California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
With ample sunshine and beautiful scenery, California is a great place to ride a motorcycle. Unfortunately, some motorcyclists who ride the streets of San Diego and beyond never make it home, or they come home with severe injuries due to a motorcycle accident.
The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that, in 2016, 714 people were killed or injured in motorcycle accidents in San Diego. 2,122 motorcyclists lost their lives statewide that year, and on a national level, the Insurance Information Institute revealed that 5,286 fatalities resulted from motorcycle accidents.
If you were injured or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else, you may be eligible for compensation. Let us help you understand how.
Why Motorcycle Accidents Are so Deadly
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the occupants of other types of vehicles. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Motorcycles are less crashworthy than closed vehicles, lacking the protective features of a car, such as a steel frame, seat belts, and airbags.
- Motorcycles, with just two wheels, are less stable than other vehicles, meaning they’re more likely to crash if the motorcyclist attempts to maneuver around hazards in the roadway. Risky areas for motorcyclists include rough roads, roads with loose gravel, lanes of different heights, slick surfaces, standing water, and places where there is debris on the road.
- They’re also less visible to other motorists, increasing the risk of being hit simply because the driver did not see them.
- Operating a motorcycle requires different physical and mental skills than driving a car does. Sometimes, motorcyclists have difficulty mastering these different skills or transitioning to a different skill set depending on which vehicle they’re using.
The National Safety Council reports that, while motorcycles only make up about 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States, they account for around 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
How Other Motorists Cause Motorcycle Accidents
An I-15 motorcycle crash was reported near Fallbrook. According to authorities, the motorcyclist was traveling along the road when a Hyundai Sonata approached him from behind at a significantly faster speed. The driver failed to see the motorcyclist and hit him from behind. The force of the collision threw the motorcyclist to the pavement, where the car ran over him.
The motorcyclist was critically injured and died at the scene. Officers at the scene performed a roadside sobriety test on the driver of the Sonata and determined that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested. That section of the road was closed for about five hours to clean up debris that was scattered across all lanes of the freeway.
A motorcyclist suffered significant lower body injuries after a collision with a car in Escondido. The accident occurred when the driver of a car allegedly attempted to make a left turn into a driveway and pulled into the path of the motorcyclist in the process. The motorcyclist was thrown from his motorcycle after hitting the side of the vehicle. The driver of the car allegedly took off. According to witness statements and evidence found at the scene, the motorcyclist was traveling at or below the speed limit at the time of the crash. As of the publication of the report, the driver of the car—a green Jeep Grand Cherokee—had not been located. The motorcyclist underwent surgery for his injuries.
Other motorists frequently cause motorcycle accidents. Here are some of the ways that these accidents happen:
- Left turns: This is the most dangerous driving task for a motorcyclist. Studies indicate that drivers tend to see the absence of other cars when turning but not the presence of a motorcycle. Whether the driver fails to see the motorcyclist or misjudges the speed at which the motorcyclist is traveling, this is a common way for a motorcycle accident to occur.
- Following too closely: A car tailgating a motorcycle is another dangerous dilemma. If the motorcycle should stop suddenly and get hit from behind, the risk of serious injury or even death can result.
- Unsafe lane changing: Drivers who fail to check their blind spots, scan over their shoulder, or use turn signals run the risk of having an accident with a motorcycle.
- Speeding: As one of the leading causes of all motor vehicle crashes, speeding is dangerous as it makes the vehicle more difficult to control and harder to stop.
- Alcohol impairment: Alcohol impairs many functions needed for safe driving. An alcohol-impaired motorist who causes an accident with a motorcycle may face both criminal and civil liability.
- Dooring: A dooring accident is caused when the occupant of a car parked on the side of the road opens the door into the path of a motorcyclist. This action generally causes the motorcyclist to either swerve to avoid the door—which places him or her at risk of losing control of the motorcycle—or collide with the door.
Injuries Caused in Motorcycle Accidents
As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death of the motorcyclist. Because a motorcycle accident almost always causes the rider and passengers to either slide across the ground or fly through the air, the injuries sustained in this type of crash tend to be quite serious. Some common injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: This is the most common cause of death due to a motorcycle accident. Those who survive often have deficits in physical and mental function and often require lifelong care. As noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmeted riders have a 73 percent lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders, and unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to suffer a brain injury in an accident. Helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries can cause the complete loss of function and sensation below the site of the injury. Severe injuries located high up on the spine can leave a person unable to breathe on their own.
- Limb amputations: Amputations may occur during the accident or be required surgically after the accident due to severely broken bones or infected wounds.
- Facial fractures: Breaking the bones in the face may result in disfigurement and the need for reconstructive surgery.
- Broken bones: Broken bones can lead to permanent nerve damage or even disability.
- Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding can be caused by blunt force trauma or even damage from broken ribs.
- Biker’s arm: Biker’s arm is severe nerve damage in the arm caused by a person’s protective instinct to use his or her arm to protect the body in an accident. The damage caused by biker’s arm is often permanent.
- Road rash: It’s one of the most common injuries to incur in a motorcycle accident and is often regarded as a minor injury. However, road rash can lead to permanent scarring or an infection that could cause organ failure or death.
- Emotional distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder: The psychological ramifications of a motorcycle accident can be debilitating.
Preventing Serious Injuries
Not all accidents are avoidable, regardless of the type of vehicle you’re operating. However, you can prevent serious injuries if you are in an accident while riding a motorcycle. Here are some tips:
- Wear your protective gear every time you ride. The California Department of Motor Vehicles notes that all riders and passengers are required to use Department of Transportation-approved helmets when they ride. Just out for a quick ride and avoiding major roadways? Consider that most collisions happen on short trips of less than five miles, and most riders are traveling at speeds under 30 miles per hour when the crash occurs. Never use a second-hand helmet or a helmet that is old or has been dropped or worn during a crash, as the protective layer in the helmet may be broken down. In addition to your helmet, other protective gear that helps prevent or lessen the severity of injuries includes face protection, gloves, riding boots with thick soles, and a full riding outfit or long pants and a jacket made of leather or a similarly tough material. Purchase armor for additional protection for areas prone to injuries, such as your elbows, shoulders, back, chest, and knees.
- Be visible. Because motorists are less likely to notice a motorcyclist, dressing in bright or reflective material, riding a motorcycle that is brightly colored, running your lights on your motorcycle even during the day, and adding additional lights is suggested.
- Be alert. Many motorists are driving distracted, making it even more important for you to be aware of hazards.
- Invest in anti-lock brakes for your motorcycle, the National Safety Council suggests. These systems are designed to prevent your wheels from locking up in a hard-braking situation. Instead, the anti-lock braking system adjusts the pressure of the brake fluid so that you maintain traction and avoid crashes.
- Invest in your own training. Whether you’re a new rider or an old one, taking a motorcycle safety course can enhance your skills and knowledge of your vehicle.
- Never drink and ride. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported that 28 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016 involved alcohol impairment. Alcohol diminishes your focus, reduces your ability to make good decisions, and decreases important mental and physical functions needed for riding safely.
- Be a courteous user of the roadway—avoid practices such as weaving in and out of lanes or riding on the shoulder.
- Avoid lane splitting. While California law neither expressly allows or prohibits lane splitting—which is the act of passing other vehicles traveling in the same direction within the same lane—the practice is dangerous because drivers may not realize you’re there, putting you at risk of sideswipe or turn-into-path crashes.
- Don’t ride in the blind spot of another vehicle. All vehicles have blind spots in which they are unable to see other vehicles in their side mirrors. Large trucks have very large blind spots on every side of the vehicle. Staying out of a car’s blind spot is yet another way to be more visible and prevent crashes.
- Don’t speed. The faster you are traveling, the more time and effort it takes to come to a safe stop. Additionally, it is harder to control a speeding vehicle than it is to control one that is traveling at a speed that is appropriate for the conditions of the road.
- Stay on your level. If you’re a beginner, get more miles beneath you before you try a supersport motorcycle. Likewise, if you’re riding with other people, choose those that are of a similar riding skill as you. Don’t try to prove that you’re an expert by riding with experts.
- Another word of caution when riding with others: don’t get so caught up in having fun with your friends that you become distracted. Distractions are a major source of accidents with all vehicle types.
- When selecting a motorcycle, make sure it is the right size for your stature. You should be able to put both feet on the ground when stopped.
Call Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Now
The Gomez Law Firm understand both the freedom of the road that is experienced through motorcycle riding, as well as the life-altering circumstances faced by motorcyclists who have been injured in an accident. We are not intimidated by insurance companies who may try and place the blame for the accident on the motorcyclist. We are ready to fight for the compensation you need to enjoy the best recovery possible from your injuries. For a free, no-obligation consultation and case review, contact us online or by calling (619) 237-3490.