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Motorcycles 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.
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:
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.
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.
Evidence of liability is a critical component of strengthening a motorcycle accident claim. Important evidence of liability may include:
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:
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:
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.
There are a variety of equipment requirements that riders must abide by, which differ among the states. In California, requirements include:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
No Fees Unless We Recover Money On Your Behalf