According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, there were an estimated 84,000 motorcycle injuries in 2019 alone. If severe enough, an accident can leave you facing months or even years of recovery. Before filing a claim, familiarize yourself with some important legal details, as explained by a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer.
Recoverable Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
The responsible party could be another motorcyclist, the driver of a car or a truck, or the city of Bakersfield if they failed to maintain the upkeep of the road.
Your injuries and medical treatment can be far more expensive than you imagine, so it’s vital to pursue a maximum settlement. Lost income and property damage must also be accounted for. Using a motorcycle accident attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of receiving due compensation.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Despite wearing a helmet, you can still receive traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions or skull fractures, during a motorcycle accident. One of the more common motorcycle injuries is road rash from contact with the road surface after being thrown off your bike.
Other common injuries include broken bones, whiplash, back injuries, amputation (loss of a limb), permanent scars, damage to vision and hearing, and internal hemorrhaging. When you sue for damages, you’re referring to any adverse effects of the accident, such as injuries and financial setbacks. Typically, you or your family can seek compensatory damages.
These damages refer to your healthcare expenses, including hospital treatment, doctor visits, medication, and medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers. Damages include the income you lost from being out of work. You may have lost the chance to work overtime, accept a promotion, or qualify for a bonus. You will also want damages for the loss of a limb, disfigurement, scarring, and pain.
Not all injuries are bodily injuries. You can also seek compensation when the accident results in a breach with your spouse or legally recognized partner. For example, an accident can distance one mate from the other emotionally and sexually.
A motorcycle accident can cause a great deal of mental stress which is also a valid reason for seeking damages.
Know That Motorcycle Accidents Are Very Common
Most car and truck drivers are not used to sharing the road with motorcycles. So they are less likely to double-check their blind spots before changing lanes or entering and exiting a thoroughfare.
Because motorcycles are open vehicles, even light contact with heavier vehicles can cause serious injuries. For example, the ordinary fender bender for a car poses an injury risk for a motorcyclist. Across the U.S. in 2019, on a per-mile basis, motorcycle deaths were 29 times greater than that of enclosed vehicles.
Helmet and License Laws
California has had a mandatory helmet law since 1992. However, vocal opponents call for a change so that the law applies only to riders younger than 21.
But the California Highway Patrol says that prior to the law in 1987, of the fatal victims of motorcycle accidents, 77% were at least 21 years old. And in nonfatal cases, 69% of the time, the injured rider was also over 21.
There are more motorcycles in California than in any other state. The latest vehicle registration statistics from 2020 estimate 785,424. That’s over 160,00 more than the second-place finisher Florida. And it’s more than double that of Texas.
The total number of motorcycle deaths in the U.S. in 2019 reached 5,014. Another 84,000 riders were injured that year. In 30% of the fatal crashes, the rider did not have a valid license.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
A typical motorcycle accident involves a vehicle cutting in front of the bike, giving the rider no time to stop. Sometimes a motorcycle accident’s fault is a driver traveling too close behind the bike. Roads in poor condition may be a minor irritation to someone behind the wheel of an SUV, but to a motorcyclist, it’s a dangerous situation. Large potholes can make a rider lose control.
Other roads may have raised or sunken maintenance hole covers. In either case, they’re a deadly hazard to a motorcyclist. Construction vehicles might spill nails, screws, or gravel. Motorcycles can find it challenging to maintain control of their bikes under those conditions.
Occasionally, there’s a mechanical malfunction with the bike. The fault may lie with the original equipment manufacturer or the local repair shop that just finished working on it. Alcohol played a significant role in fatal motorcycle crashes. 29% of riders were under the influence, compared to only 20% of drivers in fatal passenger car accidents.
Alcohol was an even larger factor in single-vehicle crashes, with 42% of the riders impaired. Motorcycle deaths were three times more likely to occur at night when alcohol was involved.
What to Know If Poor Road Maintenance Caused Your Accident
A motorcycle can encounter poor road conditions most anywhere. For example, a spewing fire hydrant or overflowing drain can create slippery conditions. So can loose gravel, perhaps spilled by a road crew.
Maintenance covers are dangerous when they’re not flush with the road surface. Sunken covers and elevated covers both pose a severe risk. Potholes and cracks are commonplace but represent potentially deadly hazards.
Whatever the cause of the road’s deterioration, the property owner is responsible for making speedy repairs. If you can prove that the owner failed in his responsibility, you could successfully sue for injuries and damage.
Government entities are liable if their roadways place motorcyclists in danger. According to those laws, the roads must be kept in a safe condition, make needed repairs, and, if necessary, issue a warning of potential hazards. To win a case against a government, you first must establish that the government you’re suing owns or controls that road surface.
You want to show that the road was dangerous, and the property owner should have been able to foresee the danger. The longer the road existed in its present condition, the better because you have to prove that the government had enough time to fix the problem.
Fault Must Be Proven in a Motorcycle Accident Case
To receive compensation, you must prove that another party’s negligence caused the accident. Laws in California require that you prove the following points.
1. Duty of Care
You must show that the other party was responsible for showing a duty of care, neglected that duty of care by being negligent, and negligence was the deciding factor in the accident. Duty of care refers to behaving responsibly. If the other party caused the accident while violating a law, statute, or ordinance, they are negligent.
To demonstrate the other party’s negligence, you must help your attorney prove that the person violated a law, statute, or ordinance. You’ll also have to show that the violation was the reason for the accident.
The law, statute, or ordinance the other party neglected to obey is one whose purpose is to prevent accidents. And you are included in the population group the law, statute, or ordinance protects.
You find examples of negligence in cases where an accident resulted from speeding, tailgating, failing to stop at a stop sign, and failing to yield. Other situations may involve reckless driving, distracted driving, or texting while driving.
When Mechanical Failure Causes an Accident
Sometimes, a defective part can cause a motorcycle accident. And in those cases, you have the grounds for a product liability lawsuit. The defendant would be the company that created, produced, or sold the product. The court will focus on whether the part had an inherent design flaw or was manufactured below standard.
The defective part can also be something other than the original factory-installed part. California laws also protect you when aftermarket parts cause motorcycle accident damage.
Get Help From an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Don’t hesitate to get the legal help you need against the party responsible for your accident. We’ll represent your interests to get you the proper compensation you deserve. So, if you’re looking for an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer, contact us today.