Motorcycle accidents are one of the most gruesome accidents that happen on the road. Despite precautionary efforts you may take to protect yourself from such an incident, other factors beyond your control may lead you to involvement in a motorcycle accident. In the state of California, numerous cases regarding these accidents are recorded daily, with statistics rising every other day. The results of motorcycle accidents are often extremely stressful to deal with, especially when a victim tries to seek compensation for the harm caused to him or her. The Orange County Personal Injury Attorney offices consist of personal injury lawyers who are well experienced in personal injury suits. We handle various cases seeking rightful compensation on behalf of our aggrieved clients. Additionally, we offer legal advice revolving around accident compensation to ensure that our clients are fully aware of their rights.
Nature of Motorcycle Accidents
Typically, motorcycle riders suffer some prejudice from other motorists, as they are often seen to be careless and reckless on the road. However, that assumption is not valid. Most recorded cases show that a motorist operating a car, truck, or any other vehicle for that matter is often to blame for the occurrence of an accident involving a motorcycle rider. The assumption of recklessness on the riders mainly arises from the fact that they have an advantage while maneuvering the road. Most of them can quickly change lanes and assume different positions on the way from time to time.
Despite the ease of movement on the road, motorcycle riders equally face the highest risk of severe accidents on the road. One primary reason is that a motorcycle has no protective parts that shield the rider from high impact. Therefore, the rider’s body is significantly exposed to any form of contact with other vehicles. Most of them create contact with a lot of force because the events leading to the accident are unforeseeable. Thus, a vehicle driver is not able to react on time and hit the brakes, causing an accident.
The victims involved in motorcycle accidents face a lot of undesirable results that bring about injuries and destruction of property. If you are involved in such an accident, try and remain calm as you contact help. Essential contacts to reach are the ambulance and the police.
It is advisable not to engage with any insurance transaction approval or sign any documents until you contact a personal injury attorney. Additionally, you should try and avoid making any rash statements of admitting fault or dismissing the other motorist involved. Instead, try and take down important contact information if you can, or get a concerned person to do it for you. The data will be helpful eventually when litigation for compensatory matters ensues.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Like any other road accident, motorcycle accidents are linked to common causes. Most of these causes are as a result of vehicle motorists’ negligence. It is essential for you as an aggrieved person to learn about these various causes of accidents. The reason is that your lawyer will need to prove the defendant’s negligence based on the cases. While most of the blame is not placed on the riders, they may also be found partially to blame for their actions, based on contributory negligence.
Many warning signs stipulate the designated speed limits that all motorists should observe on the freeway or any other road. However, most road users may ignore the signs or common knowledge that excess speed is dangerous. The cause of accidents can be either the fault of a motorcycle rider or a vehicle motorist. Either way, driving at high speed impairs a driver’s reaction time in case of any emergency obstacle on the road. When a driver is on high speeds on a busy highway, he or she may fail to see a motorcycle rider who is changing lanes. The outcome will be a horrible motorcycle accident.
Similarly, if a rider moves too swiftly, mainly on paved streets, he or she may not hit the brakes fast enough to avoid running over a parked car or walking pedestrians. An accident will inevitably occur in this case, bringing about numerous mishaps for the rider and other affected people.
Unsafe Lane Changing
On the freeway, vehicles use as many as eight lanes on one side of traffic to transverse the city. Among these road users are motorcycle riders, who can quickly change lanes because of the small and compact size of motorcycles. However, if a motorcycle user is not keen on the road, he or she may fail to promptly indicate to other motorists and make them aware of his or her intention to change lanes. Others make a sudden turn, without confirming that there is an available lane to accommodate them.
Necessary road skills require all motorists to assume that the driver or rider ahead and behind you are unaware of your intentions. As a result, you should let them know of any change of direction or speed you are likely to make on the road, to avoid sudden action. Therefore, a motorcycle rider or a car driver who makes unsafe lane changes puts other motorists in danger of involvement in an accident. In the case of a rider who suddenly changes lanes, he or she may be hit from the back by an incoming car that fails to brake on time. Such an incident leads to a severe motorcycle accident, as the bike may even overturn from the impact.
Open Car Doors
Motorcycle accidents involving open car doors often happen on the streets when cars are parked on the side of the road. Similar to other causes, the blame may be on the driver or the rider as well, depending on the circumstances surrounding a particular case. However, a car owner is more likely to face liability, especially when he or she wrongly has parked the vehicle such that it interferes with other motorists on the road. A good example is when the car owner suddenly opens the door while he or she has wrongfully parked the car. When a motorcycle rider happens to ride close and is hit by the open car door, he or she may suffer severe injuries.
In other scenarios, defective car doors may cause them to fly open as the vehicle is in motion on the highway. Should a rider happen to be right in front or behind a car with such a defect, a motorcycle accident is inevitable.
The rider may sometimes carry the blame, especially when he or she rides the motorcycle at high speed. The defendants may try to claim that the high speed is the cause of the accident, due to the low reaction time by the rider. However, such a claim will rarely absolve them of liability. Instead, it may merely split damages between both parties, citing principles on contributory negligence. In such settlements, both parties usually have had a role to play in causing the accident.
In some cases, a motorcycle may have certain defects, some of which are unknown to the owner. For example, the side mirrors may be misaligned, causing the rider to have an obstructed view of the rear vehicles. The effect of such a defect is that he or she may miscalculate when switching lanes or make left turns, causing an accident. Sometimes, the side mirrors may be missing altogether, an occurrence which is not allowed by Highway Safety Authorities.
Other times, the motorcycle may stall on the road, causing it to halt suddenly. If a vehicle were closely following such a bike, the driver would likely be unable to stop the car on time and end up hitting the motorcycle and causing an accident. Moreover, tires may also be defective and deflate as a rider is on the road. They may also disengage from the fastened rims and cause the entire motorcycle to roll over because most of them are two-wheeled. The rider faces significant harm from such an accident, mainly because it is often unforeseeable.
Many motorcycle accidents have also resulted from sharp turns made by the riders. While negotiating a sharp bend or corner on the road at high speed, a motorcycle may bend too sharply and fall over. Balance is critical when riding the motorbike, and losing grip even for a second may cost a rider his or her life, in the worst-case scenario. Accidents from such instances also cause a lot of injuries. The motorcycle could potentially fall on you, causing the hot motor and engine to burn exposed parts of your body. The overall weight of the bike is also more substantial than your body can handle. The weight can, therefore, cause fractures on your body due to the high pressure placed on your bones.
Risky Road Conditions
As much as there is a lot of development in infrastructure, not all roads are all developed and maintained in Orange County. Such is the case in many other regions in the country. Due to dangerous conditions on the road like chipped debris, potholes, utility holes, and other obstacles, a motorcycle user may be susceptible to hazardous accidents. An example is whereby a huge rock sits on the road, with nobody to move it. If the rider’s view is not clear, or he or she simply does not anticipate such an obstacle, his/her motorcycle may trip over it and cause the rider to fall over.
Additionally, riding a motorcycle in dangerous weather conditions is risky and could quickly cause an accident. When experiencing heavy rainfall, vision is likely to be blurred, on top of the distracting water that falls on the uncovered motorcycle. A rider may easily slip off the bike, ever off the road or hit an unforeseen vehicle because of the adverse weather conditions.
There are many other causes of motorcycle accidents, including:
- Inexperienced motorists/ riders
- Errors in determining the right of way
- Poor vision leading to undetected oncoming motorcycles or cars
- Left-turn collisions
Whatever the cause of the accident, you as the victim deserve rightful compensation from injuries and inconvenience caused.
Injuries Sustained from Motorcycle Accidents
As mentioned above, most motorcycle accidents result in very severe injuries because of the open structure that leaves a rider exposed to any outside force. As a result, any common injury may be highly aggravated for a motorcycle accident victim.
An accident victim is bound to sustain fractured bones in the body, due to the high impact on the body as it hits the ground or the obstacle involved in the accident. The most common fractures affect the limbs-the arms and the legs, as they are the first receptors of the force as the victim hits the ground.
Additionally, an injured person may suffer rib fractures, especially if he/she falls on the chest. The broken ribs may pose a severe threat to the victim’s survival, as any displaced broken rib bone may injure vital organs like the heart or the lungs.
Moreover, a victim may suffer from skull fractures. They are more severe if the rider had not worn a helmet at the time of the occurrence of the accident.
Traumatic Brain Injury
The fractured skull could easily cause more problems like a traumatic brain injury. The condition affects the brain, causing concussions and memory loss in adverse cases. Additionally, a victim may suffer from loss of cognitive body functioning if the relevant brain section that articulates such functions is affected.
Excessive Blood Loss
Commonly referred to as hemorrhage, loss of a significant amount of blood could be fatal to a victim of motorcycle accidents. The loss of blood is often due to ruptures and deep cuts on the soft body tissue, bringing about excessive bleeding. When an injured person suffers from a low blood supply, the brain begins a slow shutdown. Consequently, it results in death if not attended to promptly.
Spinal Cord Injuries
When an accident victim faces excessive force from the motorcycle falling on him/her or directly from falling, the spine may be severely injured. It is a very vital part of the body. As the backbone, it is responsible for our upright posture as well as harboring many nerve fibers that enable sensitivity to touch. Due to spinal injuries, some victims may suffer from partial or full-body paralysis. Others may lose their sense of touch due to the destruction of the relevant nerves in the spinal cord.
All the discussed injuries may eventually lead to death if the victim succumbs. Most of them are often too severe to treat, and even if the victim were to survive, he or she would remain in a vegetative state for a long time. The vegetative state of the body is whereby a patient entirely relies on the life support machine to stay alive, and even if he or she is stable, cannot make out reality. Commas are an excellent example of the state. The loved ones of such a victim may eventually choose to pull the plug and allow him/her to die if the situation is not salvageable.
Laws and Regulations Related to Motorcycle Use
California law has designated the regulatory provisions that should guide every motorcycle rider. Most of the rules are enshrined in the California Vehicle Code.
- Section 27803 of the code requires all riders to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Additionally, the quality of the helmet should be approved by the Department of Transportation.
- Section 26709 requires motorcycle owners to ensure that their side mirrors are well fixed on the right and left and give the rider an adequate rearview.
- Section 27801 states that the motorcycle handlebars should not be more than 6 inches above the rider’s shoulders. Such a length would prevent him/her from clearly viewing the side mirrors.
On top of these regulations, a motorcycle user should always have insurance in case of an accident. The insurance should cover:
- $5,000 for any property damage that may arise from the accident
- $ 15,000 for any personal injury or death caused to one road user
- $30,000 for any personal injury or death caused to more than one road user
Moreover, a rider below 21 years should hold a permit for a minimum of six months before applying for a license.
Additionally, as a safety measure, motorcycle users should have their headlights on during the daytime, to promote visibility. The rule is only applicable to motorcycles manufactured after 1978.
Lastly, courts operate on a time limit, within which a personal injury suit should be forwarded for hearing. After the time elapses, you may find it difficult to raise any claims. The limit bases its function on the assumption that an aggrieved person would need to act expeditiously so that he or she can receive compensation, if any. Filing suits late may prompt the court to doubt your efforts as it may seem like you have ulterior motives.
Claims to Raise for Compensation
As your personal injury attorney prepares you for a hearing, he or she may take you through the possible claims to make. They are all dependent on the nature of the accident you were involved in. Additionally, the consequences you had to deal with individually also determine what claims to make. It is also essential to establish who to sue, and what your lawyer needs to prove as evidence to convince the judge to grant compensation. Therefore, your attorney will work step by step, by first establishing who is liable for your accident.
Who is Liable for Motorcycle Accidents?
Most accidents result from the negligent actions of non-motorcycle motorists. They include commercial car drivers, truck drivers, or even personal vehicle drivers who may be ordinary citizens going about their business.
The personal injury lawyer handling your case should prove negligent actions that the defendant driver undertook, leading to the motorcycle accident. For example, if a proof is established that the car driver was distracted or was at high speed on or before the accident, he or she may be held to have acted negligently. Other negligent actions include failure to indicate, taking sharp turns, or inability to give the motorcycle rider way as he/she joins a different lane.
Once the judge establishes liability on the defendant, he or she will order compensation to the claimant. Some of the claims you may raise are compensation for:
Pain and Suffering
Doubtless, accidents may wreak havoc on your life, especially if you are directly involved and suffer injuries. The pain faced is also immense and maybe physical or emotional. Moreover, body injuries from motorcycle accidents may take long to heal and cause additional suffering to the victims involved, as they may not continue with their lives as they are used to doing. You should receive payment to cover all the anguish caused during the treatment period.
Loss of Future Income
Some injuries may cause dramatic changes in your life, like causing permanent paralysis. Due to such a condition, you may be unable to continue with your work. Such an outcome causes a significant disadvantage and loss for the victims. The effects are worse when the victims are the breadwinners of their families. The court will issue payment to you that should cover any calculated and prospected income. Experts would analyze the expected events in your career life that would have led to possible promotions if you were to keep working. They also accurately predict the expected age of retirement, to ensure that compensation covers all the years you would have been able to work.
After sustaining severe injuries, you will need dedicated medical attention that is quite costly. Sometimes, you may need to remain in a hospital bed for weeks until you significantly improve and are discharged. You may also require additional therapy to help you recover, including physiotherapy. Such sessions are not cheap to access and may cause a dent in your pocket. Besides, vital medication for your recuperation is costly and may cause additional financial burdens on you and your family. You require accurate monetary payment from the defendant responsible for the motorcycle accident, to ensure that the high medical costs do not overburden you.
Preventive Measures Against Motorcycle Accidents
As a rider, you should take appropriate steps to prevent accidents that may arise from carelessness or unpreparedness on the road. We recommend that you:
- Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle
- Indicate and signal when making turns
- Remain alert and vigilant on the road
- Wear protective clothing like leather jackets and gloves, as well as reflective clothing at night for easy visibility to other motorists
- Avoid riding in adverse weather conditions because of increased danger on the road
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Accidents are very unpredictable and may find you unprepared for the consequences they bring. We understand how stressful and confusing the aftermath can be, especially when nobody wants to take the blame for the accident. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we dedicate ourselves to representing you in court and proposing to get you the best compensation you can. Contact us today at 714-876-1959.