Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
California is a motorcycle rider’s paradise. With ocean-facing highways, desert roads, mountain roads and endless scenery, it’s no wonder that California has more motorcycles than any other U.S. state. It’s estimated that there are more than 800,000 motorcycles on our state roads.
That kind of volume comes with a consequence: Thousands of motorcycle accidents. More than 16,000 motorcycle accidents occurred in California in 2017, resulting in more than 500 deaths. Because they are exposed to the elements and have less protection, motorcycle riders are more than 25 times more likely to be killed in a traffic collision relative to car and truck drivers.
You’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident: What’s Next?
Understanding the protocol to follow in the wake of a motorcycle collision is critically important, both for ensuring the safety of everyone involved and protecting your legal right to pursue compensation.
Following a motorcycle collision, you should take the following steps:
- Contact first responders.
- Move vehicles and people out of the road, if possible, to ensure safety.
- Seek medical attention at the crash site if necessary.
- Write down all relevant information about the crash. The weather, the road conditions, the vehicles involved, what caused the incident. Writing it down while it is fresh in your mind will be useful later.
- Take photos and video to document all of the above.
- Ask for the name, contact information and insurance information for all parties involved in the crash.
- If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information as well.
- Keep detailed records of all of the expenses associated with your accident. Lost wages, medical bills, transportation costs etc.
Following these steps can help ensure that you have a strong case should you decide to take the next step and contact a California motorcycle accident lawyer.
Seeking Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you can choose to pursue compensation by opening a claim with an insurer (either your own or the other driver’s) or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you choose to pursue an insurance claim, you will be asked to give a statement to your insurance company. Your insurer will ask about the circumstances of the accident and any injuries or property damaged incurred. In most cases, what follows next is a process called subrogation. Your insurer will negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to establish fault. It may be determined that a driver is wholly at fault, or both drivers may be assessed some share of responsibility for the accident.
After fault is established, the insurers will reach an agreement on who pays for what. If the opposing driver is judged to be entirely at fault, her insurance company will typically offer compensation for any property damage, injuries, deductibles etc.
You may also choose, in this scenario, to skip the subrogation process and deal directly with the other driver’s insurance company. This process may be faster, but you will also lack guidance and support from your insurer. As such, dealing directly with another driver’s insurer is best suited for accidents where responsibility is clear cut and damages are not overly excessive.
In some cases, those who have been injured in a motorcycle accident may feel that the other insurance company has made an error in assigning responsibility, or is unwilling to make a settlement offer that meets expectations. This is hardly unusual, as insurers have a financial incentive to keep their settlements/payouts as low as possible.
A personal injury attorney can fight to help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Under this scenario, you’ll meet with an attorney and discuss the details of your case, including any injuries, property damage or expenses you’ve incurred. Your law firm will take your statements and investigate further, often by contacting insurers or witnesses.
A civil action is then filed, asking for compensation in proportion to the losses the injured party has suffered. As the trial date nears, attorneys and insurance companies will typically exchange settlement offers in the hope of avoiding a trial.
Winning at Trial
If settlement negotiations fail, a plaintiff’s attorney will attempt to prove negligence under California state law. In order to do so, five elements must be present: Duty, breach of duty, cause-in-fact, proximate cause and damages.
California’s drivers are required by law to show a duty of care to other motorists. If they drive illegally or unsafely, they breach this duty. If an attorney can show that this breach of duty was the cause of an accident that resulted in damages, negligence is established.
Defense attorneys are allowed to argue comparative negligence under California law. This doctrine affects cases where both parties may have acted negligently. If a plaintiff is found to be 90-percent responsible for a crash, and a defendant 10-percent responsible, any compensation that is awarded may be reduced accordingly.
Finding the Right California Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
Personal injury cases are often quite complex, which makes it essential to work with a legal advocate who specializes in such cases. In motorcycle accidents, specifically, much depends on the finding of negligence and/or responsibility. Many factors can influence this, including weather and road conditions and the driving behavior of the other motorist.
Insurance companies have vast resources and are experts in negotiation. Victims of motorcycle accidents, on the other hand, typically have limited resources and minimal negotiation experience. Insurers know this, and use it to their advantage, attempting to pay out as little as possible.
At Doyle Law, we help motorcycle accident victims even the playing field. We have extensive experience with personal injury cases, and we are deeply familiar with California law. Call us today for a consultation, and get on the road to recovery