Numbers do not lie, motorcycle accidents carry more risk than car accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, per vehicle mile traveled in 2015, motorcyclist fatalities occurred nearly 29 times more frequently than passenger cars. In addition, motorcyclists have 16 times the rate of serious and fatal injuries when compared with automobile accidents.
Truth be told, most motorcyclists know that there is heightened risk and that is part of the allure and thrill of riding. You can fight back if you are involved in an accident and we will help you navigate the process.Parties Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents can become complicated quickly because of the tendency to place the blame on the motorcyclist. This is an unfair assumption and the truth of the accident’s fault can only be found through proper investigation of the facts. With many parties involved, it will require many levels of legal expertise. If you are injured in an accident, you do have rights and may have cause to sue. Before you can proceed with your case it is important to know who may be liable:
- Drivers Involved: Starting with the drivers and riders involved in the accident is a key place to start. Determining the drivers and riders involved in the accident and the exact sequence of events will help determine who may be liable. Be sure to keep a detailed account of the events that occurred leading up to and including the accident.
- Manufacturers: If the motorcycle accident was due to damaged equipment or parts on the vehicle, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle and/or the manufacturer of the part or equipment that was faulty.
- Employers: If the vehicle at fault was engaged in driving duties for their job, such as truck drivers or rideshare drivers, then the driver’s employer could be held liable
- Government: If the infrastructure of highways or conditions of a road caused the motorcycle accident, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible government authority. However, this type of case is difficult and requires relentless, knowledgeable attorneys.
Reviewing the facts with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney will help you understand your rights in pursuing a case against the parties liable for your accident.Common Reasons of Motorcycle Accidents
- Riding Skills: A high number of motorcycle accidents are caused due to newly minted rider’s skills. Using a motorcycle takes so much more skill than usual driving of a vehicle. This skill has to be developed over time and consistent riding. In contrast to a typical car, motorcycle riding has more exposure to the elements such as wind, temperature, and debris, increasing the chances of an accident. With all these items combined, the consequences of making a mistake are much riskier for an inexperienced rider.
- Visual Recognition: Given the smaller size of a motorcycle, its speed and agility, they can zip and weave through lanes before you even know it. On occasion, a vehicle may not recognize a bike so close to them, sometimes before it is too late. If you factor in reduced visibility at night, inclement weather, and blind spots, the stage begins to be set for an accident.
- High-Speed Risks: Have you ever noticed a motorcycle driver try to stop suddenly and starts to wobble? This is often referred to as the “speed wobbles” a misalignment of the tires stopping suddenly and the equilibrium of the vehicle starts to go off balance. This may not always cause an accident, but it does pose an additional risk, especially if other drivers on the road react to this.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Failing to properly use mirrors when changes lanes
- Failure of safety and signaling equipment like turn signals
- Installation of defective parts
- Failure to replace defective or damaged parts
If you have experienced a motorcycle crash, it is important to remain calm and immediately take care of several important concerns.
- Check for injured parties and call for assistance as needed
- Make sure you and other parties involved move out of the roadways to avoid potential further danger
- Set up warning signals for oncoming traffic such as flares or vehicle hazard lights
- Exchange insurance information with the other involved parties
- Collect contact information for any available witnesses
- Take pictures of the scene and any injuries – but do not get in the way of a police investigation
- Document everything – take note of times, locations, events as they occurred
- Keep records – this includes police records, your notes from the event, medical records, and all other pertinent information
Just like in a typical vehicle accident, an investigation has to determine who is at fault for a motorcycle accident. If both parties are to some degree at fault, there may be partial negligence attributed to both. From here, they will need to decide to what degree each is liable for damages. In most cases, motorcycle accidents will fall under product liability law, as manufacturer errors are quite serious for these types of vehicles, more so than for standard, enclosed vehicles. If your motorcycle experienced a malfunction, you may be entitled to compensation.
Other parties can also be found at fault for behaviors that take place afterwards. For example, a hit-and-run circumstance would carry with it its own liability, regardless of whether that party was also at fault for the crash itself.Case Law
California laws regarding motorcyclists are among the strictest in the nation. California codes dictate what safety gear must be worn and the legal requirements of manufactured motorcycles. Similar to cars, motorcycles must carry minimum levels of insurance.
Interestingly, despite incredibly stringent regulations, California does allow for ‘lane splitting.’ Lane splitting is when motorcycles share lanes with vehicles moving in the same direction along the roadway.Important Things to Consider
- Licensure: All motorcycle operators are required to maintain the proper license.
- Safety equipment: Proper protective gear must be worn at all times, including: helmets, daytime headlights for all motorcycles manufactured after 1978, and helmet speakers must be restricted to single earphone only.
Just like in any other vehicle accident, an investigation has to determine who is at fault for a motorcycle accident. If both parties are each at fault to some degree then there may be partial negligence attributed to both. This is because California law allows for multiple allocation of liability. Then it will need to be determined to what degree each party is liable for damages. In some cases, motorcycle accidents will fall under product liability law because manufacturer errors are quite serious for these types of vehicles.Motorcycle Accident Case Trends in Los Angeles
Motorcycle crashes have statistically risen when gas prices rise. Although exact reasons are not known, it is believed that when gas prices rise more people take out their motorcycles to save money. A recent accident, which involved a motorcyclist who was lane-splitting when the accident occurred, received a settlement award of $3.7 million.Frequently Asked Questions
What if I’m Told that it’s my Fault Because I’m a Motorcyclist?
Unfortunately, there is a bias against motorcycle operators in the case of vehicle crashes. This is not only unfair, it is also unfounded. Speaking with an experienced attorney will help you determine your fair compensation claims under California law.
How Long Will it Take Before my Case Receives Settlement?
This can be difficult to predict without a thorough consultation. Depending on factors like injury severity and parties at fault, cases can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
How Long do I Have to File a Motorcycle Claim?
California law dictates the statute of limitations for all accidents. Generally, you have two years to file a lawsuit against liable parties for personal injuries and other damages received from an accident.
However, claims against government agencies have a much shorter statute of limitations: 6 months.Let us Help You
Motorcycles are unique types of vehicles and they carry a unique set of laws. We are here to help you map out this road and advise if you have a case. Give us a call to find out more.