LOS ANGELES MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYER
The motorcycle industry in Southern California has experienced significant growth recently. Unfortunately, this increase in motorcycle popularity has also translated into an increase in motorcycle accidents, injuries, and deaths. It is said that since the 1990’s the rate of motorcycle fatalities has doubled, especially now that our economy is slowly recovering from the recent crisis and recreational riders are out on the roads.
Riders Are At a Disadvantage
If there is one thing you can be certain about, it’s that drivers and insurance adjusters will always play the blame game.”It wasn’t my fault”, “I didn’t see him”, “he showed up out of nowhere”, “he was going too fast” are just some of the phrases you’ll hear after being involved in a lane splitting accident. It is an unfortunate fact, but motorcyclists face major adverse biases in the injury claims process. This partially stems from the unfair perception of bikers as risk-takers and thrill-seekers. Due to this common misconception, many people tend to falsely assume that motorcyclists must be the at-fault party after any multi-vehicle accident. However, at Fisher & Talwar, we know that perceptions are not facts. In reality, the data paints a far different picture of motorcyclists. According to a study produced by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), when a collision occurs between a motorcycle and a full-sized automobile, the motorcyclist is significantly less likely to be the at-fault party. In fact, the GHSA report specifically notes that motorcyclists often become victims of driver negligence because drivers simply fail to notice bikers. Motorcyclists have every right to the road, and drivers must get better at sharing it. In the meantime, it is imperative that bikers obtain qualified legal representation immediately after any serious accident. Without an attorney, riders will have a much harder time proving facts and getting the money they need to recover.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
By nature, motorcyclists are exposed to increased dangers. Los Angeles motorcycle accidents often lead to very serious injuries, even death. According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,000 motorcyclists are killed in accidents every year. That number has continued to rise as bikes gain popularity. In 2014, 501 motorcyclists died in the state of California alone. Many tens of thousands more California motorcyclist suffered life-altering injuries. Some examples of injuries that are common in motorcycle accidents include:
- Broken bones;
- Muscle tears or strains;
- Severe ligament damage;
- Internal organ damage;
- Severe burns;
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
- Loss of limb; and
- Partial or total paralysis.
Compensation Available for Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Victims
In California, motorcycle accident victims are entitled to recover compensation for the full extent of their losses. This includes both monetary losses and non-economic damages. More specifically, injured motorcyclists may be able to seek recovery for:
- All emergency medical expenses, including ambulance fees;
- All other medical bills;
- Rehabilitation-related costs;
- Lost wages, including anticipated lost future earning power;
- Long-term disability;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Disfigurement or loss of limb; and
- Loss of lifestyle enjoyment.
Following an accident, you must take proactive steps to properly document your damages. The law is clear; you deserve full and fair compensation. However, you will not be able to recover this compensation unless you can provide compelling supporting evidence. This is especially important in motorcycle accident cases because these claims are especially complex. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. When injuries are very serious, victims inevitably suffer a tremendous amount of damage. This includes considerable non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) as well as future damages either from long-term disability or lost earning capacity. Calculating these types of damages is complex, and insurance companies often try to take advantage of this complexity. In doing so, they try to force injured victims into lowball settlement offers. Do not let this happen to you. We can protect your legal rights and financial interests. Our Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys will help you recover every penny that you rightfully deserve.
How We Can Help
Fisher and Talwar have handled all sorts of accident injury cases including motorcycle accident claims. We have recovered millions of dollars for injury victims throughout Southern California.
We help riders establish liability and make responsible parties pay for their negligence. When you talk to attorneys who have won multi-million dollar cases, such as the one where the state failed to install a guardrail resulting in a motorcyclist’s death, you get the expertise on your side.
- We will get you the money to repair or replace your motorcycle. With our help your bills we be reduced and paid.
- Free consultation to answer all of your questions. Free advice on how you should proceed if we are unable to help you.
- We will come to your home or hospital and will work tirelessly to get you the money to cover your medical expenses.
- Your case will be supported by expert testimony. If a defective part or road is to blame, our experts will testify to the facts.
- You no longer have to play the blame game.
- We will bring the responsible party to justice, especially where serious injuries or death occurs.
- It is our duty to do everything we can to make you whole, both economically and non-economically.
- No responsible party is too large to take on. It doesn’t matter if it’s the State of California, a bike manufacturer or a driver’s insurance company; we will see the case through to your satisfaction. If you are not happy with a settlement or if we believe you have a very strong case for the jury, we will see it all the way to trial.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles or Greater Southern California, we are here to help you. Call our motorcycle accident attorney for a free consultation at (213) 891-0777.
Motorcycle Statistics on Aging Riders
Middle-aged riders, between 40 and 59, are only 66% more likely to end up with severe bodily injuries than young motorcycle riders, between 18 and 39.
According to a recent study by Brown University, motorcycles may not be the safest mode of transportation for aging Americans. The study reported that motorcycle riders over the age of 60 are two and a half times more likely to suffer serious injuries than young and middle-aged riders. Middle-aged riders, between 40 and 59, are only 66% more likely to end up with severe bodily injuries than young motorcycle riders, between 18 and 39.
The study also found that younger riders are more likely to suffer non-life-threatening injuries like sprains and contusions while older riders are more likely to suffer serious internal injuries, like brain injuries. While bone fractures are the most common type of injury among motorcycle riders, the study found, younger riders are more likely to break an arm, while older riders are more likely to sustain upper-torso fractures. The study also revealed that young, middle-aged, and older motorcycle riders had hospitalization rates of 15%, 25%, and 35%, respectively.
Motorcycle riders of any age should always use caution while riding on the open road because the risk of injury from a motorcycle accident is much higher than the risk of injury from a car accident. Where cars are equipped with airbags, seat belts, and a strong metal frame that encloses drivers and passengers, motorcycle riders have none of these.
In the absence of these basic safety features, motorcycle riders have to take steps to protect themselves when they ride. Since motorcycles don’t have airbags or seat belts, riders should always wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. If thrown from a moving bike, a helmet can mean the difference between minor injuries and severe, life-changing or life-threatening injuries. Since motorcycles offer no protection, riders should wear protective clothing like jackets, pants, boots, and gloves.
Knowing Your Limits
It doesn’t take a university study for us to know that certain activities, like motorcycle riding, pose significantly higher risks to older members of society than younger ones. Before taking up the hobby of motorcycle riding, older riders should seriously consider the risks that they face and any individual factors which may increase those risks (like a weak heart or frail bones).
If they think that riding a motorcycle would pose more risks than not, then the idea should be abandoned and perhaps a less risky hobby considered.
Nobody likes to hear that they’ve become too old to do the things they love or to try the things they want to try – but at some point adults have to be adults and think about the far-reaching consequences of their actions. When an activity poses a significant amount of risk, the adult recognizes the risk and takes steps to reduce or eliminate it.
California Lane Splitting Law
Is lane splitting legal?
In California, it is perfectly legal to lane split as long as you do so in a safe and responsible manner. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) emphasizes the four R’s:
- Reasonable – not exceeding 10mph faster than the flow of traffic, while not engaging in activity if going over 39mph.
- Responsible – making sure you have enough room to split and are not putting yourself in any dangerous condition.
- Respectful – understand that other vehicles are not obligated to make space for you. If there’s not enough room to go through then don’t split. Try not to irritate other drivers through disrespectful behavior.
- Aware of Road Conditions – stay alert for distracted drivers (you know, the ones who start texting as soon as traffic slows), pay attention to changing weather conditions, watch for wide trucks and sharp curves.
Is lane splitting safe?
California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) as well as the CHP insists that lane splitting is a safe activity when following the four R’s. It is generally up to the rider to decide whether conditions are safe for splitting, however looking at an OTS survey we may see evidence that drivers are to blame for unsafe lane sharing.
In 2012, the OTS conducted a survey asking riders about their experience with lane splitting. When asked if riders engaged in lane splitting, more than 77% admitted to it. Most riders said they only split when traffic is below 30mph and 67% said a vehicle has tried to block their way.
Are drivers really that evil when it comes to letting bikes pass? Well, no. A third of the riders said the most serious threat to their safety was drivers not looking in the mirror. Another 30% said distracted drivers posed the most danger to them. Combined with 10% who said cars changing lanes is the biggest hazard that’s over 70% response rate blaming driver’s behavior as the potential cause of accidents. It appears that drivers are just not paying much attention and forget about motorcyclists altogether.
Who is liable in a lane splitting incident?
The answer to how lane-splitting affects and insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit depends on the circumstances of the incident. Fault may lie with the rider or the driver depending on the answers to a different range of questions, including:
- Was the rider splitting cautiously? Was he speeding, weaving out of lanes, or acted carelessly in regards to the room available for the bike?
- Was the driver careless? Was the driver distracted, inattentive, and participating in illegal behavior of purposefully blocking the path?
- Was the driver entirely at fault? Did the drive cut off the bike? Were they changing lanes excessively?
- Were there any witnesses to back up either claim? What does the police report say?
Important: a police report favoring the driver’s claim does not necessarily guarantee that the rider is at fault. Police reports can be biased depending on how the responding officer feels about motorcycle riders and lane splitting in general. This is why it’s important to talk to an attorney if blame is being shifted on you as a rider.
Freeways and interchanges where motorcycle accidents are common:
|US Route 101 (US-101)
|Orange Crush Interchange
|East Los Angeles Interchange
|Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange
|El Toro Y
|Santa Ana Freeway
|Santa Monica Freeway
|San Diego Freeway
|Pacific Coast Highway
Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes
An intersection is a deadly place for motorcycle riders. Particularly, left hand turns by drivers have been proven deadly for riders. In a vehicle-to-vehicle accident, the occupants have a higher chance of surviving such accidents since speeds are typically low. However, when motorcyclists are involved, injuries are often far worse or deadly.
The most common scenarios where riders get hurt at left hand turns are:
- Vehicle is turning left and fails to yield to a motorcycle going straight;
- A motorcyclist turning left is hit by an oncoming vehicle also making a turn.
In either case, consequences for motorcyclist are usually very severe compared to the driver.
Who is at fault?
To the injured rider it may be clear that the vehicle was at fault since it failed to yield while turning left. However, insurance companies will find all sorts of ways to shift blame onto motorcyclist. Not speaking to an attorney for simple advice can turn into a very costly mistake.
Insurance adjusters can use all sorts of excuses to blame shift onto you as a rider such as:
- You were speeding;
- Your clothing wasn’t bright enough, thus it is your fault;
- You should have yielded to the car in the first place;
- Ignoring the traffic accident report even though it clearly states the driver was at fault.
Even though each of the claims above is false, it may be difficult for riders to prove otherwise without the help of an attorney who has seen and heard every type of blame shifted on riders.
Comparative Negligence Rule
In California, the courts follow a comparative negligence rule when it comes to determining fault. This means that even if you played a role in the accident, you may still recover compensation. The court looks at the degree of fault to establish what percentage of the compensation amount you may be awarded.
For example, if you were hit by a left turning vehicle that failed to yield but were also found partially at fault for speeding through the intersection, the court may only award the compensation percentage of driver’s fault.
So, if you file a claim for $10,000 and you are found to be 40 percent at fault, the court may award $6,000 (60 percent of $10,000) in compensation.
The degree of fault is determined on any number of factors such as:
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Running a changing or changed light
- Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet
- Distracted driving (cell phone use in-hand)
- Following too closely
- Unsafe lane changing
Important: If you believe you were partly at fault, contact an attorney for the best chance of recovering partial compensation. Handling a claim on your own can cost you thousands of dollars in losses or a denied claim.
Sports Bike / Street Bike Accidents
Sports bike or street bikes are popular for their high speeds and rate of acceleration. They are also some of the most common types of motorcycles involved in accidents. A negative perception of sports bikes makes riders an easy target for insurance companies. Adjusters will go to great lengths to minimize claims and pay as little as possible to riders by pointing at various stereotypical behaviors that were not necessarily exhibited by the rider.
Some of the more popular sports bikes in Southern California:
|Honda CBR 250R
|Yamaha FZ -09
|Yamaha YZF R6
|Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS SE
|Honda CBR 500R ABS
|Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE
|Suzuki GSX-R 750
|BMW HP4 Base
While injured riders assume that they’ll be fairly compensated even when fault is clearly attributed to the driver, the insurance company is doing everything it can behind the scenes to minimize their claim.
Riders make the biggest mistake in trusting the insurance companies. It’s easy to confuse an adjustor’s friendliness and cooperation over the phone for someone who is on your side, when in fact they are trying to diminish your claim as much as possible with carefully crafted questions that cause you to admit fault.
The best solution to this common mistake is to speak to an attorney as early as possible. In most cases injured victims get more money for their injuries with an attorney than without. When serious injuries are involved, it is especially crucial to talk to a lawyer before destroying any viable chance of proving the driver’s negligence.
Our firm fights for the rights of all injured motorcycle riders. We make sure stereotypes do not enter settlement negotiations or hinder your case in court.
Entangled Clothing Responsible for Motorcyclist’s Death
Today, the CHP reported a fatal motorcycle crash near Pyramid Lake when a piece of clothing got stuck in the rear wheel of a motorcycle. A man from Ojai, 59 years of age was declared dead in the hospital. Apparently, the article of clothing was tied to the passenger backrest when it became dislodged and tangled in the rear spoke.
The incident is quite tragic in nature and our sympathies go out to family and friends. This is not the first time an article of clothing has caused a motorcycle crash this year. Earlier in July, a motorcyclist from Maine suffered non-life-threatening injuries when his shirt or jacket, tied to the motorcycle got caught in the rear wheel. Luckily for him, the rider was wearing a helmet.
Motorcyclists typically take good care to stay safe on the road. Most if not all realize the dangers posed by bigger vehicles and act accordingly (although there are exceptions.) Something as seemingly innocent as a piece of clothing most likely escapes the minds of many.
A more horrific accident involving clothing entanglement occurred in 1927 when Isadora Duncan, a San Francisco native dancer was strangled in a car when her scarf caught in the rear spoke. The woman was thrown out of the vehicle, hitting the road and instantly dying upon impact. Miss Duncan truly loved her scarves, but little did she know one would bring her demise.
What can we make of this and why is it worth mentioning?
Why do the stories like those above need to be regurgitated over and over by the blogosphere? Tragedies are not reported for entertainment, there is often a lesson to be learned from one aspect of the accident or another. Shining a light on a sad event will dampen anyone’s spirit but it may also save a person’s life.
What to do if you are involved in an accident:
A good attorney will answer all of your questions and will point you in the right direction regardless of whether you plan on retaining their services. We put together a list of most frequently asked questions asked by our clients:
If you are reading this, chances are you’ve already experienced a motorcycle accident and you are curious whether you made any mistakes at the accident scene.
Even if you made a mistake or forgot to do something, do not panic. Our attorneys will help you make the best of your current situation. Here’s a bullet list of things you should and shouldn’t do:
- Move to a safe location away from the traffic.
- Dial 911 for emergency response. Do not flee the scene of the accident.
- Collect identifying information (names, addresses, insurance information) from involved parties if your physical condition allows it.
- Identify witnesses to the accident and gather their personal information.
- Take pictures of your injuries, accident scene and property damage.
- Get medical attention.
- Don’t discuss the accident with anyone other than the police officer at the scene. Discussing anything may harm your claim. The easiest thing to do is to cooperate only with the police, however do not make any guesses when asked about the accident. Stretching the truth will hurt your case rather than help it.
- Don’t refuse or delay medical attention. You may feel fine now, only to realize you have injuries that have not made themselves evident until later. When you refuse treatment, the insurance company will assume you’re not hurt. Furthermore, payment for treatment of any injuries that show up at a later time (that were exacerbated by the accident) will be harder to obtain.
- Don’t give recorded statements to insurance companies or adjusters. These are trained professionals who know how to craft questions in a way that will help them while hurting you. Not to sound like a broken record, but you need to speak to an attorney before making any potentially damaging statements.
- Don’t ignore the steps that you should follow, even when it’s very clear that the other party is at fault. The more information and evidence you have to support your claim the better. When it comes to monetary damages, people will do anything they can to protect themselves and you shouldn’t assume they have your interests in mind.
Don’t Settle for Less
Insurance companies frequently make low offers for your injuries because they desire a quick settlement. Speaking with a motorcycle injury lawyer demonstrates to the insurance providers that you won’t be intimidated into accepting meager payments that fall short of your standards. Victims frequently receive more money than they would on their own, even with attorney fees after recovery.
Our attorneys at Fisher & Talwar look out for your best interests only, and will do everything possible to get you the compensation you deserve.
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