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California Motorcycle Accidents & How A Lawyer Can Help

Offered by The Swanson Law Group

Motorcycle injury victims are often eligible to receive money for their crash

Motorcyclists from across the country flock to California for its famous, scenic motorcycle rides – from the Pacific Coast Highway One along the ocean to the Angeles Crest Highway and the Sierra Heritage Highway. Thanks to the state’s relatively mild weather, many California residents routinely ride their motorcycles to work and other places.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents also often occur in California. And in many cases, these collisions happen due to mistakes made by other drivers on the road. When that happens, it’s important for injured motorcyclists to get proper medical treatment right away.

It’s also important for injured bikers to fully understand their legal rights. In many cases, motorcyclists are eligible to receive money for their medical care, replacement income if they cannot work due to their injury and other accident-related expenses.

How common are motorcycle accidents in California?

Injuries and fatalities involving motorcycle accidents have become increasingly common nationwide and in California. In the past decade, motorcycle fatalities nationwide have increased by 10 percent, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During that same time period, motorcycle accident fatalities soared by more than a third in California.

California consistently ranks second behind Florida for the most motorcycle accident fatalities each year, according to NHTSA statistics. Of course, that’s partially a consequence of California’s high population. Even taking population into account, though, California routinely ranks among the top 20 U.S. states in terms of motorcycle fatality rates.

Where do motorcycle accidents happen in California?

While motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere in California, certain roads have more motorcycle crashes than others. Some of the most dangerous roads for motorcyclists in the state include:

  • State Route 39 in Orange County – at just 9.82 miles, this is one of California’s most dangerous highways on a per-mile basis.
  • I-5 in Los Angeles County – speeding cars and commercial vehicles make this highway deadly for motorcyclists.
  • I-10 in San Bernardino – one of the nation’s longest highways, it sees dozens of motorcycle fatalities every years.
  • State Route 2 – this highway has many sharp blind turns and switchbacks that can lead to motorcycle accidents.
  • State Route 99 – drivers traveling at extremely high speeds on this highway can cause devastating crashes.

These are just some of the places where motorcycle accidents often happen in California. Wherever your crash occurred, make sure you have the police respond and investigate your accident. That way you’ll have an official California accident report, known as a Traffic Collision Report (CHP 555), for your motorcycle accident.

Why do motorcycle accidents happen?

Motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles often occur because the other driver behaved in a reckless or negligent manner. Such collisions happen because the other driver didn’t look or share the road with the injured motorcyclist.

  • Drivers who don’t look, especially when making a left-hand turn at an intersection, often cause a head-on collision with an oncoming motorcyclist.
  • Distracted drivers, especially texting drivers, who don’t see a motorcyclist on the road or pulling onto a street.
  • Speeding drivers who don’t have enough time to stop to avoid crashing into a motorcyclist.
  • Reckless drivers who run a red light, change lanes without warning or perform other dangerous maneuvers that result in a collision.
  • Aggressive drivers who tailgate or don’t leave enough space between themselves and motorcyclists.
  • Drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs who cause head-on collisions and other accidents.
  • Tired drivers who fall asleep at the wheel at night, especially on highways or at intersections.

What should I do at the scene of a California motorcycle accident?

It’s important to take certain steps if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver to protect your health and your rights. First, call 911 and ask the police to respond to your accident. A local police officer or state trooper from the California Highway Patrol should respond to your accident and investigate what happened.

If someone saw your accident, make sure you get the person’s full name and phone number. A statement from an eyewitness who saw your accident can be a powerful piece of evidence in support of your injury claim.

Get the other driver’s full name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and insurance information. Give the same information to the other driver, but stick to the facts of what happened and avoid saying anything pertaining to fault.

Take photos of your accident. Make sure to take pictures of accident debris, the position of the vehicles at the time of the collision, skid marks on the road and nearby traffic signals or speed limit signs.

Have a medical professional examine you right away. Don’t try to diagnose yourself. You could be in shock and not even realize you have a serious or life-threatening medical condition. Have an EMT or doctor diagnose exactly what’s wrong with you.

Do not discuss your accident with the other driver or anyone else at the scene of your accident. Anything you say could be used as evidence to reduce or deny your motorcycle injury claim.

Protecting your rights after a motorcycle crash

Within a day or two, call your insurance company and tell them you have been in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver. Keep your comments brief. The less you say, the better.

When it becomes available, ask for a copy of your official police accident report. You can request a copy of your accident report online by contacting the California Highway Patrol or the local law enforcement agency that investigated the crash. Carefully review your accident report to verify that all the information is accurate. A small error could influence the outcome of your legal case.

Schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Many motorcycle accident injuries take several hours or days to develop, including concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Don’t take chances with your health. Take your doctor’s advice and follow their instructions. Failure to do so could affect your ability to fully recover and hurt your injury claim. Insurance companies are often looking for any excuse to reduce or deny motorcycle injury claims.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you, don’t talk to them. Anything you say or write to them could be used as evidence to deny your claim.

Don’t discuss your motorcycle accident or post anything about it on social media. Again, anything you say can and will be used against you by the insurance company.

Finally, don’t deal with the insurance company on your own. Contact an attorney with extensive experience handling motorcycle accidents in California as soon as possible.

How can a lawyer help?

Motorcycle accidents involving other drivers often turn out to be complicated legal cases. Bikers often get wrongly blamed for causing collisions. Many drivers point the finger at motorcyclists, claiming they did something to somehow cause the accident. Worst of all, the at-fault driver’s insurance company often takes their client’s side and works with them to dismiss your injury claim.

This is just one reason why it’s important to have an experienced California car accident lawyer on your side looking out for your best interests. An experienced attorney understands how the legal system works and knows the state and federal laws that apply to collisions in California involving injured motorcyclists.

If you don’t make a strong legal case, you might not get the money you deserve. Accident-related expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars or significantly more. Such expenses may include your medical treatment, repairing or replacing your motorcycle and replacement income if you cannot work due to your motorcycle accident injury. Your lawyer can make sure that your concerns receive the attention and respect they deserve.

You only have one chance to get all the money you deserve for your past, present and future accident-related expenses. Make sure you make the most of your opportunity. Talk to a California motorcycle accident attorney who knows how to handle such complex legal cases. Schedule a free consultation today.

Motorcycle Accidents Assistance
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The Swanson Law Group is committed to fighting for the rights of personal injury victims in the San Jose area and throughout California.