Motorcycle accidents are inherently dangerous to the rider. Very dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, while only 20 percent of car collisions do. This is especially significant in California, one of the 15 states with the most motorcyclist fatalities.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are often blamed for crashes, even when they ride with the utmost safety. Many motorcycle accident victims find that this is an obstacle to claiming their fair compensation, as at-fault drivers and insurance companies usually assert that the crash was largely the bike rider’s fault. The fact is motorists don’t see motorcycles.
If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to have a lawyer on your side. In Southern California, call us at Barrios & Machado. We have successfully obtained favorable settlements for individuals who were injured and families who have lost their loved ones in negligent accidents. Contact us at (714) 515-9696 today.
California Motorcycle Laws
California motorcyclists must have a learner’s permit before they can apply for a motorcycle license. Riders younger than 21 may apply for a license, but only if they’ve had their permit for at least six months.
License application requirements include passing a vision exam, knowledge test, and skills test. Applicants under 21 must also pass the California Motorcyclist Training Program.
Every motorcyclist in California must carry a minimum liability insurance of:
- $5,000 for property damage
- $15,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $30,000 for bodily injuries to multiple persons.
Motorcyclist Helmet Use
Under California Vehicle Code 27803, all motorcycle riders are required to wear their helmets. Each helmet must comply with the standards of the US Department of Transportation.
Lane-sharing Or Lane-splitting
Lane-splitting is the practice of riding between lanes when traffic is stopped or slow. In 2016, California became the only state to officially legalize lane-splitting.
Responsibilities of Drivers Around Motorcyclists
While bike riders have an unfavorable reputation among motorists, many motorcycle accidents are actually caused by car drivers who act negligently or fail to respect motorcyclist rights. These are some rules of the road that drivers must observe but often neglect around motorcyclists:
- Stay in the proper lane, or practice extra caution when trying to merge, cross, or change lanes.
- Check blind spots. Motorcycles don’t seem to register to motorists, it is as if a car or truck driver’s awareness only locks on to the shape of common vehicles.
- Ensure ample space when passing a motorcycle. Just because this vehicle is smaller does not mean a car could just squeeze into their lane.
- Clear the surroundings before opening a car door, and don’t leave the door open longer than necessary. Many motorcycle crashes result from “dooring” – colliding into a car door that is haphazardly opened onto the road. Opening a car door in unsafe conditions is actually illegal under California Vehicle Code 22517.
- Show the same respect to motorcyclists as you would any other motorist.
How Motorcycle Accidents Happen
In any motorcycle crash, multiple factors could be in play and any party (or parties) could be held liable. These are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents.
- Distracted driving. When a driver is texting, eating, or in any way distracted at the wheel, they are slower to react around other vehicles. This becomes riskier around motorcycles, which are harder to see than most vehicles on the road.
- Unsafe turning or lane change. A car trying to make a left turn is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. When a car driver crosses the left lane, they may not immediately see any oncoming motorcycle on that lane. Again, motorcyclists are often invisible to a driver, even from only feet away.
- Sometimes, a driver may try to overtake a vehicle without seeing the motorcycle up ahead. Or they may try to overtake a motorcycle itself without leaving enough space. Any of these scenarios could lead to a read-end collision or sideswiping.
- When a car occupant carelessly opens a door in front of a moving motorcycle, a crash may be inevitable.
- Poor road conditions. Motorcycles can easily lose balance, so poorly maintained roads and bad weather are highly risky for riders. The bike could slip when coming in contact with gravel, potholes, puddles, or slick pavements.
What If I Was Partly at Fault in My Motorcycle Crash?
Many motorcycle accident victims ask this question. It is actually common for the injured party to have some share of responsibility in their accident. Fortunately, in California, this does not invalidate your compensation claim.
California follows the “comparative negligence” concept, where the plaintiff’s (claimant’s) share of fault is weighed against the defendant’s. The claimant’s compensation award may be reduced according to their percentage of fault. For example, if you were 20 percent at fault for your motorcycle crash, you may receive only 80 percent of your award.
The “pure comparative negligence” system in California allows you to claim compensation no matter how big your share of fault was. Even if you were 99 percent responsible, you would still have the right to claim the remaining 1 percent award. By contrast, other states have the “modified comparative negligence” system, where if your share of fault exceeds a threshold (for example, exceeds 50 percent), you would no longer be entitled to compensation.
To maximize your compensation claim, you’ll want to hire a lawyer. A competent accident attorney helps you establish the other party’s fault, avoid mistakes that damage your claim, and effectively negotiate for your rightful settlement.
Free Consultation with Barrios & Machado
Your initial consultation with us is absolutely free and confidential. Talk to us about your accident injury or your loved one’s wrongful death. Call or text us at (714) 515-9696 today.