Most motorcycle accidents are fatal, and the survivors of the ordeal could suffer severe injuries. If you or your loved one sustains injuries from a motorcycle accident, you will want to seek compensation from the person responsible for the accident. To get benefits in a motorcycle personal injury claim, you need to prove that someone else is liable for your injuries. That’s why it is essential to seek legal representation from The LA Personal Injury Law Firm. Our group of competent attorneys serves clients throughout Los Angeles, CA, to ensure you get maximum compensation in your motorcycle personal injury claim.
Overview of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are less visible, less stable, and have a high-performance capability compared to cars. This makes the motorcycle riders more prone to severe injuries in case of an accident. The percentage of motorcycle accident deaths are increasing rapidly. If you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, whoever is responsible for the accident will be held liable for your injuries. This could be:
- A driver of a vehicle who hits the motorcycle you are on causing an accident
- A pedestrian. Some people jump on the road in areas that do not have crossways. If a pedestrian appeared in front of the motorcycle cussing you to crush and suffer substantial injuries, you could file a personal injury claim against them.
- Another motorist. Motorcycles lack a protective body present in cars. In the case where another driver causes an accident, you can suffer severe injuries from the impact. The motorist who caused your accident is, therefore, liable for the injuries you suffered.
- The city. Some motorcycle accidents are as a result of poorly maintained roads. If any factor involving the road caused your accident, you could file a personal injury claim against the body responsible for maintaining the roads.
Before speaking to the other person’s insurance company, it is essential to consult a personal injury attorney. The insurance company may try offering you little compensation, but you should not accept it. Instead, file a personal injury lawsuit and allow the case to get solved legally.
What Should I Do After Involvement in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you get involved in a motorcycle accident, you are likely to suffer severe injuries. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you don’t notice any severe injuries, you should get checked by a doctor to rule out any internal injuries. The sooner you get medical attention, the better chance you have to treat any harm before it becomes severe.
You should also ensure that the medical records are kept safe since they will be necessary during compensation. After the accident, you should ensure you gather all vital information about the crash, including:
- Vehicle license of the other driver
- Name and contact details of all individuals who played a role in the accident
- Driver insurance information
- Vehicle identification number
- Names and contact numbers of witnesses who are willing to testify in your injury claim.
Also, you should ensure you take photos or videos of the accident scene while recording the vehicle information. If the other party involved in the accident refuses to cooperate, you should call the police. It is common for the person liable for your accident to try and make you admit fault for the accident. Anything you say may be taken as admitting guilt and could reduce the amount of compensation you receive in your injury lawsuit. Before discussing any legal matters with the person liable for the accident or even with the insurance company, consider contacting a personal injury attorney.
Injuries From a Motorcycle Accident
There are several ways a motorcycle accident can happen, including:
- Collision with a stationary object such as a signpost, or parked vehicle
- Vehicle merging into the motorcycle lane
- Uneven road conditions from poor construction or damage
- Malfunction of motorcycle parts
- Hazardous weather conditions
The extent and type of injury you suffer after a motorcycle accident will be dependent on the kind of accident and the level of impact. Failure to use protective equipment such as a helmet to increase the risk of severe injuries. The following are the most common injuries you are likely to suffer after a motorcycle accident:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can happen when your skull hits a hard surface. Even when your head does not fracture, the delicate brain tissues can get damaged from the inside and cause bleeding. Also, a brain injury can result from rapid whipping back and forth. If not diagnosed and treated early, a brain injury can become severe and lead to permanent brain damage.
After a motorcycle accident, there is a high chance you will get bone fractures. Motorcycle accidents can leave you with broken or even shattered bones as a result of impact with the other vehicle and with the ground. Although some bone injuries are minor and heal over time, severe bone breakage can cause long term consequences. If you get bone injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else, you are entitled to compensation for those injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The soft tissues are muscles, tendons as well as blood vessels. Although some of these tissues are self-healing, it is difficult to identify the specific site of injury. Some of these injuries are left untreated and thus cause you pain in the future. You need to ensure each pain you feel after the motorcycle accident is documented during medical checkups. This will increase your chances of compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
It is common to suffer severe injuries on your arms, legs, or fingers in a motorcycle accident. Some of these injuries can result in amputation or permanent loss of function of your limbs. This can have a significant impact on your life and your ability to lead a healthy life and go back to work.
Proving Liability in a Motorcycle Personal Injury Lawsuit
To get compensation in a motorcycle personal injury claim, you need to verify the other person’s liability for your injuries. There are different causes of increasing motorcycle accidents on our roads, including:
Negligence is one of the most common causes of accidents on our roads. To get compensation after a motorcycle accident, you need to show that the person liable for your injuries was negligent. The following are the elements of negligence:
- The driver owed you a duty of care on the road. The other driver does need to know you to owe you a duty of care. Each driver has the responsibility to ensure safety for other road users.
- The driver breached the duty of care by acting in a way that portrayed negligence. This is by failure to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances.
- The negligent act played a substantial role in causing the accident that led to your injuries.
After an accident, the person who caused the accident may try to get you to admit fault for the accident. If the other driver or motorist tries to blame you do not admit guilt but rather consult your injury attorney. This is because liability is a legal matter that should be settled in court. Under California’s comparative fault law, if you share the fault in the accident, you will still get compensation. The damages to be paid will equal the percentage of the other driver's fault.
In some cases, you might not be required to show negligence from the other driver. If the driver caused the accident while violating traffic laws that are intended to prevent such incidents. Under California law, this is considered ‘negligence per se” and is presumed on violation of the law, statute or an ordinance such as:
- Failure to yield
- Distracted driving
- Failure to stop on red lights
- Texting while driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance as well as
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
To prove negligence per se, you will be required to show that:
- The defendant violated a statute or ordinance
- The violation resulted in the accident and hence your injuries
- The statute or ordinance
- The statute that the defendant violated was designed to protect you from the particular accident which occurred.
- The person who suffered injury or death was a member of group meat to be protected by the statute.
Product Malfunction Liability
Malfunction is another cause of motorcycle accidents. Even when you are an experienced rider, it is difficult to predict a motorcycle malfunction. High speed on the machinery could cause gradual breakage of some parts making it difficult to stop before the accident occurs. Sometimes you may not be aware of the part that caused the malfunction of your motorcycle. The company or business who manufactured the defective part may be held liable for your injuries. In a product liability case, you will not need to show negligence but can provide proof of:
- Design defects which occur before the product is even made
- Manufacturing defects which occur during the production of the machines
- Failure to warn users of existing defects
To get compensation in a product malfunction personal injury claim, you have to show that:
- The defendant designed, manufactured, or sold you the defective product
- When the product left the defendant’s possession, it had a defect
- You reasonably used the product and as indicated in the instructions
- The defect caused your injuries.
Liability in Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions
Most four-wheeled vehicles can run well on rough road conditions like potholes and uneven pavements. On the other hand, motorcycles are more sensitive, and poor road conditions can result in loss of control and crash. The following are some conditions which increase the risk of motorcycle accidents :
- Water leakage along the roads
- Uneven sidewalks
- Loose gravel
- Damaged road signs
- Broken light posts
- Metal plate covering
- Cracked cement
The property owner must maintain it in the right conditions to ensure the road users are safe. Also, they are expected to do regular inspection and repair the damaged parts. If the property belongs to the city, the people responsible for maintaining it could be held liable for the injuries you suffered. When proving liability in a personal injury claim against the city or government, you are required to show the following:
- The city government-owned and controlled the property
- At the time of your accident, the property was in a dangerous condition
- The unsafe conditions created a foreseeable risk of the kind of injuries you suffered
- The city or county officials were aware of the condition, and neither did they repair it, or did they give a warning to the users.
- You suffered substantial injuries from the accident, and the dangerous conditions played a part in causing your injuries.
Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or your loved one suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation. A successful personal injury lawsuit may guarantee the following compensatory damages:
When another person breaches a duty of care, and they are found legally liable for your injuries, they are responsible for your medical bills. While you wait for the lawsuit to get settled, you can pay your medical bills using private health insurance or government insurance. If you don’t have an insurance plan, you will get a reasonable discount or a repayment plan as stipulated by the law. Also, you can choose to get treatment from a doctor who operates on a lien basis and pay them after the settlement. Also, you will get compensation for the transport you used to travel ad seek medical attention.
However, you will have to settle the bills exceeding the amount you recover from the personal injury lawsuit. If you win your injury lawsuit, private and government insurers have a right to be reimbursed from the lawsuit proceedings. However, this will only apply if you get the money from the party liable for your injuries.
Before you get compensated for your medical bills, the other person’s insurer will require a copy of your medical records. You need to ensure all treatment you underwent is recorded since it will act as crucial evidence in your injury lawsuit. The insurer will also need to see your previous medical records to ensure that the injury resulted from the motorcycle accident. However, it is crucial to understand that if the accident worsened your pre-existing injuries, you are also entitled to compensation.
In California, lost wages are all amounts that could have been earned by the injured person if they hadn’t been involved in the motorcycle accident. Lost wages could be:
- Regular hourly pay or monthly salary
- Overtime pay
- Self-employment income
- Vacation or sick days
You have two years to file a motorcycle personal injury lawsuit. However, some types of injuries have different statutes of limitation, which could be shorter or longer. California law requires you to show proof of the number of earnings you claim to have lost. When you suffer short time injuries, the calculation of lost wages could be quite straightforward. However, if you are paid on a performance basis, you will require testimony from an accounting expert. There are different ways of proving lost wages in California.
If you have a regular job, you can show lost wages by writing a letter indicating your job title, the number of hours you work and the rate at which you are paid for your work. To prove lost earnings from self-employment, you should show proof of what you would have been doing during the period you were injured. For individuals with high incomes, an experienced forensic expert is required to testify.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity is the loss of your ability to earn money in the future. Unlike the lost wages, it is difficult to prove the loss of future earning capacity since it has not yet occurred. That’s why it is essential to seek legal representation. To get compensation for a lost earning capacity, you don’t need to have a permanent injury. Lost earning capacity will be awarded if your injuries do not resolve before the settlement day.
Lost earning capacity to be compensated is the difference between what you make and what you would have earned if you had not been injured. Future lost earning capacity must be specific for you to recover in a personal injury case. Proof of past income can be shown through your previous tax returns, pay stubs as well as your employer’s letters. Also, your doctor or therapists report will be of importance in this claim. The following factors will affect the calculation of lost future earning capacity:
- The period you are damaged by the injuries
- When you are expected to return to your regular job
- Your age and life expectancy before the injury
- Your past earnings and their nature
- Your long term employment goals regarding your company policies on promotion raises and other benefits.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is the loss of companionship, love as well as moral support from a loved one who suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle accident. If the injury that your spouse suffers is permanent, you will receive the damages until the anticipated end of life. In this way, the spouses do not suffer from reduced life expectancy. To receive damages for the lost consortium, you must prove the following things:
- You must show that you were legally married to the victim or are registered as a domestic partner. If the injuries occurred before you got married, then you cannot get compensated.
- To prevail in the personal injury claim, you will need to show that your spouse suffered injuries from another party’s negligence or reckless behavior
- Showing the lost consortium. Proving damages is challenging and uncomfortable. Although it is about your loss, the change of behavior of the injured party has to be shown.
- The loss of consortium was as a result of the injuries from the motorcycle accident. If there is another reason behind the damage, you cannot claim compensation.
Pain and Suffering
There is no specific way of calculating pain and suffering. You will prove that the injuries have caused you harm or are likely to cause distress in the future. The court will evaluate your evidence and determine the amount you are entitled to as compensation for pain and suffering. You do not need to suffer a physical injury for you to be compensated for pain and suffering. Sometimes an accident may not cause you physical pain but can cause emotional scarring. However, the value of the pain and suffering settlement will be determined by the severity of other injuries and the percentage of fault of the other party.
Wrongful Death Personal Injury Lawsuit
If your loved one is killed in a motorcycle accident or succumbs to death from the injuries, you can file a wrongful death claim. Under California wrongful death law, family members of the deceased who are eligible to file a wrongful death claim are:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving domestic partner
- Any biological or legally adopted children
- Grandchildren in case the children are deceased
- Any other person who has the legal right to the deceased’s property under California succession laws.
A successful wrongful death claim for your loved one will see you get compensation for:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost financial earnings that the deceased would have brought to the family if they survived the accident
- Compensation for lost support and companionship that was provided by the deceased.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident where someone else was at fault for the accident, you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you suffer. You can recover these damages in a successful personal injury lawsuit against the person liable for the accident. It will be wise to consult a personal injury attorney to increase your chances of winning the personal injury claim. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we are ready to guide you for the best possible outcome in your claim. Contact our Los Angeles personal injury lawyer today at 310-935-0089 to discuss more details of your claim.