The days of the “outlaw motorcycle” stereotype have long since passed as motorcycles become an increasingly common mode of transportation and recreation for people from all walks of life, including blue collar workers, businessman, corporate executives and even Hollywood A-Listers. Despite their growing popularity, the risk of serious injury and fatality is much greater for those who ride motorcycles in California.
Motorcycles are relatively unstable when compared to other passenger vehicles and provide riders with a very small margin of error. This means when inattentive, alcohol impaired or otherwise careless drivers make a mistake, a motorcyclist may be unable to safely respond to avoid a collision. A California motorcycle accident lawyer understands that motorcycles are harder to see so many devastating motorcycle accidents occur when riders are cut off by motorists who fail to check their blind spot when changing lanes.
While motorcyclists face a higher probability of being involved in a collision because of their handling limitations, the nature of the injuries suffered in a California motorcycle accident are also more severe. Motorcycles offer none of the protections from injury afforded by a passenger vehicle including a protective body, air bags, shoulder harnesses or lap belts.
Since vehicles ejections are a virtual certainty in a California motorcycle accident, this lack of barriers between motorcycle riders and the hard pavement of the roadway often results in catastrophic injuries and far too often fatalities. An experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer knows well that if a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet, the risk of life-altering and even fatal head injuries is extremely high.
Motorcycles are problematic because even when a rider does everything correctly, they are still extremely vulnerable to the negligence of other drivers. Motorcycles have features that make it harder to avoid an accident hazard posed by the negligence of other drivers including:
Features Contributing to California Motorcycle Accidents
Braking Distances: Because of the risk of “laying a bike down”, motorcycle riders need greater braking distances, particularly at freeways speeds. When traffic comes to an unanticipated stop in front of a motorcyclist, the option of “slamming on the brakes” is not realistic given the handling characteristics of a motorcycle.
Sharp Turns: While motorcycles may swerve to avoid obstacles, hard sharp turn also create a risk of the bike tipping and the rider being ejected.
Lack of Visibility: Compared to passenger vehicles, motorcycles are small and more difficult to see. Because it is legal in California for motorcyclists to “lane split,” this difficulty in perceiving motorcycles may be combined with their being present in places that other drivers do not expect them.
Uneven Terrain: Even roadway defects like potholes that might not be noticeable to the driver of a passenger vehicle can trap the wheel of a motorcycle and cause horrific California motorcycle accidents. When drivers of passenger vehicles are endangered by other drivers in front of them, they may be able to steer onto the shoulder of the road to avoid a collision. Because shoulders of the roadway typically offer uneven terrain, this is typically not a viable option for riders to avoid a California motorcycle accident.
Kinds of Driver Negligence that Cause California Motorcycle Collisions
When these handling limitations are combined with negligent driving of passenger vehicles, the results can be tragic. There are many types of unsafe driving that may be the basis for a negligence claim by a California motorcycle accident lawyer including:
- Talking or texting on a cell phone
- Drunk or drugged drivers
- Unsafe lane changes or merging, including failure to check blind spots
- Speeding or driving too fast on slippery roads
- Not allowing sufficient following distance
- Lack of awareness of the presence of motorcycles (distracted driving)
- Drivers that are tired or fatigued
- Failure to stop or yield at intersections
- Aggressive driving
While these are only a few of the types of driving behaviors that may put motorcycle riders at risk of being involved in a California motorcycle accident, they provide a feel for the scope of the risk posed to riders by the negligence of other drivers. If you ride a motorcycle for any reason, any California motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you that it is important that you wear a helmet. While helmet use is mandatory for all riders in California, some people do not comply with California’s mandatory helmet law. Motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities. One study found that over forty percent of those killed in fatal motorcycle accidents were not wearing a helmet. It also has been shown that motorcycle riders that are not wearing a helmet are three times more likely to suffer a head injury, and the leading cause of motorcycle fatalities are serious head injuries.
Understanding Compensation for Serious Motorcycle Accident Injuries
If you are involved in a California motorcycle accident, you may suffer the type of permanent debilitating injuries that can impact your entire life as well as your ability to care for your family. Many motorcycle accidents in California result in catastrophic injuries that require a lifetime of supportive care and permanent impairment of cognitive functioning, mobility and /or sensation. Some of the types of injuries that may be suffered in a serious California motorcycle accident include the following:
- Severe road rash
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Injury to the spinal cord impacting sensation and mobility
- Traumatic brain injuries which impair cognitive functioning
- Body crush injuries to bones
- Damage to vital organs
- Wrongful death
These types of injuries do not heal overnight and may entail months if not years of treatment and supportive care. The cost associated with treating these types of injuries can reach into six figures, which is even more troubling when the motorcycle accident victim is responsible for providing the primary financial support for the victim’s family. An experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer understands the importance of recovering the full measure of damages following a serious motorcycle accident. An experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to seek compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary loss. Pecuniary loss includes economic loss like medical costs, lost wages and future lost income due to physical or mental disability. Non-pecuniary loss refers to less tangible types of loss like pain and suffering, impaired enjoyment of life, loss of companionship of a spouse and the like.
Certain types of damages like punitive damages are only available if certain aggravating factors apply to your California motorcycle accident claim. The best way to learn about the specific types of damages that may be available in your case is to speak with an experienced California motorcycle lawyer. California law firms that handle motorcycle accident settlements and litigation typically do so on a contingency basis, which means that they are paid a percentage of any recovery. An experienced California motorcycle lawyer can assess your case and advise you of your legal rights, potential strategies for recovery and estimated value of your California motorcycle accident claim so call today!