Motorcycle drivers enjoy a unique freedom that drivers of enclosed vehicles will never experience. Those that take every precaution to drive safely may never suspect that they will need the advice of a San Diego motorcycle crash attorney because of their injuries or those of a loved one. Most people realize that the injuries from an accident involving a motorcycle are typically going to be much more severe than those where the driver has several layers of metal surrounding them. There are other ways that motorcycles are more vulnerable on the roads as well such as less visibility and fewer safety features.
An attorney who has dealt with many victims of motorcycle accidents and their families has a unique perspective about what causes these wrecks, and the mistakes people often make before, during, and after an accident has occurred. The following insights of a San Diego motorcycle crash attorney may broaden your knowledge base on the causes and effects of motorcycle accidents in San Diego.
1. The Likelihood of a Motorcycle Accident is Higher in California
The number of motorcycle accidents in San Diego continues to rise each year. That fact isn’t surprising since the number of motorcycles on California roads continues to grow each year as well. The fact that there are more motorcycle drivers alone puts you at a greater risk of being in an accident. It also means that you should take every safety precaution, especially when traveling on roads with a lot of traffic. Defensive driving is one of the most valuable tools you have for preventing an accident from occurring.
2. The Impact of Your Injuries Could Be Lifelong
It isn’t uncommon for the early injuries from a motorcycle accident to be more severe than originally perceived. The problem is that there is a two-year statute of limitations during which you must file a personal injury case. Every person who is the victim of a motorcycle accident should consult a San Diego motorcycle crash attorney right after the accident to gain a better understanding of what might be at stake. When the injuries end up causing permanent damage that prevents you from working, you want to be prepared to get the financial compensation you need.
3. Motorcycle Accidents Are Often the Fault of the Other Driver
Motorcycle riders have long endured the stigma as being rebellious and reckless when riding their bikes. That attitude persists among many other drivers on the roads today even though the characteristics of the average motorcycle driver have changed to include people of all ages and from all walks of life.
The reality is that most motorcycle drivers have been trained to be observant, responsible drivers. Other drivers on the road are often at fault because they don’t see the motorcycle or they have the attitude that bikes don’t have the same rights as enclosed vehicles.
4. Your Health Insurance Probably Won’t Cover All of Your Medical Bills
Even the best health insurance policies have limits of coverage, co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles that will place a burden on you in a short period of time. Most people never put their insurance to the test. When they have a situation that calls for a broader range of treatment types and more frequent appointments, they begin to learn quickly that everything isn’t covered. Your medical bills are likely to start building, and the healthcare providers want to be paid. Don’t leave it to your insurance company to pay the cost of treatment without seeking compensation to pay the lingering costs of healthcare. Schedule an appointment with a personal injury firm as soon as you have your injuries evaluated by a medical professional and take action to get your bills paid.
5. An Accident May Cost a Lot More Than You Think
The cost of a motorcycle accident may be well into the thousands once you have received medical treatment and obtained repairs or a replacement for your motorcycle. But the real cost can be much higher than that. If you have a permanent injury that limits your physical capabilities and prevents you from working, you will never be able to earn an income again. That means the final cost of your accident includes the salaries that you won’t receive for the rest of your life. The only way to regain financial security is through a settlement with the insurance company for your damages and for your pain and suffering.
6. Too Many Motorcycle Drivers in CA Get Inadequate Insurance for Their Motorcycles
If you have one or more vehicles covered by insurance when you purchase your motorcycle, you might think that the same policy will cover any accidents on your new bike. This couldn’t be further from the truth! No matter how many vehicles you have covered or the type of coverage you take out on each, you are starting over when you get coverage for your motorcycle.
Your legal obligations for insuring your motorcycle are the same as for insuring a car. The state requires a minimum amount of coverage for bodily injury caused by another driver or person, bodily injury to others involved in the accident, and property damage. These minimums are $15,000, $30,000, and $5,000 respectively. If you can afford higher premiums, getting higher amounts of coverage may be a good idea.
Another type of coverage that is optional to you is uninsured/underinsured coverage. The state doesn’t require you to purchase this type of insurance coverage, but it will provide you with financial protection if the other driver is at fault and either doesn’t have any insurance or they have inadequate coverage to pay for your damages.
Motorcycle riders are also required to carry proof of insurance with them wherever they go. Failure can lead to high fines. Failure to get the required insurance could result in financial issues for you after being in an accident, or it may cause you to have your motorcycle impounded.
Most importantly, if you do not have insurance on your motorcycle and you are in a wreck, the state of California will not allow you to collect non-economic damages such as disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. As soon as you purchase a motorcycle, make sure you get the required coverage to protect you regardless of what happens in the future.
7. What You Say and Do Immediately after a Motorcycle Accident Can Hurt You
The minutes following the accident can be confusing. Even if you don’t notice any significant injuries at the time, they may become obvious once the shock and the adrenaline rush you feel begins to wear off. You may feel fortunate to be suffering from nothing more than road rash. But even that can result in the need for skin grafting surgery. Never tell the other driver or anyone else at the scene that you are fine or that the accident was your fault. Even if you are partially to blame, the balance of the fault falls on the other driver. Your attorney will have a more difficult time proving your injuries and the other driver’s fault if your admissions are recorded.
8. California’s Comparative Fault Law Can Reduce Your Compensation
All California drivers are expected to observe the same laws of the road at all times. When an accident occurs, it is not a matter of what one driver did wrong “trumping” what the other one did. Instead, the state follows a comparative fault law that assigns a percentage of the overall blame to either driver.
For example, if you are driving down a four-lane road at a speed that is fifteen mph over the speed limit when a driver cuts into you from the other lane, the court might determine that you are 20% at fault because you were speeding. If the amount of compensation is determined to be $100,000, you would only be able to receive 80% of that total amount, or $80,000. You cannot collect compensation for the percentage of the accident found to be your fault.
9. California Is the Only State Which Allows Lane Splitting
In action movies, motorcycle riders are frequently driving between two lanes of traffic as a means to get away from the bad guy or to get where they need to be before a bomb goes off! In the real world, this is a very dangerous way to drive a motorcycle, and it is illegal in most states. California is the only state where lane splitting is legal. The only limitation is that it is done in a “safe and prudent” manner.
The San Diego motorcycle crash attorney understands the challenges of proving the degree of fault when an accident occurs during lane splitting. Some factors that may help to sway the judge are that you weren’t speeding or weaving in and out of the lanes. It is always a good idea to get contact information from witnesses to support your claim that you were driving cautiously.
10. Your Battle Is with the Insurance Company, Not the Driver
Insurance is a necessity for drivers of every kind. It’s good to have when you need it, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to get what you deserve. Insurance companies are well-known for their efforts to reverse blame, disprove injury claims, and stoop to the lowest levels to avoid paying.
One of the most important things your accident attorney will do for you is to negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf. When accident victims negotiate directly with the insurance company, they are always going to get an initial offer that is far too low to compensate for their damages. An experienced attorney knows how much you deserve for your injuries and the impact your injuries have had on your life.
Batta Fulkerson is a team of experienced San Diego motorcycle crash attorneys experienced at maximizing their clients’ settlement opportunity. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn what your options are for compensation.