Riding a motorcycle brings a lot of thrill. However, there are a lot of risks associated with riding a bike due to the lack of enough cover from obstacles hence a large number of motorcycle accidents every year. Not all motorcycle accidents result from the faults of the rider. Many accidents occur because of other people or events can lead to an accident.
These situations call for compensation from the at-fault party. This cannot be achieved without the help of a professional personal injury attorney. Our team of credible attorneys at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm will work to secure your compensation claims.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles can experience different types of accidents. This depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the cause of the accident. Common types of motorcycle accidents include:
Head-on-collision counts for about half of the deaths involved in riding a motorcycle. The majority of these accidents usually occur between a vehicle and a bike. In this accident, the car or the bike must be moving in the wrong lane. A head-on collision often leads to fatal injuries due to the impact between the vehicle and the motorcycle.
Left-Hand Turn Accidents
A left-hand turn accident usually occurs when a motorcyclist is trying to pass a vehicle, traveling through an intersection, or when attempting to overtake a car. It is hard for a driver to notice the motorcycle due to their small size. This is common with truck drivers. As a result, the driver ends up hitting the bike due to the unexpected maneuver of the bike.
A rear-end collision occurs when a motorcycle hits a vehicle from its back or vice versa. This is common when the car or the bike is speeding and ends up hitting the other vehicle. It also happens when the brakes fail to work or to underestimate the braking distance.
Motorcycles are prone to skidding, sliding, and tipping. Therefore, a rider can end up getting into a single-motorcycle accident. It can be hard to determine how you will get compensated out of such a situation. Still, issues such as poor road conditions can be a reasonable cause of this kind of accident, making the responsible state department liable for the accident.
Sideswipe is a type of accident that occurs when two moving objects are in one direction. In this type of accident, the driver or motorcyclist fails to check blind spots when changing lanes end up hitting the other on the side. This is common in highways with multiple lanes.
Hitting an Object
Since motorcycles can quickly lose control, there are risks of hitting various objects along the highway. This goes from electricity poles, traffic lights, highway barriers, and so on. This kind of accident can lead to severe injuries, especially if it happens on a busy highway.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Several reasons can be associated with motorcycle accidents. All these reasons vary from human error, mechanical problems, and other factors. Let’s have a look at the common causes of motorcycle accidents in California.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence makes a driver fail to make the right decisions while on the road. This eventually leads to an accident with any incoming motorcycle or one that you are sharing the same path with. This can also happen to a motorcyclist who is under the influence.
Notorious motorcyclists usually find fun when splitting on lanes. This is quite dangerous and can lead to a severe accident. Drivers on highways try as much as possible to maintain a constant speed and cannot easily break their vehicles when a motorcycle suddenly appears at the front. Lane splitting does not only cause an accident to the motorcyclist but can also lead to multiple collisions.
Most rear-end collisions occur as a result of a sudden stoppage of vehicles moving in the same direction as a motorcycle. If a bike is riding too close to a car, it will be hard to make a sudden stop. That’s the reason why motorcyclists are asked to maintain a safe distance when following a vehicle.
Unsafe Changing of Lanes
Drivers can also cause accidents with motorcycles when they change from one lane to the other without care. This can easily lead to a sideswipe collision with a bike riding in the same direction as you. In these cases, drivers usually miscalculate the space between themselves and the bike or vehicle in front or due to blind spots.
The right of way is usually misjudged or miscalculated by motorists on the road. In most cases, motorcyclists assume that they have the right of way compared with vehicles, only to find themselves in a collision. In that case, it is recommended to allow the car that has the right of way the chance to move to avoid this situation.
Failure to Yield
When a driver fails to yield in a stoplight or a stop sign, there are high chances of causing an accident with a motorcycle that has the right of way. Such accidents can also occur when a driver decides to roll through a four-way stop junction when he or she does not have the right of way.
Sometimes drivers drive recklessly without regard to other motorists on the road. Therefore, they do not give the right signals or warn motorcyclists of what is at the front when they have blocked their visibility. As a result, this leads to different types of accidents. The same situation applies to bikers who love riding with rage.
Speeding can affect the motorcyclist or the driver. It is hard to bring a vehicle or bike to a stop within a short timeline while on speed. Therefore, the possibility of an accident is inevitable, no matter how much one tries to avoid one.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Sometimes motorists maintain due caution in their operations only to be disappointed by the condition of the roads they are using. Factors such as poor signaling, potholes, and poor retraction are significant hazards that can lead to motorcycle accidents.
Poorly maintained motorcycles have the likelihood of causing an accident. For instance, if the brakes are not working well, there are chances of leading to a rear-end collision if one is speeding. Other mechanical issues that are associated with motorcycle accidents include:
- Chain slip or broken chain
- Contamination of the fuel lines
- Corrosion of the battery terminals
- A defective or broken steering mechanism
Sudden Opening of a Car Door
If you are riding a vehicle along a street that utilizes street line parking, you might end up hitting an open car door if you are on speed. This usually happens when drivers or vehicle occupants are unaware of an oncoming motorcycle and end up opening the doors of their vehicle to let themselves out. In such a situation, it is advisable to avoid riding a car through heavy traffic and parked cars.
Riding on a rainy day can be dangerous. Your motorcycle can easily skid, especially if it has worn-out tires. This does not happen only during days, but can also occur when it is snowing.
Gravel or Stones
Gravels are not rider-friendly. They can easily lead to a motorcycle accident when one is hitting a blind corner. Other objects that can lead to an accident during a blind corner include sand, leaves, dung, or any other object that comes along your path.
Riding with Unruly Bikers
If you love riding with unruly bikers, there are high chances of incurring an accident due to their behavior. Any mistake that one of the riders might make can cause accidents to members of the group and other vehicles on the highway as well.
Catastrophic Injuries Sustained from Motorcycle Accidents
Under US Code 42 section 3798b, catastrophic injuries are defined as injuries that can derail the life of a person, relationship, and family. It also describes it as an injury that prevents the victim from performing any gainful work in the future.
Catastrophic injuries are different from other types of injuries since the victim often requires extensive medical care, therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care. In some cases, the victim might not entirely recover from the injuries, leading to a substantial financial burden to people close to him or her. Here is a detailed view of the common types of catastrophic injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a type of injury that affects the head of an accident victim. It is one of the fatal accidents that can affect a motorcyclist due to the severity of its symptoms. These symptoms include loss of consciousness, coma, paralysis, confusion, speech difficulty, and loss of bladder and bowel control.
There is a medication that can prevent Traumatic brain damage since such an injury involves nerve damage. However, most victims lose consciousness and are placed in ICUs to prevent further injury to the brain. Putting someone in ICU is expensive hence the need to seek compensation.
Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury involves the damage of the spinal cord, leading to temporary or permanent changes. Symptoms include loss of sensation, autonomic functions, and muscle functions.
Spinal cord injuries can lead to urinary incontinence, paralysis, breathing problems, infections, muscle atrophy, and pressure sores. These conditions need long-term care, which requires substantial financial input.
Severe fractures occur in the hands and the legs. Common types of severe fractures include:
- Comminuted fracture, where the bones shatter into different fragments
- Impacted fracture, which involves one fragment of the bone going to the other.
Severe fractures are quite expensive to treat and can lead to long term effects such as change of the gait. Therefore, anyone who suffers from such injuries should seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Disfigurement can be explained by the permanent change of a victim’s appearance. The primary form of disfigurement in a motorcycle accident is the loss of a limb. Doctors usually decide to amputate a motorcycle victim to avoid the possibility of infection. This will lead to a lifetime effect on the victim and the need to adopt prosthetics to accommodate the amputated limb. Also, such victims require rehabilitation, which collectively is quite expensive to afford.
Neck injuries are similar to spinal cord injuries, although several types are associated with the neck area. Severe neck injuries include herniated disc and cervical dislocation.
Most of the effects exhibited from severe neck injuries are similar to spinal cord injuries. This includes effects such as incontinence, paralysis, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and so on. These are long term effects and can incur a lot of expenses to deal with them. That’s why victims suffering from this sort of accident should seek compensation.
Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
It can be complicated to establish liability in a California motorcycle accident. However, a victim can hold three parties liable for the accident other than themselves. This includes other road users, the government, and the motorcycle manufacturer. Despite the party that you want to hold liable, the essential aspect to consider would be whether the party is directly associated with the accident. If the party is a driver, you should check whether he or she led to the accident due to negligence.
California’s Negligence Law
After you have incurred an accident with another driver, it might be hard to determine who’s liable for the accident. However, California’s Negligence Law establishes that the driver can be held responsible for the accident as long as he or she acted negligently hence the car-motorcycle accident that you were involved in.
To recover damages after a car-motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist or surviving members of the family should show that the driver was negligent. The elements of negligence include:
- The driver owed the rider a duty of care
- The driver breached the duty of care through his or her negligence
- The neglect of the driver counts as a substantial reason why the motorcyclist sustained catastrophic injuries.
Drivers do not necessarily have to know whether they owe the motorcyclist a duty of care or not. Generally, if one is operating a vehicle, he or she owes a duty of care to other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers, and motorcyclists. Therefore, if the driver does not act reasonably, this would cause an accident, putting him or her liable for the accident.
Negligence Per Se
In some cases, an injured motorcyclist does not have to show that the other driver was negligent in claiming compensation after a motorcycle accident. If the driver violates traffic laws and ends up causing an accident due to such an action, the driver may be accused of Negligence Per se.
Under California laws, Negligence Per se is considered based on the violation of a:
- A law
- An ordinance, such as in a traffic violation
- A statute
For one to prove Negligence Per se, he or she must show that:
- The defendant was violating a regulation, an ordination, or a statute
- The violation led to the injuries or death of the respective person or property
- The death or injury resulted from the breach of a law, regulation, or ordinance, that is designed to avoid or protect
- The person suffering from the injuries or death was a member of the state that the statute, regulations, or ordinances are meant to serve
Some of the traffic violation that leads to negligence per ser include:
- Texting while driving
- Following too closely
- Running a stop sign
- Texting while driving
- Reckless driving
- Failing to make the right vehicle repairs
California’s Comparative Negligence Law
In some cases, the motorcyclist might take the blame for an accident in one way or another. In such a case, California’s Comparative Negligence Law applies. Under this law, both parties share the blame for the accident and pay the percentage of their fault.
For instance, if you are 30% partly faulty of the accident, you will have to reimburse 30% of the total damages incurred in the accident to the other party. On the other hand, the other party should compensate for 70% of the total losses, which is his or her percentage fault of the accident.
Please note, this applies even if you have 99% blame on the accident. You are still eligible for the 1% fault of the other party.
California’s Product Liability Law
In other circumstances, your motorcycle accident might result from a defective product on your bike. In such a situation, you need to hold anyone responsible for the motorcycle. This includes the manufacturer, the seller, part supplier, and so on.
In a product liability case, you do not have to prove that the company was negligent, but should prove the strict liability of the motorcycle defect. This can be imposed on the:
- The design defect
- The manufacturing defect
- Failure to warn users about any defect
In a product liability case, you need several aspects to recover your damages. This includes:
- The defendant (who in this case might be the manufacturer or seller), manufactured or sold a defective product
- The product (motorcycle) had a defect when leaving the possession of the defendant
- You suffered harm as a result of the defect
Recoverable Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
Damages are the financial losses that result from an accident. In a motorcycle accident that results in catastrophic injuries, a victim is eligible for compensatory damages. However, if the motorcyclist passed on as a result of the injuries sustained from the losses, the surviving members are eligible for compensation for wrongful death. Here is a breakdown of both compensatory damages and wrongful death compensation.
Compensatory damages can either be economic or non-economic. Economic losses are those types of damages that a claimant can put a financial value on. This means that they are quite straightforward and easy to calculate. Examples of economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and occupation therapy.
Medical damages involve bills that arise from the treatment of your catastrophic injuries. They also include future medical expenses due to the nature of the injuries involved in this case. For the court to award this kind of damages, the plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence that proves that he or she suffered medical losses as a result of the motorcycle accident. This includes treatment bills, therapy bills, and testimony from an expert witness.
Lost Earning Capacity
A plaintiff can recover lost earning capacity if he or she proves his or her inability to make money due to the catastrophic injuries. It is easy to determine this kind of damages through testimonies from the expert witness. The expert witness will determine how much one should be compensated based on the plaintiff’s talents, life expectancy, past earning capacity, training, and health.
If a motorcycle accident victim was responsible for the provision of house services to his or her family, he or she deserves compensation for the same. This includes services such as housekeeping, gardening, and any other service that falls in the household budget.
Apart from economic damages, you can still claim compensation for non-economic damages. These are damages that are hard to determine their monetary value due to their nature. Common non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, scarring, and disfigurement.
Loss of Consortium
This damage is available for compensating spouses who have lost their partner’s companionship and intimate relationship.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering includes the emotional anguish, pain, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of activities, and worsening of previous injuries.
You are entitled to compensation if you lost your loved one in a motorcycle accident that resulted from the negligence of another driver. You can recover damages for your loved one as long as you are his or her spouse, parent, child, or step-child.
As a claimant, you can be compensated for your funeral expenses, future earnings, loss of consortium, among other things. Of course, money cannot be measured with the loss of a loved one, but it offers the financial assurance that you need for the future of your family.
Find an LA Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
It is pretty hard to recover all the damages that you deserve after incurring catastrophic injuries due to motorcycle accidents. However, with the help of a personal injury attorney, there are high chances of getting compensated. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm offers the best legal services to any victim suffering injuries after a motorcycle accident. If you are in Los Angeles, CA, contact us today at 310-935-0089 and let us handle your case.