Riding a motorcycle is the epitome of thrill. Nothing compares to the freedom, exhilaration, and joy that riders experience when on the road. With its sunny weather and beautiful winding roads, California has become a haven for motorcycle riders. Dwarfing all other states, California has nearly 825,000 registered motorcycles. With this high number of riders comes a steep cost, evidenced by the fact that California has seen an increase in deaths in recent years: totaling 566 In 2016 alone.
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Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries
While nothing quite captures the freedom and thrill of riding, riding a motorcycle is especially dangerous. Many factors make riding a motorcycle dangerous, including:
- Riders are completely exposed
- Motorcycles are less visible to other drivers
- Riders are particularly vulnerable to inclement weather
- There is a slim margin of error
- Requires heightened mental and physical focus
- Influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving and speeding
- Lane splitting
Motorcycle Accident Injury and Death
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,000 motorcyclists are killed on the road every year. The same report found that motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident when compared to passenger car occupants after adjusting for miles traveled.
Additionally, a shocking 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death, compared to only 20% of passenger vehicle accidents. Unsurprisingly, statistics show that California is not immune to the inherent dangers of motorcycle riding. The Los Angeles Times has estimated that motorcycle accidents account for nearly 1/5 of all vehicle accident deaths in California while comprising only 1% of vehicle miles traveled.
Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Immediately following an accident, riders may be in a state of shock and thereby unaware of the full extent of their injuries. What you think is a simple scratch or dent may turn out to be a deeper problem after you take your bike to the shop.
Regardless, all initial consultations at our CPIA Personal Injury office are absolutely risk-free. If you are hesitant or unsure whether your claim needs an expert attorney fighting on your side, there is no harm in coming in for a worry-free consultation at our comfortable Los Angeles office. If travel is an issue, consultations may be done over the phone under special circumstances.
When to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to contact an attorney quickly. Following an accident, riders typically have a lot on their plate. Not only do rider often suffer from substantial injuries following an accident, but now they must also deal with medical costs, transportation arrangements, and dealing with the insurance companies.
Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can greatly reduce the stress and hardship following an accident.
A competent attorney can help you:
- Ensure you receive just compensation you deserve
- Fight to establish liability against the other party
- Litigate your rights in Court
- Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf
- Provide medical recommendations if you do not know or have someone in mind
- Help you in repairing your motorcycle or provide you the fair and reasonable value of your motorcycle if it’s totaled
Benefits of Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
There are numerous short-term and long-term benefits to hiring an attorney. Clients who have hired an attorney immediately experience a sense of relief that they are no longer fighting alone. Communication with the insurance companies and the other driver’s representation will also be handled by your attorney. Further, immediate financial concerns can be addressed and important evidence can be preserved while the evidence is still available.
It is important to gather evidence—such as eyewitness reports, traffic and surveillance camera footage, and pictures of the accident scene—as soon as possible following an accident. This evidence is time-sensitive and may not be available if a client waits too long to hire a lawyer. These are only a few of the vast short-term benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney after a motorcycle accident.
In addition to taking care of the short-term issues following an accident, there are many long-term benefits of hiring an accident attorney. According to IRC and ARAC research, automobile drivers who are represented by an attorney in an accident case can receive up to 40% higher settlement payouts. While this study was focused primarily on car drivers, the same is true for motorcyclists. The ability to negotiate higher settlements is a direct benefit of hiring an attorney.
Once the insurance companies realize that an attorney has been hired to represent you, they know you mean business. Hiring an attorney signals to the insurance company that you are willing to take the case to court as well. This legitimate threat of litigation allows your lawyer to negotiate as much compensation from the insurance company as possible while preserving your right to recover damages in court.
Why Trust CPIA Personal Injury Attorneys?
We Specialize in Auto and Motorcycle Accidents
Unlike other firms, California Personal Injury Attorneys focus mainly on auto and motorcycle accidents, ensuring that you receive the most effective legal representation. From the high rate of injury to the nature of the accident itself, motorcycle accident victims require a custom-tailored legal team to fight for their livelihood. Whether we are dealing with the insurance company or making sure you receive the best medical care, our most important priority is to support our clients in the best way possible.
24/7 Concierge Service
Our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers are committed to providing the absolute best service to all our clients. While other firms limit their clients’ access to the supervising attorney, our clients are encouraged to directly contact their attorneys any time of the day or night to discuss their case. Our phone lines are always open, and clients are encouraged to call and speak about a case review, medical issues, or any other concerns they may have. Our client-centered approach seeks to provide a warm, inviting environment to all of our clients. Visit our testimonial page to hear about CPIA’s proven strategy from our clients themselves.
Free Case Review
An initial consultation to review the facts surrounding your case is risk-free! During the case review process, we will carefully review your circumstances to access the most effective plan of attack for your specific case. All cases are unique, and it is important to thoroughly review all the facts before making any quick decisions that will affect the outcome of your case. Clients will never be pressured to accept a settlement that they believe to be unfair. All decisions regarding settlement offers and case strategies are carefully reviewed with the client before any action is taken.
Following a motorcycle accident, a client’s ability to recover their damages depends on proving fault. California is a Pure Comparative Negligence state, meaning that your ability to recover damages is limited by your proportion of fault. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, you incurred $100,000 in damages, and the jury determines that you were 60% at fault for the accident -- you will be able to recover up to $40,000.
You must hire a skillful attorney to craft the most effective arguments to limit your proportion of the blame. Our team is battle-tested and fluent in all relevant motorcycle laws in California, making them uniquely equipped to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Fighting for your Rights in Court
There are three paths that you and your attorney may choose to take when filing a claim in court, including, (1) a manufacturing defect filed against the bike manufacturer, (2) an unsafe road condition claim against the county, city, or state, and (3) a negligence claim against the other driver and insurance company.
It is very possible that neither driver involved in the collision is to blame for the accident. It is not uncommon that bike manufacturers have either designed a faulty bike, made a mistake somewhere along the manufacturing process, or simply failed to warn the public about known risks associated with a particular product. Some examples of potentially risky defects include:
- Tire failure
- Brake failure
- Clutch or Crankshaft defects
- Unsafe throttle characteristics
- Defective ignition systems
The blame to be assigned may have originated well before the accident occurred. If this is the case, the manufacturer must be held accountable for their failure and the public should be put on notice to avoid similar accidents in the future.
Unsafe Road Conditions
Similar to manufacturing defects, unsafe road conditions may be the outside force that is to blame for a particular accident. Some examples of unsafe road conditions include:
- Cracks in the road
- Uneven road surface
- Exposed trench
- Failure to put up warning signs
- Broken roads
- Wheel ruts or grooves
Both manufacturing defects and unsafe road conditions are complex claims that must be argued by an experienced trial attorney. The government as well as the motorcycle manufacturers will have experienced legal defense rebutting all claims made by the plaintiff.
Hiring an attorney ASAP is especially important in these types of cases. Additionally, if you believe that an unsafe road condition was the cause of your accident, it is important to tell the police and have them file a report to ensure that your complaint is on record.
By far the most common of the three, a Negligence Cause of Action will likely be filed in order to recover damages from the other driver. In order to succeed in a Negligence claim, the plaintiff (person who is filing the lawsuit) will need to show that, (1) the defendant owed plaintiff a legal duty, (2) the defendant breached his or her duty by failing to act as a “reasonable person” would, (3) the defendant’s “negligence” was the cause of plaintiff’s injuries, and (4) the damages that plaintiff has suffered is a result of defendant’s negligent actions.
All drivers owe all other drivers a minimum duty to exercise “reasonable care” under the circumstances. It is the job of a well-trained personal injury lawyer to craft the best argument to succeed in whatever claim the client decides to file. The quality of the attorney that you hire will have a direct impact on the type of arguments they put forth, and thus the number of damages you will be able to recover.
What to Do If You are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
It is critical to gather all of the evidence proving the other party’s liability while it is still available. The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner they will be able to help you compile the evidence needed to prove the other party’s liability. The following is a list of steps to take following a serious accident:
Call the Police
A police report is often-times the only official evidence documenting an accident. The contents of the police report will likely shape the approach both sides take in trying to establish liability. When speaking to the police, you must always be honest and truthful about your recollection of the events. If you are unsure about a moment, don’t give opinions or possibilities as to what could have happened.
Stick to the facts that you remember and don’t forget to request a copy of the police report. If you believe that an unsafe road condition or manufacturing defect was possibly the cause of your accident, be sure to let the police know! This may turn out to be useful to proving your claim in court if need be.
DO NOT Admit Fault
Whether you are speaking to the police or the other party, never admit that you were at fault. Even if you believe at the time that you may have been partially to blame, evidence may come out in the future that sheds light on the true circumstances around the accident. Your job is to collect as much evidence as possible, while it is up to your attorney and the insurance adjuster to determine fault. Whatever you say to the police or other driver’s insurance company may be used against you further down the line.
Take Pictures, Videos, and Notes
Take as many pictures, videos, and recordings as possible. Be sure to take pictures of all angles of the accident as well as pictures of the other party’s vehicle. Try to take clear photos that can be easily identified in the future. Additionally, be sure to gather the following information from the other driver:
- Driver’s license
- Insurance card and policy information
- VIN #
- License plate #
- Address and telephone #
It may be helpful to take pictures of the intersection or surrounding area to get a clearer image of all the circumstances around the accident. Additionally, take notes of any potentially relevant information that you remember such as the lane and direction you were riding in, approximate speed of both drivers, and if you noticed whether the other driver was distracted.
If any witnesses clearly saw the accident, take down their information as they may have useful information to offer. Any nearby business’s security camera may have also captured footage of the incident. All of this information is time-sensitive evidence that a client should diligently record on their own, even before an attorney is retained.
Receive and Document Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
To get an accurate estimate of your damages, you must seek medical attention and document it as soon as possible. Immediately following an accident, victims often find themselves in a state of shock. This may result in a failure to realize injuries until you calm down and your adrenaline subsides. It is usually a wise decision to visit a hospital and get checked out to ensure your health and wellbeing in addition to documenting any damages.
Resist Accepting Low-ball Offers
Insurance companies will often contact victims of an accident and offer to settle the case for a fraction of what the case is really worth. Accepting a low-ball offer from the beginning will severely hurt your chances of recovering the full potential of the case. When speaking to any insurance agent or adjuster, be sure to limit the discussion to the facts of the case. If possible, contact and hire an attorney before speaking to the insurance company to ensure that none of your testimony will be later used against you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious or minor accident in the Los Angeles area, contact us as soon as possible to ensure all of these important steps will be taken. Our attorneys will help you navigate your case, fight the insurance company, and secure a settlement as quickly as possible. We are available to speak 24/7 and your initial case review is absolutely free.