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How Motorcycle Accident Claims Are Handled In California

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

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.

What Are The Risks For California Motorists?

Motorcyclists confront a variety of dangers on the road that 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 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 Motorcycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles 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 much 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 most 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 Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer 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 in California


Motorcyclists must generally 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. You'll need more than just a regular driver's license to legally operate a motorcycle. 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. Most 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 can split lane 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 motorcycle injury in California. For example, taking your motorcycle out without a helmet is a violation and will affect your payouts. 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 in California


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 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States annually. Moreover, these figures have progressively risen 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 Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer 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 can impede a person's ability to eat, a broken nose 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. In this all-too-common incident, the person hits their head against the pavement or another object. 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 because 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. This can happen when a helmeted cyclist is ejected into the pavement in a crash. 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.

Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles to ensure you get the medical, emotional, and financial compensation you deserve.

Motorcycle Accident Liability in California

Many persons may be held accountable for a motorbike accident, depending on the circumstances. 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 a defect in the motorcycle caused the motorcycle accident, 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 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 in a motorcycle accident is difficult. The negligence standard assesses responsibility in a motorbike accident, as 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.

  3. If another party was harmed or a motorist's violation of duty was the direct cause of the accident, the motorist could be held accountable for damages.

  4. The plaintiff may have to show that the defendant's actions were not those of a "reasonable person" in various situations. Although there is extensive legal precedence establishing what defines reasonable driving, this can be an abstract criterion.

In other circumstances, proving negligence is more straightforward; the plaintiff only needs to show that the defendant violated a traffic law.

A personal injury claim can sometimes go beyond simple carelessness. This happens in severe circumstances where the defendant's actions were so heinous and careless of others' safety that they were instead charged with negligence. Driving over the speed limit, drag racing, and evading the police are all examples of reckless behavior.

Your California Personal Injury Attorney will know their way around the law and can readily explain how the defendant has been negligent in your specific case.

Comparative Negligence and Shared Fault In California

Motorcyclists, like any other driver, are obliged to follow the rules of the road. However, in a personal injury case, if a motorcyclist's negligence was the primary cause of a crash, the rider will not be able to recover any damages. In fact, if the biker causes harm to another person due to their negligence, they may be obliged to pay compensation.


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What if the motorcyclist and the other party in the collision were both at fault? A motorcycle rider's damages may still be recoverable but may be reduced due to comparative negligence standards. Comparative negligence is a legal principle under which people are compensated at a lower rate depending on how much they are at fault.


For example, if the damages were valued at 100,000 USD, and you were determined to be 25% at fault for the accident, you would only receive 75,000 USD in compensation.


Possible Damages In A Motorcycle Accident in California

There are several types of damages you can recover in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, just as there are in other kinds of accidents, depending on the nature of your case.


Economic damages, which include tangible, quantifiable losses, such as:

  • Expenses and medical bills

  • Income lost due to hospitalization and recovery time

  • The cost of rehabilitative therapy

  • Loss of earning potential (future earnings or income)

Non-economic damages, which include costs that are difficult to quantify, such as:

  • Pain and Suffering

  • Emotional anguish

  • Injuries, impairments, or deformities that permanently affect your life, relationships, and income

  • Loss of pleasure in life

  • Consolation loss (for the victim's spouse or partner)

Punitive damages are sometimes granted solely to punish a particularly egregious offender, such as a reckless or drunk driver, by a jury. This is a way for the court and the jury to "teach someone a lesson," but they're often more difficult to obtain.

That said, to get the full economic and non-economic compensation you deserve, you need to have a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer to fight for you.


What You Should Do If You Got Into A Motorcycle Accident?

No one wants to be in an accident. However, you'll want to know what to do to protect your physical, mental, and financial well-being when it does happen.


Here's what you should do after a motorcycle accident in California:

  1. Make sure you're safe if you've been in a motorcycle accident. Get off the road and out of the way of oncoming cars and trucks.

  2. Even if you don't think you're seriously hurt, examine yourself for injuries and contact 911 once you're out of immediate danger. After an accident, adrenaline can mask the severity of your injuries, and some injuries have delayed symptoms.

  3. If another car was involved, exchange information with the other driver. If you don't, you'll be charged with hit-and-run. Name, contact information, driver's license, and insurance information should all be exchanged. Don't say much extra to the other motorist besides that. Avoid apologizing since it may be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Instead, be kind and helpful, and avoid retaliating with anger, which could exacerbate the situation.

  4. If the other driver flees the scene, call the cops and give them as much information as possible about the automobile, including the make, model, color, license plate, etc., and any damage caused by the collision.

  5. Start gathering evidence on the scene. Get the names, emails, and other contact information of any other witnesses. If possible, take photos or videos of the scene. If any of your motorcycle, helmet, or clothes have been damaged, keep them. After taking photos and preserving physical evidence, jot down some rough notes on how the accident occurred. If you have one, take-down any evidence you want to collect later, such as film from adjacent security cameras or your own dashcam.

  6. Even if you are not treated at a hospital, you should consult a doctor immediately following the accident. This is crucial not only for your physical and emotional health but also for legal reasons. Seeing a doctor can assist you in proving that you were injured. Keep track of all your medical costs, property damage invoices, and a journal of how your injuries and losses have affected your life; this will help you collect non-economic damages for pain and suffering.

  7. The cops will arrive at the accident scene after you phone 911. They'll make notes on what happened and compile them into a police accident report later. Police accident reports can be helpful in a personal injury case since they usually include a determination of fault, which may differ from the insurance company's. That is why you should obtain a copy of your police report and make any necessary corrections.

  8. Finally, seek legal assistance. Hiring a motorbike lawyer will also help you to focus solely on healing from your injuries, removing the stress of filling out paperwork and speaking with insurance adjusters.

Doing these will make sure you are safe but also helps make it easier for you and your lawyer to finally file accident claims. It would be best to preserve evidence through photos and have them logged in police and medical reports.


What Are The Things You Shouldn't Do After A Motorcycle Accident?

After being injured in a motorbike accident, there are a few things you need to avoid. Again, you'll want to preserve evidence and avoid making mistakes that might affect your Personal Injury Claims.

Here's a list of don'ts for when you're in a motorcycle accident:

  • Without the presence of a motorcycle accident attorney, do not speak with the other party's insurance or lawyers.

  • Do not consent to being videotaped or to making any statements.

  • Don't sign anything without first reading it or having it reviewed by a lawyer.

  • Don't accept any "lowball proposals," even if they appear generous initially. That offer may not even touch the surface until you better understand your injuries and damages. They wouldn't make the offer unless they thought you could get more in court.

  • Do not use social media to discuss the accident or injuries. These posts can be used against you, and they will be. To be on the safe side, avoid using social media altogether, as everything you post there can be used against you in your damage claim. Likewise, ask your friends and relatives not to post anything negative about you on social media.


Consult Your Case With The Top Rated Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Whether you're dealing with severe injuries or have recently lost a loved one, it is best to seek legal direction in your time of confusion.

1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association-Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a prescreened Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney best fit to handle your claims. Contact us on our 24/7 lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999 or complete our inquiry submission form for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

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