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Bakersfield Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

San Diego car accident lawyersMotorcycles offer riders a sense of freedom and sheer joy, and riding is an especially popular activity in Bakersfield. Whether riders decide to cruise through world-famous Sequoia National Forest and into the Greenhorn Mountain Range or head south to the Tehachapi Mountains and historic Tejon Ranch, from popular roadway routes like Lake Isabella and Brush Creek to off-the-beaten-path experiences like the Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway, Bakersfield’s warm, dry climate welcomes motorcycle riders year-round.

For these reasons, Bakersfield has a thriving motorcycle community; but with that comes tragic accidents, too. If you or a loved one were in a Bakersfield motorcycle accident, contact the experienced legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to discuss your options.

Injured in an accident? Get a real trial lawyer. Get Gomez.

Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Injuries

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you may recover compensation for your injuries. Injured victims may seek compensation for:

  • The cost of current and future medical care.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of future earning capacity.
  • Property damages.
  • Cost of household services, if, for example, an individual’s injuries require them to hire a lawn service or house cleaners while they recover.
  • Physical and mental or emotional pain and suffering.
  • Disfigurement or physical impairment.
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium or companionship.
  • In some cases, the court may award punitive damages. The purpose of these damages is to punish a defendant for his or her egregiously wrongful conduct.

Liability for Motorcycle Accidents

As with almost all motor vehicle accidents, to seek compensation, an injured victim must show that another’s negligence contributed to causing the accident. Negligence refers to one’s “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

To succeed in asserting a negligence claim, the injured person must prove each of the four elements of negligence.

  • First, the injured party must show that the other individual owed a duty to prevent unreasonable harm to the injured party.
  • Second, the injured party must show that the other individual failed to uphold that duty.
  • Third, the injured party must demonstrate that the other’s failure to uphold that duty caused the injuries.
  • Finally, to be entitled to recover damages, the injured party must show that he or she incurred losses as a result of their injuries related to the accident.

Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it is important to obtain a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Some injuries, including some life-threatening injuries, may not immediately exhibit symptoms. Injured parties should collect and store all medical records and bills pertaining to their injuries.

Unlike criminal cases, in a civil motorcycle accident claim, the standard of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of the evidence standard requires the injured party to present evidence that is ultimately more credible and convincing than the evidence presented by the other party.

Drivers of passenger vehicles often fail to observe motorcyclists in traffic, which in turn means that the drivers are often responsible for motorcycle accidents. Often, motorcycle accidents may involve more than one liable individual or entity. Employers of an employee-driver may be liable if they fail to provide adequate training for the employee or maintenance on the vehicle. Government entities may also be liable for damages if they fail to maintain the roads properly or provide adequate signage. In cases where a defective motorcycle or motorcycle component causes a crash, the vehicle manufacturer or a mechanic may be liable.

Proving Liability and Damages

Evidence of liability is a critical component of strengthening a motorcycle accident claim. Important evidence of liability may include:

  • Police reports.
  • Pictures of the scene, including property damage, skid marks, and physical injuries.
  • Medical records.
  • Medical bills, including bills from care providers, rehabilitation centers, and home healthcare services.
  • Eyewitness statements.
  • Surveillance footage of the accident from local businesses.
  • Accident reconstruction reports.
  • Expert testimony.
  • Records showing lost wages.

Common Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Motorcyclists are far more vulnerable to severe injuries than those riding in enclosed vehicles. Cars have a variety of safety features that help protect occupants in the event of a crash, but motorcyclists have little or no protection. As mentioned, motorcycles are smaller, lighter, and less stable than other motor vehicles. Therefore, a slight impact can still cause severe injuries. Motorcyclists are often ejected from their bikes during impact, hitting the pavement, other vehicles, or nearby  objects.

Common motorcycle accident injuries include:

11 Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

In some ways, operating a motorcycle requires different skills than driving a car: for example, balance and coordination. Motorcyclists also need to remain aware of the fact that other drivers often cannot see the motorcyclists. However, many factors may contribute to a motorcycle accident.

Some of the more common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  1. Unsafe lane changes. Because motorcycles are smaller vehicles, they are inherently harder to observe. A driver who fails to check his or her blind spots or properly signal a lane change may not see a nearby motorcycle before it is too late to avoid an accident.
  2. Car doors. Car door accidents commonly involve motorcyclists, yet this type of accident is easily preventable. A car door accident involves an individual failing to check for oncoming traffic before exiting a parked car, and then swinging open the door directly in the path of a motorcyclist.
  3. Speeding. Speeding is reported to be a major contributing factor in all types of motor vehicle accidents. In addition, speeding increases the impact of a crash, which results in increased damage. Of course, driving at excessive speeds above the posted limit constitutes speeding, however, individuals may also be cited for speeding when driving too fast for road conditions.
  4. Driving under the influence. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a factor in approximately half of all motorcycle accidents.
  5. Sudden stops. If someone is tailgating or stops abruptly, neither driver has ample time to react. Unfortunately, a simple sudden stop can lead to serious injury or death to a motorcyclist.
  6. Inexperienced drivers. Young or new drivers are more likely to make unsafe moves on the road. Unsafe, inexperienced drivers compromise the safety of everyone on the road.
  7. Left-turn accidents. Accidents occurring as a motor vehicle completes a left turn account for 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car. When drivers are turning left, they may make errors regarding right-of-way, misjudge the amount of distance between themselves and an oncoming motorcyclist, or simply fail to see a motorcycle, resulting in an accident.
  8. Dangerous road conditions. A motorcycle is smaller and less stable than vehicles with four wheels. Therefore, motorcyclists have a higher risk of an accident resulting from poorly maintained roads, including debris, potholes, or unexpected objects in the road. If someone’s negligence caused a roadway hazard that contributed to an accident, that individual may be liable for damages.
  9. Motorcycle defects. If machine defects caused an accident, the manufacturer may be liable for any injuries or deaths.
  10. Hitting a fixed object. When a motorcycle crashes into a stationary object, such as a barrier, guardrail, or light post, the motorcyclist is likely to be thrown from the bike, making them vulnerable to serious injury.
  11. Type of motorcycle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that drivers of supersport motorcycles have a much higher fatality rate than those who drive other types of motorcycles.

California Motorcycle Laws

Motorcyclists must follow the same laws that apply to drivers of cars, trucks, and other vehicles. For example, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Similarly, speeding or failing to obey traffic signals is against the law. In addition, some laws only apply to operators of motorcycles. A motorcycle is “a motor vehicle with a seat or saddle for the rider designed to travel on not more than three wheels.”

A motorcyclist must register his or her vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. To drive a motorcycle, you must have a Class M1 license. Applying for your motorcycle license is comparable to applying for a driver’s license. Riders over the age of 18 are required to pass a vision exam, knowledge test, and driving test. Riders may be exempt from the knowledge test if they successfully complete a motorcycle basic rider course.

If you are under 18 years of age, but at least 16 years old, you must obtain and hold an instruction permit for six months. To earn a motorcycle license, riders with a permit must pass a vision test, knowledge test, and complete an approved motorcycle basic rider course.

For those riders who are unfortunately involved in an accident, if the property damage amounts to more than $1,000, or if anyone was injured (even if the injury was minor) or died, you must report the collision to DMV. Failure to do so may result in a license suspension.

Equipment Requirements

There are a variety of equipment requirements that riders must abide by, which differ among the states. In California, requirements include:

  • The seat position must be low enough to allow the motorcyclist’s feet to reach the ground while driving. Handlebars cannot elevate the operator’s hands more than six inches above their shoulders. To permit a passenger, the motorcycle must be equipped with passenger footrests.
  • Motorcycles must have at least 1 mirror position to enable the driver to view at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Motorcycles are required to have properly functioning front and rear turn signals. However, there is an exception to the turn-signal requirement that exempts motorcycles which were built and first registered before January 1, 1973.
  • Every motorcycle must be equipped with both mirrors and a muffler.
  • After 1978, motorcycles must have a head-lamp that turns on automatically and remains on while the engine is running.
  • Motorcycles made in 2013 or later must have exhaust systems that comply with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

In addition, there are requirements related to riders’ personal safety equipment. California law mandates that motorcycle operators, as well as passengers, must wear helmets that are approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT-approved helmets are outfitted with a DOT sticker indicating compliance with regulations, and the sticker must be displayed visibly. Although not a formal requirement, safety experts strongly encourage riders to wear face and/or eye protection, as well as protective clothing, boots, and gloves.

Insurance Requirements

In California, every owner of a registered motorcycle is required to obtain motorcycle insurance. Motorcycle insurance must be purchased separately from any traditional vehicle insurance coverage riders may already hold. An individual’s regular motor vehicle insurance will not extend coverage to accidents that occur while they are riding their motorcycle.

In California, the insurance minimums for motorcycle insurance are the same as they are for passenger vehicles, which is often characterized as 15/30/5 insurance.

Under the state’s insurance requirements, motorcyclists must obtain the following liability coverage limits:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury incurred by another person
  • $30,000 for bodily injury to others involved in the accident
  • $5,000 for property damage caused by a collision

However, the 15/30/5 characterization merely represents the minimum required coverage. Of course, should motorcyclists so desire, they may purchase additional coverage, such as uninsured and underinsured (UI/UIM) motorist coverage and MedPay coverage, which will help cover the personal costs of an accident caused by the insured.

You’re Not Alone

Motorcycle accidents are an issue across the country, not just in Bakersfield. Nationwide, there were 4,985 motorcycle fatalities in 2018. Although the number of fatalities represents a 5 percent decrease from the previous year, motorcycle accidents involving deaths continue to be a major issue around the nation and in Bakersfield. Recently, California reported the highest number of registered private and commercial motorcycles in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 488 motorcycle fatalities in California alone.

Motorcycles represent only 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles. However, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to be killed in a collision than the occupants of other types of vehicles. Due to the inherent lack of protection offered by a motorcycle, riders are more vulnerable than individuals riding in passenger cars. Motorcycle accidents commonly result in severe injuries and death.

Were You in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Gomez Trial Attorneys’ Bakersfield Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Now

John Gomez, Bakersfield Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Step one, immediately after an accident, call 911. Check yourself and others involved for injuries. If possible, move to a safe area. Take pictures of the accident scene from all angles. Remember that fault is a legal issue, so do not apologize or admit fault to anyone.

The statute of limitations sets time limits within which injured parties are permitted to file a motorcycle accident claim. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should consult a knowledgeable, experienced Bakersfield motorcycle accident attorney. For further information or a free consultation, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys or call us at (619) 237-3490 today.

Gomez Trial Attorneys
1825, 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(619) 237-3490

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