Oakland Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Although fatalities from motorcycle accidents have declined over the last few years in California, motorcycle drivers are still 28% more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than people in automobiles. With more than half of serious accidents occurring in urban or heavily populated areas, it is essential to know the accident risk factors and what you can do in the event of a crash.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Oakland, contact an experienced Oakland motorcycle accident lawyer to learn about your rights and the possibility of maximum compensation for your recovery.
Oakland Motorcycle Accident Common Causes
Much like car accidents, motorcycle accidents can have innumerable causes. Some of the most common include:
- Distracted or fatigued drivers
- High speeds
- Motorcycle defect
- Dangerous road conditions
- Inexperienced drivers
- Car and truck blind spots
- Negligent drivers
Oakland Motorcycle Accident Statistics
In comparison to other U.S. states, California has a high number of registered motorcyclists. California weather or lifestyle may appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts. However, with the increased amount of motorcyclists on the road, more motorcycle accident cases can be expected.
- There are almost 900,000 motorcycles registered in the state.
- California is one of only twenty states with a law requiring helmet use by all motorcyclists.
- Approximately 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injuries or death.
- Motorcycle riders in California are 28 times more likely to die from a crash than those in automobiles.
- Motorcycle fatalities throughout California decreased 9.4% between 2018 and 2019.
- Crash fatalities resulting from an intoxicated driver decreased 4.5% between 2018 and 2019.
- Fatalities from not wearing a helmet decreased 18% between 2018 and 2019.
Dangerous Roadways in Oakland
More than half of all motorcycle fatalities in California happen in urban areas, though accidents are not limited to congested city streets. Some of the most dangerous regions for motorcycle accident victims in Northern California include:
- The intersection of 42nd Street and Telegraph Avenue in Oakland
- The intersection of Russell Boulevard and College Avenue in Berkeley
- Interstate 80
- Tunitas Creek Road in San Mateo County
- Grizzly Creek Boulevard in Alameda County
Why are Motorcycle Accidents Dangerous?
Motorcycle accidents are much more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents and can lead to more severe injuries. Unlike cars, motorcycles do not have safety features such as seatbelts or airbags. The rider is fully exposed to the dangers of the road, and they can easily be thrown off the motorcycle or seriously injured if the motorcycle collides into another vehicle or an inanimate object. Because of motorcycles’ smaller size, they can easily be lost in the blind spot for the driver of the car.
Certain factors increase your risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident and incurring severe injuries. These risk factors include:
- Age — Though you may think younger motorcyclists are more likely to crash, research shows that motorcycle accidents for those over 40 have been increasing over the last couple of decades.
- Time of day — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk of getting into a motorcycle accident is highest between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. any day of the week, mainly due to rush hour traffic, riding conditions, visibility, and possible alcohol impairment.
- Attire — Not wearing a helmet increases your chances of suffering severe head injuries from a motorcycle crash. Also, not wearing long sleeves and full-length pants can increase your risk of burns or other physical injuries in an accident.
- Alcohol consumption — As with driving a car, alcohol consumption can impair your awareness and reaction time, thus increasing your risk of injuring yourself and others on the road.
- Licensure — Failing to obtain the proper license for driving a motorcycle means one likely does not have the necessary training or testing to safely operate a motorcycle, which increases the likelihood of getting into an accident.
- Lane splitting — Driving in between lanes is permissible under certain conditions, but if not done responsibly, it may cause other drivers to lose sight of bikers when switching lanes.
If you or a family member were involved in a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you receive monetary compensation for whatever type of accident you were involved in.
Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Injuries from motorcycle accidents can range from minor to catastrophic depending on the severity of the accident. Common injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries, such as skull fractures and concussions
- Chest injuries, such as chest contusions and tears in the lungs
- Spinal cord injuries, paralysis, or other spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
In motorcycle accidents that result in fatal injuries, you can potentially file an Oakland wrongful death lawsuit. Victims of fatal motorcycle accidents and victims of motorcycle accidents in general can incur serious medical expenses and require expensive medical care. A personal injury lawsuit can help you pursue a motorcycle accident claim to recover any damages for permanent disability, serious injuries, or any other medical attention you might need.
Common Factors in Motorcycle Accidents
Although motorcycle crashes can happen for various reasons, some common factors that play a part in most accidents include:
- Other motor vehicles — Car drivers tend to be the top risk on the road for motorcyclists. This may be due to motorcycles being in drivers’ blind spots, failing to signal when changing lanes, speeding, lane splitting, or inattention.
- Inanimate objects — Motorcycle collision accidents can also occur with inanimate objects like trees, signposts, guardrails, or telephone poles.
- Speeding — Driving faster than the speed limit or faster than is safe for the weather conditions can lead to crashes with other vehicles, stationary objects along the roadway, or pedestrians.
- Left turns — Oncoming vehicles turning left and being struck by motorcycle riders is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in California.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
- Left-Turn Accidents — Motorcycles may be hit when another passenger vehicle makes a left-hand turn, often when the motorcyclist passes the other car. Even if the rider is continuing straight, it is not uncommon for motorcycles to enter a vehicle’s blind spots or for the vehicle driver to be act negligently.
- Driving Under the Influence — Though motorcycle riders are about as likely to drive intoxicated as other drivers, injuries from accidents involving alcohol are usually more severe than car accidents because the motorcycle offers little protection to the rider. Driving under the influence can also lead to other risky driving behaviors like speeding, carelessly lane splitting, or veering off the road.
- Head-On Collision — Head-on collisions commonly occur at high speeds and are most often fatal to the motorcycle rider, who may be thrown from the motorcycle. They account for more than half of motorcycle-related fatalities.
- Lane Splitting — Lane splitting is legal in California but can still be dangerous and lead to motorcycle riders getting hit when cars suddenly change lanes. Since the space between vehicles on highways is narrow, there is not much time to react to avoid a collision.
- Hitting Stationary Objects — Various conditions may cause a rider to hit a stationary object, including another collision. In this case, the rider will either be thrown off into an object or lose control of the motorcycle and crash into a guardrail or tree.
Proving Fault in an Oakland Motorcycle Accident
To prove a negligence claim in California, you have to establish five elements:
- The defendant had a duty to act a certain way,
- They breached that duty,
- Their breach was the cause of your injury,
- They should have foreseen that their breach would harm someone, and
- You suffered actual damages
Your motorcycle lawyer will likely use medical records, medical bills, police reports, and on-site witness statements as evidence for your negligence claim. Your actual damages would include medical costs, temporary or permanent loss of wages, and property damage.
California adheres to the principle of comparative negligence for the involved parties. This means that even if you are found partially at fault in a motorcycle accident injury case, it does not prevent you from obtaining compensation. It will, however, limit how much money you can recover in the settlement based on the percentage of your fault in the accident.
California Motorcycle Laws
With the significant number of motorcyclists on the road, California has directly addressed motorcyclists through regulations and legislation. Some of these laws include:
- Registration and Insurance — Your motorcycle must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and you must maintain liability insurance.
- Licensing — If you are under 21, you are required to have a learner’s permit for a minimum of six months and must pass the Basic Rider Test. Separate knowledge and skills tests are required.
- Negligence — Negligence occurs when a defendant owes and breaches a duty of care to the plaintiff. For example, a driver has a duty of care to the other drivers and pedestrians on the road. To show negligence, you must be able to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Fault and Liability Laws — California follows the principles of comparative fault, which can limit your damages in relation to your liability for your injuries.
- Statute of Limitations — Generally, personal injury claims and wrongful death claims in California must be filed within two years of the accident date. If your claim is against a governmental body, you may only have six months to file a claim.
- Helmet Laws — California law requires motorcycle riders to wear safety helmets that are compliant with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. You can be fined for failing to wear an appropriate helmet.
- Lane-Splitting — Although lane splitting is legal in California, you still must abide by specific rules and safety precautions, such as not going 10 miles per hour faster than the surrounding traffic, not riding on the shoulder, and not lane-splitting between large vehicles.
What Steps Should You Take After a Motorcycle Crash?
Any type of accident can be an overwhelming experience, and it can be hard to figure out the next step. However, in general, if you are involved in an accident, the best thing would be to follow these steps:
- Call 911 — Because of the likelihood of serious injury, it is crucial to seek medical treatment immediately. If you cannot call because of your injuries, or if you do not have a phone, ask someone else at the scene to call instead.
- Exchange and record information — If the crash involved another driver and you are not too injured, exchange information with the other person, including contact information, insurance information, license numbers, vehicle make and model, and plate numbers. You may also want to write down other factors to help you remember what happened, such as weather conditions, traffic conditions, road conditions, and names of anyone else that may have seen the accident.
- File a police report — When the police arrive, answer their questions as best you can. Do not make any guesses about what happened or why, and do not admit fault. You may not know who was at fault until a thorough investigation has taken place.
- Call a motorcycle accident lawyer — Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your rights as a motorcycle accident victim.
How Much Compensation Can You Recover from an Oakland Motorcycle Accident?
The compensation for clients varies greatly and usually depends on several factors, including:
- Your medical bills related to the accident, and the severity of the injuries (i.e., catastrophic injuries versus minor injuries)
- Any long-term medical care costs
- The amount of any lost wages or employment benefits if you are unable to work temporarily or permanently
- Pain and suffering or other emotional trauma
- Loss of enjoyment in activities you actively pursued prior to the accident
- Compensation for damage to your motorcycle in the motorcycle wreck
- Property damages for any electronic devices that were damaged
Before filing, you or your Oakland personal injury lawyer will need to investigate your claims to determine your case’s potential remedies, strengths, and weaknesses. In doing so, it is essential to review medical records, note changes in your day-to-day activities after the accident, speak to any witnesses of the accident, and gather any police reports and photographs that may have been taken at the scene of the accident. Your attorney will also communicate with the insurance companies involved to determine if any payments have already been made toward your medical bills or property damage.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Motorcycle Accident?
Personal injury attorneys with extensive experience can review the facts of your case, assess your damages, and give legal counsel. They will handle gathering evidence, including police reports and medical records, and communicate with your insurance company regarding your claims.
If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident in the Oakland Area, contact Cutter Law to learn about your legal rights with our free consultation.