Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Orange, CA
If you’re an avid motorcyclist, nothing matches the picturesque views of taking a ride along our beautiful Southern California coasts. While our long, winding roads and fresh ocean breeze make the Golden State a beautiful place to ride, it also presents its fair share of hazards that put even the most experienced motorcyclists at risk of an accident.
According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 motorcycle accidents occurred nationwide during 2019. With more than 8,000 registered motorcyclists in the state of California, riders need to know what they should do and why turning to a motorcycle accident lawyer in the event of a motorcycle accident can help them recover compensation they deserve to move forward.
If you’re a motorcycle rider and suffered serious injuries in a car accident, give our law firm a call to schedule a free consultation today. Our professional legal team will discuss your potential personal injury claim and what you can expect from our legal representation.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
While car accidents are caused by several different factors including distracted driving, road rage, and fatigue, motorcycle accidents are usually the result of another driver’s error or failure to notice them. Other common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Left-hand turn accidents: According to the NHTSA, 42% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by passenger cars making a left-hand turn at an intersection. This is usually the result of the car making the left-hand turn failing to yield or recognize that the motorcyclists will be driving straight through the intersection.
- Driver distraction: Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is the result of driver distraction. Even though it’s illegal to hold your cell phone while driving in California, drivers still actively use their phones while on the road. Motorists who are distracted with their electronics, flipping through radio stations, conversing with other passengers, or eating can fail to notice a nearby motorcyclist. So, when a distracted driver makes a turn, backs out of a parking space, or transitions into another lane, they can subsequently hit a motorcyclist.
- Failure to notice: Because of a motorcycle’s small size, many drivers may not see a motorcyclist until it’s too late. According to the NHTSA, 41% of all motorcycle crashes are the direct result of not being seen by another driver. Bikers can make themselves more visible by wearing bright, reflective clothing, especially when riding at night.
- Inexperience: Unfortunately, another common cause of motorcycle accidents has to do with driver inexperience. Many new motorcyclists are at a greater risk of getting into a motorcycle accident during their first year of riding than those who are more seasoned because they may not be able to easily anticipate the actions of other drivers, nor be familiar with all the roads and hazards they bring. The same goes for new or young car-drivers, as they are not as familiar with the roadways and the dangers to watch out for.
Proving Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
All drivers have a responsibility to provide a duty of care to other drives on the road. This implied consent pertains to obeying traffic laws and avoiding illegal activity such as drinking and driving when operating a motor vehicle. Motorcyclists are not immune to this standard of care and should also refrain from engaging in reckless behaviors such as weaving in and out of traffic, lane splitting, or tailgating.
However, when this implied duty of care is breached and causes an accident and someone’s subsequent injuries, the state of California will make anyone who helped cause the breach financially responsible for the injuries that occurred.
If you’re a motorcyclist who was injured by a negligent driver who turned left without yielding or who was speeding recklessly, your Orange motorcycle accident attorney will need evidence to support your claims and to determine that a breach did occur. To do this, your lawyer will use a copy of your police report, photographic evidence, medical reports, and expert witness testimonies. They will also utilize an accident reconstruction expert to piece together the accident as it occurred.
But What About Multi-Vehicle Accidents?
The process will still be the same. California law makes anyone involved in an accident financially responsible for their percentage of fault. So, even if you were 10% at fault for the chain-reaction accident, you’d still be able to recover 90% of compensation from the other parties involved. This is known as California’s pure comparative negligence system.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Unlike drivers of passenger or other commercial vehicles, motorcyclists are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to optimal protection in a motorcycle accident. Whereas other drivers are protected by airbags and thousands of pounds of metal, motorcyclists have nothing but their clothing and helmet to protect them from the road. As such, the injuries motorcyclists sustain are often more severe than other types of motor vehicle crashes.
In fact, according to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are four times more likely to get injured and 16 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash compared to other passenger vehicle drivers. The most common injuries caused by motorcycle accidents in Orange, California include:
- Head injuries/traumatic brain injuries: Since motorcyclists aren’t offered the same kind of protection between them and the road, the risk of a traumatic brain injury increases, especially if they are not properly wearing a helmet or forgoing one altogether. All motorcyclists are required by law in California under Vehicle Code Section 27803 to wear a helmet. Going off CA’s pure comparative negligence rule, if a motorcyclist is injured in an accident, they could have their compensation award reduced by not wearing a helmet.
- Road rash: Another common injury that’s unique to motorcyclists is road rash. Road rash occurs when motorcyclists make contact with the pavement. It’s a type of skin abrasion/road burn that can vary in severity depending on the circumstances of the crash. As best, it leaves injured motorcyclists with a red, splotchy patch on their body. At worst, motorcyclists may need to get a skin graft to cover up the fat and tissue that was exposed by the accident.
- “Biker’s arm”: In situations where a motorcyclist is thrown off their bike, they may suffer from a condition known as biker’s arm, since they may try to instinctively toss up their arms to protect themselves during the impact. Unfortunately, doing this can cause severe and oftentimes permanent nerve damage and upper body pain.
- Broken bones/leg injuries/spinal cord injuries: In a catastrophic motorcycle accident, many motorists may suffer broken bones, torn ligaments, leg injuries such as shattered knees, or worse a debilitating spinal cord injury, Wearing a thick jacket and knee pads can help protect your body, lessening the full impact of your injury.
5 Things to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
The first few moments after a motorcycle accident can seem like a blur. Because of the severity of injuries California motorcyclists endure, the most important thing to do is seek medical attention. However, if you’re able, we recommend following the five steps listed below, as well:
- Leave your safety gear on: After an accident, your first instinct might be to take off your protective gear, especially if you feel hurt. However, doing so could worsen your condition. Leave everything on until the paramedics arrive and can properly remove these safety items for you.
- If possible, move away from oncoming traffic: Staying in the flow of traffic puts you and the other driver at risk of another accident. If it’s possible, try to move off to the side of the road to prevent any further injury. If you’re unable to do so, put your hazards on or use road flares to direct traffic away from you until help arrives.
- Call the police: Any motor vehicle accident that results in injury or death is required by California law to be reported. However, when calling the police, you are always ensuring a copy of the police report, which will contain pertinent information your lawyer will need to file a compensation claim.
- Collect the other driver’s information: This includes their phone number, full name, and insurance carrier info, including policy. If multiple people are involved, be sure to obtain the same information from everybody.
- Take photos of the accident scene: Take photos of the condition of your bike, if you suffered obvious injuries such as road rash, name of the intersection/street the accident occurred, names of any eyewitnesses or storefronts that saw the accident, road hazards such as potholes, or missing guardrails, and weather conditions. The more you document, the better.
In some cases, motorists will try to leave the scene of the accident, so you should always take note of their license plate and make and model of their vehicle. If another driver engages in road rage or attempts to leave, do not follow them or engage.
How Much is My Motorcycle Injury Claim Worth?
The value of a motorcycle accident claim will depend on several factors, including the extent of your injuries, whether or not you can return to work, lost earning capacity, and your current and possible future medical expenses. This is why medical bills and records, co-pay receipts, photographic evidence, and the police report are so valuable, as they can help put a dollar amount to your motorcycle injury claim.
If your motorcycle injuries preclude you from being able to return to work, for example, your lawyer will calculate the earnings and employment benefits such as paid vacation and sick time, to determine your lost earning capacity. Determining future lost earnings is a bit more challenging since it considers these values, as well as the injured party’s work-life expectancy. This is why many personal injury lawyers consult financial experts to calculate this value.
How Can an Orange Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Unfortunately, there is a bias against motorcyclists, as the public tends to view them as being negligent by driving too fast or weaving in and out of traffic. However, many motorcyclists exercise more caution and duty of care than those driving cars.
When a motorcycle accident happens, the other driver’s insurance company can be quick to claim they’re not at fault or try to deny coverage. This is a frustrating predicament to be in, especially when you’re injured and need money to pay for your medical bills.
Fortunately, this is one of the ways in which an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help. Lawyers are familiar with the bias insurance companies have against motorcyclists and know how to get around the tactics they use to deny rightful coverage. Your lawyer will negotiate with them and protect your rights so you’re not taken for a ride (metaphorically, of course).
Why Choose the Motorcycle Injury Lawyers From Santiago Accident Lawyers?
First and foremost, at Santiago Accident Lawyers, we don’t hold any bias toward motorcycle riders. We understand that when an accident occurs, motorcyclists deserve the right amount of compensation just like any other injured motorist.
Our personal injury firm in Orange has years of experience handling the most complex motorcycle accident claims. Our lawyers have received numerous legal accolades for our work representing motorcycle accident injury victims. We don’t rest until you get the compensation you deserve to move forward with your life after your motorcycle accident.
Santiago Accident Lawyers has been representing Orange County motorcycle accident victims for years. Our firm offers free, 24/7 consultations to those injured in motorcycle accidents. Whether you need help filing a claim, determining liability, or advocating for your rights against big insurance companies, our team can help. Call us today at 714-912-7619 to schedule a free consultation.