The mountains, the coast, the sunshine, and the long straightaways make California one of the best places to ride a motorcycle in the world. Unfortunately, as most riders have experienced firsthand, other motorists aren’t always doing their best to look for people on motorcycles. That inattention can lead to frightening collisions for riders.
Motorcyclists can also be victimized by insurance companies. Agents and adjusters have been known to try to blame riders for their accidents even when an accident report says otherwise. That’s why if you’re in an accident that was caused by a careless or reckless driver anywhere in California, you need the best legal representation on your side.
Martin Gasparian of Maison Law has been supporting motorcycle accident victims in California for years. He is well aware of the tricks that insurance companies use to try to devalue motorcycle accident claims. He will fight for you to receive the highest settlement possible so that you can focus on your recovery.
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Mr. Gasparian spent years working for major corporations and the oldest law firm in Los Angeles and gained valuable insider knowledge of how insurance firms treat accident victims. He founded his own law firm to work for everyday people to make sure they’re treated fairly and their rights are respected after a serious accident.
Contact Maison Law for an evaluation of your case. This consultation comes at no charge to you and you’ll be under no obligation. Tell us what happened so that we can quickly figure out which legal options are in your best interest.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in California
When drivers put motorcyclists in dangerous spots they are usually making common mistakes that play out on California roads every day. Motorists often hide behind the excuse that they never saw a motorcycle coming. Of course, this is no excuse when a longer look, and avoiding attention grabbers like a cellphone, would have allowed the driver enough time to easily spot the rider.
Sadly, many drivers ignore this basic duty to show extra care for motorcyclists who travel unprotected and defenseless when compared to passengers in sturdy cars and trucks.
These are just a few of the situations that commonly put riders in danger:
- Lane Splitting – This is a legal maneuver in California but many drivers are either ignorant of the law or ignore it. Lane splitting is when a rider moves up between slow-moving or stopped traffic, commonly at traffic lights. They share the lane with other vehicles. Motorists not paying proper attention can strike a motorcyclist beside them.
- Vehicle Turning Left – Drivers can be preparing to pull across a roadway and give a quick look without noticing the smaller profile of a motorcycle coming directly at them. Their turn can leave the full length of their vehicle in front of the rider and provide little room to avoid a crash.
- Unsafe Lane Changes – Motorists in bigger vehicles can forget to check their blind spots and their side mirrors and suddenly come over on the rider beside them. Merging drivers can also think the coast is clear and suddenly sideswipe someone on a motorcycle.
- Rear-End Collisions – This one involves a very visible brake light, but drivers can still miss seeing that red taillight or misjudge the distance and crash into the back of a motorcycle. The rider can be thrown from his or her bike and suffer severe injuries.
What Our Clients Say
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The amount of compensation that you receive in an accident claim can make all the difference in your life now and in the future. The injuries can be so severe that medical care may be needed in the months and years down the road.
Injuries can result in disabilities or disfigurement for victims and any settlement offered needs to factor in the medical equipment, surgeries, and physical therapy that may still be needed in the future.
These are just a few of the frightening injuries that can require more than just an emergency room visit:
- Blunt Force Trauma – Motorcyclists travel with no walls or a roof and that lack of protection can subject riders to extreme forces. Multiple injuries can occur as the rider may be the victim of more than one impact with the vehicle and with the road surface. This trauma can lead to a rupture of internal organs and damage the soft tissue that holds organs and other body parts in place.
- Chest Injuries – Ribs and other bones can break and cause breathing issues. The heart and esophagus can suffer damage. A blow to the back can even injure kidneys.
- Concussion/Brain Injury – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to headaches, seizures, and vomiting. A more serious injury can rob victims of their memories.
- Bone Fractures – The neck, skull, and face may also take severe damage and see broken bones and damaged teeth. Any one of these injuries can result in permanent disfigurement. When a motorcyclist is thrown from a bike they can extend their hands and arms as a natural reflex to protect themselves. The fingers, wrists, and elbows can be left broken.
- Road Rash – Severe abrasions can damage skin and make skin grafts necessary. This is another injury that can leave permanent disfigurement.
How Much Is a Motorcycle Accident Claim Worth in California?
Every traffic accident is different and it’s hard to put a number on the award you could receive in an insurance settlement or judgment in court. However, motorcycle accidents often involve more serious consequences for victims and those major injuries can lead to higher settlements. Extra financial support is often necessary to pay for extended medical care and the loss of the ability to work and support yourself and your family.
A permanent disability suffered in a motorcycle crash will prompt your personal injury lawyer to demand whatever is a fair amount for your hardships factored over a lifetime. A general guideline to follow is that the more an accident changes your normal life routine and the longer your injury persists, the more compensation you may be due.
These are a few other factors that will determine how much you receive in an insurance claim:
- Physical and Emotional Suffering. Pain and mental trauma are considered non-economic damages. You can’t always put a price tag on these types of consequences, but they are very real and can be debilitating. Victims could experience years of pain from an injury. Victims may also suffer anxiety and depression as they find they can’t do the things they love anymore. These activities can include traveling, hobbies, intimacy, and even riding a motorcycle. These difficulties can be grounds to ask for more in a settlement.
- Lost Wages. The paychecks you miss while away from work as you recover. A major injury could make it impossible to ever return to your previous career. Career training and job search help can be part of compensation. If you can’t return to work, a settlement must include support to replace your lost earnings capacity over years or perhaps for the rest of your life.
- Driver’s Insurance Limits. The at-fault driver’s chosen insurance provider and level of coverage can also affect your final award. Basic insurance coverage has cap limits that may run out before all of your hospital bills are paid.
- The Skill Of Your Personal Injury Lawyer. The expertise of the lawyer you choose to represent your case can have a big impact on the compensation you should expect. Lawyers with a successful record and experience at the negotiating table and in the courtroom will generally be able to secure much more in support for you. They will accurately estimate the costs of recovery you face and make sure you have what you need to pay those bills. They can also determine who else may be liable for your accident and seek compensation from multiple sources to make sure you have everything you need now and years down the road.
Common Complications with Motorcycle Insurance
Motorcycle accident insurance coverage in California differs from car accident coverage in several important ways. You may not realize these differences until you are injured in an accident and in need of help with hospital bills and with your missed paychecks at work.
For starters, the minimum coverage you may carry in California while riding a motorcycle is $15,000 for the death or injury of one person and a total of $30,000 for the death or injury of multiple victims. You must also carry $5,000 to cover a victim’s property damage.
The trouble with these limits is that they might not be enough to cover even half of any victim’s expenses. This coverage also doesn’t cover you or a passenger if you were to be hurt in an accident.
You can opt for higher coverage and add-on comprehensive and collision policies to cover your motorcycle damage. Adding on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) helps to cover medical costs for you or a passenger when someone gets hurt. Including uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage can also protect you if you are struck by a motorist without insurance or with inadequate coverage to pay for all of your medical expenses.
You may be struck by another driver and trust that the at-fault motorist’s insurance company will accept the blame and compensate you. This can be dangerous because insurance companies like to shift blame to motorcyclists when they can get away with it, even when the evidence points to their driver’s fault.
Having a personal injury lawyer keeping a watch on the behavior of insurance adjusters can protect you from getting stuck paying for your own medical expenses out-of-pocket. Your lawyer will also be fighting to make sure every damage you suffer is covered in full by the responsible driver’s insurance provider.
Do You Really Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in California?
While having a lawyer represent your motorcycle accident claim in California isn’t required, motorcyclists must be especially cautious when they are depend on insurance adjusters to get the financial support they need. Insurance companies like to call upon old “reckless motorcyclist” stereotypes and will often try to shift blame to the rider, no matter what a police accident report states.
A personal injury lawyer does lengthy investigative work on behalf of a client to make sure insurance companies are held accountable. If not, an insurance company can leave motorcycle accident victims to pay for half or more of their medical costs out of their own pockets.
Someone on a motorcycle also stands a much higher chance of suffering a major injury than someone in a better-protected car, SUV, or truck. The costs of medical care are often much higher and may even be necessary over a lifetime.
It is vital that insurance companies are held accountable for every recovery cost and lost paycheck a victim endures. A personal injury lawyer monitors all communication with insurance companies to make sure you get a fair settlement to protect your finances now and in the future.
A personal injury lawyer is also a powerful reminder to the insurance company that they could face a court date if they are unwilling to extend a fair settlement offer. This can mean thousands of extra dollars in a settlement award as insurance adjusters seek to avoid getting dragged before a judge and jury.
Frequently Asked Questions About California Motorcycle Accidents
Yes. Families are allowed to file a wrongful death claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance provider to protect themselves from financial harm. A claim can seek support to help pay for burial costs, ambulance fees, and also to make up for the emotional and economic support the victim provided.
Yes. If you weren’t wearing a helmet when a driver hit and injured you, you can still demand compensation for your recovery. You may have to take partial blame for your injury, but the driver would usually have to accept a much bigger percentage of the responsibility.
Even with a reduced settlement, you could still receive a sizable award. For example, you might be assigned 40% of the blame in your accident, while the other motorist faces 60% of the blame. Once you are awarded compensation, your 40% share of the blame would be deducted from your award.
California allows injury victims up to two years to file a claim for damages. In most cases, you’ll want to file as soon as you can because the evidence will be easier to collect and witnesses will be easier to locate shortly after a crash.
Motorcycle accident victims can be partially at fault in an accident and still ask for injury and property damage support from another motorist. California operates under the legal concept of comparative negligence. It means that you and another driver can share in the blame for an accident.
For example, a motorcycle rider may be assigned 25% of the blame in a collision for excessive speed while a driver involved is assigned 75% of the liability for making a careless lane change. In this case, the injured rider could be awarded compensation to help with bills during recovery. However, the support earned would be reduced by the 25% of the fault the rider carried.
Comparative negligence can come into play in motorcycle accidents involving lane-splitting where a rider and driver could be at fault for a collision. Shared blame may also apply to a rider hurt while traveling without a helmet. When a head injury would have been less severe if a helmet had been used, the other motorist may face a smaller portion of the liability.
Lane splitting is a motorcycle maneuver that is perfectly legal in California and riders are also legally protected when accidents occur. In our state, a motorcyclist may proceed and travel between cars when traffic is moving slowly or stopped. Lane splitting often occurs at a traffic light when drivers are halted or in a traffic jam.
After an accident involving lane splitting, insurance companies often attempt to blame motorcyclists for their collisions. This is “bad faith” behavior by insurance adjusters and often a driver in a vehicle can bear a share of the liability or all of the responsibility when motorcyclists are struck during a lane splitting situation.
A victim’s personal injury lawyer would demonstrate that the driver’s actions contributed to the motorcyclist’s injury and property damage. This can be accomplished by showing the driver involved was distracted at the time of the collision, perhaps by a cellphone. The driver may also have been proceeding recklessly and weaving or drifting between lanes without checking mirrors and blind spots.
As long as riders perform a lane splitting maneuver in a safe manner, a driver involved can often share in the costs of medical bills and motorcycle repairs the motorcyclist suffers.
A “dooring” collision is just one potentially devastating type of accident motorcyclists must face in California. They usually occur when a rider is proceeding down a street with parked cars alongside. Someone inside a parked vehicle doesn’t take a proper look behind at approaching traffic. A car door swings open and is suddenly a large obstacle in front of someone on a motorcycle.
Riders can suffer serious injuries and require weeks or months of hospital care. It’s not a normal sort of crash with two vehicles in motion, but that doesn’t mean the driver or passenger in the car can’t be held responsible. Even though the car is parked, the driver is still liable for the damage and injuries inflicted while stopped.
A backseat passenger may be to blame for a “dooring” collision but in most cases, the driver or owner of the vehicle still bears liability. An injured motorcyclist is encouraged to file a claim for damages against the driver’s insurance company and perhaps a passenger’s policy as well. This claim would seek full compensation for medical bills and any lost wages the victim absorbs while out of work.
Contact a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one are seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident you should contact a California Motorcycle Accident Attorney like Martin Gasparian with Maison Law. The insurance company for the at-fault driver isn’t required to inform you of all of your options after a devastating crash. As a victim, you have rights that are in place to protect you from the bad faith practices of insurance companies.
To make sure you’re not being taken advantage of talk over your case with Maison Law. To make sure you are getting the compensation you’ll need to pay for a full recovery and see you through until you’re back on your bike again please reach out to us.