San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
While we can’t undo the accident, our San Diego motorcycle accident attorneys can help ease your financial stress. Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road- and there’s no shortage of them in California. This vulnerability, unfortunately, can lead to devastating and life-altering injuries if involved in a crash.
As a San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer, Scott Liljegren recently helped an injured motorcyclist recover a total of $675,000 after a negligent driver cut him off, resulting in a fractured spinal injury for the biker.
Motorcycle riders must be aware of their legal rights and remedies if they are involved in a traffic accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle wreck it is important to consult with an attorney. Contact the motorcycle accident lawyers at the Liljegren Law Group today to speak to an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney.
Why Hire a San Diego Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced with motorcycle injury cases. The San Diego motorcycle accident attorneys at the Liljegren Law Group have experience in litigating serious injury cases associated with motorcycle accident cases. Contact one of our attorneys today at 866-613-9906. Our offices are located throughout California and our attorneys have years of success in motorcycle accident cases.
The Liljegren Law Group has been recognized as one of the top motorcycle accident law firms in California. We represent motorcycle victims throughout Southern California. If you are wondering if you need a San Diego motorcycle accident attorney, chances are that you do. Let the Liljegren Law Group offer you legal advice and guidance to make an informed decision. Call us today at 866-613-9906. Our lawyers will help you and your family get the monetary compensation you deserve.
San Diego Motorcycle Laws
You might be contemplating buying a bike for the first time, or perhaps you’re a seasoned motorcycle veteran. Either way, it’s helpful to understand which motorcycle laws apply to you in San Diego. These requirements evolve and might even change each year, so it’s important to keep abreast of the rules that might affect you.
Here’s what you need to know about owning and operating a motorcycle in California:
Do You Have the Right License?
California law stipulates that anyone who owns or operates a motorcycle in the state must have a special license. California has two types of motorcycle licenses: an M1 and an M2. An M1 gives you the authority to ride a scooter or a moped, while an M2 allows you to ride any motorcycle. If you want to ride a motorcycle, you can obtain your M2 by taking a written test and passing a road exam. Upon passing the road test and written examination, you’ll receive a permanent M2 motorcycle license.
Are You Following Safety Laws?
The state of California takes motorcycle safety very seriously. Motorcycle riders are vulnerable to severe injuries in accidents, because they lack adequate protective devices like seat belts and airbags. One of the best ways you can reduce your risk of serious injury is by following California’s motorcycle safety laws. For example, you must wear a helmet at all times while operating your motorcycle – this applies to every California citizen and visitor, regardless of experience or age. Secondly, you must use your daytime headlights to alert others to your presence on the road – unless your vehicle was manufactured prior to 1978 and doesn’t have them.
Are You Properly Insured?
California sets certain minimum insurance requirements in case of an accident. Motorcycle coverage is like other vehicle coverage in California – you must carry at least $15,000 in coverage for death or injury to one person and $30,000 in coverage to two or more people. Additionally, you must carry at least $5,000 in property damage. While these are the minimums required by state law, it’s also a good idea to obtain additional and optional coverage if you can afford it. This shields you from liability in an accident and will prevent you from paying out of pocket for your own medical bills. An uninsured and underinsured policy is an essential part of any insurance plan. This coverage kicks in when an at-fault driver does not have enough coverage to pay for the full extent of your injuries (which is certainly possible in a serious motorcycle accident).
Best Insurance for Motorcycle Riders in San Diego
California’s auto insurance requirements are relatively relaxed compared to other states’ requirements, but it’s important to recognize that the state’s 15/30/5 minimum requirements may not fully cover the cost of a severe accident. While you may pay a much lower premium for minimum coverage, paying a little more for additional coverage or extra types of coverage can be tremendously beneficial in the event of a serious (and expensive) accident.
Different insurance carriers offer different types of coverage, and you may find that a cheaper policy at one company provides a more thorough range of coverage than an expensive policy at another. Your driving record, type of vehicle you’re insuring, place of residence, and average distance driven per year may influence an insurer’s quote for your policy. In general, less comprehensive coverage will be cheaper to maintain, with some premiums lower than $20 per month for bare-bones coverage. Based on findings from The Simple Dollar, Esurance, Progressive, and Markel offer the most competitive auto insurance rates in California for motorcyclists.
Best Practices for Shopping for Auto Insurance
While bare-bones coverage may be attractive to an experienced driver with a strong driving record and few to no traffic violations in the past, the same coverage may be inadequate for others. It’s vital to take your time when shopping for an auto insurance policy before committing to potentially insufficient coverage. California boasted the highest rate of motorcycle theft in the country in 2015, and the state has the highest number of uninsured drivers in the country. Depending on the severity, a single motorcycle accident may cost anywhere from $2,500 to more than $1 million.
Ask a potential insurer about coverage options available to you. You may find that adding more coverage to your policy only marginally increases your premium rate but offers a great deal more coverage than a minimum policy. Driving in San Diego means a higher chance of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver than anywhere else in the country. Most insurers in California will recommend purchasing underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, and these options can be incredibly helpful in the event of a motorcycle accident.
You should also investigate what discounts and special offers may be available to you. If you have a history of no accidents, this may lead to lower premium quotes. You may receive additional discounts if you’ve completed any driver safety courses or a driver’s education course in high school. Some insurance companies also offer incentives for good driving, such as a premium rate reduction after so many months of accident-free driving.
How to File an Insurance Claim After a Motorcycle Accident
It’s crucial to remember that insurance companies are not your friends, and they are in business to make money. They lose money when they pay out on claims, so insurance companies send investigators and claim adjusters to ensure a claim’s validity before offering a settlement. It’s a very good idea to contact an experienced attorney before talking to any insurance companies, including your own or an at-fault driver’s. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you’ll need to file a strong initial claim and minimize the potential for pushback from the insurance company.
If the insurance company notices any inconsistencies with your story or between your story and the investigation’s findings, it may deny your claim or reduce your settlement amount. An attorney can handle correspondence with insurance companies and prepare you for interviews and questions about your claim. If you suspect any type of bad faith, misrepresentations, or other unethical behavior from an insurance company or one of its agents, your attorney can help you draft a letter to the insurer notifying them that you suspect bad faith.
How Does California’s Lane Splitting Law Work?
California is one of the only states to allow a controversial practice called “lane splitting.” This practice occurs when you go in between two cars in separate lanes – in other words, you drive your motorcycle between two lanes. This practice makes many drivers nervous, but the state does not specifically outlaw it.
However, lane splitters must practice safety and prudence when lane splitting. It would not be advisable, for example, to lane split when highway traffic is moving at a 70 mph. However, lane splitting might be reasonable and allowed when moving at slow speeds (which is common in rush hour in the San Diego area).
Lane splitting laws continuously evolve and can be the subject of controversy in California. If you were acting recklessly while lane splitting, you could be partially at fault for an accident. Use caution and common sense while splitting lanes.
Knowing the basic motorcycle laws and regulations in California can help you avoid liability and maximize your safety while operating these vehicles on San Diego roadways. If you have further questions about your rights as a motorcyclist, contact a motorcycle injury attorney.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to the Department of Transportation, Motorcycle riders are 4 times more likely than other motorists to be seriously injured or killed in a traffic related accident. Even further, per mile driven, they are 16 times more likely to be killed that a driver of an automobile is. Motorcyclists are at an increased risk for serious or even fatal injuries because of the lack of protection when traveling. There is rarely any protection between the rider and the road. Riders enjoy their freedom on the road, but with that freedom comes the exposure of increased danger.
Some added risks San Diego motorcyclists face include:
- Motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely to die in a crash than someone riding in a passenger car, and are 5 times as likely to be injured.
- About half of all motorcycles involved in a fatal crash collided with another vehicle.
- A little over one third of motorcycle riders that died in a crash were speeding, approximately twice the rate for drivers of passenger vehicles or light trucks.
- More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death to the motorcyclist.
- Each year, more than 2,200 people are killed and 55,000 injured in motorcycle accidents.
- In 2011, 35 percent of motorcycle fatalities were a direct result of the rider speeding.
- That same year, 42 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities involved 2 or more vehicles. A large portion of those crashes (38 percent) were a direct result of another vehicle turning left in front of the motorcycle that was either going straight, passing or overtaking another vehicle.
San Diego County Motorcycle Accident Fatalities
Motorcycle accidents result in more injuries than auto accidents. The motorcycle itself provides no head injury protection to the rider or passenger. Only a helmet worn by the rider can help protect the head from injury. In fact, in a study of motorcycle accidents between 1984 and 1995, helmets use saved the lives of 7,400 riders. However, had all riders involved in crashes been wearing helmets, an additional 6,300 fatalities could have been prevented. Ejection often occurs in motorcycle accidents and is a common injury pathway. If a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop and the rider is ejected from the motorcycle, the rider will forcibly strike objects in the path as well as the ground.
California has strict laws in place requiring drivers and passengers on motorcycles to wear a helmet at all times while moving. It’s also illegal for a helmeted passenger to ride along with a driver not wearing a helmet. In the above graph, all deceased riders were wearing helmets; however, helmets also saved many lives in other accidents. Head over to our San Diego car accident page for detailed directions on what to do if you’re involved in or witness a motorcycle-involved crash.
SAFETY TIPS: Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them
Many Californians enjoy motorcycling, but it’s vital for every biker and motorcycle passenger to understand the inherent risks of motorcycling. Accidents happen for a number of reasons, and some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are completely preventable with careful attention to the road, good judgment, and situational awareness.
Federal statistics indicate that head-on collisions with larger cars are the leading cause of motorcycle accidents. Crashes involving motorcycles and larger vehicles represent more than half of all motorcycle accident deaths. In almost 80% of these crashes, the other vehicle hits the motorcycle from the front. Motorcyclists have very little protection from these accidents and often suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. The best thing motorcyclists can do to prevent head-on collisions is to drive safely, signal at appropriate times, and ride at safe speeds. Most head-on crashes happen very quickly and it can be very hard for a motorcyclist to anticipate such a crash.
Motorcycles are at a higher risk of crashing while making left-hand turns. More than 40% of all motorcycle accidents involve a left-turning car or motorcycle. If a motorcyclist makes a left turn on an open green light, he or she risks impact from a car traveling straight in the opposite direction. Similarly, a left-turning car can strike a motorcyclist traveling straight through an intersection. Motorcyclists should only turn when it is safe to do so and bear in mind they are much harder to spot than larger vehicles.
Lane-splitting, as previously discussed, is the act of moving between adjacent lanes of slower-moving traffic. While some states expressly prohibit lane-splitting, California has no such law. Lane-splitting in a safe manner using good judgment is perfectly legal, but it can still be dangerous. Motorcyclists should only resort to lane-splitting to avoid a collision or to aid the flow of traffic. Weaving between lanes of traffic simply to arrive at a destination faster is dangerous and can easily lead to accidents.
DUI and Unsafe Riding
Some motorcyclists cause accidents while riding under the influence or engaging in other risky behaviors on the road. Motorcycles are fast and very maneuverable, tempting some riders to speed or ride aggressively. Driving any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is extremely dangerous and illegal. Motorcyclists should never attempt to ride while intoxicated and always abide by the rules of the road.
Motorcycles are more susceptible to road hazards than other larger cars. Debris in the road can cause a motorcycle’s wheel to lose traction on the road, causing a crash. Dead animals, uneven lanes, icy roads, and other unexpected hazards are far more dangerous to motorcyclists than other drivers. Bikers need to pay close attention to the road ahead and always err on the side of caution to avoid obstacles in the road.
These are just a few ways motorcycle accidents happen. Victims of motorcycle crashes often sustain broken bones, lacerations, internal injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord wounds, and other serious injuries. While some crashes are unavoidable, California motorcyclists can limit their risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries with good judgment and knowing how to avoid these common causes of accidents.
Motorcycle Accident Claims Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I File a Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
- Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state. California law requires that all motorcycle drivers and passengers wear a helmet. Due to the requirement, some defense attorneys in motorcycle accident cases try to argue that if the victim was not wearing a helmet, he or she is responsible for the injuries. Most courts will consider not wearing a helmet a form of negligence.The court clearly defines a discrepancy between the lack of helmet contributing to the accident and contributing to the injuries. If the accident would not have occurred had the victim been wearing a helmet, the court is more likely to find him or her responsible. However, if the lack of helmet only added to or increased the extent of the injuries, the defendant could bear greater fault.
Can I File a Claim If I Do Not Have Motorcycle Insurance?
- Like most states, California requires all motorcyclists to carry motorcycle insurance. Unlike most states, however, California follows the “No Pay, No Play” rule. Motorcyclists who get into accidents and do not have insurance can only get compensation for certain things. California courts enforce the rule with the idea that if you do not have what’s required to fully compensate another person then you should not be able to receive full compensation either.If you do not have motorcycle insurance, you can only recover compensation for general damages. The court can award you compensation for medical expenses, wages you lost because you needed days off work, and the cost of repairing or replacing your motorcycle. The court will not award you compensation for special damages such as pain and suffering, or for disability or future medical expenses.Even if the court awards you compensation for general damages, it may also fine you for not having insurance. The state may also suspend your motorcycle license for at least one year.
Why Should I Hire an Accident Attorney If I Have Proper Insurance?
- If you have the proper motorcycle insurance when you get in an accident, it may seem unnecessary to hire an attorney for your claim. However, it is still a good idea to hire an accident attorney. First and foremost, an experienced accident attorney can tell you how much you deserve in damages. He or she will understand the complexities of California motorcycle accident laws and be able to explain them to you when things are confusing.An attorney will also understand how to collect and compile effective evidence. He or she will know how to obtain police reports, talk to witnesses, gather medical records, and collect a variety of other important pieces of information.Insurance companies have a long list of tactics they often employ to trick people into accepting less money than they deserve. An experienced attorney can tell when an insurance company is trying to trick you, and prevent it from taking advantage of you and damaging your case.If negotiations fail and your case needs to go to court, an attorney is especially important. He or she will know how to deal with hearings and how to represent you to the court in a way that is most likely to win you full compensation.
Could My Health Insurance Limit My Lawsuit Compensation?
- Many people worry that health insurance will limit the amount the court will award them in a motorcycle accident claim. In California, your health insurance will not influence how much you can receive in compensation. Additionally, even if your work covered your time off with vacation pay or sick leave, the court can still award you compensation for lost wages. However, specific health insurance carriers have varying rules. They may require you to partially or completely reimburse them with the money you get from the claim.