How Motorcycle Accident Claims Are Handled In California

Updated: Jan 27

A Complete Guide To Motorcycle Accident Claims In California


Motorcycle accidents can be more dangerous compared to other vehicular accidents. Even wearing helmets and other protective gear, motorists are more vulnerable than someone who's in a car. That said, medical costs, rehabilitation fees, income loss, and property damages can also cause a lot of stress as the injured motorist recovers.


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Here are a few important things you need to know about getting into a motorcycle accident in California, what you need to do about your expenses and income loss, and your possible legal and settlement options.

The Risks For California Motorists

Motorcyclists confront a variety of dangers on the road than passenger vehicle drivers do not:

  1. Motorcycles are substantially smaller than regular cars, making them more difficult to notice. In a car's blind zones, a motorcycle rider is frequently undetectable.

  2. Because motorcyclists balance on two wheels, which is fundamentally less stable than riders of four-wheeled vehicles, motorcycles are more prone to overturn than passenger automobiles.

  3. Potholes, puddles of water, and debris, which are mere annoyances to automobiles, can be fatal to motorcyclists.

  4. When motorcyclists crash with other vehicles, they are exposed to far less danger than passengers in passenger automobiles. They are not equipped with seat belts or airbags, and they may not even be wearing helmets. As a result, motorcyclists are regularly propelled right onto the pavement in even minor car incidents, typically at high speeds.

  5. Because of these hazards, motorcyclists are roughly 28 times more likely than other vehicle occupants to die in a traffic collision per mile driven.

When you get into a motorcycle accident, chances are you'll have more substantial expenses for your recovery. Contact a California Attorney For Personal Injury to help you process your insurance (and possibly) civil litigation claims.

Stereotypes And Biases Against Motorists

For a variety of reasons, many American drivers dislike motorcycle riders. Because of their size, the fact that some motorcycles make a lot of noise, and their proclivity to come out of nowhere from a car's blind area. These stereotypes assume that motorists are a lot more careless than they actually tend to be.

Unfortunately, many people believe these biases, and as a result, the stigma against motorcyclists sticks. These inherent biases frequently seep into the personal injury claims for an injured rider. As a result, injured motorcyclists may earn smaller verdicts than passenger car drivers in comparable circumstances when their claims go to trial.

In short: people think it's always the motorist's fault. This could be very detrimental when you're trying to get insurance payouts to compensate for the losses you incurred because of the accident.

Even if the majority of injury claims do not go to trial, the consequences of this prejudice are felt across the insurance industry. Insurance adjusters know that the rider has a lower chance of winning if the matter goes to court. Thus, they often provide smaller payments to motorcyclists.


A good California Attorney For Personal Injury who cares about your case can help you overcome misconceptions and get the money you deserve. Not only will they be able to fight for you in negotiations, but they can also do all the necessary paperwork, investigations, and other legal and settlement-related requirements.

Motorcycle-Related Laws


Motorcyclists must, in general, adhere to the same laws as other vehicles. They have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of larger vehicles, including observing the posted speed limit and all traffic signs and signals.

There are, however, a few exceptions that only apply to motorcyclists:

  • Riders on motorcycles must obtain a separate motorcycle license. To legally operate a motorcycle, you'll need more than just a regular driver's license. Motorcyclists must usually take a particular training course to learn the fundamentals of riding a motorcycle, followed by written and practical tests.

  • Surprisingly, many motorcycle riders are unaware of the requirement. Even if bikers are licensed to operate a passenger vehicle, they will be issued a ticket if they are detected riding without a valid motorcycle license. Even if the other person was at fault, the case might be jeopardized if a motorcyclist in a collision does not have a valid license.

  • Motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet in California. Motorcycle helmets are required in 19 states, including California. The majority of other states do not have universal helmet regulations; however, they may have a partial helmet law that applies to juveniles or younger riders.

  • Motorcyclists must also wear a variety of different protective gear and equipment. For example, even though they are not required to wear a helmet, they may be required to wear eye protection. They may also be compelled to wear padded clothes and outfit their motorcycle with reflectors, turn signals, safety lamps, and passenger-friendly features. So before you hit the road, double-check your state's equipment requirements.

  • Motorcycle riders can split lanes in California. Only motorcycles are capable of lane splitting since no other vehicles are tiny enough to fit between lanes. Lane splitting is illegal in every state in the US except California. Lane filtering allows motorbikes to move between lanes of stopped cars to pull to the front of an intersection at a traffic light. A biker has the right to sue if they are harmed during lane-splitting in California.

Note that these laws can affect your Personal Injury Claims in California. For example, if you took your motorcycle out without a helmet, that is a violation on your part and will affect how your payouts go. Likewise, if you were injured while properly lane-splitting, it is an added liability on the car that collided with you.

If you're confused or unclear about specific state laws, ask your California Personal Injury Attorney to give you more exhaustive details. After all, not all motorcycle accidents are the same, so your case might have unique circumstances around it.

Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents


Every year, tens of thousands of Americans are killed in motorcycle accidents. In 2016, approximately 5,300 motorcyclists were murdered on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

These deaths account for roughly 14% of all fatalities in motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year. Moreover, these figures have been progressively rising over the last decade, despite a general drop in automobile accident deaths.


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Both the driver and the passengers might be injured in a motorcycle accident (people riding on the motorcycle but not operating it). However, passengers make up a small percentage of motorcycle accident fatalities; only 336 passengers died in 2016, while the remaining 94 percent (4950) were drivers.

Thousands of people were killed, and tens of thousands were injured in motorbike accidents. In 2015, roughly 88,000 motorcyclists were wounded on US highways, according to estimates.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Accidents can happen at any time to anyone. However, some common precedents make motorcycle accidents likely to happen to someone. Knowing what they are can help you be more vigilant and protect yourself on the road.

Here's a list of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:

  • Driving when intoxicated, drunk, or on drugs. Motorcyclists made up 30% of those killed in alcohol-impaired collisions, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). This is an astonishingly high number, given that motorbikes account for only 3% of all registered cars in the United States and only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.

  • Cars make negligent and unsafe turns. According to NHTSA data, 41% of fatal motorcycle incidents included a passenger car driver making a left or right turn and colliding with a rider heading straight through an intersection.

  • Extremely dangerous and careless lane shifts. Passengers in passenger vehicles don't always look over their shoulders before changing lanes, and a motorcycle in their blind area may go unnoticed. As a result, motorbikes may be particularly vulnerable to drivers who change lanes without checking thoroughly in California.

  • Distracted driving. Motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable to drivers who aren't paying attention to the road because of their stature. The driver of a car might be texting or is preoccupied with something while driving a vehicle.

As said, there's no telling when an accident might happen. What you need to do, however, is to stay vigilant and protect yourself while on the road. But, even if the accident does happen, you should be ready with a California Attorney For Personal Injury to help you process your documents, evidence, and payout claims.

Injuries Involved in Motorcycle Accidents


As mentioned before, motorcycle accidents can lead to severe injuries. Some of them might be life-altering to an extent. The following are some of the most common injuries suffered by motorcycle accident victims:

  • Broken/fractured bones. Broken bones are rarely life-threatening, but they can be life-changing in terms of recovery time and cost. For example, you may require physical therapy for a bone fracture victim to restore mobility, function, and strength in the damaged area. Unfortunately, this sort of rehabilitation is frequently not fully covered by health insurance, and patients must pay for it out of pocket.

  • Face Injuries. Loss of eyesight can occur as a result of eye injuries. In addition, a broken jaw, which can impede a person's ability to eat, a broken nose, which can cause breathing difficulties or sinus problems, and facial scars and disfigurement are all possible face injuries. Unfortunately, facial injuries are very prevalent in motorcycle accidents, particularly when riders do not wear any protective gear.

  • Head Injuries. Motorcycle wrecks can cause traumatic brain injuries in drivers and passengers, particularly if they are thrown from the machine. The person hits their head against the pavement or another object in this all-too-common incident. This is nearly always fatal without a helmet. Even with a helmet, a catastrophic closed head injury can occur.

  • Road rash. When motorcyclists don't use protective gear like kneepads, gloves, or jackets and slide across the pavement as a result of a crash, the result is generally a friction burn on the skin, often known as "road rash." Nerve injury can occur in severe cases.

  • Spinal cord injury. When a helmeted cyclist is ejected into the pavement in a crash, this can happen. However, helmets aren't always more likely to cause injury. The helmet absorbed the impact, which prevented the skull from being crushed, but the spinal cord or vertebrae may still be injured. So while a helmet can offer you some protection, you could still be left with paraplegia or quadriplegia, as well as other spinal cord injuries that will require lifetime therapy and care.

  • Treatment for these injuries can be costly. Not to mention, if you end up with a life-altering injury, it might affect your overall capacity to do work and ultimately affect your current and future income.

To make sure you get the medical, emotional, and financial compensation you deserve, contact a California Attorney For Personal Injury.

Motorcycle Accident Liability

Depending on the circumstances, many persons may be held accountable for a motorbike accident. The other driver is the first and most evident. The best option for a motorcyclist who injured another driver is to file a claim with the other driver's insurance company.

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to road and maintenance problems than other vehicle drivers. As a result, the biker might sue the agency responsible for the road's design or maintenance if the roadways on which the accident occurred were badly planned or maintained.


Some examples of how the road and surrounding vicinity is hazardous are when they have:

  1. An uneven surface

  2. Debris

  3. Blind curves

  4. Defective or absent traffic signs or signals

  5. Faulty guardrails

Road maintenance agencies, usually state and local governments, are responsible for eradicating as many of these hazards as feasible.


The idea of sovereign immunity, which adds a few particular limitations to lawsuits against government entities, can sometimes deter them. Suits against government agencies, for example, usually have a six-month statute of limitations.


Finally, if the motorcycle accident was caused by a defect in the motorcycle, the case may fall under products liability law, which is governed by a different set of laws and precedents than motor vehicle accident law. Typically, there are two types of motorcycle product liability lawsuits:

  • Manufacturing defects are issues with how the motorcycle was put together.

  • Motorcycles with design defects were built to order but were poorly engineered

Defective motorcycles may also be subject to recalls, either by the manufacturer or the federal government, which could affect your case. Another possibility is that the motorcycle's maintenance or repair by a mechanic was insufficient.


Suppose you were hurt in a motorcycle accident. In that case, your case could involve any of the parties mentioned above, and a qualified Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in California will broaden the scope to include as many relevant parties as possible.

Identifying Negligent Action


In a motorcycle accident, determining who is at fault is a difficult task. The standard of negligence is used to assess responsibility in a motorbike accident, as it is in any other accident. If you've been hurt, you're the plaintiff, and you have to show that the defendant (the person who hurt you) was negligent.

Duty, breach, injury, and causation are the components of proving negligence:

  1. All road users, including motorcyclists and passenger car drivers, have a legal obligation to drive safely, observing both written traffic laws and the basic safety of other road users.

  2. When drivers fail to drive with the required level of caution, sobriety, or attentiveness, they violate their duty of care.