As the number of motorcycle riders goes up in Los Angeles, so do the accidents. The great weather combined with high gas prices and traffic jams makes motorcycles an appealing option for zipping through the 405 and 101 freeways. Despite the appeal, motorcycles remain a dangerous option.
Motorcycle Accidents in Los Angeles By The Numbers
The number of fatal accidents in Los Angeles County is sobering. There were 59% more motorycyclists killed in 2012 than in 2010. According to the California Highway Patrol, there were 3,509 motorcycle involved injuries and 105 fatalities in 2013, and yet the first quarter of 2015 saw an increase in motorcycle sales in L.A. County.
Common Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents
Accidents are often caused by:
- Speeding, Failing to yield properly,
- Fiding against the flow of traffic, and
- Making illegal turns.
California permits lane-splitting – riding between two lanes of traffic – but doing so at high rates of speed often leads to accidents.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcyclists who are involved in accidents may suffer serious injuries. Common injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents include:
- Loss of limb(s);
- Road rash;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Concussions; and
- Internal organ damage.
These injuries can impose severe financial burdens, often exceeding the amounts an injured rider can cover on their own. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and losses through a motorcycle accident lawsuit. An experienced California motorcycle accident attorney can explain your legal rights, investigate the details of your accident, and pursue monetary compensation from the at-fault party.
What to Do After A Motorcycle Accident
Get Medical Treatment
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident you should seek medical attention immediately if paramedics have not already been dispatched to the scene. Even if you think you feel fine you should get a medical evaluation to rule out any injuries. Certain injuries – including back problems and head injuries – may not surface until days after the accident. Getting a medical evaluation immediately is important for two reasons.
First, it ensures that you rule out potentially life-threatening injuries and get the medical care you may need. Second, if you choose to pursue a motorcycle accident lawsuit you may need proof of your injuries as evidence. Medical evaluations can be invaluable in a claim for damages.
Report the accident
If you have the ability to do so, call the police immediately after the accident. An officer will be dispatched to the scene of the accident to document the facts, identify the parties involved, and gather statements from any eye-witnesses. The police report will be important in proving your case, should you decide to pursue a claim for damages.
Call an attorney
Can you deal directly with an insurance company? Sure. However, insurance companies aren’t here to hand over as much money as you as for or need. They will work hard to limit the payout you get. The process of recovering compensation can be tiresome, complex, and tough.
Enlisting the assistance of a skilled California motorcycle accident attorney could be the difference between a settlement that barely covers the cost of an ambulance ride to one that covers the costs of medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. An attorney understands the complicated personal injury laws that may apply to a motorcycle accident case and the tactics insurance companies will employ to minimize payouts. If you are serious about recovering compensation for your injuries resulting from a California motorcycle accident, contact an experienced attorney immediately.
What Can I Recover in a California Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
If you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries or losses resulting from a motorcycle accident this may be your first question. The answer depends on the severity of your injuries and losses, the attorney you enlist to lead the case, and the types of damages you ask for. Motorcycle accidents are more likely than other vehicular accidents to cause significant injuries which can rack up medical bills, keep you out of work, or even result in death. You can seek to for compensation to account for these, and other, injuries.
Special, or compensatory, damages are awarded to reimburse a plaintiff for calculable, verifiable expenses that were caused by the motorcycle accident. More simply: if the accident had not occurred you would not have had to pay for certain out of pocket expenses. Compensatory damages may include:
- Medical bills including hospital stays, surgery, lab tests, rehab or physical therapy, chiropractic care, and prescriptions;
- Lost wages for time you were unable to work due to the injuries you suffered in the accident;
- Nursing care if you are permanently disabled and unable to care for yourself; and
- Property damage to your motorcycle.
General damages are awarded for costs that are more subjective, and harder to value. These often include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of consortium or companionship if you are unable to have meaningful relationships with a partner or spouse; and
- Punitive damages.
Punitive damages are uncommon in California motorcycle accident lawsuits, but are permissible in certain situations. In California, punitive damages may be awarded if the at-fault party is found to be, by a heightened standard of clear and convincing evidence, to be guilty of malice, oppression, or fraud.
Note, punitive damages are generally not available in wrongful death lawsuits in California. A family may only recover punitive damages if their loved one died during the commission of another felony for which the at-fault party was convicted.
When Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident you have a limited amount of time in which you can file a claim to recover compensation. The timeframe, known as the statute of limitations, is generally two years from the date of the accident (Cal Civ Code § 335.1). However, there are certain circumstances that may alter this time period. The statutes of limitation in special circumstances include:
- One year from the date you discover an injury caused by your accident;
- Six months to file an administrative claim against a governmental entity; and
- Within one year of the date you turn 18 if you were a minor at the time of the accident.
To ensure that you file your claim within the permissible statute of limitations, contact an experienced California motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can after an injury.
Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Recovering compensation for injuries and losses resulting from a motorcycle accident can be a complex process. An experienced California motorcycle accident attorney can help to make sure you recover the compensation to which you are entitled from insurance companies and defendants who will fight you every step of the way. Lawyers understand the complexities of the law and the tactics insurance companies typically employ to minimize payouts. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is to your benefit to have an ally with these legal tools. An attorney can help to navigate the lawsuit process, which includes:
- Investigating the Accident. Police reports can be a great first step in investigating an accident. Attorneys understand the details that will make a difference in a lawsuit for damages, and have access to specialists who can recreate accidents, review medical reports, and gather evidence crucial to your recovery.
- Determining Liability. If you are in an accident with another driver you may believe that they are the only party that is at-fault. In fact, attorneys know that there are other parties who may be potentially liable for the injuries you face. These can include governmental bodies, insurance companies, employers, and manufacturers. An attorney will investigate the cause of your accident and trace all possible causes and factors.
- Fighting the Insurance Company. Insurance companies are not going to open their checkbooks and cover the costs of your injuries. They will likely try to shift some of the blame to you, so it is important to be prepared with evidence supporting your claim. An attorney is a skilled negotiator who understands the tricks insurance companies use to limit what they pay after an accident.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should call an attorney familiar with Los Angeles motorcycle accidents. An attorney at Citywide Law Group can help you navigate the complexities of a lawsuit and recover compensation for injuries and losses you sustain because of the accident. An attorney is your ally, and will fight to ensure your rights are protected.