WHO’S AT FAULT, MOTORCYCLE v. AUTOMOBILE
Unfortunately motorcycle crashes happen every day on the surface streets, canyon roads (like Mulholland Highway, Angeles Crest), and our freeways. The result can often be life-altering injuries. The question arises, Who is at Fault? Can the motorcyclist get compensation for property damage, personal injuries, medical bills (past and future), and pain and suffering? Here are some answers to those questions and tips to stay safe and get some justice when a car or truck (or even another motorcycle) causes a motorcycle crash.
LIABILITY FOR CALIFORNIA MOTORCYCLE CRASHES
Fortunately, California law applies the rules of comparative fault for motor vehicle negligence, including motorcycle, accidents. That means that if the motorcyclist is 20% at fault, and the car driver is 80% at fault, the motorcyclist still collects 20% of his or her damages, including reimbursement for medical bills, lost use of the motorcycle, and compensation for pain and suffering. See e.g., Li v. Yellow Cab. Some states say the motorcyclist gets nothing if they are more than 50% at fault; so our system in California is more fair, I believe.
MOTORCYCLE INJURIES IN CALIFORNIA
Motorcycle injuries are usually more severe than car accident injuries. There is almost always “road rash” caused to the rider’s skin from scraping along the road in the crash. The lacerations and abrasions can cause permanent scarring that requires wound repair and scar revision. Experienced motorcycle attorneys can refer you to the best wound and scar repair doctors. Riders suffer broken bones and fractures from hitting the road and or the car. Traumatic brain injuries are all too common and are often undiagnosed until weeks after the crash. The symptoms can start out as just a brief loss of consciousness or altered consciousness, but then develop into chronic headaches, and permanent mood – personality changes. Of course there are also tragic motorcycle accidents that cause spinal injuries and paralysis, or wrongful death. Motorcycle injuries can be very serious and substantial, so even 10% liability on the car driver can add up to a large amount of damages that the injured motorcycle rider is entitled to recover under California’s motorcycle laws.
MOTORCYCLE RULES OF THE ROAD IN LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA
So what can be done to stay safe and not be liable when a motorcycle accident happens in Los Angeles California? First, study and follow California’s Rules of the Road. Second, use the proper safety equipment. Make sure the helmet is DOT certified and approved for California motorcycle operation. Apply and take the test for California’s Motorcycle Driver’s License. Read and follow California Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) Motorcycle Manual. This is a great resource for safe motorcycle operations. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you want to have 0% or at least very little liability assigned to you, so that you can recover all or most of your damages. The best way to make that happen is to know and follow California’s rules of the road.
MOTORCYLE LANE SPLITTING RULES OF THE ROAD
California’s Lane Splitting rules are also good for California motorcyclists. The California Department of Motor Vehicles DMV website confirms that California law does not specifically allow or prohibit motorcycles from passing other vehicles proceeding in the same direction within the same lane, a practice often called lane splitting, lane sharing or filtering. See DMV Lane Splitting Guidelines. So a percentage of liability should not be applied to the motorcyclist just because the motorcycle rider was passing a car while lane splitting.
INSURANCE FOR CALIFORNIA MOTORCYCLE CRASHES
Motorcycle riders need to buy the right kind of motorcycle insurance in California, especially since the passage of Proposition 213. Prop 213 basically says that the motorcycle rider will not get any compensation for pain and suffering if he or she did not have liability insurance for the bike, even if the other driver was 100% at fault for the motorcyclist’s injuries. Motorcycle riders especially also need to buy uninsured motorist and under insured motorist insurance coverage (UM/UIM). This will pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost earnings, when you are injured by an uninsured or under insured motorist. Many people driving cars in Los Angeles California fall into this category. Plan ahead and get good insurance coverage to protect yourself.
MOTORCYCLE ATTORNEYS IN LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA
You need a top motorcycle attorney to protect your rights if you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles California. The laws are complicated and often different for motorcycle crashes in California. You need the best motorcycle attorneys to fight for your rights.
Other resources: California Wrongful Death Rules, DMV Motorcycle Information
Related Information: California Motorcycle Crashes
California Motorcycle Lane Splitting Law