As the owner and operator of a motorcycle, it is important to have legal representation if you have suffered serious injuries due to the misconduct and/or negligence of another driver. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can help you get full compensation for the losses you have suffered as the result of a motorcycle accident. Check this page below to see some of the most frequently asked questions in regards to financial damages for a motorcycle accident. If you have a question that has not been answered here, feel free to call us at 424-231-2013 to get a free consultation.
What is “legal liability”?
This is determined in a civil court by a jury with a presiding judge. If a person is found to be “legally liable”, then they are responsible for paying damages for any loss and/or injury suffered by the other party and/or parties. In motorcycle accidents, a person can be held legally liable if they are guilty of negligence, misconduct, and/or reckless driving. In other words, liability means determining who was at fault for the motorcycle accident in question.
What is “negligence”?
“Negligence” is legally defined as a failure to act with the level of consideration and care that would be expected of a person of sound mind. In other words, it is when any action or actions fall outside the range of what a sane person would do in the appropriate circumstances. Criminal negligence can consist of explicit actions as well as omissions (or actions that were not taken) if there is some appropriate expectation of how a person should or should not act.
What is “criminal misconduct”?
The legal definition of “criminal misconduct” is any conduct that is improper, wrongful, and/or unlawful. It can be premeditated or simply be “obstinate indifference” to the various consequences of one’s actions.
In cases where a professional person is held to some explicit or implicit code of conduct, then it is significantly easier for your legal team to argue that misconduct occurred. For example, if you suffered a motorcycle accident due to a professional driver not driving appropriately, then it can be successfully argued that they are guilty of misconduct, thereby making them liable for damages and/or injuries you suffered.
What is the legal definition of “reckless driving”?
In the majority of cases, motorcyclists suffer injuries from accidents due to the recklessness of surrounding drivers. California state law, under the California Vehicle Code §23103.5, defines reckless driving as occurring when a person operates any vehicle on any road, including local or state roads, with a “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of other people and/or property. If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident due to the recklessness of another driver, then it will be absolutely crucial that your legal team argues that the other driver acted with no regard for your safety and/or the consequences of their driving.
What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents?
Motorcycle accidents are like any other car accident (sometimes referred to as a “vehicular collision” in the legal literature). The crucial difference, however, is that motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to serious injury or even death.
Motorcycle accidents can be caused by negligence, misconduct, and/or recklessness. The most common causes are:
- Driving while distracted. Frequent causes of distraction while driving include texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating, focusing on the radio and/or stereo system, looking away from the road, and/or speaking to the passengers.
- Speeding. Every roadway in California has a speed limit (some of which are determined by federal law if it is an interstate freeway). In cases where the driver is speeding to an overly excessive or dangerous degree, they may even be arrested for misdemeanor reckless driving.
- Following another vehicle too closely. This is also known as “tailgating” and can potentially result in a rear-end accident. For motorcyclists, rear-end accidents are particularly dangerous and frequently result in serious injury. If the driver being tailgated taps or slams on their brakes, this is commonly known as “brake checking”.
- Driving while intoxicated. This is an incredibly common cause of accidents and is a serious crime under California law. It is illegal for a driver to have any drugs (including prescription medication) in their system while driving and they must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of below 0.08%. If it is a professional driver, then they must have a BAC of 0.00%.
- Not checking blind spots. California allows for motorcyclists to pass other vehicles within the same lane, a practice frequently known as “lane splitting”. This means that drivers must be especially vigilant when switching lanes to ensure that there is no motorcyclist in their “blind spot”.
- Poor weather and/or road conditions. There are various complications that may arise from inclement weather. This includes rain, snow, fog, and/or extreme wind. Frequent complications from these poor conditions include a slippery and/or slick surface on the road, poor visibility, and/or gusts of wind that push a vehicle into other lanes.
Laws regarding car accidents vary from state to state. In California, the law enforcement agency that deals with and investigates car accidents is the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
Should I contact the police following the motorcycle accident?
Yes. Do not allow the other driver to talk you out of contacting the police or CHP. This is because a police report is an official investigation into the causes of the accident (also known as an “accident report”) and is a crucial piece of evidence when contacting either the insurance company or going to trial.
What information should I obtain from the other driver?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, then be sure to obtain the other driver’s full name, home address, phone number, the license plate number of their vehicle, their driver’s license number, and their insurance policy number.
Should I take photographs of my motorcycle and/or the scene of the accident?
Yes. Any and all evidence, including photographs, can end up being vital pieces of information in your future case. You should take photographs of all the vehicles involved in the collision (including your motorcycle) as well as any injuries you may have suffered. You should also make sure to take photographs of any tire skid marks or any damage done to surrounding property (like a guard rail, light posts, or fences).
Should I go to the doctor following the motorcycle accident even if I feel fine?
Yes. You may be suffering from internal injuries that are not noticeable to the untrained eye and which may become increasingly serious as time progresses. Furthermore, any potential damages you may receive for injuries will be significantly less if you do not have hard evidence provided by a health care practitioner. It is absolutely necessary that you gather as much objective evidence as possible so that your legal team can mount an effective case and potentially secure substantial compensation for you.
Should I accept a check from the other driver’s insurance company right away?
No. In some cases, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will offer you a check right away. This is because insurance adjustors frequently try to close accident cases as quickly as possible because it is in their best interests.
However, this may not necessarily be in your best interest. When accepting a settlement, you are legally agreeing to not seek any additional compensation. You should not do this until you know the full extent of your losses, including any future medical complications, and should wait until your personal injury lawyer has reviewed the case with you and determined the best course of action for your particular case.
Am I still entitled to financial compensation if I was not wearing a helmet?
Yes. Though California law requires you to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle, the fact that you did not do so does not automatically negate any claims you may have. If the other driver was at fault and you suffered injuries due to their actions, you may still be entitled to compensation regardless as to whether you were wearing a helmet or not.
Is California a “fault state” or a “no-fault state”?
California is legally a “fault state” in regards to vehicular collisions. In legal terminology, this is also known as a “tort state”. It means that a party is required to prove fault before any legal liability is enacted. In other words, a driver must be found responsible for causing the vehicular collision before said person’s insurance company will pay any damages.
In “no-fault states”, like New Jersey or Florida, there is no legal necessity to prove the driver’s fault and the injured party can receive compensation from their insurance provider for injuries and/or lost wages. Furthermore, “no-fault states” do not allow the injured to sue the at-fault driver for additional compensation unless the state in question allows for extenuating circumstances.
Is “lane splitting” legal in California?
Yes. This is an extremely common practice; over 80% of motorcyclists claim that they engage in lane splitting when driving on freeways. California is currently the only state that allows lane splitting.
For many years there was no legal definition of lane splitting. In 2016, however, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51) into law. This formally defines lane splitting as when a motorcycle passes another vehicle in the same lane on any roads, highways, or divided and undivided streets. This essentially means that a motorcycle and another vehicle (usually a car) can occupy the same space in a single lane. It is also known as lane sharing, stripe-riding, and/or white-lining. It can happen when traffic is moving or when it is stopped (in these cases it is also known as “filtering”).
What are “economic damages”?
“Economic damages” are the types of compensation for losses that can be objectively ascertained and/or verified. These include medical expenses (past, present, and future), lost wages (past, present, and future), the loss of use of property, property damage (any damage to your motorcycle), costs for replacing and/or repairing your damaged motorcycle, domestic services and their economic value, and any time there is the loss of employment and/or potential business opportunities.
How are future lost wages determined?
Determining future lost wages is a complex process. In these cases, your legal team will likely hire an economic expert to calculate and then present your future lost wages to the jury. In doing so, they will have to prove that your hypothetical lost wages are linked to “present value” because the injuries you suffered in the motorcycle accident prevent you from receiving the money you would otherwise earn (if you had not suffered the injuries).
What are “non-economic damages”?
“Non-economic damages” are types of compensation that are given for subjective losses that are not monetary in nature. These include suffering, pain, inconvenience, loss of society and/or companionship, physical and/or emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and loss of consortium.
How are “non-economic damages” calculated?
There is no specific set of guidelines for determining “non-economic damages”. In these cases, the presiding judge will instruct the jury to use their experience, good sense, and respective backgrounds to determine a reasonable amount of damages for your pain and suffering.
What is “loss of consortium”?
“Loss of consortium” is a term that is used in liability law (also known formally as the “law of torts”) that is used to refer to when benefits of a family relationship are deprived due to injuries. This essentially means that compensation can be owed if the injured party’s family suffers due to the injuries in question. If the injured party eventually succumbs to the injuries inflicted on them, then the loss of consortium is no longer viable and it becomes a “wrongful death” case.
What are “punitive damages”?
These are damages that are awarded to the injured party as a corrective against the guilty party to ensure that they do not engage in the negligence, misconduct, and/or recklessness that caused the given injuries. It is a form of punishment that acts as a deterrent to future dangerous behavior. They are determined by the presiding judge if the at-fault driver engaged in conduct that was willfully malicious.
What are the types of damages that can be recovered?
There are various types of damages that may be awarded in a motorcycle accident settlement, all of which include past, present, and future iterations of the associated expenses. These damages include medical expenses or bills, any loss of wages or income (also known as “loss of earning capacity”), any out of pocket costs for pursuing the case, physical or mental suffering or anguish, property damage (including costs for repairing or replacing your motorcycle), and loss of consortium.
What is the difference between “settlement value” and “trial value”?
When trying to determine the overall value of a motorcycle accident claim, there are two fundamental valuations that must be determined: “settlement value” and “trial value”. The former refers to the amount that you (the injured party) reasonably hope the settlement for the case will be. It will always be worth less than the “trial value” because settling a case is a legal maneuver to avoid going to trial.
On the other hand, “trial value” is what you would reasonably expect to win if the case were to go to trial. Depending on how strong your case is, your legal team will counsel you on whether to take a smaller settlement or risk going to trial to receive a hypothetically larger sum of damages. It is absolutely vital to have legal representation whether you plan on taking a settlement or going to trial.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist protection?
Uninsured motorist protection is an insurance plan that protects you if the at-fault party collided with you and did not have any liability insurance. Underinsured motorist protection is activated if the at-fault party collided with you and had liability limits that were too low to adequately cover medical costs and/or physical damages.
How Do I Find Motorcycle Accident Attorney Near Me?
If you are the victim of a motorcycle accident, then you may be entitled to substantial damages and compensation. It is necessary to immediately retain legal representation, even when dealing with insurance adjustors. Any interactions you have with the insurance companies in question are always fully documented and anything you say is legally binding. This means that having an experienced and knowledgeable legal team will protect you from making any statements that may hurt your future case. Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer can help increase the likelihood that you will receive damages that you are legally owed whether you decide to settle or go to trial. If you are located in the Los Angeles area, then call us at 424-231-2013 to get started today!