Overview of California Motorcycle Accident Laws - Adamson Ahdoot

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Your Guide to California Motorcycle Accident Laws

December 29, 2022 Alan Ahdoot
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California has the most motorcycle riders in the nation, with nearly 815,000 registered motorbikes in the state. Motorcycling is an attractive way to get around town for many Los Angeles residents, but it does not come without its risks. Therefore, to ensure safety, there are specific California motorcycle accident laws in place.

Motorcycle accidents are common in Los Angeles. Even when motorcyclists adhere to all the recommended safety precautions, accidents still happen. According to the latest motorcycle crash statistics, around 13,000 motorcycle riders suffer injuries in California every year. Overall, 22% of motorcycle collisions in California lead to fatality.

How Dangerous is Riding a Motorcycle?

Common road hazards such as slippery roads, potholes, and heavy traffic can cause disaster for motorcycle riders. Unlike traditional cars, motorcycles do not have sturdy metal cages to protect passengers. 

The most minor of hazards can have horrible consequences. Riding a motorcycle is dangerous, so make sure to wear a helmet, obey road signs, and follow other motorcycle safety tips.

Motorcycle riders are more likely to face serious injury and even death. However, motorcyclists are not always at fault in an accident. All the more reason you need to understand the California motorcycle accident laws.

It’s important that you work with an experienced injury law firm. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, Adamson Ahdoot LLP can help. We will review your case and fight for justice, so you can focus on moving forward with your life. 

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Nearly 98% of all motorcyclists involved in an accident have been injured in some capacity. Half of these accidents result in serious injury. About 50% of motorcycle accident victims will sustain an injury to their upper leg, low leg, knee, or ankles, while 13% of victims will injure their groin. 

Most motorcycle accidents occur when a rider is struck or otherwise collides with a car, truck, bus, or other vehicles. While the car passengers are often protected, the motorcycle rider does not have much to lessen the blow. On average, motorcyclists are up to 27 times more likely than other drivers to die in an accident. 

a damaged motorcycle on the road
California motorcycle accident laws are strict and must be followed.

The Most Common Causes of Accidents Include: 

  • Left-turn accidents: Motorcycles are likely to be struck during right-of-way errors, misjudgments, and illegal left turns.
  • Inexperienced drivers: Beginner drivers tend to make unsafe decisions and misjudgments, and drive more recklessly than experienced riders.
  • Not adhering to traffic rules and regulations: Unsafe lane changes and failure to check blind spots can result in collisions.
  • Car doors: More often than you would think, car doors open in front of motorcycle riders. Colliding with these doors can have awful consequences.
  • Speeding: Many vehicles tend to speed on the freeway, which is one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents.
  • Driving under the influence: Intoxicated drivers are a risk to others. Motorcyclists can also be hit by other drunk drivers. In these cases, the driver may be subject to criminal and civil liability.
  • Sudden stops: Making sudden stops on a motorcycle increases the likelihood of rear-end accidents. 
  • Dangerous road hazards and road conditions: Potholes, crumbling pavement, and road debris pose risks to all drivers. For motorcycles, these road hazards increase the driver’s risk of losing control.
  • Manufacturing defects: Damage on a part of a bike can cause the operator to lose control. The motorcycle manufacturer may be liable if a defective part is found to have caused an accident.

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Serious injuries are all too common for motorcyclists involved in accidents. Without the metal frame protection of a car, motorcyclists are left more vulnerable to serious injury, including: 

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Road rash or skin abrasion
  • Internal organ injury
  • Limb amputation and disfigurement
  • Death

Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries may leave victims unable to perform everyday tasks due to paralysis, loss of cognitive function, coma, and other issues. As tragic as death is, surviving motorcycle accident victims are often left with a lifetime of medical bills, mental trauma, and expensive treatment. 

In some cases, road rash can take off several layers of skin. If this happens, the motorcycle rider may need skin grafts. The process of grafting skin is not pleasant and comes with a lengthy recovery time.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

Immediately after the wreck, call law enforcement and seek medical help from first responders. Move away from the flow of traffic and gather information at the scene. See if there are bystanders you can ask for a witness statement. Don’t forget to take pictures for documentation of the accident.

How to Deal With a California Motorcycle Crash?

The first thing you must do is contact an expert. An experienced California motorcycle accident law attorney can be of great help to you. Especially since you will most likely feel overwhelmed by the legal process. At Adamson Ahdoot, we have the necessary experience handling complex personal injury cases, determining fault, combatting greedy insurance companies, and winning maximum compensation for our clients. 

Motorcyclists involved in accidents are at high risk for injury and fatality, resulting in expensive hospital stays, loss of work, and unpaid bills. In most cases, it is a good idea to call a personal injury attorney after a motorcycle accident. 

Sometimes, an accident is serious enough to leave you with lasting scars, disfigurement, disability, or loss of bodily function. Adamson Ahdoot can help you strengthen your case, parse through California law, fight insurance companies, and guide you through the tedious litigation proceedings. 

Understanding California Law

If your case involves multiple at-fault parties, California law can hold each party separately or jointly accountable for the accident. Regardless, all at-fault parties are responsible for repaying any economic losses or hardships incurred. As a personal injury law firm, Adamson Ahdoot motorcycle accident lawyers are well-versed in determining this kind of liability. 

California’s law stipulates that all motorcycle riders are required to wear a helmet. Failure to wear one could be used as evidence to limit the liability of other parties, especially in cases of traumatic brain injury. However, not wearing a helmet does not automatically exclude you from receiving compensation for your motorcycle accident case.

Common Types of California Motorcycle Accident Laws 

In California, motorcycle accident victims are entitled to receive compensation for their incurred injuries. Here are the two common types of California motorcycle accident laws:

Lane Splitting Law

Riding between two lanes is called lane splitting. While it’s illegal in many states, California is the only state to allow lane-splitting during stopped and slow-moving traffic. However, intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is not legal.

Helmet Law

Since head injuries account for the most serious and fatal motorcycle injuries, it’s important to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or motorized bicycle. All riders and passengers must wear a U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet per CVC §27803. It should be certified by the U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. 

Statute of Limitations on Motorcycle Accidents

You have two years from the date of the accident to file for a lawsuit or claim for the personal injuries you suffered. California is not a no-fault state, meaning the liable party has a legal obligation to cover the injured party’s losses and damages from the accident. 

However, California also follows a pure comparative negligence system. If an individual is 99% responsible for the accident, the other party is only 1% at fault. In short, the state will deduct compensation according to the percentage of fault.

Calculating Accident Damages

Once fault is determined in your case, you may be entitled to damages. In legal terms, damages mean the compensation paid to you by at-fault parties. A qualified motorcycle accident lawyer will guide you through the process of calculating your damages. 

Calculating damages for your case may be based on several factors. Below are common issues to consider when calculating damages:

  • Medical expenses such as past and future medical bills, rehabilitation, treatments, and related healthcare costs associated with the accident
  • Property repairs: If your motorcycle has been damaged or totaled, the responsible party may have to pay the full cost to fix or replace your vehicle at its pre-crash value.
  • Lost wages, missed work, or became disabled
  • Non-economic damages including pain and suffering, mental hardship, trauma, and distress may award you additional compensation
  • Punitive damages or additional compensation to punish the at-fault party

Receiving Compensation for a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident

In the state of California, legal codes allow for multiple parties to be responsible for a motorcycle accident. If multiple parties are at fault, testimony will determine which party holds the largest amount of responsibility. Even partially responsible victims may still be eligible for some compensation. 

California’s law rests on pure comparative negligence. After a full investigation into your case and arguments by your attorney, the plaintiff and the defendant will assign percentages of fault by the court. These percentages determine how much compensation each party has the right to receive.

For example, if the court has set a $250,000 award, someone who is 25% responsible for their accident would receive $187,500 in damages (the remaining 75%). 

Seek a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney

At Adamson Ahdoot, you can be confident that your Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney comes equipped with the litigation skills required to handle even the most complex cases. 

We aim to keep our motorcycle accident attorneys as approachable as possible so that you can feel comfortable calling us with questions about your case at any time. At Adamson Ahdoot, we put people first. We understand that Los Angeles is a multilingual city, and we are proud to provide services to both English and Spanish-speaking clients. 

With our firm’s more than 100 years of collective legal experience, you can trust that our skilled lawyers will use proven expertise to protect your rights. They will keep you informed every step of the way and help you overcome this challenging time in your life. 

Contact Adamson Ahdoot today at (800) 310-1606 to schedule your free consultation with one of our motorcycle crash attorneys. After your free consultation, an Adamson Ahdoot accident attorney will work closely with local law enforcement, contact witnesses, and speak with relevant experts to strengthen your case.

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