Riding a motorcycle can be invigorating and easy on the wallet. Motorcycles provide daily commuters with a more efficient way to make their way through Orange County’s overcrowded highways.
However, it’s important to remember that riding a motorcycle comes with serious risks. Motorcycles are smaller vehicles than cars, trucks, or SUVs and can be easily overlooked. Motorcycles provide limited protection in the event of a crash, and even the most experienced riders in Santa Ana could get seriously injured when negligence is involved.
After a motorcycle collision, you need an experienced Orange County motorcycle accident attorney to ensure you acquire the compensation needed to recover from your crash. The injured victims of a motorcycle accident could seek compensation from the negligent parties for their medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, permanent injury, and emotional distress.
Orange County Motorcycle Safety
Motorcycles have the potential to be extremely dangerous due to their lack of protection and capacity for high speeds. Motorcycles aren’t any more inherently dangerous than other vehicles, but the factors surrounding them are.
Public campaigns encourage motorcycle safety and awareness by wearing the proper safety equipment. Motorcycle travelers are encouraged to wear approved helmets, protective clothes and padding, gloves, boots, and eye protection.
Motorcycle safety campaigns also encourage continuous monitoring of the condition of the bike. Cyclists can do this by making sure all the bike’s parts are fully functional, lubricated, and aren’t in danger of potentially hazardous situations.
Lastly, motorcycle riders are always encouraged to check the road readiness of their bike before each ride. Riders can do this by always checking their turn signals, headlights, brake lights, and license plates before hitting the road.
Being an expert motorcyclist, though encouraged, may not keep you safe on the road. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by circumstances outside of the motorcycle rider’s control. This is the inherent risk of operating a motorcycle.
Motorcycle Accident Causes
Motorcycle collisions can lead to severe physical and property damage. Many motorcycle-car accidents are the result of other drivers, and there is a dangerous presumption that vehicle drivers always have the “right-of-way.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), among the fatalities in two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles, 90% were operators of motorcycles, 8% were motorcycle passengers, and the remaining 2% were occupants of passenger vehicles.
Common collisions involving others include:
- Accidents caused by defective motorcycle parts
- Blindspot accidents caused by not seeing the motorcycle
- Driver’s use of drugs and alcohol while behind the wheel
- Hazardous materials on the road, including debris and other obstructions
- Left-turn collisions occurring when vehicles turn without spotting oncoming motorcycles
- Rear-end collisions caused by vehicles colliding into the rear of a motorcycle
- U-turn accidents that happen when cars u-turn into motorcycles
Motorcyclists are more likely than passenger car occupants to die or become injured in a crash. However, all motorcycle accidents aren’t caused by other drivers. Common collisions caused by motorcyclists include:
- Distracted driving leading to collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects
- Lane splitting crashes caused when motorcycle drivers split traffic
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Using drugs or alcohol before operating a motorcycle
Supersport motorcycles have the highest relative overall collision losses in comparison to the nine other motorcycle classes. In 2018, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled than passenger vehicle occupants.
Common Motorcycle Injuries
Most fatal motorcycle accident injuries, according to the NHTSA, happen when the point of impact is head-on with the motorcycle. The following are some of the more common injuries suffered by motorcycle riders in Orange County and elsewhere:
NHTSA studies found that 15% of helmeted and 21% of unhelmeted riders injured in a motorcycle accident suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Traumatic brain injuries account for 54% of motorcycle fatalities.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Motorcycles have to be stabilized, and that’s why they usually fall over. Crashes happen rather quickly, and the rider’s extremities could be folded under the bike if it falls. Wrists, legs, and arms are vulnerable to fractures when bracing for a fall. Leg injuries are the most common injury to the lower extremities, and bone fractures are more common than soft-tissue injuries.
The fast speeds and impact of a motorcycle accident could cause damage to internal organs and internal bleeding. Blunt-force trauma, a crushing blow dealt by something hard that does not break the skin, and penetration trauma, something sharp that penetrates the skin, can cause internal damages in a motorcycle accident.
If a rider makes contact with the road surface during a collision, then abrasions that need to be treated with skin grafts may occur. The severity of your road rash could be mild or may require immediate medical attention. Road rash friction burns are susceptible to infections and could leave permanent scars, especially if not addressed properly.
Spine and Back Injuries
An Orange County motorcycle accident can have a horrendous effect on the spinal cord resulting in paraplegia, quadriplegia, and other types of paralysis. Spinal injuries may be temporary or cause permanent disability for the victim.
When your motorcycle accident and injuries are caused by another party’s negligence, then a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer could help you pursue the maximum compensation for your medical bills, brain injury, and for surviving loved ones in the event of wrongful death.
Motorcycle Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury attorneys understand the importance of protecting your claim when you’re involved in a motorcycle accident. Motorcyclists put themselves at the risk of wrongful death or brain injury, and it’s not easy to avoid the many causes of motorcycle accidents.
Asking the right questions can help you to find the right motorcycle accident attorney. Before you find the right Orange County motorcycle accident lawyer for you, you may want to ask the following questions:
- How long have you, and this firm, been practicing law?
- What are your fees, and how much will this claim cost me?
- How much experience do you have with motorcycle accident cases similar to mine?
- What percentage of your firm’s clients are motorcycle claims?
- What percentage of your motorcycle accident cases have resulted in a settlement? Can you give me an example of a past case similar to mine?
- Will you be handling my case, or will another motorcycle accident attorney be the one handling the case?
Free consultations offered by your potential Orange County attorney are excellent opportunities to ask about their firm’s practices. It’s crucial to gather information regarding their contingency fees and discuss how they could apply to your case if you obtain their services.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers and Fees
Protecting your rights is the ultimate goal of your team of motorcycle accident lawyers but, they are running a business, therefore they charge fees. Most motorcycle accident claims get paid when your claim ends with a settlement verdict because they work on a contingency basis.
A California contingency agreement must be in writing and contain the terms of the fee, arrangements between the attorney and the client, the percentage charged, and what responsibilities the client has for other costs and expenses.
Costs and expenses have included expert witness fees, court costs, and other legal expenses. If you win your case, then the costs will be deducted from your settlement or verdict, but if you lose, you may be responsible for repaying the attorney out of your pocket.
FAQ About Orange County Motorcycle Accidents
What kinds of damages do Orange County motorcycle accident victims get?
Economic damages in a motorcycle accident typically include home and property damages, medical bills, and lost wages or earning potential. Non-economic damages typically include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. The amounts of each of these vary greatly from case to case, so it’s important that you work with an attorney to make sure that you get the compensation you rightfully deserve. The insurance company will work aggressively to settle your claim for as little as they are able, so working with an experienced legal professional is the best way to get through this process with support.
What is the statute of limitations on Orange County motorcycle collisions?
According to California laws, all personal injury claims, including a motorcycle rider claim, should be filed within two years from the date of your injury. If you were unaware that you sustained injuries for a time, then you must file within a year of the date when you became aware of your injuries.
While this may seem like ample time for filing, your personal injury attorney will use this time to negotiate a direct settlement. If you wait too long to partner with an attorney, they will need to rush through this process or may need to move straight to filing a lawsuit without being able to work towards an out-of-court agreement.
The California courts handle hundreds of thousands of cases each year, and waiting for the court’s schedule to work through your case can be frustrating. When your attorney has time to work on an out-of-court settlement, you may be able to avoid this frustration entirely.
Do Orange County motorcyclists need a lawyer?
If you’re in a motorcycle accident but only suffered minor injuries that don’t have any major financial or health implications, then you may not need the services of an attorney. However, if you’ve suffered any injuries and have incurred any hospital bills, then you could benefit from a free consultation.
Legal consultations are often free, and if you find an attorney that will work your case on a contingency basis, then you may not be responsible for paying anything until your case is settled or has a verdict.
Do Motorcycle Accidents Affect Car Insurance?
If you are in an accident that you did not cause, then your insurance rates will not go up. Insurance premiums increase when the policyholder has indicated that they are a higher risk, which means that they acted in a negligent or reckless manner leading up to a crash. There is, however, the possibility that your insurance may increase if you are partially responsible through comparative fault. Through California’s comparative fault laws, you will be able to seek compensation for the percent of an accident that you are not responsible for, meaning that your total compensation will simply be reduced by the percent of fault that you accept.
You will need to speak with your insurance agent in order to get a better sense of how a percentage of comparative fault may impact your insurance rates. Your attorney may be able to give you some additional advice on how to handle your insurer when trying to negotiate a reasonable increase or avoid one at all.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
The most important thing after any type of accident is your own health and safety. There are plenty of “next steps” that you will have to take, but remember that none of these steps are important if they add to your risk of additional injuries or if it delays you getting the medical care that you need. The first thing that you should do after an accident is to call 911 or make sure that someone else has called them so that a dispatcher can send first responders to the scene of the accident.
If you are able to, taking photographic and video evidence of the accident scene will be extremely helpful to your attorney when you are building a case; however, your attorney will be the first to say that taking any actions that exasperate or deprioritize your medical needs should be avoided at all costs. When the police arrive at the accident, they will be able to gather information and evidence from eyewitnesses, take statements from you and everyone else involved in the crash, and ultimately compile an accident report that will present important details as you move forward with your case.