Los Angeles Attorneys
Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you ride a motorcycle in Los Angeles, CA, you should be prepared to be involved in an accident. Ideally, you will be able to use our two-wheel tips to remain safe and avoid a crash, but if something happens that is out of your control, we want you to be protected.
The legal team at Chain | Cohn | Clark will do whatever is necessary to help you through your motorcycle accident claim and recover adequate benefits.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in LA
One of the most important aspects of recovering compensation in a Los Angeles motorcycle accident is finding out what caused it. There are many different reasons a motorcycle can collide with another vehicle or object. Below are some of the common causes we see in Los Angeles.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving occurs when drivers on the road are not paying attention because they are eating, using a cell phone, fiddling with the radio, etc. This can be very dangerous to others on the road around them, especially motorcyclists who do not have a lot of protection.
- Unsafe following distances: Motorcycles are smaller and easier to maneuver than other vehicles. The stopping distance can be much shorter than that of a car. In addition, sometimes motorcycle brake lights can be harder to identify than car brake lights. If a driver follows a motorcycle too closely, they may not be able to slow down or stop when the motorcycle does.
- Lack of awareness: It’s much easier to see a car on the road than a motorcycle. Even when checking blind spots, motorcyclists may still be hidden. Passenger vehicle drivers that are not constantly monitoring their surroundings may be surprised to find that there is a motorcycle near them. If they do not change their behavior accordingly, it could result in a dangerous accident. When much larger vehicles––such as commercial semi-trucks––collide with motorcycles, they might not even notice until much later.
- Impaired driving: Drivers that are drunk or high will have difficulty controlling their vehicle and might be confused by motorcycle riders. The lack of functionality and decision-making ability makes them a dangerous force on the roadways. Impaired driving accidents are often some of the most severe because the driver does not respond in time to nullify any of the damages.
- Lane splitting: California allows motorcycle riders to “split lanes,” or drive between cars when there’s traffic. As you can imagine, this leaves little-to-no room for error for the motorcyclist and the cars on either side. If cars are not aware of lane splitters, they may try to suddenly change lanes and cut off a motorcycle or hit one on the side. Lane splitting should be done very carefully and taking into account that other drivers might not know what you’re doing.
- Inclement weather: Motorcycles only have two wheels and require an additional aspect of balance when riding on the road. If they lose traction in one wheel, the rider can completely lose control of their vehicle. Additionally, motorcyclists are more exposed to the elements and precipitation because they don’t have a roof or cabin. If they are not wearing the proper gear or are caught off guard by a storm, it can be very difficult to navigate safely.
- Issues with the road: Again, a motorcycle only having two wheels and requiring a stable center of gravity makes it especially vulnerable to things like potholes and/or roadwork. If there is not proper signage indicating road hazards, a motorcyclist might crash or swerve abruptly, leading to physical injuries.
- Faulty parts: Sometimes the rider has no control over what goes wrong. If there is an issue with the motorcycle and some safety component is not working the way that it should, there might not be a way to prevent getting into an accident. In this situation, a good lawyer will go after the company that messed up those parts.
Once you have identified the cause of the motorcycle accident, the next step is proving that another party was connected to the cause. Even if you hold some of the fault for an accident, you may still be eligible for compensation if you were less than 50% responsible.
Who Is Liable for My LA Motorcycle Accident?
California follows an at-fault pure comparative negligence standard, meaning the party who is mostly to blame for the accident must legally pay for the damages. This could include medical bills, motorcycle repairs, money lost while injured, other more general funds, etc. Multiple parties could be held responsible for your injuries.
- Drivers: If you crash due to the negligence of another driver on the road––be it distraction, drunkenness, or something else––their insurance provider may be responsible for paying your damages. Actions—such as texting while driving, speeding, ignoring road rules, or driving too close to a motorcycle—indicate a breach of the expected duty to keep other drivers safe from harm.
- Manufacturers: You may be able to recover compensation through the California product liability laws if your motorcycle experienced an issue or malfunction due to faulty parts. If you have electrical problems, a brake failure, or any other auto defect that leads to an accident, you can pursue damages directly from the motorcycle manufacturing company.
- The city: Riding a motorcycle is very different from driving a car. When there are dangerous road conditions, a motorcyclist becomes much more vulnerable. Roadway defects—such as unsafe construction sites, large potholes, loose gravel, storm debris, rubble, and other objects in the road—can lead to a serious wreck. If these obstacles were due to lack of maintenance or poor upkeep by the city, you may be able to file a claim against it.
The majority of Los Angeles motorcycle accident claims aim to hold the liable party accountable for the victim’s damages. To do this, you must be able to prove the other parties were at fault. Our lawyers are specially trained to identify and prove fault in motorcycle accident cases.
What Does a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Do?
Motorcyclists often pride themselves on being free spirits who like to take care of things themselves. In the event of an accident, however, the wisest riders will understand that asking for help is their best course of action.
Motorcycle accident attorneys in Los Angeles are dedicated to helping injured riders get the compensation they deserve. This often involves complex cases that require hours of arduous work and research. Depending on the details of a case, here are some of the duties a Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney might perform:
- Collect and analyze different documents, such as police reports and medical records, that will serve as evidence in a case.
- Contact and collect statements from witnesses to the accident.
- Explain the claims process and legal options to the client.
- Gather more evidence––such as videos and photos––during an investigation.
- Negotiate an adequate settlement value through direct contact with insurance companies.
- Handle any communications with the insurance adjuster to confirm the client is protected.
- Analyze insurance policies to determine coverage limits.
- Determine whether or not the client’s health insurance or welfare benefits will require repayment of money initially spent.
- Review liens to ensure their validity.
- File a lawsuit and represent the client in the courtroom, if necessary.
- Analyze the decision made by a trial jury and decide whether or not an appeal should be filed
Remember that the sooner all of these tasks are completed, the better your chances of receiving adequate compensation become. You will still be in the midst of physical and emotional recovery while most of this takes place. Do not stress yourself out with the financial and legal aspects of a motorcycle injury case. Instead, let the experienced Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark help you through this difficult period.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Due to the lack of protection on motorcycles, the injuries that occur from accidents are typically more severe than car crashes. According to 2020 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle riders are 28 times more likely to die in an accident than regular drivers. Although only four times more likely to be injured, the monumental risk of death in comparison highlights the dangers of riding a motorbike.
While some motorcycles have airbags, they do not offer the same protection in collisions as other passenger vehicles do. Motorcycles often don’t have seatbelts because it’s less dangerous to be thrown away from the crash. Here are some of the common injuries we see in LA motorcycle crashes:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Leg and foot injuries
- Road rash/burns
- Disfigurement and scars
- Cuts and lacerations
- Fractures to the skull
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bruised ribs
Catastrophic injuries are more common in motorcycle accidents than other types of auto accidents. These are permanent injuries that can affect the victim for the rest of their life. Physical scars, brain damage, and paralysis are common examples of catastrophic injuries.
Collisions may also lead to emotional trauma that lasts for a long period of time. In any legal case, your compensation in a motorcycle accident claim will be proportionate to the injuries and emotional suffering that you endured if you successfully prove fault.
Damages in a Los Angeles Motorcycle Cases
When seeking damages in a Los Angeles motorcycle accident claim, it’s important that you seek payment for all of your damages. You may be offered a settlement that seems generous but does not actually account for everything. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide a comprehensive idea of all the benefits you are eligible to receive depending on your injuries.
Some of the damages our Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers can help you pursue include the ones listed below.
- Medical expenses: This involves more than just emergency room bills. In an injury case, you can often recover compensation for all past and future medical expenses related to an accident. This includes money for problems that may arise down the road, transportation to and from the hospital, etc.
- Motorcycle repairs: If your motorbike is damaged or totaled after an accident with a larger vehicle, you may be able to get money for fixing the damages. The more extreme the damage, the more you can recover.
- Disability-related costs: If your injuries are catastrophic or disabling in any way, you can get benefits for dealing with those issues now and in the future. If you are going to lose the use of a body part for the rest of your life, you will be awarded with financial assistance to account for that loss.
- Income losses: This includes both the money you were not able to make while injured, and any future wages you might not be able to earn due to your injury. If you cannot work, you will be awarded benefits to mitigate those losses. These damages will be proportional to how much money you make when you are/were working.
- Pain and suffering: This can be emotional and/or physical suffering. If you are always in physical pain from your injuries, you can earn money to make up for that continuous inconvenience. If you are constantly stressing or lamenting the accident, you can also receive benefits for that.
- Quality of life: Prolonged pain or stress that decreases your ability to enjoy life the way you could before the accident can lead to substantial compensation. While money cannot truly replace the pieces of your life you may have lost, it can serve you in other ways that reduce the future stressors from the accident.
- Punitive damages: In very rare cases of gross negligence or intentional malice, you may be able to recover punitive damages. These are purely to punish the responsible party and discourage them from behaving similarly in the future. In a motorcycle accident case between two drivers, it is rare that punitive damages will be awarded in California.
- Other fees and costs: There are a variety of other expenses you may be eligible to recover benefits for, such as fees for a rental car, legal fees, out-of-pocket expenses, and so on.
There are so many different costs you can be compensated for, which means it is just a matter of knowing what you are entitled to. Our motorcycle injury lawyers in Los Angeles have seen enough accidents to understand the potential extent of your benefits. Reach out to a legal professional for a case evaluation to determine whether or not you should seek damages after your collision.
California Helmet Law for Motorcycle Riders
Whether you’re in the heart of Los Angeles or far out in the San Joaquin Valley, there are certain state laws that will apply to you all the same. California has a universal helmet law, meaning that any motorcycle driver or passenger is required to wear a helmet while riding. The helmet must be federally approved and fit well, otherwise you may receive a fine and citation.
Beyond the legal and physical ramifications, there are also potential consequences when it comes to a motorcycle accident case. If your injuries in a motorcycle accident have any connection to you not wearing a helmet, the defendant may be able to place some of the liability on you. If you experience any trauma to the head, face, neck, or brain, the defendant can argue that you are partially responsible for those injuries and therefore they should not have to pay as much. Although they will need to provide proof that not wearing a helmet added to your injury––such as a medical expert’s testimony––it is not a difficult argument to make.
Do not assume that you will easily recover compensation if you were not wearing a helmet during your accident. Riding without a helmet is technically against the law, so the system cannot protect you if you get a head injury as a result. The pure comparative negligence standard does not protect plaintiffs from bearing some of the fault. If you are found to be partially responsible, your settlement will be proportionately reduced based on the percentage of blame you carry.
What to Do After a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident
Ideally, you will never be involved in a motorcycle crash, but if you are, it’s good to be prepared. There are a few key steps that you will always want to take after a motorcycle accident to ensure the best possible outcome for yourself:
- Get to safety and check for injuries. Even if you feel like you were not hurt, you should seek medical attention to get a professional opinion on your condition. You may have sustained serious injuries that will take time to fully develop.
- Report the accident. A police report that indicates you were not at fault will be essential in an injury claim. Call the police (or other authorities) as soon as possible and do not make any statements of fault.
- Collect information. Take photos and videos of everything that happened at the accident. Document your injuries, damage to vehicles, surrounding conditions that may have affected the crash, etc.
- Exchange contact information. Get the name, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance information of the other driver so you can contact them later if need be. Do not talk to them about fault or other things if you are planning to file a claim.
- Find witnesses. Ask around to see if anyone else noticed what happened. Get their contact information and ask if they would be willing to make a statement or, if necessary, be a witness.
Your smartphone will be your best friend when documenting evidence. Use it to take notes, photos, and videos that will be easy to show to a lawyer. If you are not able to do these things, ask someone else to. Do not admit fault, anything you say could affect your ability to receive compensation in the future.
Once you have completed these tasks and are safe, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your claim.
Chain | Cohn | Clark Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycle accidents can happen anytime, anywhere, and change the victim’s life forever. In the event of a crash or collision that you did not cause, you should reach out to a team that is going to put your best interests before anything else.
Here at Chain | Cohn | Clark, we do just that. Our Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys will help you through the entire process to ensure that you get what you deserve. Fill out our online form or call (661) 616-9829 for a free case evaluation.