One of the most severe forms of accidents in Los Angeles that you can be involved in as a motorcyclist is a hit and run. It is because not only will you handle property loss and severe injuries, but also there is no person to pay your damages. In other words, the accident brings a sense of injustice. This article will help you to understand hit and run motorcycle accidents and how the legal team at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can help you.
Hit and Run Accident Statistics
A hit and run collision happens when one of the involved parties leaves the accident scene before rescue personnel or police arrive. According to the law, all involved parties should remain at the accident scene as well as call emergency personnel if the accident caused injuries.
Often, there are several reasons why a motorist collides with a motorcyclist and flees the accident scene. While some are so drunk that they do not realize that a collision took place, others act so due to panic or fear. Others could leave because they have a pending warrant against them, were operating their vehicle without a driver's license, or don't have car insurance.
The laws on motorcycle hit and run collisions in California are very stringent. Because of the significant number of the hit and run crashes in California, the situation is likened to an epidemic. It is believed that a hit and run collision occurs once after eighteen minutes in Los Angeles.
Moreover, the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that California had the most hit and run deaths in 2016. The state recorded three hundred and thirty-seven hit and run accidents that caused at least one (1) death. The figure is fifty percent higher compared to other states.
What to Do Following a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident
What you do after the accident determines whether you will recover compensation or not. The Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney recommend taking the following steps:
Contact the Police
After the accident, your priority should be your health. Nevertheless, it's also essential to call law enforcers immediately. The sooner you call the police with details about the vehicle, the more the likelihood that the law enforcers will find the at-fault motorist.
If the police find the driver who hit you, they will not only face criminal charges but also compensate you for the losses incurred.
Seek Medical Care
You should also seek immediate medical attention. While most hit and run motorcycle accidents need urgent medical care, others need long-term care. For the sake of future claims and your health, you should see a medical expert immediately. Should you wait to see a doctor, the insurance provider could urge that the accident did not cause your injuries or the injuries aren't as serious as you claim.
Also, if your medical care is ongoing following the collision, ensure you follow up with your physician until you are released from their care.
Write Down all Information About the Motorist and their Car that You Recall
If you saw the motor vehicle's license plate, write it down. Also, note down the car's color, make, model, any unique mark on the car like a dent or bumper sticker, and the direction the car came from and where it headed to. If you saw the motorist and can recall their appearance, or any details about them, write the description down. All aspects you recall, including accident circumstances, will assist the police in locating the liable driver.
It will help your personal injury lawyer and insurance adjuster determine what took place if you can capture as many pictures of the accident as possible.
Remember to take photos of anything that could have caused the accident like hazardous road conditions, obscured traffic signals, or broken traffic lights.
Moreover, take photographs of the damage to your motorcycle.
Check the area for surveillance or traffic light cameras that might have evidence.
Also, look for the car's proof, like a broken-off piece of the vehicle's body or a scrape on the accident impact.
Document Your Injuries
Capture or have another person take pictures of all visible injuries with your camera or smartphone.
If you seek medical care, request a health expert to take photos of the injuries sustained.
Also, record or write down an impression of what is damaged or injured.
The more proof of the injury you document, the higher the likelihood of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Ask witnesses for additional details. Remember to collect the name, address, and contact details of all witnesses.
Don't Admit Fault
It's essential not to admit to any wrongdoing even if you think you caused the accident. You could be mistaken, or the hit and run driver may be partially accountable for the collision.
Even saying sorry could be misconstrued and prevent you from obtaining the compensatory damages you deserve.
Consider Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
A hit and run accident lawyer can assist in protecting your rights as well as determine if you deserve compensation.
Additionally, your attorney knows all the insurance providers' tricks. They will save you the hustle of handling the insurer alone so that you can receive the most satisfying offer possible.
Contact the Insurance Company
Making a compensation claim following a hit and run motorcycle accident is identical to most forms of insurance claims. Once you notify the insurer of the accident, the company will collect details about what took place and then process the claim.
The hit and run accident statute of limitations in California is two years, but the earlier you submit the claim, the earlier you receive compensation.
You should also make another statement to the law enforcement agency and track their investigations.
When making the insurance claim, be careful when describing the medical attention you have received and motorcycle repairs.
Can You Receive Compensation in a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident?
Los Angeles uses a fault-based rule as far as accidents are concerned. That means the injured person in a motorcycle accident is entitled to seek compensation from the negligent driver. However, this is more difficult in a hit and run motorcycle accident depending on the insurance policy.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Because the victim doesn't know the hit and run driver's identity, the main difference in getting compensation for the loss incurred is that the victim will negotiate with their insurer. Please note, this only applies if the victim has an uninsured motorist coverage. The coverage should have limits enough to cover the losses.
According to the law, car insurance firms should offer uninsured motorist insurance with all liability policies, although the insured can opt-out. The coverage provides compensation for injuries caused by the hit and run drivers.
Since only a small percentage of people are not insured, pulling out of insurance is dangerous. That means the victim will pay the bills that come with the hit and run collision.
Physical Contact is a Requisite when Making a Hit and Run Motorcycle Claim
The law is clear that crashes caused by phantom drivers aren't covered by UM coverage. A phantom motorist is one who gets involved in a collision in motion with no physical contact. For instance, it could be a motorist who cuts in your lane unexpectedly, making you swerve out as a way of avoiding colliding with the car but instead hit a ditch.
The aim of denying an uninsured motorist claim for a phantom motorist is to curb fraud. As a result, you should avoid the accident being regarded as a phantom motorist. Being in a position to prove the debris or scratch from the defendant's motor vehicle can be adequate evidence to satisfy the physical contact requirement.
Common Injuries Sustained in Motorist Collisions
A motorcyclist is more likely to sustain severe injuries due to the lack of protection offered by a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are five times more likely to be hurt and twenty-six more likely to succumb to accidents than passenger car occupants.
Often motorcycle injuries are catastrophic, and any body part could be injured. The most common injuries include the following:
Road rash injuries occur when a cyclist is thrown from the motorcycle and slides across the pavement. You can sustain mild or severe injuries depending on the accident circumstances. The injuries are categorized by the following degrees, namely:
- First degree- The skin surface looks red
- Second degree- Although the skin surface is injured, the inner skin layers are intact
- Third-degree- The skin is completely damaged, exposing inner layers of fat and tissues. It requires immediate medical attention.
Head injuries can occur even with a helmet on. The protective gear will reduce the chances of being injured but will not reduce the possibility to zero. The seriousness can be a bump, cut, or into the extremes of traumatic brain injury, cracked skulls, or concussions. Generally, head injuries are severe and can be fatal.
Unlike physical injuries, emotional trauma like post-traumatic stress disorder can follow you for many years following the crash. A scar can fade, a bone can heal, but psychological injuries can affect your daily habits and how you interpret your world.
Spinal Cord Injury
When the collision's impact injures your spinal cord, you risk suffering paralysis. Paralysis is a catastrophic injury that can cause permanent disability.
A penetration trauma (when a sharp object penetrates the skin) or blunt-force trauma (a blow from a hard substance that doesn't break your skin) can result in internal organs damage and internal bleeding. Internal injuries are catastrophic and require immediate medical attention.
Bone fractures are another type of common injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents. Because a motorcycle has two (2) wheels and cannot stand up on its own, most accidents result in the rider and bike falling. Since accidents occur quickly, usually, the rider is not in a position to move their leg. That means the vehicle lands on the leg, causing a break.
Wrist and arm fractures are common injuries because naturally, the rider will try to break their fall using their hands.
You could also sustain neck, shoulder, or pelvis fractures.
Understanding the Compensation Process
Although compensation is available to hit and run accident victims even if the at-fault motorist is never found, many victims do not know much about the process. That is why it is essential to contact a proficient Los Angeles hit and run attorney.
Before bringing a lawsuit, an attorney will try negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. If the two parties can reach an agreement, everyone stands to benefit.
Part of the negotiation process involves a demand letter from the plaintiff to the insurer. Usually, the demand letter includes the following:
- Why the insurer should compensate you
- The extent and nature of injuries sustained
- Medical treatment received
- Facts about lost income
The demand letter officially starts the negotiation process and could include the settlement offer.
After the demand letter is issued, the insurance firm should respond in due time. Your attorney will file both summons and a complaint to the court if both parties fail to reach an agreement.
After you file the complaint, most likely, your case will proceed to trial. To win the case, you need to prepare thoroughly. The preparation process involves collecting evidence, compiling necessary records and documents, and having expert witnesses.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Hit and Run Lawsuit?
One of the factors is the time it takes you to complete the medical treatment. Most often than not, plaintiffs do not get fair settlement until they have completed their medical treatment. It is because there is a likelihood that the insurance provider will compensate you for the treatment you have already received without putting into account what you will receive in the future.
Another factor is your UM coverage policy limits. If the injury is severe and the uninsured motorist limits are low, your case will settle faster. It is because the insurer has more pressure to pay.
How Much Compensation Will You Receive?
The total compensation amount you receive depends on factors, such as:
- Minor injuries lead to small payouts and hit and run motorcycle accidents are not an exemption
- The amount of your insurance
What are Common Damages Awarded in Hit and Run Motorcycle Accidents
In most cases, motorcycle accident victims receive compensatory damages for the financial costs and losses incurred due to the accident. They include economic and non-economic damages. The following are some of the damages you can receive:
The cost of repairing or replacing the motorcycle should be included in your personal injury claim. You are also entitled to a fair market value of all property lost during the collision, like your phone.
You are also entitled to receive compensation for all medical costs incurred, including ambulance cost, prescription, hospital stays, and therapy. It also includes the cost of the treatment you will receive in the future.
To recover compensation for the medical costs, the treatment received should be reasonable. What is reasonably necessary depends mainly on the circumstances. For instance, while an experimental surgery for a fractured leg may be deemed as unnecessary, the same treatment option may be necessary for a more catastrophic injury.
Since this is a fact-based argument, any experienced attorney should work with a professional to have a persuasive argument. An expert witness like your physician will testify whether the treatment was and is reasonably necessary.
You could also receive lost wages damages. It includes:
- The time you took off from your work due to the injury.
- Reduction in income if you took a different job other than the one you had before the hit and run motorcycle accident.
- Loss of earning capacity. This is the difference between what you would have earned during your lifetime and what you'll make as a result of the collision.
Punitive damages are not recovered in many hit and run motorcycle accidents. It is because the identity of the defendant is unknown. Therefore, you do not have an opportunity to establish the driver was negligent. Punitive damages are meant to:
- Punish the defendant for their egregious conduct
- Deter the conduct in the future
California follows a comparative negligence rule. The accident liability is determined and apportioned against all parties involved, and the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover is limited by every party's relative share of responsibility. Consequently, your compensation is limited by your percentage of liability in the collision.
For instance, if you are believed to have been forty percent negligent in causing the accident, the forty percent will reduce your total compensation. Therefore, if the total damages awarded is one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, you will receive seventy-two thousand dollars.
Find a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
As a hit and run motorcycle accident victim, you might be wondering where to start and whom to trust. When this occurs, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim with the assistance of a qualified attorney like Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney. We can help you know your rights. Understanding your constitutional rights is not only an opportunity to receive compensation but also protects your future. For more information on how we can assist you, contact us today at 424-231-2013.