Driving a motorcycle on San Diego’s busy roads is quite different from driving enclosed vehicles. A San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer knows the common outcomes of accidents involving motorcycles and some of the emotional and financial issues accident victims face.
The warm climate and scenic roadways throughout California make it an inviting area for motorcyclists year round. The large number of motorcycles and other vehicles on San Diego roads increases the risk of you being involved in a motorcycle accident at some point in your life. Motorcyclists are nearly five times more likely to be injured than car drivers and 29 times more likely to die from their injuries!
Dos and Don’ts of Motorcycle Accidents
A lot of motorcycle accidents are preventable if drivers on both sides of the equation take a more proactive approach to driving safely. If every driver was more aware of the roads and the drivers around them, accidents would be less likely to happen. Of course, you can only change your approach to driving and not that of other drivers. Still, there are some ways that you can help reduce your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident. You also need to prepare to take the right steps when an accident does happen.
Do: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
California law requires all new motorcycle drivers under the age of 21 to take the CMSP Safety Course. New and experienced drivers over that age also benefit from additional safety training. CHIPS offers courses for both new and advanced drivers. Driving defensively is not only about learning what you can do to prevent causing an accident; it also means preventing accidents caused by other drivers.
Don’t: Talk with the At-Fault Driver or the Insurance Companies
Never admit fault, dismiss your injuries, or sign any papers with the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Take all the evidence you have to a San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer for a case evaluation. Insurance companies often resort to a number of deceitful tactics to pay you less or nothing at all. Your motorcycle accident lawyer is familiar with their tactics. He knows how to negotiate a fair deal and protect your rights.
Do: Prepare for Trial
The majority of motorcycle accident claims get settled before going to trial. If you end up being one of the less than 5% that does go to trial, you want to be prepared. The fact is that no one wants to pay the costs of going to court if they can avoid it. If both sides can’t reach a resolution, you want an attorney to have all the records and paperwork ready to help you win your case.
Don’t: Underestimate the Importance of Getting Medical Treatment
Sometimes accident victims forego treatments or additional tests because they worry about the cost. If they feel they can bear their pain or other symptoms, they neglect their medical care. This is dangerous for you and for your personal injury case.
It isn’t possible to treat an injury without knowing the severity. Injuries that seem minor initially could end up being more serious than you suspect. What if you discover months from now that you need surgery? The cost of medical treatment suddenly grows by thousands of dollars. In addition, time off from work for treatment and recovery will leave you with no source of income.
To make matters worse, failing to get treatment gives the insurance company what they want. This “Gap in Treatment” gives them time to make a low-ball offer. Although some injuries do not appear until days after the accident, this gap in treatment gives insurance companies time to greatly reduce the amount the offer and sometimes to challenge your claims of an injury at all.
Do: Know the Laws in Your State and Obey Them
Every state has unique motorcycle laws that you must obey on their roads even if you don’t live there. You should also be aware of any changes to motorcycle laws in California that might impact whether the court rules you as at-fault or not in an accident. Some terms that you should be aware of include ‘lane sharing’ and ‘lane splitting’.
- Lane Sharing means that two motorcycles or a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle can ride side-by-side in the same lane.
- Lane Splitting is when a motorcycle driver travels in the middle of two lanes of traffic at a higher speed than those to either side. For example, when traffic prevents or slows movement of traffic, motorcycles travel between the lanes.
Both types of driving are legal in California, but both are also controversial. Many accidents resulting in serious injuries have involved motorcycles using these maneuvers but professionals point out that these laws are actually safety measures. Both tactics prevent motorcyclists from becoming pinned between vehicles in heavy traffic and also reduce their risk of inhaling vehicle exhaust. Most of the motorcycle accidents the San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer sees result from illegal actions on the part of other drivers; not the motorcyclist.
While lane splitting and lane sharing are legal in the state of California, accidents can still occur at any time. It only takes one other driver to result in a collision. Every time you go out on your motorcycle, there is the potential for an accident and injuries requiring medical treatment, rehabilitation, therapy, surgery, lost wages, and other potential costs. When the accident is caused by another driver, you have the right to pursue compensation to cover these expenses.
California is a comparative fault state, meaning that the other driver may claim that you are partially at-fault for the accident. That means you may be eligible for less compensation but not that you will lose the right to recovery altogether. For example, if you drive over the speed limit when a vehicle crosses into your lane and strikes you, the court might determine that you are 5% at-fault for the accident.
If your total damages amount to $100,000, then you can only collect 95% of that amount, or $95,000. The primary job of your San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer is to illustrate who was really at fault and get you the compensation you deserve.
Don’t: Believe the At-Fault Driver’s Claims about Insurance Coverage
Many factors come into play when there is an accident and you expect the insurance company to provide compensation. If the at-fault driver was “on the clock” there may be additional insurance coverage that could pay you more. Individuals sometimes have additional coverage under separate policies, riders, or umbrella policies. When they tell you the limits of their coverage, some of the coverage they have might not be disclosed. A knowledgeable San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer knows how to find additional coverage that will meet your needs.
Do: Keep Records of Your Medical Treatment
Insurance companies typically wait until they receive medical bills before they reimburse you for treatment. Even then, they may not willingly pay them if they don’t acknowledge them as being reasonable and customary. You will need to get all of your medical treatment even though you won’t receive payment right away. Even if your health insurance pays some of the charges, there are probably those that aren’t covered. In addition, you must come up with the co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance charges out-of-pocket.
Not only should you keep all of your medical appointments and take recommended medications, you should keep receipts and records of each and every appointment and expense. Give your attorney everything he needs to fight for your rights. He will also have to prove the relationship between the accident and your injuries and that they are as severe as you claim. Staying up-to-date on your treatment will help him get the best possible settlement for your case.
Don’t: Wait to Take Action
Whether you are the injured victim of a motorcycle accident or you have lost a loved one, don’t wait to take action. You have a limited amount of time to file a claim. If you fail to meet the deadline, you will lose your rights to compensation.
Another reason to act quickly is to get the expert advice of a San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer. He will help you take the right steps to preserve evidence, protect your rights, and get the outcome you deserve.
No one should try to handle their claim or deal with the insurance companies on their own. All it takes is one mistake to lose your case or to get less compensation than you need and deserve.
Wrongful Death after a Motorcycle Accident
As mentioned early, motorcycle drivers are far more likely to die from their injuries than those in passenger vehicles. If you lose a loved one due to injuries from a motorcycle accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses. Wrongful death is the same as a personal injury which results in severe injuries that cause death.
Dealing with the death of a loved one under any circumstances is difficult. You can find it difficult to separate the pain of your loss from the anger at the other driver. A San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer who understands what you are going through can help. They can evaluate the accident and the impact that it had on you. Schedule a free initial consultation and learn your options.
Contact Batta Fulkerson to schedule your free consultation today. We understand what you’re going through. We want to help you get the financial compensation you need to heal and/or get on with the rest of your life.