Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycles are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of on-road motorcycle riders registered in the United States increased over the past two decades, doubling from 4.2 million in 2002 to 8.3 million in 2018.
Motorcycles are more fuel-efficient and an attractive alternative to passenger vehicles, but they are less visible to other drivers on the road and can be involved in deadly accidents. Motorcycle crashes carry a higher risk of fatality compared to other vehicles. Per the NHTSA, the death rate for motorcyclists in 2018 was six times that of passenger car occupants. Nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died, and another 82,000 motorcyclists suffered serious injuries in 2018 motorcycle accidents.
The state of California has one of the highest numbers of registered motorcycles in the country. In 2019, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported over 857,000 motorcycle registrations. Many Californians get severely injured or killed in motorcycle crashes every year due to negligent drivers. In 2018, there were 523 motorcycle fatalities in California, per the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). In Sacramento, there were 122 victims involved in motorcycle crashes the same year.
Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents in Sacramento
Types of motorcycle accidents likely to happen include:
- Right-of-way collisions: These accidents occur when another motorist fails to yield the right-of-way and crashes into a motorcycle. Right-of-way collisions typically occur when (1) a motorist changes lanes and collides with a motorcycle or (2) a motorist turns out of a parking lot or side street and hits a motorcycle passing by.
- Rear-end crashes: When a motorist approaches an intersection and crashes into the back of a motorcycle, this is called a rear-end collision. Without the same protections as a passenger vehicle, a motorcyclist in a rear-end crash might fall off their bike due to the impact of the collision, resulting in life-threatening injuries.
- Parked-car accidents: These accidents typically occur in highly trafficked areas where parallel parking spots are adjacent to active lanes of traffic. If another motorist opens their car door without looking for oncoming traffic, a motorcyclist can crash into it and sustain severe injuries.
- Left-turn accidents: When a motorcyclist passes through an intersection and a motorist makes an illegal left turn, striking the motorcyclist, this is known as a left-turn accident. These accidents are often fatal and account for over 40% of all accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles.
- Head-on collisions: These accidents occur when a motorist collides with a motorcycle from the front. Nearly 60% of all deaths from motorcycles involve motorcycles and other vehicles, and 78% of the time, a motorist strikes a motorcycle head-on.
If you or your family member suffered injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident, it’s crucial to contact a motorcycle accident attorney to learn about your legal rights.
Causes of Sacramento Motorcycle Accidents
Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Unsafe lane changes: Drivers fail to check their mirrors and blind spots when changing lanes or fail to signal lane changes, side-swiping motorcyclists, or forcing them to swerve to avoid collisions with other vehicles. As a result, motorcyclists are at risk for serious injury.
- Poor weather and road conditions: Loose gravel or other debris on the road surface can lead to a high likelihood of motorcycle accidents because they have a narrower base of support compared to other motor vehicles. Also, motorcycles are much more vulnerable to inclement weather, creating dangerous driving conditions and causing catastrophic accidents.
- Excessive speeding: When motorists drive at excessive speeds, their reaction time is shortened, multiplying the force of impact in often deadly accidents. Per the NHTSA, over 9,300 motorists died due to excessive speeding in 2018.
- Highway construction: Road construction can lead to lane closures, congestion, and traffic jams. Motorcyclists can usually pass through highway construction areas, but there’s an increased risk they can collide with another motorist who’s also trying to navigate the road closures and other obstacles.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other medication, both legal and illegal, can significantly impair one’s ability to drive. Impaired drivers can make illegal lane changes, swerve erratically, and drive at excessive speeds, resulting in catastrophic accidents with motorcycles and other drivers.
- Poor bike maintenance: When a motorcycle or other vehicle is not adequately maintained, there is a much greater risk for accidents happening. California regulates the motor vehicle industry to ensure safety on the roads. According to these standards, a failure to maintain a registered vehicle can be dangerous and puts yourself and other drivers at risk.
A Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine what legal action you should take, providing you with the legal advice you need to pursue your personal injury claim.
Most Dangerous Roads in Sacramento
Many motorcycle accidents occur on major highways and interstates and at busy intersections. Some of the most dangerous roadways in Sacramento are:
- Highway 99 (famously nicknamed the “Highway to Hell”)
- Interstate 5
- Interstate 80
- Interstate 505
- Broadway-Stockton Boulevard
- W. El Camino Avenue
- Marysville Boulevard and Los Robles Boulevard
- Florin Road
Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can result in catastrophic and life-changing injuries, including:
- Traumatic Brain and Head Injuries: Motorcyclists can be thrown off their bikes, resulting in severe head trauma. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-changing. Accident victims can suffer from chronic headaches, disorientation, memory loss, extreme mood swings, and insomnia (trouble sleeping) due to a traumatic brain injury.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Motorcyclists can suffer severe spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries can impair motor function and substantial nerve damage. Extreme spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis. A motorcyclist may never fully recover from a spinal cord injury. These injuries can require years of medical treatment and physical therapy.
- Broken Bones or Fractures: Motorcyclists might break or fracture bones when involved in a crash with another vehicle. Not only can motorcyclists be thrown from their bikes, but they can also be pinned under their bikes or other vehicles, causing bone damage, including broken arms, ribs, and legs.
- Bone and Muscle Damage: Motorcyclists thrown from their bikes or pinned under another vehicle can suffer from tissue and organ damage. Blood flow may be restricted, which can result in limb amputations. Bone, tissue, and organ damage can cause chronic pain and discomfort following a severe motorcycle accident.
- Chemical Burns: Exposure to hazardous materials on the road can lead to severe chemical burns for motorcyclists, resulting in scarring, chronic pain, and in extreme cases, disfigurement.
In addition to these physical injuries, motorcyclists can also suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to a severe accident. Appropriate medical providers, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can diagnose PTSD after an accident. The psychological condition can cause depression, anxiety, and other types of mental and physical illness.
Sometimes, accident victims suffer delayed symptoms from brain injuries, internal bleeding, and chest contusions. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, abdominal pain, or back or neck pain in the days or weeks following a motorcycle accident, seek medical attention right away.
Who is Responsible for a Motorcycle Accident?
When a motorcycle is involved in an accident, many parties can be liable. If another motorist makes an illegal lane change or left turn and hits the bike, the motorist can be held accountable for the motorcyclist’s injuries. Similarly, if the motorcyclist did something illegal while driving, they can also be responsible for causing the accident, whether partially or fully at fault.
If either the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in an accident has a part that malfunctions, the vehicle manufacturer can also share liability partially or fully since they have a duty of care to ensure their products are free from harmful defects. Additionally, the city or state might be responsible for a motorcycle accident if the accident was caused by poorly designed or maintained roadways or intersections.
California Motorcycle Laws
California law requires all motorcyclists to wear safety helmets when operating or riding on a motorcycle. The helmet used must be certified by the manufacturer stating that it complies with Department of Transportation regulations. Head injuries from accidents are significantly reduced by properly wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Riders should also wear other protective gear to prevent serious injuries or death.
California law permits lane-splitting or lane sharing. Lane-splitting allows motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic that are stopped or moving slowly. It can be a helpful way to reduce traffic when done correctly, but motorcyclists who lane-split at high speeds and in unsafe conditions put themselves and other motorists in danger.
All drivers in California, including motorcyclists, have a duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care to avoid harming others on the read. Drivers must obey traffic laws, including posted speed limits, and be aware of road conditions and other surroundings when operating a motorcycle or other vehicle. If an accident happens, drivers need to stop immediately to check if anyone suffered injuries.
If a driver fails to exercise reasonable care when driving or is reckless when operating their vehicle, causing an accident, they may be negligent due to breaching their duty of care per California law. If another motorist also fails to exercise reasonable care and contributes to the cause of the accident, this driver might also be negligent under California’s comparative fault laws, making it possible for them to share in the responsibility for the accident.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive After a Motorcycle Accident?
If you suffered injuries due to a motorcycle accident, you might be entitled to compensation. In Sacramento personal injury cases, many accident victims can recover substantial money damages for economic losses, such as lost wages and medical bills, and non-economic losses, including pain and suffering. Damages recovered by an accident victim depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The amount of past, current, and future medical bills for medical treatment, prescription medications, emergency room visits, physical therapy, rehab costs, and other medical expenses already incurred or expected as a result of the accident
- Lost wages, covering income the accident victim would have made if not for the accident;
- Lost earning capacity, covering additional income the accident victim would have made now or in the future if not for the accident;
- Motorcycle damage, recouping costs to repair or replace the motorcycle as a result of the accident;
- Pain and suffering due to emotional and psychological harm the accident caused, including the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, known as non-economic damages; and
- Loss of championship, which is a factor considered explicitly in wrongful death lawsuits.
Sometimes, accident victims receive an award for punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits. Punitive damages apply in circumstances where the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious. In cases involving motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle accidents, courts award punitive damages when the defendant drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs—intentional behavior that can easily harm others.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in Sacramento?
There are time limits on how long you have following an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. In California, this time restriction, or “statute of limitations,” is two (2) years from the accident date. There are minimal exceptions to this rule. Generally, after the statute of limitations expires, an accident victim can no longer initiate a legal claim or lawsuit.
The legal process can be confusing, but motorcycle accident victims are usually better off when seeking the help of a legal team concerned with their clients’ best interests.
What Should I Do if I’m Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, start by seeking medical attention as soon as possible. Call local authorities and wait for medical personnel to arrive. Even if an accident is minor and there are no apparent injuries, it’s always helpful to have a police report documenting the details of the crash. Remember, severe brain and spinal cord injuries can worsen by sudden movement, and other injuries, such as chest contusions, may not show immediate symptoms.
If it’s safe to do so, check in on others involved in the accident. Take note of whatever information you can about the accident scene and obtain information from other drivers and witnesses.
If you receive medical treatment following the incident, keep records of all your medical bills and scans. Also, notify your insurance company that you were in an accident.
Do I Need to Hire a Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney can help. Insurance companies usually try to settle accident cases for the lowest amount possible. Motorcycle accident attorneys can assist with investigating your accident, negotiating with insurance providers, preparing and filing a personal injury lawsuit, and explaining complex legal concepts and jargon.
Also, a motorcycle accident attorney can help gather pertinent evidence to strengthen your case, including medical bills, treatment logs, and police reports. Most importantly, your attorney can help ensure that you get the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.
Contact our personal injury law firm for a free consultation and learn how we can help you with your motorcycle accident case.