Often referred to as “America’s Finest City,” San Diego boasts some of the most beautiful scenery for tourists. However, it is not only tourists enjoying the scenery. San Diego’s motorcycle enthusiasts enjoy it as well, because of many well-known motorcycle routes that traverse the local region, and day trips that allow you to see an even greater number of California’s beautiful spaces from the saddle of a motorcycle.
While these motorcycle routes are certainly worth seeing, there is danger on every roadway due to the design of motorcycles and the risky and careless driving habits of other drivers on San Diego’s frequently congested roadways.
The injuries sustained in San Diego motorcycle accidents are often severe and even incapacitating, resulting in extensive medical treatment, preventing individuals from earning an income, or even causing those injured to require round-the-clock care. Adding insult to injury, motorcyclists are often made to feel like they do not deserve compensation for their injuries due to the increased danger of their chosen transportation method.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can remind you that motorcyclists not only have the same rights to the roadway as other travelers, but you also have the same right to seek compensation for the expenses and physical and psychological impacts you incurred because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. Contact a motorcycle crash attorney who has experience in helping individuals suffering San Diego motorcycle accident injuries to obtain the compensation they deserve.
The Risk of Injury Involved with Riding a Motorcycle in San Diego
Motorcycle accidents kill more than 5,000 people in the U.S. each year and injure many thousands more. Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in an accident than the occupants of passenger cars.
The reasons for this include:
- Lack of visibility to other motorists. Motorcycles are slimmer and smaller than other vehicle types and not as well-lit at night. This makes it harder for other roadway users to see the vehicle.
- Two-wheeled vehicles have less stability than those with four wheels and may be prone to a crash over seemingly minor issues, such as leaves on the road, loose gravel, or wet roadways.
- Operating motorcycles requires a different skill set than operating cars. Riders who fail to master these skills are at a higher risk of having an accident.
- Due to a lack of seatbelts, airbags, and protection from the elements that a car provides, accidents are highly likely to eject riders and their passengers from a motorcycle, resulting in injuries from hitting the pavement or striking objects at a high speed.
What Causes San Diego Motorcycle Injuries?
Other roadway users along San Diego’s busy freeways and arterial roads often exhibit risky or careless driving behaviors that can cause injuries to motorcyclists and their passengers, such as:
- Distracted driving: Driver distractions account for around one-quarter of all fatal traffic accidents, including those involving motorcycles. The three types of driver distractions include visual distractions, which cause the driver to avert his or her eyes from the roadway, manual distractions, which cause the driver to take his or her hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions, which cause the driver’s mind to wander away from the task of driving safely.
- Alcohol impairment: About 34 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involve an alcohol-impaired motor vehicle operator. San Diego sees more than 650 traffic accidents in which alcohol impairment is a factor, including many of the more than 350 fatal motorcycle accidents in the city each year. Alcohol impairs the skills a driver or rider needs to operate his or her vehicle safely, such as the ability to track a moving target, signal detection, process information, maintain a safe speed and a single travel lane, brake effectively, and exercise good judgment.
- Inattentional blindness: One of the most frequently uttered sentences by an at-fault motorist after having an accident with a motorcycle is, “I didn’t even see it.” While this sounds like a convenient excuse, there is some validity to it due to inattentional blindness. Inattentional blindness is not a condition so much as it is the way our brains process information. If a driver is involved in a chaotic situation such as heading north on the 805 freeway at rush hour, the brain may focus on the biggest hazards it can perceive, letting other details go. Motorcycles are never the biggest hazard on the 805, and will often be one of the details that a driver will unknowingly miss when scanning the roadway for danger.
- Dooring: A dooring accident is a common hazard for riders and occurs when the occupant of a vehicle parked on the side of the road opens the door into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist. This will often cause the motorcyclist to either collide with the door or swerve into another traffic lane to avoid the collision.
- Failure to yield: Inattentional blindness and driver distraction often come into play at intersections. All roadway users are required at certain times to yield the right-of-way to other drivers. One of the more frequent causes of San Diego motorcycle accidents involves a left-turning driver on a non-arrow green light who turns into the path of a motorcyclist who is traveling straight on the green light.
San Diego Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Because of the lack of protection that motorcyclists have in accidents, the injuries in motorcycle accidents are often among the worst. The following is a look at some of the most serious San Diego motorcycle accident injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
California has a universal helmet law. This means that all riders and their passengers must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant helmet when operating a motorcycle on San Diego roadways. While helmets reduce the risk of dying in a motorcycle accident by about 37 percent and reduce the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury by 69 percent, many helmeted riders and their passengers will still suffer a traumatic brain injury in the accident.
Because of the brain’s importance in controlling nearly all the functions in the body, and its limited ability to heal from injury, a traumatic brain injury often results in permanent deficits such as memory loss, the inability to control one’s behavior and emotions, the inability to speak or to understand spoken language, inability to move in a balanced, coordinated manner, or even a consciousness disorder in which the individual has lost awareness of themselves self or their surroundings.
A brain injury can impact every aspect of the sufferer’s life, including their ability to earn an income, relationships with family members and friends, and the ability to participate in social or community activities.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Like the brain, the spinal cord has only a limited ability to heal from injuries and injuries often result in permanent disabilities that can deprive the sufferer of the opportunity to earn an income or to accomplish self-care tasks independently. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves extending down the back from the base of the skull that serves as a messenger for the brain to the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, which is a loss of function and sensation below the injury. Injuries in the cervical (neck) area of the spine can paralyze the entire body from the neck down, a condition known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Injuries occurring lower on the spine will often result in paralysis in the lower extremities, known as paraplegia.
Complications after suffering a spinal cord injury are common and will occur throughout the sufferer’s life.
These complications can include:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control that results in an increased risk of infection and other conditions, such as kidney stones or constipation.
- Loss of skin sensation, which can make the sufferer vulnerable to injuries caused by extreme heat or cold, and can prevent the individual from feeling when to change positions to avoid pressure ulcers.
- Circulation issues, including blood clots in the legs that can break free and travel to the lungs, resulting in a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism.
- Respiratory issues from paralysis that affect the chest and stomach muscles and render the injured individual unable to cough and clear excretions from the lungs and throat. This can cause pneumonia, the leading cause of death for individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries.
- Changes to muscle tone that can cause uncontrollable motion and tightening, or spasticity, and soft, limp muscle tone, or flaccidity.
Damage to the Spinal Vertebrae and Discs
Damage can include slipped or ruptured discs or fractured vertebrae in either the neck or back portion of the spine. These injuries often result in chronic pain and loss of mobility and frequently require surgical treatment.
Nearly any bone in the body can break in a motorcycle accident. However, fractures incurred in a motorcycle accident most often involve the lower extremities, including the hips, legs, and feet. The rider’s arms can also break due to the motorcyclist’s instinctual urge to catch themselves with outstretched arms when falling.
Severe burns are a very common injury for motorcyclists to experience in an accident due the motorcycle gas tank’s lack of protection. The accident can cause the tank to rupture, allowing the rider’s skin to touch the gasoline, or flames and heat if the gas ignites.
The treatment of severe burns is one of the most painful medical treatments to experience. Severe burns carry a risk of complications such as infection, scarring or disfigurement, loss of mobility due to scarred joints, and loss of feeling in the damaged skin.
Internal injuries can present with delayed symptoms, which can cause serious problems for the sufferer if bleeding is involved. Internal bleeding, commonly called hemorrhaging, generally occurs after blood vessels are damaged in an internal organ. Severe hemorrhages can result in coma, seizures, the leakage of blood from the eyes or ears, or even potentially fatal organ failure. Some injuries, such as those to the spleen or kidney, can force a doctor to surgically remove the organ.
Serious Motorcycle Injuries in San Diego Deserve Serious Representation
The victims of motorcycle accidents often face judgment from doctors, insurance providers, and others involved in their care, simply because of the negative stereotypes of riders. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney knows your rights and will fight alongside you to push past the stereotypes and bring focus to the truth of the matter: You were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, and you deserve compensation from the at-fault party for the expenses and impacts of your injuries.
Let a motorcycle accident injury attorney help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and answer your legal questions through a free, no-obligation case evaluation.