Do I Need a Lawyer for a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
All people who sustain injuries in an auto accident need legal representation. Unfortunately, gigantic medical bills, the need for continued therapy, and lost wages create a financially untenable situation for many accident victims. In addition, many non-economic damages have actual living costs, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and other diminishments of a person’s existence.
The need for a lawyer is even more compelling for motorcycle accident victims. Under California law, injured bikers should receive the same treatment as drivers of other vehicles. However, if the accident is 100% another driver’s fault, the injured biker is entitled to 100% of all damages. However, a bias against bikers causes some people to think the biker is either at fault or must share the blame simply because he or she was riding a motorcycle.
Shamon Law puts up with none of this bias. When insurance companies try to take advantage of this misconception to low-ball settlement offers, they meet our fierce resistance. They have two choices: pay what is right or lose at trial. Our steadfast willingness to fight as long as we need forces most defendants to capitulate. But those who continue to take advantage of this prejudice learn what it’s like to lose badly in court.
Here are the most common examples of bias faced by injured bikers:
Presumption of Liability
Many law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters, and jurors prefer to assume that a motorcyclist must be responsible for the accident and their injuries. Instead, they base this faulty reasoning on stereotypes of bikers as reckless outlaws who flout road rules.
Low-Ball Settlements Offers
We’ve seen and aggressively rejected some utterly inadequate settlement offers. Some insurance adjusters seem to think that because you were riding a motorcycle, they don’t have to take full responsibility.
In some cases, their arguments are as nonsensical as justifying lower compensation when a sedan driver pulled into a biker that had the right of way. They seem to think a motorcyclist can stop on a dime or swerve like a Hollywood stunt performer. We hammer home that whether the accident victim was in a car or on a bike makes no difference. When they’re insured is 100% at fault, they owe 100% of the damages.
A biker deserves all entitled damages, but insurance companies use California’s pure comparative negligence standard to chip away at the biker’s compensation. In serious injury cases, big bucks are involved.
How Insurance Companies Use California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Standard to Cheat Bikers?
Our personal injury lawyer at San Diego works on the theory of pure comparative negligence. Under this standard, courts award each party to an accident a percentage of the liability between 0% and 100%. Each party then receives a share of its damages based on this number.
For example, if you suffer a devastating injury and claim $900,000 in damages, you receive the full $900,000 only if the court rules you are 0% at fault. For a $900,000 claim, each 1% of liability assigned to you reduces your award by $9,000. If the other side succeeds in transferring 25% of the blame onto a biker because of bias, the biker loses $220,000 in compensation.
That is unacceptable to Shamon Law. Bikers should receive compensation just like the drivers of other vehicles. Shamon Law understands that this bias is far from impossible. We can break down this barrier by gathering and presenting evidence that demonstrates the truth. Types of evidence we rely on include the following:
- Photos or videos of the accident scene
- Photos or videos of injuries and property damage
- Medical records proving the motorcyclist’s accident injuries
- Motorcycle repair or replacement estimates
- Witness statements
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists
What the Evidence Must Prove?
To establish a claim in a motorcycle accident, you must prove that the other driver 1)had a duty of care, 2)breached that duty of care, 3)the breach caused the accident, 4)the breach was the proximate cause of the injury 5)the breach resulted in the damages.
Duty of Care
Every motorist on the roadway has an automatic duty of care. This means they must act to avoid causing harm to others and mitigate harm wherever possible, such as by applying the brakes to avoid or lessen the severity of an accident.
If another vehicle hits you, causing your injury, that driver has an assumed duty of care.
Breach of Duty
Next, you must prove that the other driver breached that duty by acting unreasonably, which placed other motorists at risk. For instance, imagine that you are riding west along a busy four-lane road in a commercial area with the right of way. A little ahead, a car is waiting to pull into the westbound lanes from a gas station.
As you approach, he suddenly jams on the accelerator, trying to “beat” you and merge into your lane. He has seriously misjudged the distance. You cannot brake or swerve in time, and he hits you, sending you flying over his roof and onto the pavement. You are seriously injured.
A clear breach of duty occurred. This driver made a careless and reckless decision that caused the accident. You had the right away and were too close for him to merge into the lane ahead of you. But for some reason, he decided not to wait and jammed on his accelerator, figuring he could “beat” you and satisfy his impatience. He was wrong, and you paid the price.
Cause in Fact
California law requires you to prove causation or that the driver’s negligence caused the accident and your injuries. In this case, no other cause exists for why the accident happened. No other vehicle caused the collision. It was not due to a mechanical problem, road conditions, or anything else. It was negligent driving by the other motorist. You had the right of way; he thought he could jam on the accelerator and “beat” the oncoming traffic; he was wrong.
The proximate cause element of the case requires demonstrating that your injuries were foreseeable to the liable party. In this case, they are axiomatic. For example, hitting an oncoming motorcycle driving down a busy road can cause the rider a great deal of harm.
Finally, you must demonstrate that all claimed damages resulted from the accident. Some of these are obvious, such as charges for an ambulance, emergency room bills, and setting broken bones.
The defense may argue that some medical bills treated conditions you had before the accident, but Shamon law counters these arguments with evidence that the procedures would not be occurring except for the accident.
Next, the defense could try to quibble about general damages, such as pain and suffering. To counter this, we recommend keeping a journal recording the impact of the injuries on your life. This includes the pain experienced, medication required, lost family time, damage to your career, and any injuries that adversely impacted you and your loved ones.
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Why Choose Shamon Law For Your Motorcycle Accident Claim In San Diego?
Shamon Law San Diego motorcycle accident lawyers fight for the rights of bikers injured in auto accidents. We combat biker bias and fight until you receive every penny of compensation you deserve. No one shortchanges Shamon Law clients.
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Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Many types of roadway accidents impact motorcyclists, and all of them can cause massive bodily harm or death. Below we look at the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:
Rear-end collisions can cause significant injury to motorists, especially bikers. Bikers lack protection from seat belts or airbags, leaving them vulnerable to being propelled off the bike and onto the pavement. In addition, serious injury accidents frequently occur when another vehicle strikes a motorcycle from the back while waiting at a stoplight or stop sign.
Other times, a driver with poor judgment hits a biker from behind while the bike is in motion. Common reasons drivers strike motorcycles from the rear include the following:
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Blind curves
Left turners in Southern California often take unadvisable risks to save a few seconds. Traffic is heavy, and they hate to wait. Unfortunately, when they make a poorly judged left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle, the result is often a severely injured biker. For example, left-hand turn accidents account for 36 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents.
The typical reasons for left-turn crashes include the following:
- Obstructed viewpoint
- Blind curves.
- Misjudgment of the motorcyclist’s speed
- Miscalculating the distance of the intersection.
- Illegal maneuvers
Head-on crashes are the most feared, and for a good reason. The impact includes the velocity of both vehicles, resulting in major accidents even at relatively low speeds. For motorcyclists, the risk of a large vehicle smashing the rider directly and dragging him under is all too real. In an impact with a sedan, the biker can be ejected over the car’s roof, leading to dire injuries.
Common causes of head-on collisions include the following:
- Impaired driving
- Driver fatigue
- Trying to beat a red light
- Poor passing judgment on a two-lane road
- Swerving to avoid debris
- Losing control of curves
Also known as side-impact or broadside collisions, T-bone accidents happen when the front end of a car hits the side of a motorcycle, or vice versa, forming a “T”. These often lead to the car driver being uninjured. Still, the motorcyclist was battered and bleeding on the pavement. Common causes include the following:
- Failing to yield
- Blind spots
- Unsafe lane changes
- Red light running
- Low visibility
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
Lane Splitting Accidents
Lane splitting may have been legalized in California, but the maneuver should be used with caution. This measure allows motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic, proceeding in the same direction.
This may be great if you are stuck in downtown traffic jams, but done without care, it can lead to a serious accident, especially because the drivers of vehicles may not know where the motorcycle is an attempt a lane change at the exact worst moment.
Common causes for lane splitting accidents include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Illegal lane change
- Inclement Weather
- Low visibility
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
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Common Injuries After a Motorcycle Accident
Unsurprisingly, bikers often suffer broken bones after an accident. Being thrown to the ground at speed causes many emergency room visits for broken and fractured bones. Some fractures present with so much severity they require surgery.
Head and brain injuries may result in traumatic brain injury. However, minor cognitive damage is a positive prognosis for this type of injury. However, long-term or permanent brain damage can have cognitive and other impacts, potentially leading to a disabling condition.
Lower Extremity Injuries
A rider’s legs and feet tend to get banged up in an accident, resulting in dislocated knees, broken bones, and road rash.
Whiplash and Neck Injuries
Whiplash results from the body being jarred at speeds beyond its ability to withstand. Commonly affected body parts include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the neck. The pain may be long-lasting, including stiffness, headaches, vision loss, and hearing difficulties.
Back and Spine Injuries
Back and spine injuries range from correctable issues, such as herniated discs, to paralysis.
Less visible but no less severe and deadly, internal injuries can quickly stem from the force of the body against another vehicle or the roadway. Upon impact, organs slam against one another and into other body tissues. Damage to organs and internal bleeding may require surgery and can be fatal.
Unfortunately, some motorcycle crashes result in the death of the rider. Even with the best medical interventions, some injuries are just too severe to be survivable. The biker’s family can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in these cases.
In addition, the estate can file a survival action. A survival action is a lawsuit where the executor seeks damages on behalf of the deceased for lost property, pain and suffering, and other compensable losses.
San Diego Motorcycle Accidents Statistics
- Over 80% of motorcycle accidents cause injury or wrongful death
- 33% of motorcycle collisions are caused by drivers turning into the bike’s path
- 40% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve alcohol
- Head injuries are the leading cause of death and injury for bikers
- Motorcycle helmets only prevent approximately 29% of head injuries
- Helmets reduce fatalities by 73%
- Private health insurance pays an average of 66% of inpatient care costs for motorcycle crash victims.
What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident In San Diego?
You may not be in a condition to take any action after an accident. You may need to focus solely on your injuries. However, if you are uninjured or only slightly injured, you can take specific actions to help any future case, including the following:
- Take photos of the scene
- Take a video of the scene
- Record witness statements and contact information
- Obtain a copy of any police reports
How Much Is My Motorcycle Accident Worth?
Motorcycle accidents can be worth thousands to millions of dollars. However, the value depends significantly upon the extent of injuries sustained. For example, a case with minor injuries and property damage without disruptions to your life might be worth $25,000.
However, a case with severe injuries causing you to spend time in the hospital, need rehabilitation, miss extended periods of work, and suffer pain and confinement may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Contact a Top-Rated San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Shamon Law’s motorcycle accident lawyers in San Diego say “no” to insurance company bias against bikers. Instead, we demand total compensation or take them to trial. For motorcycle accident advice, contact Shamon Law today. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in an auto accident, contact Shamon Law for a free consultation.
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San Diego Motorcycle Accident FAQs
California uses a pure comparative negligence standard. Courts assign each party between 0% and 100% liability for the accident. While a finding of complete fault happens in some cases, such as rear-end collisions at a stop light, courts find one party more responsible but assign a small portion of the blame to the other.
For instance, a left-hand turn accident is usually the fault of the motorist making the turn, but a jury may find the other driver 10% or 20% responsible due to speeding.
Insurance companies work hard to pin as large a share of the liability as possible onto the injured party who may have done nothing to cause the accident. Often, insurance adjusters and lawyers attempt to take advantage of bias against bikers to assign them unfair percentages of liability.
Shamon law fights back and ensures its clients receive all they are entitled to under the law.
The State of California requires bikers to carry motorcycle insurance and imposes penalties for non-compliance. In addition, if you cause an accident, you could be forced to pay the damages out of pocket, a prospect that endangers your financial security, home, and future earnings.
The personal injury statute of limitation is two years in California.
Before accepting a settlement, consult with a personal injury lawyer with motorcycle accident experience. In general, insurers offer low settlements at the start of the process, hoping the injured party will take the quick settlement rather than go through a protracted legal battle.
However, they will likely substantially raise the offer if you hold out. For example, when they know you have an aggressive lawyer ready to take them to court, they are much more likely to offer an attractive settlement.
If you carry insurance, you probably have uninsured motorist protection. In this case, your insurance company covers the damages up to your policy limit. If the damages exceed your policy, you may be able to collect directly from the other party, though success depends on whether they possess any significant assets.
Yes. Your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection covers the damages up to your policy limits. If the hit-and-run driver is eventually caught, you may be able to collect from that person if you have damages above your policy’s coverage.
California follows a pure comparative negligence standard. Accordingly, you receive damages minus the percentage of fault assessed by the court.
Most cases settle out-of-court in 1-2 years; however, trial cases can take several years or longer, depending on whether the parties exhaust the appeals process.
Shamon Law’s Motorcycle accident lawyers cost nothing out of pocket. We work on a contingency fee, which means we get paid after our clients get paid. Contingency fee arrangements allow plaintiffs to access legal counsel without fronting large legal fees. Most car accident victims face heavy medical debt and may lose substantial income because the injury puts them out of work. Our contingency fee programs make it easier for our clients to bear the financial burden of a civil action.
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