Usual questions about motorcycle accidents in California
I was riding my motorcycle to work when suddenly a car made a left turn in front of me. Who is at fault?
The act of a motor vehicle cutting into the lane of a motorcycle is the most frequent cause of accidents of the latter, especially in California. Such incidents happen for two reasons: either because the driver failed to see the motorcycle coming at the time of crossing; or because the driver saw the motorcycle, but made an incorrect calculation of the bike’s or the car’s speed. In any case, the driver of the car is often found to be negligent and he will be held liable for the accident.
At intersections, motorcycles have the right of way, so it is against the law for cars to cross into the left without first ascertaining that there is no approaching traffic. This is stipulated in the traffic codes, so that an automobile driver is always found guilty of the accident for not yielding to a motorcycle.
However, motorcycle riders may also be held responsible for any accidents where they failed to anticipate that the car would make a left turn, especially if the car placed the low beam. In fact, it is very common for a judge to decide that the liability for the accident is shared.
Also, there are two other reasons why you may be found guilty of the accident – as well as the driver of the car-: for not anticipating that the driver was going to turn to the left; or -in case you were driving at a speed near the limit- because you did not slow down when approaching the intersection.
I have been told about something called “comparative negligence“, or contributory negligence, but how does that relate to my accident?
You should know that the fault of accidents is not necessarily unilateral, that is, it does not always fall on one side, either by action or by inaction. Well, California law takes this into account when establishing blame in an accident and has called it “comparative negligence”, because it is very likely that both parties have incurred in negligence, causing the terrible accident.
Comparative negligence is a court decision that holds that both parties are partly responsible. It may seem inhuman or ridiculous to blame a motorcyclist for an accident caused by a left turn by a vehicle, but if you analyze it carefully, it is valid to share the responsibility. The case that we have discussed in the previous question is an example of how a motorcyclist could have had part of the fault in the accident of which he was a victim.
For this reason, compensation for accidents is not absolute or total. That is, depending on the degree of fault, the compensation will be less. If the motorcyclist had a 25% fault in the accident, his compensation will be reduced by a similar percentage. Although it is necessary to clarify that in this type of accidents the driver of the automobile will always have the greater part of the fault.
If you are a motorcycle riding injured in such an accident you need the best possible representation for your claim. The team of Avrek Law Firm is the most suitable to be hired in this type of accident, because our professionals can know in advance how the judge will establish the responsibilities of the accident. They are very familiar with the comparative negligence scheme.
If I have a medical insurance policy from work, can the compensation I can receive for the accident be reduced?
Workplace medical insurance policies may affect your claim. You are entitled to compensation regardless of whether you covered your medical expenses or if the insurance company did.
However, in this area not everything is black and white, but there are grays. In this case, you should know that the medical insurance policies have a subrogation clause, by which the insurance company can demand a reimbursement of the medical expenses, as long as the indemnity agreement covers them. That is, if your indemnity agreement covers your medical expenses but the insurance has already paid them, the insurance company has the right to demand a refund.
In general, most lawyers will seek to make a settlement with insurance provides. In other words, the advocates often reach an agreement with the insurance company of behalf of the claimant, in which you, as claimant, will return the money to the insurance company, but not in its entirety. In this way, you receive a profit from the medical expenses section of the compensation agreement.
Unfortunately, I did not put on my helmet and I have very serious injuries. Am I entitled to compensation for these injuries?
Failing to wear a helmet or a seatbelt are common events that can affect the quantum of damages available. If the responsibility for the accident falls on anyone else who is not the motorcyclist, the motorcyclist may receive compensation for the injuries. That is, if you used a helmet or not, it is irrelevant, as the fault of the accident was not yours, so you can opt for compensation for your injuries. However, the amount of compensation does depend on the factor of whether you were wearing a helmet or not.
The court will look to the specific circumstances. But, in turn, this factor depends on the severity and nature of the injury received. For example, if you injured your knees and some of your ribs are broken, you are entitled to full compensation for these injuries because they could not have been avoided even if you had worn the helmet.
However, if the injury is located in the head or some surrounding area, and you were not wearing your helmet, you will be held responsible for your own injuries, at least to some degree. The concept has some validity, because the law stipulates the compulsory use of helmet for motorcyclists, precisely to avoid this type of case.
But for some time, a complaint has been made about this, since not all cranial or head injuries can be avoided with the use of a helmet. The cases of motorcyclists who have died or received serious head injuries even after wearing the helmet abound and are alleged in the trials.
It will be critical to gain the best representation possible. Generally, the lawyer responsible for your case will request the advice of a medical specialist to determine if the use of the helmet could have prevented the resulting injuries.
Obviously, prevention is better than cure. It does not hurt to make the recommendation that you wear the helmet, please. Just as there are cases of motorcyclists who have died despite having used the helmet, there are also cases of those who have died or received serious injuries precisely because they did not wear the helmet. It is your life and your physical integrity that is at stake, so do not ignore these security measures.
Is it true that motorcycle accident cases are more difficult to win than car accident cases?
As a motorcyclist you can face an uphill battle in the court. There are at least three reasons for this. One is that the injuries in motorcycle cases are usually heavier. The upshot is that insurance companies tend to use more aggressive litigation tactics. Secondly, motorcyclists have particular protection equipment requirements.
So, is it true that motorcycle accident cases are more difficult to win than car accident cases? The statistics reveal that in most cases the answer is affirmative. There are exceptions, of course, but those exceptions required lawyers with a lot of expertise in the area. For this reason, there are few motorcyclists who decide to go to a trial, because they are aware that the probability of losing their judgment is too high.
Now, you wonder why this happens and the answer is very simple: most juries are drivers of cars, so they tend to sympathize with their peers instead of motorcyclists. And, of course, the lawyers also use this in their favor, managing to convince the panel of jurors and guaranteeing the victory of the case in favor of the driver of the car. Such is an often part of the circumstances.
On the other hand, this statistic is also explained by the presence of stereotypes in the jury panel. The motorcyclist is seen as a criminal, an irresponsible citizen who does not respect traffic regulations, and so on. Rarely do jurors take into account the fact that motorcycles are used up by police officers and company managers, to name just two.
But not everything is lost for the motorcyclist in these cases. A good lawyer, like those you can find in our team at Avrek Law Firm – some are even motorcyclists – can tear down those stereotypes through an eloquent and concise educational discourse. For his part, an excellent personal injury lawyer can get the jury to empathize with the motorcyclist for his serious injuries.
And we cannot leave aside the presentation of the evidence of the case. If it is handled very carefully, expertly and cautiously, it is possible to position the case in favor of the motorcyclist, achieving a convincing victory.
I only suffered an abrasive injury from contact with the pavement. Can I make a claim about it?
Abrasive injuries are common. An abrasive injury from contact with the pavement cannot and should not be underestimated. This type of injuries can reach a very serious state if they are not treated in due time and with the required speed. Besides, the pain produced by the abrasion is big enough to give importance to it.
This injury, as the name implies, originates when the motorcyclist’s body slides on the pavement. Just imagining it already produces an unpleasant sensation. This injury can lead to a very serious infection if, as we pointed out a moment ago, you do not receive treatment quickly and effectively. Medical attention is required.
In fact, in case you did not know, an abrasive injury, in extreme cases, needs to be mitigated with skin grafts. This treatment, as you can guess, is expensive and requires a lot of time to be done. It is strongly recommended that you present a claim even if you only suffered an abrasive injury from contact with the pavement.