This page details the law surrounding motorcycle accidents. It is intended for the non-lawyer and is written by a motorcycle accident attorney. Reviewing this page is helpful, but it is not a substitute for speaking with a lawyer. Most personal injury attorney’s offer free consultations.
This page details:
- What should you do when a motorcycle accident happens?
- What NOT to do after an accident
- How a motorcycle accident attorney can help after an accident
- How accidents occur
- Motorcycle accident facts & figures
What Should You Do When a Motorcycle Accident Occurs?
Accidents are scary. The confusion that follows, especially when there is a serious injury, is very real. Here are some basic tips from a motorcycle accident attorney:
- First and foremost, get to safety as you are probably unprotected and on a roadway
- California Vehicle Code (Cal. Veh. Code) § 20001 requires you stop immediately if anyone in the accident is injured. Veh. Code § 20002 allows for stopping at the nearest location that does not impede traffic if only property (i.e. cars) is damaged.
- If you need immediate medical attention due to an injury, get it and give your physician as many details as possible about the accident and pain you are suffering. Do not downplay your injury or try to be tough. If there is a legal dispute down the road, you want the medical record to be as complete as possible as soon after the accident as possible.
- Obtain insurance information, registration, license plate number, and driver’s license number from the other driver(s) involved in the accident. There may be times when this is not possible, such as a hit and run, but otherwise it can be a misdemeanor, fine, or worse if you do not provide the items listed above ( Veh. Code 20002(b), (c) and 20002(c)).
- Obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses. This can help your claim tremendously regardless of when resolution occurs.
- Take pictures of the accident, damage to the vehicles, and, if possible, injuries. Your cell phone camera is a great way to document the scene.
- File a written report as soon as possible. If anyone is injured in the motorcycle accident, Veh. Code 20008(a) requires you submit a written report to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours.
- Call a motorcycle accident attorney. Do this as soon as possible. Our lawyer represents seriously injured riders.
What NOT to Do When an Accident Occurs?
This list is just as important as the one above.
- Do not admit fault. Motorcycle accidents are complicated and something the other driver did may actually be the root cause of the accident. You do not want to inadvertently harm your legal case by talking too much at the scene of the accident.
- Do not sign anything without your attorney, except if a ticket is issued by a law enforcement officer. You should sign that.
- Do not talk to the insurance company of the other driver(s). They will ask you sneaky questions that seem harmless. But they are out to minimize what their company must pay you so they are not your friend.
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone, but your physician or attorney. This can be vitally important should your car accident go to trial.
Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help
No one expects to get into a motorcycle accident when they strap on their helmet in their driveway (you are using a helmet, right?). Much like car accidents, a motorcycle accident can be caused by many different things. The other driver may have been distracted. They may not have seen you while making that left turn. Perhaps there was a product defect with their car.
By the nature of being on two wheels, even a slight product defect in your motorcycle or a pothole can lead to an unwanted meeting with the asphalt. Can you recover damages from the other driver? The manufacturer? The city for not maintaining the street? A motorcycle accident attorney will be able to help you figure out this complicated mess.
As mentioned below, motorcycle accidents tend to lead to greater injury due to not having the protection that the doors and roof of a car afford you, which means it is more important than ever to contact a motorcycle accident attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. This may include emotional distress suffered by close family members who witness, but are not involved in, the accident, your spouse due to loss of intimacy, lost income if you are the major provider for your family, and, possibly, punitive damages.
Your insurance company, while being a little helpful, will not be looking into all of these possibilities of recover. The insurance company of the other driver(s), even more so, will avoid bringing up these losses as they try to minimize the amount of compensation they are liable for. A motorcycle accident attorney, however, has your best interest in mind and will explore every possible avenue for recovery.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
There are a variety of reasons a motorcycle accident can occur including potholes, other drivers or defects. A 2010 pilot study was conducted in Southern California for the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority by Dynamic Science, Inc., and here are some statistics that it found:
- 1 out of 6 accidents occurred due to the motorcyclist striking the rear end of another vehicle.
- 1 out of 8 accidents occurred from other drivers turning left in front of the motorcyclist
- About half of the accidents involved a single vehicle.
- A little over a third involved two vehicles
- 1 out of 6 involved three or more vehicles
- A little under a third of motorcyclists were treated and released
- 1 out of 5 motorcyclists were hospitalized
- 1 out of 8 motorcyclists passed away
- About half of the accidents occurred during the day
- 1 out of 6 of the accidents happened at dusk
- 1 out of 3 of the accidents happened at night.
- About half of the motorcyclists had some sort of safety training
As you can see, motorcycle accidents have the potential to cause tremendous damage to not only your property, but to you as well. If you are in a motorcycle accident, once you have addressed your medical needs and/or the law enforcement officer on the scene, call a motorcycle accident attorney. Don’t call the insurance company of the other driver. Call your motorcycle accident attorney first and they can advise you on how to handle everyone else.
Motorcycle Accident Facts & Figures
According to the Insurance Information Institute motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured. In 2014, 92,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents. That is an increase from the plrevious year. With 8.4 million motorcycles on the road each year, these are scary statistics.
Another way to understand why motorcycles are far more dangerous than passenger vehicles is to examine the per 100,000 difference. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13.10 registered cars out of 100,000 end up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles.
In 2013, the California Highway Patrol reported that there were 1,376,299 licensed motorcycle drivers. During that same year, there were 12,111 motorcycle collisions with injuries, of which 467 were fatal. That is a 4% mortality rate compared to a 1% mortality rate for other motor vehicles. In 2014, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, the number of fatalities increased to 519.
Free Consultation & Contingency Fee
Our attorney provides hope for seriously injured people. As the above information makes clear, if you’re injured in an accident you must contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Our San Diego personal injury lawyer offers everyone a free consultation. There is no obligation.
Like most lawyers, our office offers representation based on a contingency fee. That means that clients don’t pay for the lawyer by the hour. You pay the lawyer a percentage of your recovery. The lawyer also fronts the costs of your case so you don’t pay anything out of pocket.
Other Resources on this Website
If you were in a car accident, visit our car accident attorney page. If you were in an accident involving a truck, visit our truck accident lawyer page. If you were a pedestrian, and a vehicle injured you, visit our pedestrian accident lawyer page.