With California’s pleasant year-round weather and gorgeous views, is it any wonder that many Bay Area residents choose to experience local roads and highways on a motorcycle? While motorcycles offer an unparalleled sense of freedom, they are also far less safe than other vehicles in the event of an accident.
According to 2019 data from the Insurance Information Institute (III), motorcyclists were almost 29 times more likely than occupants of passenger cars to die in a crash (per vehicle miles traveled). In the same year, 5,014 motorcyclists died and approximately 84,000 were injured in crashes across the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact the Scott Carr Law Firm. You can schedule a free consultation to tell your story and learn whether you are eligible to pursue a personal injury claim. Contact our San Francisco office at 415-799-2229.
Top Causes Motorcycle Accidents
Like all types of motor vehicle collisions, motorcycle accidents can have a variety of causes:
- Sudden braking
- Unsafe road conditions
- Impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol
- Defective vehicle parts
- Distracted/negligent driving
There may be multiple contributing factors in any accident, especially one that involves several vehicles or pedestrians.
Common Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists have less protection in a collision than occupants of a car or truck. As such, they are far more likely to be injured. According to the NHTSA, over 80 percent of motorcycle crashes cause injury or death to the motorcyclist. Here are some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries:
- Internal injuries
- Severe skin abrasions (i.e. “road rash”)
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Unfortunately, many collisions are fatal for motorcyclists. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 474 motorcycle fatalities in 2019. If a motorcyclist dies in a crash that was caused by another individual’s reckless driving or negligence, the victim’s surviving family may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
California Liability Laws and Motorcycle Accidents
California has “pure comparative negligence” laws that can affect liability in motorcycle collisions. You may only pursue compensation (in the form of an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit) from a party who has some liability in a crash.
In a collision involving multiple parties, each party is assigned a certain percentage of fault. For example, if there is a crash between a car and a motorcycle where both were speeding, the driver and the motorcyclist would each be partly liable.
Recovering Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
California allows you to seek damages from the liable party or parties in a motorcycle accident through a personal injury lawsuit. You can pursue two types of damages: non-economic and economic. Under state law, you may not pursue non-economic damages if you were uninsured at the time of the crash.
Non-economic damages are awarded to cover the non-financial consequences of the accident:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship/physical affection
- Pain and suffering
These things don’t have an objective “value,” so the judge determines the amount of non-economic damages if you win your case. California’s comparative negligence laws affect your non-economic compensation. For example, if you are awarded $20,000 in damages but are 10 percent liable for the accident, you can only collect 90 percent of the damages ($18,000)
You can also seek economic damages. The amount is based on the real financial cost of the accident:
- Medical bills for treatment and medications
- Lost income during your recovery
- Reduced earning potential
- Repair or replacement costs for your motorcycle
There isn’t a limit on economic damages, because you can show how much you’ve spent in those areas. California doesn’t cap non-economic damages either (except in medical malpractice cases).
California has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. You must initiate a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the crash. If there was a government party (e.g. a police car) involved in the collision, however, you must file within six months.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Case?
California law does not require you to hire an attorney to file a personal injury suit. However, the process can be complicated, and having an experienced lawyer on your side can make it far less stressful. If you aren’t sure whether you have grounds to file a lawsuit or what you need to do to prove the other party’s liability, the Scott Carr Law Firm can give you all the information you need.
What To Do After a Motorcycle Crash
Depending on the severity of your motorcycle crash, you may not be able to do anything except wait for emergency personnel. However, if you are able to move around freely, here are some important things to do:
- Get yourself and your motorcycle out of the way of traffic (if possible).
- Contact the police/emergency medical services.
- See if you can help anyone else involved in the accident. Do not move injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger where they are.
- Exchange insurance information with other drivers/pedestrians involved in the crash. Do not admit fault.
- If there are other witnesses present, get their contact information for statements.
- Document your injuries and damage to your motorcycle and other vehicles. Take pictures if possible.
- Follow your insurance provider’s instructions to begin a claim.
- Get a checkup from a medical professional
Even if you don’t notice any injuries, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can check for non-obvious symptoms of traumatic brain injury and internal injuries.
Consider contacting a motorcycle injury attorney. Even if you don’t end up pursuing a personal injury claim, having legal representation can make the insurance claims and settlement process easier. If you have a lawyer who is involved from the beginning, it can make the process of filing a personal injury suit easier (if you decide to do so).
Contact the Scott Carr Law Firm After a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area, but riders are especially vulnerable in the event of a crash. A collision caused by a negligent or reckless driver can be devastating for a motorcyclist who ends up with catastrophic injuries or a lifelong disability.
In many cases, the settlement offered by the liable party’s insurance provider isn’t enough to cover the initial and ongoing costs of the accident. A personal injury lawsuit may be the only way for a victim to get the compensation they need to recover and return to normal life.
At the Scott Carr Law Firm, we know how stressful it is to recover physically, emotionally, and financially from a motorcycle accident. We are committed to helping California residents and their families seek fair compensation to help with medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and learn what legal options you have. Call our San Francisco office at 415-799-2229 to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.