Motorcycle Accidents in San Luis Obispo: Frequently Asked Questions
Nearly 3,000 riders die every year in motorcycle accidents, and California riders share what some would consider to be a disproportionate percentage of those fatalities when compared to other states. In the vast majority of motorcycle accidents in San Luis Obispo, the motorcyclist was operating according to the rules of the road at the time of the accident.
Barely over a decade ago, San Luis Obispo was one of the top five counties in all of California for motorcycle injuries and fatalities according to Office of Traffic and Safety data, with 546 combined in 2009 alone. Though safety standards have gradually evolved in the years since, motorcycles remain extremely dangerous to their riders in the event of an accident.
As such, the attorneys at James McKiernan Lawyers decided to create a guide that addresses many of the most common questions surrounding motorcycle accidents in San Luis Obispo.
Below, we will address the following frequently asked questions about motorcycle accidents in San Luis Obispo:
- How is my liability determined in a motorcycle accident?
- When is my risk for a motorcycle accident the greatest?
- What is one of the most common motorcycle accident personal injury cases?
- Are there motorcycle skills or safety precautions I can learn that could save my life?
- Why should I hire a motorcycle accident attorney in San Luis Obispo?
How is my liability determined in a motorcycle accident?
Negligence is defined as any action or inaction that results in avoidable damage to person or property. In cases involving motorcycle accidents, it is the injured party’s responsibility to show that their injury was the result of carelessness or thoughtlessness on the part of the defendant or defendants. In San Luis Obispo, California, if a driver of any motor vehicle is not exercising reasonable care and a motorcyclist becomes injured, the driver is likely to be found negligent and, likewise, liable in the accident.
Some actions that contribute to driver negligence in San Luis Obispo motorcycle accidents include:
- Violating traffic laws
- Failing to adhere to the rules of the road
- Failing to take appropriate steps to reduce risk
- Generally unsafe driving habits
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted Driving
- Road Rage
- Driving a vehicle in a known state of disrepair
When is my risk for a motorcycle accident the greatest?
As with anything, the newer you are in the activity, the fewer skills you have acquired. The same is true for motorcyclists. They simply have not developed the degree of skill that an experienced rider, and consequently they are more prone to being involved in accidents.
The Insurance Journal reports that studies show the first year of driving is the most dangerous for motorcyclists, and their greatest propensity for accidents is during their first month on the road. In fact, they are four more times at risk for having an accident during the first month.
One study shows that nearly 57,000 motorcyclists filed crash claims, and of those 22 percent of motorcycle accident victims experienced accidents within the first month. Once the first month was behind them, claims dropped by one-third the second month, and by six months close to two-thirds.
Super-sport bikes are among the most dangerous motorcycles. They can reach close to 200 miles per hour and are very popular with young drivers. According to one consumer report, while the bikes were only 10 percent of registered motorcycles in 2005, they led to 25 percent of motorcyclists’ deaths. Excess speed and driver error were the largest factors in fatal crashes involving super-sport bikes.
What is one of the most common motorcycle accident personal injury cases?
One of the most common types of motorcycle accident is the left turn accident. This type of accident occurs when a vehicle is attempting to make a left turn, crosses the opposite lane and into the path of the motorcyclist, who then slams into the car.
You would think that a motorcyclist would be noticeable to the person driving the car, but there are any number of reasons these accidents occur. Distraction, misjudging the motorcycle’s speed and flat out not seeing the motorcycle are some common ones.
Almost 40% of motorcycle accidents occur this way.
In California, we use a pure comparative negligence rule to determine fault in left turn accidents. This means that a defendant is only liable for his or her percentage of fault. Generally speaking, the driver that makes the left turn will be either completely at fault or mostly at fault, because drivers are supposed to make sure the path is clear before making a left turn.
However, not all left-turn accidents are purely the fault of the person turning left. If a motorcyclist runs a red light, for example, or is speeding through an intersection, under pure comparative negligence that motorcyclist may be partly liable for the accident.
How to Prevent Injury and Left-Turn Motorcycle Accidents
When coming up to a place where someone may make a left turn:
- Follow the speed limit
- Scan ahead to see if there are any places a car might turn into
- Observe any cars that look like they are going to turn. Do they see you? Pay attention to the front tires.
- Predict whether the car will go for it
- Prepare to brake or swerve if they do turn
- Use your horn if necessary
If you do end up suffering injuries, even if you don’t directly impact the other vehicle, you should seek immediate medical attention as well as document the accident site as thoroughly as possible.
Are there motorcycle skills or safety precautions I can learn that could save my life?
The more skills, knowledge and experience bikers have, the less likely they are to be involved in motorcycle accidents. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses to teach new and experienced riders the motorcycle basics, tips about operating a bike and how to deal safely with hazardous conditions. You can learn how to ride a bike properly and understand the rules of the road.
You can also find courses, such as the one Master Strategy Group has on the web, that train you how to regain control of your bike when dealing with hazards that make you lose control. This type of training can teach you to do things like the following:
- Automatically squeeze both levers when you lose control
- Move away from the center line to the side of the road when going up a hill in case a motorist appears in your lane suddenly and without warning
- Putting the most experienced motorcyclist in the drag position rather than the lead position when riding with a group
- Riding staggered so you have maneuvering room
Continuing to improve your riding skills and learning how to put safety precautions in place is an ongoing process for motorcyclists who wish to avoid accidents.
Why should I hire a motorcycle accident attorney in San Luis Obispo?
Have you been involved in a motorcycle accident and injured because of a careless driver? Maybe someone was texting or distracted when they caused the accident. Perhaps they just weren’t paying attention. This is due to negligence on the part of the other person.
Everyday people have accidents caused by no fault of their own, Motorcycles are often difficult to see on the road and many drivers simply don’t look for them. Being injured due to negligence by a careless driver means that you need an advocate on your side immediately.
Victims represented by accident lawyers are more likely to win their case and the damages are (300-400%) higher than cases without a lawyer. The insurance companies know this and they are more willing to settle a case when you have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. You need a competent San Luis Obispo-based personal injury lawyer who knows how to deal with large insurance companies.
The victim of an accident is due damages for the pain and anguish, lost wages, and hospital bills due to negligence on the part of someone else.
Before you talk to any insurance company, call the professional attorney that has your interests, not ours, in mind. We will fight for what is rightfully yours and we won’t get paid until you get paid.
Large insurance companies will have accident investigators on the scene right away. They are looking for any evidence they can find to show that you are at least partially responsible for the accident. A competent motorcycle accident attorney will have their own team of accident investigators who will go to the scene working on your behalf.
Injuries are a fact of life, not being compensated for them isn’t. Certainly, the best thing you can do is to get an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on your side.
The law limits the time that you have to file a claim. Call today for a free consultation contact us.
Winning Your Motorcycle Accident Case
Proving negligence is typically a four-part process. As a plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case, you need to be able to show all of the following to secure a settlement or judgment in your favor.
First, you must be able to prove that the operator of the other vehicle had a duty of care toward you while operating. In most cases, there is little question as to whether this was so. Next, you must show that the driver failed in his or her duty of care. Then, you have to prove that it was the other operator who caused the injury. Finally, you must prove that you were the one injured as a result of the other driver’s negligence. The last is also almost never in dispute given available police reports, medical records, etc.
While it may sound simple, building a strong, winnable case is anything but. It is for this reason that you need an experienced attorney who will fight hard to prove your case and get you the compensation you deserve for your injury. Only an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can accurately examine all the evidence, build a strong case, and collect the money you deserve.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and think you have a case, don’t delay. Call James McKiernan Lawyers right now and speak to an attorney with a proven track record of winning personal injury cases involving motorcycle accidents in San Luis Obispo.