Motorists in California have a legal duty to demonstrate reasonable care behind the wheel and that means being mindful of the other vehicles they are expected to safely share the road with. Unfortunately, not all drivers respect the rights of their fellow motorists, namely motorcyclists, who are uniquely vulnerable to serious harm caused by negligent drivers and road hazards. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 80% of all reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death to the motorcyclist, whose vehicle lacks the crashworthiness and occupant protection features of an automobile. If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident in California, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the negligent person or entity whose actions or lack of action caused or contributed to your injuries. Contact our motorcycle accident lawyers today to find out what your claim is worth.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The basis of all personal injury cases in California is negligence, or the failure of a person or entity to use reasonable care to prevent harm to another person. In order to recover compensation following a California motorcycle accident, you must be able to show that the person or entity at fault for the accident was negligent or careless and that his or her actions caused your injuries. The following are some common ways in which the negligent actions of others can cause a serious motorcycle accident:
- Changing lanes without checking blind spots
- Brake checking motorcyclists behind them
- Driving aggressively or recklessly
- Driving above the posted speed limit
- Accelerating to beat a red light
- Failure to visually recognize motorcycles
Hazardous road conditions or improperly maintained roadways
- Oil slicks
- Uneven pavement
- Icy roadways
Manufacturing, design or marketing defects
- Misalignment of the front and rear tires
- Inadequate safety warnings
- Improper brake installation
- Tire blowouts
- Fuel system defects
- Inherently dangerous design
In order to prevail in your motorcycle accident case, you must be able to prove that the at-fault person or party (the defendant) owed you a duty of care to act in a reasonably cautious manner, the defendant breached that duty, the breach of duty caused your injuries, and the injuries you sustained resulted in actual damages (i.e. lost wages, medical expenses, emotional trauma, etc.)
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Any motor vehicle accident can result in severe injury or death, but motorcycle accidents tend to be some of the most serious. Motorcycles offer riders little in the way of injury protection and they aren’t always able to stop as quickly as other vehicles to prevent an accident from occurring. A collision with a motor vehicle may cause the motorcyclist to be ejected from the vehicle, which increases the risk of severe, potentially fatal injuries. The following are some of the most common injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents:
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head and neck injury
- Back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Permanent disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Who is Liable for Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
If you have suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, you are probably wondering who is liable for your injuries and how you can recover compensation from the negligent person or party. The truth is that proving liability in a personal injury case can be complicated. There are a number of factors that can come into play when determining who is at fault in a motorcycle accident case, most importantly who or what caused or contributed to the accident. For instance, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident with a drunk driver, you may have a negligence claim against the drunk driver for any injuries you sustain in the accident. However, if you hit a large pothole in the road and the pothole causes you to lose control of your motorcycle and hit another vehicle, you may be able to hold the government entity responsible for maintaining a safe roadway accountable for your injuries. Alternatively, if a defective motorcycle design or faulty part causes or contributes to a crash, the motorcycle company, parts manufacturer or maintenance company may be responsible for any injuries that occur.
Shared Fault in California Motorcycle Accidents
There are some situations in which a defendant may claim that the injured person is partially to blame for the motorcycle accident that caused his or her injuries. Imagine for a moment that, while riding your motorcycle, you are struck by a motorist who blatantly ran a red light, but you happened to be driving a few miles over the posted speed limit at the time. The motorist may claim that, because you were speeding, you share some level of liability for the accident. In shared fault injury cases, California follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule. What that means is, the total amount of compensation you are entitled to receive for your motorcycle accident injuries will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the collision. For instance, if you share 20% of the blame for the motorcycle accident and your total damages amount to $10,000, the maximum amount of compensation you can recover is $8,000, or $10,000 minus the $2,000 that represents your level of liability for the accident.
Our Skilled Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Can Help
Many people assume that motorcyclists are all about speed and adrenaline and because of that unfair stereotype, motorcyclists often end up being blamed for accidents that aren’t their fault. In fact, 80% of motorcycle accidents are caused by someone else’s negligence, yet motorcyclists are 40% more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than drivers of motor vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured in a California motorcycle accident, contact our firm today for a free initial consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are here to help you navigate the process of filing a claim and pursuing the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We have years of experience determining liability in motorcycle accidents and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions and we will get to work on your claim right away.