more than stigmas and stereotypes, police officers and jurors may award a settlement to the motorcyclist based more on their beliefs about motorcyclists than on the actual facts of the case.
Especially if the motorcyclist was exceeding the speed limit or lane-splitting (which is legal in the state of California) the police officer may attribute fault to the biker where none exists A biased police report can literally stop your case in its tracks, before it even gets started. Because of this it is essential to have an attorney who understands the types of biases which exists against motorcyclists and knows how to overcome them.
Injuries Associated with Motorcycle Accidents
Unfortunately for motorcyclists, unlike those in cars and trucks, their vehicle provides them with very little protection during an accident. Motorcyclists’ vulnerability oftentimes result in them suffering catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or losing their lives in motorcycle crashes.
Spinal cord injuries and TBIs are life altering, with victims often never able to do many of the things they love ever again. Injuries such as these require a lifetime of costly and time-consuming care and treatment, with many patients unable to continue making a living in their chosen profession or, in some cases, any profession as a result.
As many as 98% of all motorcyclists involved in a collision are injured, at least to some degree. At least 45 percent of those injuries are serious. Additional statistics related to motorcycle injuries from a collision include:
- Almost half of the injuries sustained by motorcyclists in a collision are to the upper leg, lower leg, knee and ankle;
- Crash bars do not effectively reduce injury to the motorcyclist, they simply transfer the injuries from the ankles and feet to the upper thigh, leg and knee;
- About 13 percent of motorcycle collisions result in a groin injury to the biker;
- Traumatic brain injury and paralysis are the most serious injuries suffered by motorcyclists following a collision—when the head strikes unyielding pavement or another fixed object, head trauma and brain injury can result, and
- Other motorcycle injuries include bone breaks and fractures, internal organ injuries, limb amputation, severe road rash, neck and back injuries and disfigurement.
The Serious Nature of Road Rash
While there are many different injuries sustained by motorcyclists who are in an accident, one of those is road rash. Many people hear the term “road rash,” and think of a relatively minor injury following a motorcycle accident. Road rash is a term which encompasses the abrasions received by a motorcyclist when they are involved in a crash, thrown from the motorcycle and slide along an asphalt or gravel road.
While road rash has many degrees of severity, in some instances it can be extremely serious and even fatal should infection set in. Like burns, road rash is categorized according to severity, from first degree to third degree.
First Steps to Take after a Motorcycle Accident
Seek Medical Treatment
Motorcycle accidents often involve more serious injuries than auto accidents due to the strong physical contact a rider may experience with the road, other vehicles, or cement and concrete structures on the road. With or without a helmet, you may suffer serious brain injuries or fractures to the face, arms, back, shoulders, and legs in a motorcycle crash.
As in all motor vehicle accidents, the first thing to do following a motorcycle accident is to seek medical treatment to ensure that you are okay or to determine whether you need to go to the hospital emergency room or doctor right away.
Upon taking care of any injuries, you or a family member or friend should gather all information such as:
- Your insurance information
- Other party’s insurance information
- Details of your injuries
- Details of the other car
- Take pictures of the accident site, your motorcycle, and any other vehicles involved in the accident
Call a Lawyer
After gathering all information, call a lawyer as soon as possible. A motorcycle accident lawyer such as those at our firm will know what to do after a motorcycle accident. We can deal with your property damage, represent you before the insurance company, and fight for your rights to receive proper compensation for your:
- Personal injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Future pain and suffering
- Any future, past, or present lost income that you might have suffered as a result of the motorcycle accident
Speak to Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Motorcycle accident claims are among the more difficult type of claims to present to a jury. Your Los Angeles motorcycle attorney will not only understand the mechanics of motorcycle operation and the dynamics of a motorcycle accident, but also the laws pertaining to motorcycle accidents and the stereotypes necessary to overcome in order to have a positive outcome. Once your attorney has all the facts regarding your accident, he or she can file a claim on your behalf, build a strong case, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you at trial.
Post-accident related expenses for a motorcyclist can mount alarmingly; if you are unable to return to work, your regular monthly expenses may also be piling up. The compensation received in a motorcycle claim is meant to lessen your financial burden and assist you in rebuilding your life. Having an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner is essential to an equitable settlement.
Motorcycle Accident Resources
- Los Angeles Times Article on Motorcycle Fatalities
- Insurance Information Institute Motorcycle Crash Statistics 2016
- CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System
- Motorcycle Lane-Splitting and Safety in California
- California Highway Patrol Motorcycle Safety Info
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Review