In Southern California, motorcycle accidents happen all too often. Accidents involving motorcycles can cause serious injuries. So, if you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in Southern California, it’s important to know what steps to take next.
A Southern California motorcycle accident attorney can handle your case. At KJT Law Group, we have helped many clients recover compensation after being involved in serious motorcycle accidents throughout Southern California and beyond. Though we can’t guarantee outcomes, we understand the law and what it takes to win such cases to ensure that justice is served for you and your family.
Motorcycle Accidents are Dangerous
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, motorcycles made up 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2016. On a larger scale, California recorded a total of 2,655 fatal vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle between 2014 to 2018.
Motorcycle riders are more vulnerable to injury than car drivers in collisions because they lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. In addition, many motorcycle riders do not wear helmets or protective gear, which makes them more likely to suffer severe head injuries in a crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), crashes involving motorcycles in Southern California rose by 9% from 2020 to 2021. In Los Angeles County alone, more than 1,275 fatal motorcycle-related injuries were reported by hospitals between 2014 and 2017. On average, it’s estimated that Los Angeles faces an estimated average of 255 motorcycle crashes a year.
When it comes to Orange County, NHTSA estimates a total of 352 fatal motorcycle crashes between 2014 and 2018. The county has an estimated average total of 70 fatal motorcycle accidents per year. On the other hand, Riverside County registered 393 fatal motorcycle crashes between 2014 to 2018. The 3-year data from 2014 suggest an average of 78 fatal motorcycle accidents per year.
In contrast, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s reported 98 motorcycle cases per 3 years in San Diego County. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System records 490 motorcycle crashes from 2014 to 2018. Closely following is San Bernardino County, which estimates 77 fatal motorcycle accidents per year. The NHTSA reports 386 reported motorcycle accidents between 2014 to 2018.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are several causes of motorcycle accidents in Southern California. These include:
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of stopped or moving traffic. Some drivers don’t expect motorcycles to be between their vehicles and can cause accidents by moving into another lane without seeing the motorcyclist.
Another common cause of motorcycle accidents are left-hand turns by cars or trucks that fail to see bikers coming up behind them. Often, these crashes happen at intersections when drivers are making right turns across traffic lanes or turning left into traffic lanes.
Cars Not Seeing a Motorcyclist
Cars may be looking at their phone or distracted by other things when they make a turn into traffic and fail to see motorcycles. According to a safety study done by the United States Department of Transportation, ⅔ of motorcycle-car crashes occurred due to not seeing an approaching motorcycle and therefore failing to yield right of way.
Speeding is one of the biggest contributors to automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents. When drivers are speeding, they have less time to react to unexpected obstacles on the road, such as another vehicle or pedestrian crossing at an intersection.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Alcohol affects reaction times, vision, and balance, making it harder for riders to control their bikes properly when taking evasive action or avoiding obstacles on the road ahead of them. The California statute (Code VEH 11-12-2-23152) states that it’s illegal to drive under the influence of any alcoholic beverage.
The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is distracted driving. Drivers of cars and trucks often become distracted by their cell phones and other electronic devices, leading to an accident. Some cases have even involved drivers texting while driving, which is illegal in California.
The NHTSA has found that 3,450 lives were lost in road accidents in 2016 alone due to distracted driving. California has initiated several efforts, such as the “Put Your Phone Down. Just Drive” campaign to end distracted driving.
Motorcyclists have to contend with many road hazards that drivers do not face. These include potholes and other rough patches on the road surface, gravel or sand on the roadway, and wet pavement due to rain or snowfall. These things can cause a motorcycle rider to lose control of their bike and crash into another vehicle or object like a tree or guardrail.
According to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine, motorcycle passengers who ride without helmets are at greater risk of suffering serious injuries than those who wear helmets at all times. This is because helmets protect against an array of head injuries beyond traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The study found that riders wearing helmets suffered fewer face fractures, scalp lacerations, and dental injuries than riders without helmets. Also, wearing a helmet does not increase the risk of crash involvement.
Common Injuries Due to Motorcycle Accidents
The following is a list of some common injuries from motorcycle accidents:
- Road rash – This occurs when the skin is scraped off during an accident.
- Broken bones – Broken bones are common in motorcycle accidents because the riders do not have other forms of protection during a crash, such as airbags or seatbelts.
- Head injuries – Head injuries can include concussions, brain damage, skull fractures, and more serious brain injuries that may cause paralysis or death.
- Spinal cord injuries – The spinal cord connects the brain and body parts below the neck and can be damaged if struck by another car or object during a crash.
- Whiplash – Whiplash is a common injury when the head jerks forward and backward in a crash. It can cause neck pain, headaches, dizziness, and difficulty moving the neck.
- Internal bleeding – The brain can be injured from an impact or shaken back and forth in the skull. In rare cases, internal bleeding can lead to brain damage or death.
- Traumatic Brain Injury – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most serious types of injury during an accident involving a motorcycle rider. A TBI often requires extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation with physical therapy for a full recovery.
A personal injury lawyer in Southern California can help you recover damages according to the law.
Laws Protecting Motorcycles
If you live in Southern California, you should know about some basic laws regarding motorcycles. It’s important to understand these laws because they can affect your legal rights if you are injured in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle laws in California are designed to protect riders and prevent injuries during incidents.
All riders in California are required to wear a U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet at all times while riding a motorcycle (CVC §27803). A U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet is three times safer than other helmets – it protects accident victims, and they are less likely to suffer a head injury.
Also, California law requires all motorcycle drivers to take a CMSP course upon getting their license. The course includes classroom lectures and hands-on training on how to handle your bike safely. You need to pass this test before you can get your license. If you fail any part of the exam, you must retake it.
You must be at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle in California, and you must have a motorcycle permit before you can get your license. If you’re under 18 years old, you must wear an approved helmet while riding on any public street or highway.
Motorcycles are treated as vehicles, so the same rules apply: You need to obey traffic signals, signs, and lane markings; ride with consideration for other drivers; and not exceed the posted speed limits.
Most importantly, California is the only state where lane splitting is legal, especially with slow traffic. Lane splitting refers to riding between lanes of traffic when there is not enough room for two vehicles side-by-side within a lane. Lane splitting should only be done when it is safe to do so and only when there is no oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
California law requires all motorcycles to be registered with the DMV and insured with liability insurance. This means that if you are injured in an accident while riding a motorcycle in California, the other party’s insurance company will have to pay for your medical bills and other expenses.
Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Can Help
A motorcycle accident in Southern California can be devastating, especially if it leads to serious injuries or death. Our lawyers at KJT Law Group will help pursue compensation on your behalf.
A lawyer can help you understand your rights and how they apply to your personal injury in Southern California. They will also ensure that your rights are protected during settlement negotiations or court proceedings. Call us today at (818) 507-8525 and let us handle your motorcycle accident case.