Motorcycle Accidents FAQs
- Why is it important to have insurance on your motorcycle in California?
- Does Motorcycle Safety Gear Really Reduce Injury and Death From a Crash?
- What to do if you are Injured on a Motorcycle due the Negligence of Another Motor Vehicle Operator?
- Effectiveness of Motorcycle Helmets in Reducing Injury
- Helmets can Reduce Head and Facial Injuries for Motorcyclists?
- How to Choose a Good Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
- Top 10 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle is a "vehicle" under the California Vehicle Code and under the California Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law, all vehicles operating on California roadways must show proof of insurance or a bond with the minimum liability requirements ($15,000 per person $30,000 per claim for bodily injury). Motorcycle riders often use their bike as an alternate form of transportation in that they also own cars or other vehicles. Whether this is the case or even if the motorcycle is the primary mode of transportation, it is important for all motorcycle riders in the Golden State to ensure that they have at least basic coverage for their motorcycle as the law requires. A biker can face fines and even license suspension if they are either pulled over or involved in an accident and cannot show proof of insurance or other financial responsibility. Another huge reason why motorcyclists need insurance is California Civil Code 3333.4(2) or "Prop 213" as it was known when it was first passed. This is a CA law that, in essence penalizes people injured in accidents who don't have basic liability coverage by disallowing any "non-economic damages". What does this mean? It means that if you are in a motorcycle and it is not your fault, you may still recover for out of pocket costs like damage to your bike, lost income or medical bills but, you may not recover anything for "pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other non-pecuniary damages." These non-economic damages are a HUGE portion of any personal injury claim. In fact, most accident lawyers will not take your case if you are not entitled to these damages because there is simply not enough value to your case to warrant the time and expense of prosecuting the claim. As California motorcycle accident attorneys and injury lawyers, we always encourage bikers to have MORE than just the minimal amount of insurance liability coverage including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages. Why? Because motorcycle wrecks often result in major and significant (sometimes life altering) bodily injuries. If you are hit by a driver who has no insurance or very minimal insurance, having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, would be vital to providing the biker with a means to obtain medical treatment and be compensated for their pain and suffering damages
Does motorcycle safety gear really reduce injury and death from a crash? Motorcyclists have a much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed when they are involved in accidents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 4,976 motorcyclists were killed in 2015, which was an increase of 8.3 percent over the number of people who were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2014. Another 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2015. Because motorcycle operators and passengers are largely unprotected from the environment around them, they are likelier to suffer a number of different potentially catastrophic injuries in accidents. Safety gear helps to reduce the risk of injuries and their severity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed data from hospitals for people who had been treated for injuries that they suffered in motorcycle accidents from 2001 to 2008. The CDC found that 30 percent of the injured victims suffered injuries to their legs and feet, making those injuries the most common type of injury suffered by motorcycle accident victims. Twenty-two percent of the people suffered injuries to their heads and necks. Finally, the next most common type of injuries occurred to the trunk area, which was followed by the arms and hands and lastly, to the hip and pelvis. Safety gear is meant to reduce the severity of injuries that people suffer, and it may help to prevent some injuries.Most Common Causes of Fatalities in Motorcycle Accidents
The Association For The Advancement Of Automotive Medicine reviewed data from Maryland motorcycle injuries that occurred from 1998 to 2002. The researchers found that the most common cause of fatalities in motorcycle accidents was thoracic injuries followed closely by head injuries. The third most common cause of motorcycle accident deaths was an injury to the abdominal region.Types of Motorcycle Safety Gear
Safety gear is available to protect every part of your body from your head to your feet. Motorcycle helmets are essential for riders because they contain layers of styrofoam in precise densities to help protect their heads from the forces involved in accidents. Gloves are also available and help to protect the hands if you fall from your bike. Motorcycle jackets, pants and suits are designed to protect your trunk and legs from being injured in accidents. Available to wear under the pants, jackets and suits, body armor adds an additional layer of protection. Finally, motorcycle boots are designed to protect your ankles and feet if you are involved in a motorcycle accident.How Safety Gear may Help Prevent or Reduce the severity Of Injuries
Safety gear may help to prevent or reduce the severity of motorcycle accident injuries. While better gear is expensive, the cost outlay is well worth the superior protection it offers. The minimum standard in the U.S. for helmets is DOT-certified, but it’s a good idea to opt for the higher protections afforded by the European standard, or ECE 22.05. Helmets that meet the ECE 22.05 standard are designed to withstand a major impact followed by multiple smaller impacts. By contrast, DOT-standard helmets are only designed to withstand a single major impact, meaning that you can suffer injuries from smaller impacts that happen after the initial one.
Good gloves should protect your hands from abrasions and impacts. They should have retention straps that keep them secured tightly around your wrists. You’ll also want to find motorcycle gloves that have armor for both the backs of your hands as well as your palms, and your gloves should be waterproof and insulated to protect your hands from wind and rain.
Good-quality motorcycle jackets, pants and suits are essential to protect your body from severe abrasions and fractures. You should look for items that are made out of thicker materials and high-quality leather. Materials such as Cordura 1000D and Gore-Tex can protect your body through several crashes while also keeping you warm and dry in the rain. You should also opt for body armor that covers as much of your body as possible for the best protection, and the body armor should be CE-rated. Body armor can protect your lungs, heart, rib cage, hips and pelvis, substantially reducing the risk of sustaining serious injuries to your upper and lower trunk. It can also help to protect your legs, elbows and shoulders, and it should not be overlooked.
Motorcycle boots help to protect your feet and ankles from crushing injuries, sprains and fractures. Good motorcycle boots should offer good grip and should cover your ankles while offering good support.
While an investment in quality safety gear may seem expensive, it is important for you to protect yourself as best as you can when you are operating a motorcycle. Safety gear can help to reduce the risk of suffering serious injuries or death, allowing you to enjoy your motorcycle in a safer way. If you have been injured in a collision that was caused by another motorist, you might want to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your potential recovery rights.
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Motorcycle Safety Gear
- What Body Parts Will You Most Likely Injure in a Motorcycle Crash?
- Background on: Motorcycle crashes
Effectiveness of Motorcycle Helmets in Reducing Injury
The laws governing whether or not motorcyclists are required to wear motorcycle helmets are different from one state to the next. While some people believe that motorcycle helmets can significantly reduce the likelihood of the motorcyclist being injured in the head or face in the event that he or she is involved in an accident, others feel that the motorcycle helmet doesn’t really provide that much protection against such events. A 2016 study conducted by the Injury Epidemiology put each theory to the test by gathering data pertaining to the amount of facial and head injuries sustained by motorcyclists who wore their helmets more than those who didn’t.Motorcycle Helmet Safety Study
The study gathered data from 11 states, 5 of which were universal law states and 6 of which were partial law states. Universal law states (like California), as it pertains to this study, refers to the states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, whereas partial law states were those states that only required certain groups of people to wear motorcycle helmets. After evaluating the costs of injuries to the head and face, including traumatic brain injuries, in both universal and partial law states, the study found that the costs of injuries were lower in states that required all motorcyclists to wear helmets than they were in states where only certain groups of people were required to wear helmets. However, the effectiveness of the helmets had a lower rate in the universal law states than it did in partial law states. Still, though, helmets were overall proven effective at reducing the number of injuries in both universal and partial law states, which can lead one to conclude that wearing a motorcycle helmet can help protect the motorcyclist from facial and head injuries.
Of all the motorcycle injuries reported in the study, the majority of the injuries were injuries to the extremities followed by head and neck ones as the second-most common. Most of the head and neck ones were traumatic brain injuries. Of the 32% of injuries reported in partial law states, 8% of the head and neck ones were traumatic brain injuries. Of the 18% of injuries reported in universal law states, 5% of the head and neck ones were traumatic brain injuries. Among the other most common types of injuries cause by motorcycles were spinal injuries and torso injuries, respectively.
Whether or not motorcyclists choose to wear their helmets, there is still always the possibility that they can become involved in accidents. They could lose control of their motorcycles, hit gravel that causes them to run off the road, come into a collision with another car or motorcycle and various other scenarios. Many people involved in motorcycle accidents end up suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Head trauma is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes and can lead to some of the most long term life-altering consequences.Consequences of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Some of the life-altering consequences of a traumatic brain injury include impairment of certain functions, physiological damage, physical damage and even emotional damage. Perhaps one of the most common side effects of a traumatic brain injury is problems with cognitive processes. People who have experienced these types of injuries oftentimes speak slowly, think slowly and may become easily confused. Alternatively, they might be more impulsive, jumping at the first solution they surmise, believing that they are considered solutions.
Still, other people might also suffer from mood and behavioral changes. Oftentimes, the systems in the brain that control the social-emotional lives are damaged, which can lead to the affected individual’s personality being greatly altered. For instance, some suffers might impulsively blurt out embarrassing comments, have emotional swings, be more irritable, be more uninhibited or become more withdraw from their previous social circles.
Other side effects that some people might experience include a loss of vision, changes in the senses, problems with balance, vertigo and even ringing in the ears. A small percentage of people who’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident and suffer a traumatic brain injury might even experience seizures from time to time.
There is no one typical person with a traumatic brain injury. Although some people might suffer from different impairments than others, it’s clear that the consequences of sustaining such an injury are definitely life-altering and can greatly affect not only the affected individual, but his or her friends and family members as well.A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Although wearing motorcycle helmets has been proven to be effective at reducing injuries on motorcycles, sometimes even wearing a helmet can’t prevent head trauma from being incurred. In the event that you or a loved one are injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another motor vehicle operator, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney to have him or her evaluate your case and help you receive compensation for your injuries.
Approximately 88,000 motorcyclists 1 sustained a wide variety of injuries in accidents in a single year in the U.S. Often, a motorcyclist will get thrown from their bike with excessive force and may land face-first on the pavement or another object. This is especially common in rear-end motorcycle collisions.
It is not surprising that, under such circumstances, a motorcyclist can sustain severe injuries to both the face and the head, as this is often the part of the body that collides with the ground first. Such injuries can leave victims with a long road to recovery and may even cause permanent disfigurement and scarring. These injuries may include:
- Fractured or shattered jaw
- Cheekbone and other facial fractures
- Dental damage including TMJ
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) 2
Injuries to the face, jaw, and teeth can require extensive treatment, including surgical reconstructive procedures, wiring the jaw shut, dental victims are often left with significant scarring. An injured motorcycle rider is entitled to payment for all current and future medical expenses related to injures sustained. In addition, victims with disfigurement or disabilities can develop significant emotional issues and can experience pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement. Under California law, a motorcycle rider injured by the negligence of another motor vehicle operator is entitled to compensation for all of these types of injuries. These are the so-called "general damages" that usually make up a large portion of the value of any personal injury claim. (Note: these damages can be limited in California under Civil Code 3333.3 if you do not carry at least the state minimum liability insurance on your motorcycle. Don't go without insurance!) There is no set formula for calculating these "general damages" and an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who has handled many claims over a long period of time with a record of success is the best person to analyze your particular set of injuries and how this has affected your day to day life and activities and argue for the maximum amount of compensation to the motorcycle accident victim.
Wearing a proper motorcycle helmet with a face guard can substantially reduce 3 face and head injuries in a motorcycle crash. Motorcyclists can often avoid fractures, dental damage, and cracked skulls by protecting themselves with a helmet. However, California law does not require every motorcyclist to wear a helmet and, therefore, many riders may be tempted to ride without proper head protection, opening themselves up to potential head and face injuries. Not wearing a helmet does not mean that you lose the right to recover for your injuries from a negligent party, however, it may substantially reduce the value of any motorcycle accident personal injury claim based upon the concept of comparative fault (sometimes called comparative negligence).
The Need to Retain Your Helmet After a Motorcycle Crash
Oftentimes, legal liability as well as causation and extent of injury is at issue and argued in legal proceedings following a motorcycle wreck. Motorcycle accident attorneys often use accident reconstruction and medical experts to sort out these claims. Showing visible damage to your helmet can assist these experts in demonstrating how the accident occurred and how it caused bodily injury to the motorcycle rider. Always retain your helmet after a crash for this use, even if it is damaged or partially destroyed.
Though motorcyclists have a love for riding, they put themselves at risk of serious head and facial injuries every time they head out on their bikes. These injuries can leave riders with permanent scarring and long-term challenges. Even if you wear a helmet, you still run the risk of sustaining serious injuries and incurring extensive losses. At the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC, APC, we understand how serious motorcycle accidents can be and will help you fully recover from any responsible parties. Please call our office at 310-592-0445 for a free consultation.References
When you have been injured in a Los Angeles motorcycle crash that was caused by someone else, finding the right person to represent you is important. Under California law, people who cause accidents because of negligence are responsible for paying damages to the victims to compensate them for their losses. People who retain experienced lawyers are much likelier to recover a greater amount of compensation than you might be able to recover on your own. Lawyers who have experience with personal injury claims may be able to recover more for their clients than attorneys who are inexperienced in handling tort claims. Here are some tips for finding a good motorcycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles who might secure a higher amount of compensation for you.
Some people may not know when they should talk to attorneys. Getting help as soon as possible is crucial. It is common for people who have been injured in accidents to make mistakes when they talk to insurance adjusters. If you seek legal help, your attorney can advocate for you and handle the negotiations with the adjuster and the insurance company. Start your search immediately after you have sought medical treatment for your injuries.Talk to Friends and Check Online
Many people ask their friends and relatives for recommendations when they are looking for lawyers. While this can be a good start, it is important that you do not base your choice solely on what others might say. You need to find a lawyer who has a good reputation and who practices tort law. For example, your cousin's family law attorney may have done a great job in his or her divorce case, but it is not a good idea to choose a lawyer who doesn't regularly practice in civil tort litigation.
You should also check online for lawyers so that you can get an idea of the reputations that they have built with their clients and with their peers. You can look up attorneys on sites such as Avvo.com to read reviews from clients and other members of the legal community. This can help you to see what types of experiences other people have had when working with the attorneys that you are considering. You can also look up attorneys who you are considering on the website of the State Bar of California. This can let you know whether the attorneys have been disciplined in the past.Choose Someone who Practices in the Area Where Your Accident Happened
When you have a list of attorneys that are experienced in negligence cases and in handling motorcycle collisions, you will want to narrow down your list to the area in which your crash occurred. Retaining local attorneys can help your case because they may be familiar with the insurance adjuster, the judges, and the other members of the bar in the court where your claim might be handled. Insurance adjusters are likelier to offer fair settlement amounts when they know that they are dealing with attorneys who are experienced, skilled, and unafraid of litigation. Attorneys who practice in the area where your collision happened are also more familiar with the local procedures and idiosyncrasies of the judges.Interview Several Lawyers
Once you have narrowed your list to a few attorneys who have the experience and reputations that you want, it is important for you to interview them. When you meet with the attorneys, there are several things that you should ask. Ask the attorneys what percentage of their practices are focused on injury claims. You will want to choose lawyers who primarily handle personal injury matters of all types.
You should ask the attorneys about their past record with other claims. Ask how many cases that they have taken to trial and the results that they have achieved. While most civil tort claims are settled before they reach trial, you will still want someone who is unafraid to fight for you through trial if you are unable to resolve your claim through negotiation and settlement.Pay Attention to the Lawyers' Styles
During each consultation, pay attention to the lawyers' styles of communication. When people retain lawyers, they will have to work closely with them for months. It is best to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable. Pay attention to whether the attorneys listen carefully to you and how they interact with you. If you choose someone with whom you do not click, you might be setting yourself up to have a stressful number of months while your claim is pending.Be Careful of Claims That Attorneys Make
You should be careful when you consult with lawyers. You might want to avoid attorneys who tell you that they are very aggressive. Attorneys who pride themselves in being very aggressive may force your case to trial when it could be settled for a fair amount. This can cost you extra time and money.
If any of the lawyers that you interview guarantee that they will win your claim, you should avoid them. The outcome of litigation can never be guaranteed, and attorneys have an ethical duty to inform you of that.Find Out Their Fee Structures
Most tort attorneys charge their legal fees on a contingency fee basis. A contingent fee means that you will not pay any money up front to hire the attorneys. Instead, they will collect their legal fees out of any settlement or verdict award that they obtain for you. Attorneys charge a percentage of your ultimate settlement or award. The percentages may range from 33 percent to 40 percent of your award or settlement. You shouldn't choose attorneys simply because they might charge lower percentages. The most important considerations should be the experience that they have, their track record, the focus of their practices, and whether you personally like them.Retain Your Attorney
Once you have completed all of these steps and have decided who you want to hire, it will be time for you to retain him or her. He or she will have you sign an agreement and will begin working on your case. You should then concentrate on getting well and let your legal representative handle your claim. To learn more and to schedule a consultation, call the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat today toll free anywhere in California at 866-966-5240
Top 10 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can occur anywhere in California, but riders in urban areas like Los Angeles are more susceptible to being involved in collisions with other vehicles. The best way to prevent these incidents is to know what to expect. That way, you will know what to do if you are ever in one of the 10 most common causes of motorcycle accidents with cars, trucks and other vehicles.The Top 10 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
- A Vehicle Makes a Left Turn in Front of you
A driver is waiting to make a left turn while you are traveling toward the intersection. The motorist either does not see you coming or believes that you are traveling at a slower speed and proceeds to make the left turn. The unfortunate truth is that a driver is not looking for motorcycles; he or she is searching for cars and trucks.
When you encounter an intersection, expect the driver of the oncoming vehicle to be unaware that you are there. Prepare for this possibility by slowing down as you approach an intersection and being ready to take defensive action.
- You Enter a Blind Corner and run Into Gravel
Avoid the collision that may be waiting to happen in this situation by reducing your speed before you turn blind corners. Also, purposely make wide turns in these locations. Increase your speed after you can see that nothing dangerous is within your path.
- You Turn Corners too Quickly
When this happens, you may believe that you will not make it around the corner and will have to drop the bike. The reality is that your bike may be able to navigate it. When you believe you have gone too fast around a corner, just try to ride it out, and remember not to panic.
- A Vehicle Runs Into you While Changing Lanes
Motorists have blind spots, and you may be in them when you are riding next to them. You will know that you are in a safe spot if you can see the driver’s eyes in the mirrors. This means that you should be visible to the motorist. Be aware when traffic in the lane next to you is slowing down. This can mean that cars in that lane will want to move into your lane. As I've also discussed in my blog post on motorcycle lane splitting, while it is legal to drive between lanes on the freeways or surface streets of California, due care must be given to speed and distance between vehicles.
- You are hit From Behind
You can be in danger of being hit from behind while stopped at a stoplight. If there is one car in front of you, politely move in front so that you will be protected from the oncoming traffic behind you. If you are first in line, move your bike to the side. That way, you will not be directly in the path of a vehicle that may not see you.
- You are Traveling With Unsafe Riders
Riders have been known to run in to each other because they are not paying attention. Avoid these mishaps by riding in staggered formation. This increases your field of vision and makes collisions between riders less likely to occur.
- You Accidentally Lock Your Front Brakes
It’s not easy for beginners to manipulate the front brake because it is such a powerful tool, so it is easy to cause your bike to topple over when you misuse it. Avoid this type of disaster by finding a location with wide open spaces so that you can practice employing this instrument correctly.
- Someone Opens a Car Door in Front of You
It’s easy to keep this from happening to you. Don’t ride between parked vehicles and an active lane of traffic. Sometimes, you can’t avoid the car door. If this occurs, forcefully apply the brakes to lessen the damage.
- The Roads are Slick
This will only be a problem for you if you have not performed proper maintenance on your bike. If this describes you, you are in danger of being involved in a collision because of dilapidated tires. Make a point of inspecting your tires today. When it is time, replace them with new ones, and ride carefully when it rains or snows.
- You are Speeding
Speeding results in collisions more often than any other action you can perform on the roads. That’s because speeding makes it less likely that you will see the vehicles around you. To avoid crashes due to speeding, slow down.
The tips you learned will help you prevent the above-described collisions, but there are other things that you can do to make riding safer before you get on your bike. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses that teach you how to handle your bike and make the best judgments possible when you are on the road.
It’s also a good idea to wear safety gear. It will help prevent serious injuries if you are involved in a crash, but it will also make you more visible to other motorists on the road.Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are a motorcycle rider in Los Angeles, California, you have many opportunities to be involved in a collision with a vehicle. Because you are not surrounded by metal, you are susceptible to suffering very serious injuries. If this has already happened to you, you need to contact a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you fight an insurance company that is trying very hard to force you to accept a low settlement that is much less than you deserve. Contact the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC on our TOLL FREE (24 hour a days 7 day a week) biker injury hotline: 866-966-5240.Related Resources
- Determining Legal Fault in a California Motorcycle Crash
- Motorcycle Accident Claims Attorney, Los Angeles, CA