Motorcycle accidents happen with unfortunate frequency in southern California especially in our urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County. As a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer, I know that there are many bikers that are injured or killed from either alcohol related accidents or mechanical failure but, many more that are seriously injured or die from driver error negligence. The motorcyclists of today face a much higher rate of danger while driving than just ten years ago. With accidents on the rise due to cell phone usage while driving, the trends in road rage increasing, and a national increase in traffic and congestion, motorcyclists have to take much more caution while riding in public today. Due to California’s congested freeways and surface streets and the popularity of riding motorcycles due to good weather most of the year, California is a prime location for biker mishaps.
Based upon the California Highway Patrol statistics compiled in their Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions (using 2011 as an example year):
- Approximately 435 drivers and passengers on motorbikes or scooters were injured or killed annually in the Golden State
- Ten times that number of persons are injured each year riding motorcycles, mopeds and motorized scooters
- As a percentage of all motor vehicle operators in California, motorcycle riders comprise a higher statistical probability of being seriously injured or killed in a traffic collision.
While safe riding techniques, proper equipment like helmets, gloves, boots, and protective clothing like leather jackets do help in reducing incidents, the fact remains that bikers are and will remain prone to collisions which cause serious bodily harm. The smaller size of the bike as compared to other vehicles causes motor vehicle negligence errors in not spotting the biker and the lack of a metal cage of protection around the bike leads to a higher likelihood that a crash will result in heavy impact on the body of the biker.Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Southern California including the Greater Los Angeles Area
Fundamentally, motorcycle accidents usually come down to one common variable, the size of the motorcycle compared to other vehicles like cars, trucks and SUVs. This leads to accidents involving failure of motor vehicles like truck and automobiles to see the motorcyclist and to avoid a collision. This plays out in several common accident scenarios as follows:
- Unsafe Lane Changes: Most commonly occurring on freeways but, also on multiple lane surface streets, the motorist simply does not adequately check rear and side view mirrors or blind spots, changes lanes abrubtly (sometimes without properly signaling) and collides with the motorcycle rider, who doesn’t have time to react or has nowhere to escape. The legal cause of these incidents is most often California Vehicle Code §22107 which mandates that drivers should not move left or right between lanes until it is reasonably safe to do so and only after giving an appropriate signal.
- Left Hand Turns In Front of Bikes: This occurs in and around intersections especially on busy urban streets with multiple directions of travel and middle turn lanes. The motor vehicle operator initiates or continues through a turn left in front of oncoming traffic and fails to see the biker causing a collision or causing the motorcycle to skid and lay down. California Vehicle Code 21801 puts the onus on the driver making the left to yield to the right of way to the motorcycle rider in this instance and only start or continue turning when there is sufficient distance between the car and the biker.
- Cars Pulling Out of Side Streets and Parking Lots and Into The Path of the Motorcycle Rider: This occurs when a car, truck or SUV fails to observe an oncoming motorcycle, pulls out in front, and causes a broadside collision or the biker to swerve and lose control trying to avoid impact. The operable California statute in these cases is CVC 21804, which requires all drivers entering a roadway to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and only enter when safe to do so.
Primarily, motorcycle collisions come down to one factor, namely, the disparity in size between the motorbike and rider and other, larger vehicles. This smaller size leads to lack of notice and miscalculations by motor vehicle operators as to speed and distance (i.e. the distance between the biker and the car or truck driver and the velocity of the vehicles).Common Injuries from Cycle Collisions
Unfortunately, there is no buffer between a biker and the impact of a traffic mash-up. Protective gear like helmets, leather riding wear and gloves can help but, most often motorcycle accidents result in serious bodily harm including skull, spine, elbow, arm, leg and wrist fractures; tears to major tendons and ligaments including knees and ankles and significant soft tissue damage including herniated discs in the neck and back. While wearing a DOT approved helmet does lessen the chances of serious head trauma, this is still the number one cause of long term medical injury or even fatality.Why Is It Crucial To Hire A California Motorcycle Accident Law Firm If You Are Injured In A Bike Crash In Los Angeles or Anywhere In Southern CA?
Obviously, there are many accident attorneys in and around Southern California. Many of these attorneys feel competent to represent victims of motorcycle accidents but, are all attorneys the same? The simple answer is, No. Why is this the case?
- Motorcycle accident injuries are oftentimes more severe and more often than not involve head injuries like concussions and other “closed head” injuries. An experience motorcycle lawyer will be able to ask the right questions and consult with the proper medical professionals such as Neurologists and Orthopedists to determine the full extent of the injuries so that the case is not settled with all present and future medical expenses being accounted.
- Unfortunately, there are stereotypes about people who ride motorcycles being thrill seekers or “outlaws”. A quality motorcycle accident victims advocate knows how to refute these arguments and present their client in a positive light.
- The dynamics of a motorcycle accident case are often hard to recreate. A quality motorcycle lawyer will hire experts, if necessary, to reconstruct the accident and/or speak to the forces exerted on the human body of the motorcycle rider.
Our client was a middle aged woman who had been riding motorcycles for almost 25 years without an accident. She was traveling towards a busy intersection in Los Angeles when a car made a left hand turn in front of her. The driver didn’t recall seeing or hearing anything at the time of the incident but, our client’s front tire hit his vehicle, causing her to wobble and go down. We hired accident reconstruction and other experts to estimate speeds and distances and obtained a significant six figure recovery.
A 29 year old biker was traveling in the HOV lane on the 405 Freeway going to work. An impatient driver attempted to cross over the double yellow line and side-swiped her motorcycle sending her into the guard rail which resulted in her death. The driver fled the scene and would later claim to CHP that it was the motorcycle that hit him and not the other way around. Examining the accident scene and physical evidence and tracking a key witness resulted in a policy limits settlement of $1,250,000.00 to her family.
For a free consultation with a California motorcycle attorney regarding any accident involving a motorcycle, moped, scooter or ATV, in the Golden State call our office. Toll Free Statewide: 866-966-5240 or in the Los Angeles area at 310-592-0445. We also have satellite locations throughout Southern California including the San Gabriel Valley, The Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego.Additional Resources