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Motorcycle Accidents and California Motorcycle Laws

Motorcycle accidents are some of the most devastating injuries. They can cause long lasting injuries to the body which may require intensive care and therapy. Most injuries are caused not by the motorcyclist, but by the carelessness of other drivers. To make matters worse, many drivers who cause motorcycle accidents are not adequately insured. As a result there is often a claim we need to file against your own insurance if adequate coverage is not available i.e. uninsured motorist claim.

Statistics for Motorcycle Accidents:

Based on national data, Motorcycle accidents have witnessed a dramatic rise, Motorcycle accident deaths have increased every year between 1997 and  2008, a 150% increase

  • Over 50,000 people are injured annually from motorcycle accidents;
  • Over 10% of accidents on roads and highways involve a motorcycle;
  • A motorcycle operator who wears a helmet is more likely to suffer reduced injuries;
  • There are over 5 million registered motorcycles in the U.S.;
  • There are over 1,500 motorcycle deaths each year;
  • Almost half of the fatalities are attributed to excessive speed;
  • Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and moderate brain injuries are the most common type’s injuries;
  • Passengers riding in a side car or behind the motorcyclist were more likely to suffer serious injuries;
  • Most motorcycle operators carry insurance of some kind;
  • Most accidents involving a motorcycle were caused because the motorcyclist right of way was violated;
  • Road issues including, pot holes, ridges or other road defects attributed to less than 5% of the accidents;
  • Males at a greater risk than females:  85% of all Motorcycle accident victims are male.

The  late Spring and Summer months have the highest occurrence of motorcycle accidents; with the months of June, July and August being the peak months. Approximately 56% of all Bike crashes involves multiple vehicle collisions while 43% are single vehicle accidents.  40% of all motorbike accidents take place in intersections.

Motorcycle accidents are considered to be the most dangerous type of road accidents. Since these vehicles do not offer structural protection against injuries, those injured are often seriously hurt. Most injuries can cause prolonged pain and suffering. In such cases it is important to be properly reimbursed for your medical bills, pain and suffering and emotional trauma. If you find the information in this article contact our motorcycle accident attorney Los Angeles for a free evaluation of your bike accident claim.


California Motorcycle Laws – Ridership Laws

Motorcycle laws are designed to protect the motorcyclist. California’s legislature took the position that Motorcycle riders are more exposed and prone to dangerous or fatal accidents. Thus, most laws are designed to protect the motorcyclist from injury. California motorcycle laws require the following:

  • Headlights are required anytime after sunset;
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to operate a motorcycle;
  • Handlebars cannot be above six inches above the riders shoulders;
  • Motorcycles are covered under California Lemon Laws;
  • Motorcycles are required to have both left and right-side mirrors;
  • A spark arrestor is required by law;
  • California law requires that riders wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle;
  • Insurance coverage is required for motorcycle riders;
  • Passengers are also required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or side car;

A full list of motorcycle laws can be found here.

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What Are The Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

  • Car doors
  • Speeding
  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Distracted driving (eating, adjusting a GPS or iPod, or talking with a passenger)
  • Lane splitting / Lane changes
  • Slippery
  • Weather
  • Age*
  • Traffic
  • Sudden stops
  • Lack of Licensing & Experience
  • Reckless Riding
  • Lack of Antilock Brakes
  • Car Hits You From Behind
  • Left turn accidents
  • Hazardous or Poorly Maintained Roads (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.)
  • Caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right-of-way
  • Motorcycle defects

Motorcycle accidents make up a significant portion of the total percentage of fatalities occurring on the road every day. Many tend to assume that the accidents are caused by negligence on the part of the cyclist, however it is normally due to things that are out of their control, and a quality Los Angeles personal injury attorney is more aware of this than most.
Cyclists are more difficult to spot at a distance than are vehicles due to their smaller size. Because of this, many cars fail to see them until it’s too late, and the majority of accidents involving motorcycles are a direct result of collisions made with other vehicles. A good motorcycle accident attorney can help their client prove to a judge that the collision was out of their control and have a much better chance at receiving funds to cover resultant hospital bills, damage and other compensation.
Another large portion of the accidents that occur with motorcyclists are results of the driver crashing after hitting an unexpected bump in the road or other obstacle that, while not affecting a car, can be tragic for someone on a motorcycle. In these cases, it is even more important for the driver to have a skilled and experienced injury attorney at their side to help prove that the accident could have been avoided due to circumstances beyond their control.
While strategies are being implemented to help raise awareness of motorcycles, many other motorists often overlook them on the road. The most common area for a motorcycle accident to occur is at a busy intersection. Some drivers of vehicles seem to feel the rules of the road do not apply for motorcycles, and they will often deny them their privilege of the right of way.

Not only is this illegal, but it often results in accidents.

Motorcycles are an enjoyable and fun way to travel. However, there will always be an increased risk of an accident for those who choose this mode of transportation. If an accident occurs, it is wise to contact a professional for legal representation.

Liability for Injuries

Who Can be Held Responsible for My Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident

A common question asked is who is liable for my injuries? When you are involved in motorcycle accident you can suffer serious injuries. Liability will depend on whether the injury was caused by negligence of the other driver. To determine this it may require accident reconstruction experts to understand who is at fault.
Most accidents occur because the rights of the motorcyclist were violated to some degree. Accidents can be caused by improper U-turns or lack of signal. It is important to impose liability where proper and to hold that party responsible. The statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents are generally two years and can be extended under certain circumstances. However, it is important to pursue your cause of action as soon as possible.

Delaying the pursuit of a possible claim for your damages can harm your overall recovery. It is important to get a full analysis of your injuries and make a proper claim to the defendant’s insurance company. If you or someone you know has been an injured contact Downtown L.A. Law’s motorcycle injury attorney. Our offices can offer you proper representation and procure maximum results.

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Common Injuries caused by Biking Accidents

Motorcycle injuries can vary depending on speed and type of accident. Common lists of injuries include:

  • Groin injuries;
  • Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries;
  • Back injuries;
  • Spinal Cord injuries
  • Facial lacerations;
  • Broken nose;
  • Fractured skull;
  • Broken wrist;
  • Broken ankle;
  • Damaged eye socket;
  • Ear injuries;
  • Lung Collapse
  • Burn Injuries

Motorcycle Accident Deaths – Wrongful Death Lawsuits by Family of Victim:

In many cases severe injuries in motorcycle crashes result in the death the accident victim.  California Wrongful Death Law California Civil Procedure section 377.60-377.62 outlines wrongful death and who can bring a lawsuit for injuries. The following parties can bring forth a claim for a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The surviving spouse, domestic partner or child can bring a lawsuit. If no such persons exist then the surviving relatives would be able to step in their place in bring a cause of action.
  • Minors can bring a cause of action if they lived at the residence of the deceased for 180 days prior to the incident and depended on the deceased party for half of their income or support.
  • Domestic partners who were in a registered domestic partnership under the family code

Motorcycles Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury:

Traumatic Brain Injuries are commonly associated with motorcycle accidents.  California State legislation requiring the wearing of motorcycle helmets have reduced the incidents of motorbike related head trauma.  However brain damage can still take place even with the proper use of a motorcycle helmet.  Recent estimate show that 20 percent of motorcycle accident involving non helmet use lead to brain injury.  However, near 14 percent of motorcycle crashes involving helmet use also lead to traumatic brain injuries.
Hospital Costs and Motorcycle Brain Injuries: According to estimates an average hospital charge of motorcyclists who did not suffer head injuries was $2,300; while the average hospital bill of a motorcycle head and or facial injuries was $74,000.

What do I do if I have been contacted by an Insurance Adjuster?

An insurance company defense claims adjuster, will try to minimize the seriousness of a motorcycle accident injuries.  Their goal is to reduce your compensation as much as possible.  Don’t let this happen, you need ti me to heel your wounds let us fight the insurance companies for you.  If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in California by an Insurance adjuster regarding your motorcycle injuries is it vital that you ask them to contact you at a different time.  Do not mention any details regarding your accident and injuries.  Next, contact a skilled Los Angeles Motorcycle Attorney for a consultation regarding your matter.  Often insurance companies have used what you mention over the phone against you so as to lower your compensation.
At Downtown La Law our Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyers won’t shy away from confronting Insurance companies, forcing them to pay the claim you deserve for your injuries.

Trusted Motorcycle Injury Legal Team – Compensation for a Motorcycle Injury Claim

The monetary compensation for an injury is based on several factors that will be determined through thorough analysis of your injuries and a future medical needs.
Your doctors including neurologists, and physical therapist, can probably give you a good indication of the severity of your injuries and whether long term or permanent damage has taken place.  Compensation is often base on your

  • Medical Expenses: Medical expenses include all medical bills and costs
  • Future Medical Expenses: Unfortunately, the effects of a car accident can often be felt for months, years, or even a lifetime after the injury occurred.
  • Lost Wages: After an accident, you are entitled to any income you lost.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: In addition to current lost wages, victims of brain injuries are eligible to receive compensation for future lost wages.
  • Pain and Suffering:  Including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Anxiety and depression resulting from your brain injury
  • Permanence of your injury:  Often time brain injuries are irreversible leading to permanent lifelong disabilities which may require rehabilitation and long term care

Experience Motorcycle Injury Lawyers:  If you have been injured in motorcycle accident and find the information in this article helpful, contact the law offices of Downtown L.A. Law. Our attorneys can offer you an accurate analysis of your legal rights and help you with your claim. We will aggressively pursue your rights and will not settle until we are sure you are satisfied.

Learn why Downtown L.A. Law has been voted one of the best law firm in Los Angeles by our clients.

Liability in Motorcycle Accident Claims

Motorcycle accident claims are not like your standard car accident collision claim for a number of reasons. For one  your injuries are usually more severe, second there is almost always an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim to deal with and three motorcyclist are usually deemed the cause of fault. Issues like lane splitting are almost always likely to arise in a motorcycle accident claim. While lane splitting is not per se prohibited or allowed, insurance companies will attempt to make it a point of argument. They will usually use this to limit or reduce the value of your claim under California Comparative Negligence laws.

These laws essentially argue that because you were negligent, any amount awarded to you should be reduced by that percentage or dollar amount. This acts like an off-set against your ultimate damages award and can be harmful to your recovery.

If the injury was because of a manufacturing defect discussed below, you will be able to pursue a claim against the manufacturer and distributors for  your injuries. In a product liability case any commercial supplier in the chain of distribution will be held liable for your injuries.

In cases where another motorist is at fault their respective insurance will be required to pay for your injuries, loss of income and pain and suffering. These are all issues you should speak with your motorcycle accident attorney about.

For Further Information Regarding Your Legal Rights as an Injured Victim of a Motorcycle Accident see here

Motorcycle Defect Claims

Motorcycle accidents are not always the fault of another driver. In certain situations the motorcycle can have a known defect, which can interrupt your ability to successfully ride your bike. A product defect or product liability claim can be based on a number of different factors. Generally a product is considered defective if there is a design defect, manufacturing defect or failure to warn defect. Each is explained below.

Motorcycle Design Defect

Design defects are those that occur at the time of the prototype production. When the prototype is designed with a flaw, it can be a cause of action for a motorcycle defect claim. Unlike other types of defects, design defects can impact the entire product line. Since the product is designed defectively it will likely have an inherent design flaw. This will in turn make almost every single production unit defective as well.

Motorcycle Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defects are those inherent within the product. They are defects that exist as a result of assembly error. When products are put together either by hand or with machines there is always room for some type of error. These errors are considered a manufacturing defect. Manufacturing defects exist when assembly men fail to properly put the product together. Or when machines fail to properly assemble the product. They can occur during any phase of production and can cause significant injuries. Manufacturers will almost always be responsible for these types of injuries.

Motorcycle Failure to Warn Defect

Failure to warn defects are defects which occur when then manufacturer fails to warn of the known danger. Failure to warn of a defect which exist will expose the manufacturer to liability for subsequent injuries. What is considered a failure to warn? Consider manufacturers who fail to recall an motorcycle they know to be defective. Or when the manufacturer fails to warn of a known issue with the bike. This does not necessarily need to be a fatal or significant issue. Generally failure to warn cases deal with labeling issues or failure to warn of potential dangers associated with the product.


Motorcycle defect claims can occur when the brakes on the product fail or when the tires fail while in transit. In certain cases, there have been known mechanical issues with the bike, such as brake line failure or other related issues. Certain tires have also been known to be defective.

In order to evaluate your case we will need to investigate every single fact associated with your case. This includes having an expert look at the bike-we retain and pay for the expert-looking at police reports, road conditions and other pertinent information. The review process will allow us to hold as responsible entities at fault and help maximize your claim for damages.

Call (213) 389-3765 to set up a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a case.

Common Motorcycle Injuries

Injuries associated with motorcycle accidents can be devastating below is a list of injuries we come across when dealing with a motorcycle accident claim:

  • Fractured hip
  • Lacerated liver
  • Punctured lung
  • Broken nose
  • Broken leg
  • MTBI Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  • TBI Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Facial lacerations
  • Hand abrasions
  • Ocular injuries
  • Spinal injury

Value of Your Motorcycle Accident Claims

Value for a accident claim is assessed by considering a number of different factors which include; (1) level of injuries; (2) coverage or insurance policies; and (3) number of at fault parties.

Level of Injuries

Depending on the degree of your injuries, the value of your case can be substantial. Generally cases that have serious injuries are valued at a greater level because of the amount of medical bills, loss of earnings and future medical bills. This will usually be the first factor in determining the value of your case.

Coverage Insurance Policies

Insurance policy coverage is also another key factor. If the at fault driver did not have sufficient insurance coverage then you are bound only to the limits of that policy. Of course if you have un-insured or underinsured coverage you will be able to go after higher limits. However this can be reduced by subsequent subrogation claims and other factors.

Number of At Fault Parties

Who is at fault? Was the motorcycle defective? Were the roads defective or improperly designed? Was the helmet defective? These are all important factors because it will allow you to maximize your injuries if more parties are at fault. Unlike motorist municipalities and product manufacturers carry much higher policies and if they are deemed liable, then you will be able to recover a greater amount for your injuries.

Downtown L.A. Law Group Motorcycle Accident Law Firm

Motorcycle accidents require special attention to detail and this is our passion. We will investigate each and every issue and pursue any and all potential leads. We thank you for trusting our firm with the opportunity to assist you and will do our absolute best to make sure you are properly taken care of. If you were injured in a motorcycle claim do not trust you claim in the hands of anyone else other then Downtown L.A. Law. We believe we are the best motorcycle accident attorneys in California. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

More Information:

Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits in California
Motorcycle Helmet Defects

Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents


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