California Motorcycle Accidents

California Motorcycle Accident LawyerMore motorcycles are registered in the state of California than any other state in the country. With its gorgeous open roads offering both sea and mountain views, it should be no surprise that California’s roads are inundated with motorcyclists as the summer fades in.

Increased motorcycle traffic, however, is correlated with increased motorcycle traffic accidents. California riders who are injured in motorcycle crashes can sustain significant and life-altering injuries. It is important to understand the causes and consequences of a California motorcycle accident, what to do immediately after a motorcycle crash, and how a personal injury lawsuit may help to recoup the cost(s) of recovery.

Common California Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Motorcycle riders have less protection that other drivers on the road. This makes riders more prone to severe injuries, and in some cases, death. Common California motorcycle crash injuries include scrapes and bruises, concussions, whiplash, road rash, spinal cord injuries, fractures and broken bones, loss of limbs, internal organ damage or bleeding, paralysis, and death.

The expenses associated with motorcycle accident injuries can be incredibly costly. Motorcycle accident victims are often dealt an unanticipated financial blow that drains any financial reserves he or she may have had. A personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from other parties involved in the crash can help to cover these, and other, costs.

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents in California?

Motorcycle accidents can happen for a number of different reasons. Common causes of motorcycle accidents in California include speeding, distracted riding, failure to yield to other vehicles on the road, executing illegal turns, poor motorcycle visibility, improper lane changes, and lane splitting.

California is the only state in the country that does not have some sort of lane splitting regulations on the books. As a result, lane splitting is a common technique used by motorcyclists to navigate through traffic and congestion. As the motorcycle rides between two lanes of traffic, he or she bypasses other vehicles stuck in traffic. This can be incredibly dangerous when the rider exceeds the speed of other vehicles on the road by more than 15 miles per hour. Careless or reckless lane splitting is a far-too-common cause of motorcycle crashes in California.

What Should I Do After a California Motorcycle Accident?

Get a medical evaluation. Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured you should get a comprehensive medical evaluation. Some motorcycle accident injuries do not manifest until hours or days after the crash. Getting immediate medical attention can rule out internal damage and thwart complications from arising from undiagnosed injuries. The sooner an injury is diagnosed, the easier it will be to prove that it was a result of the motorcycle crash. As more time lapses, the easier it will be for any at-fault parties to claim that the accident was not responsible.

Call the police. Again, even if you think a police report is not necessary, it is always a good rule of thumb to have an accident documented by the police. The report will memorialize important details about the crash, capture eyewitness statements before memories fade, and provide a baseline of information from which an attorney can investigate.

Contact a motorcycle accident attorney. Attorneys can be powerful allies in the wake of a motorcycle crash. Injuries can be painful, and recovering should be the injured rider’s primary concern. An attorney will be able to handle the time-consuming and complex personal injury lawsuit while the rider gets better. Personal injury attorneys are trained professionals who understand how to investigate, what to research, which experts to contact, and who may be liable.

How Will a California Personal Injury Attorney Help Me After My Motorcycle Accident?

When you are injured in a California motorcycle accident you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to learn about the legal options that may be available to you. Here are a few ways in which an experienced California motorcycle accident attorney may be able to help you with a personal injury claim for damages.

  1. Investigating the accident. If you’ve filed a police report you’ve given your attorney a great starting point for an investigation. The report will allow your attorney to accurately assess the accident and determine which information will be most helpful – and harmful – to your claim.
  2. Enlisting experts. Attorneys have relations with industry experts who can help to mount a detailed and exhaustive investigation. Experts can help an attorney by recreating the crash, reviewing photographs of the scene, evaluating and analyzing medical information, and offering information about aspects of the accident that may be crucial to a successful case.
  3. Determining liability. If you are involved in a motorcycle crash you may believe that you can only recover compensation from the other driver who was involved. Attorneys understand, however, that many parties may be potentially liable after a crash. Employers, governmental entities, insurance agencies, and vehicle manufacturers are all examples of parties who may be (partly) liable after a crash. An attorney will investigate each possibility to broaden the scope for recovery.
  4. Fighting stubborn insurance companies. Insurance companies are often named as defendants in California motorcycle accidents. While recovering compensation from an at-fault party’s insurance company may seem straightforward, the chances of fully recovering the full amount of compensation to which you are legally entitled without an attorney are slim. Insurance companies do not make their money by paying on every claim that is submitted. Rather, insurers routinely deny claims and/or pay out pennies on the dollar for legitimate claims. Experienced personal injury attorneys understand how insurance companies operate. Using this knowledge and experience they can anticipate a move before it happens. This allows attorneys to stay one step ahead and help to maximize payouts to injured clients.
  5. Ensuring claims are filed on time. Did you know that if you are injured in California motorcycle accident you have a limited amount of time in which you are legally entitled to file a claim for damages? Failure to file a timely claim will bar you from recovering anything at all. An attorney will ensure that all claims are filed within the applicable statute of limitations.

 

Compensation in Los Angeles Car Accident Lawsuits

Car accidents can be expensive. Serious accidents can result in extensive property damage and bodily injuries. Americans, on average, do not have enough saved away to pay for the cost of recovering from a car accident. In Los Angeles, car accident victims can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation from the person(s) that caused the accident. These lawsuits must follow specific procedural guidelines. A successful lawsuit will include evidence that supports your argument of why you should be awarded damages. It is important to understand what you can recover, when you can recover it, and when you may be denied an award of compensation. Speaking with an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney is a great first step toward recovering the damages you deserve.

When can I recover compensation for my car accident injuries?

Personal injury lawsuits – including those following Los Angeles car accidents – must be filed within the statute of limitations provided by law. The statute of limitations is a specific window of time following your accident. In most car accident cases, you must file a claim for damages within two years of the accident. If you have an injury that you do not notice right away, you can file a claim within one year of discovering it. If you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations you may be barred from recovering compensation. It is extremely important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a Los Angeles car accident.

What kind of damages can I recover in a car accident injury lawsuit?

Car accident victims can generally ask for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Each type of damages is intended to compensate car accident victims for different types of injuries. It is important to note that the type of damages you recover can affect your income for tax purposes. Economic damages are not taxable. Non-economic damages are taxable.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are awarded to car accident victims for the financial hardships they suffer because of the accident. The idea behind awarding economic damages is that a car accident victim would not have had to deal with these expenses and costs if the accident had not occurred. Economic damages are awarded to put a victim back in the financial position they would have been in had the accident not happened. Commonly awarded economic damages in Los Angeles car accident lawsuits include:

  • The cost of repairing or replacing damaged property;
  • Rental cars;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Surgery;
  • Prescription medication;
  • Rehabilitation;
  • Nursing care;
  • Lost wages; and
  • Reduced earning capacity.

Economic damages are not taxable because the victims are not really receiving a benefit. You are merely being reimbursed for costs that you would not have otherwise had to handle. There can be an exception if deductions were previously taken on an income tax return for medical expenses. As a general rule, however, economic damages are not taxable.

Non-economic Damages

Car accidents can cause victims to suffer from intangible injuries and harms. These injuries are difficult to assign a monetary value. As a result, an award for these types of injuries will often vary (by a large degree) in each individual case. Commonly awarded non-economic damages in Los Angeles car accident lawsuits include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Embarrassment;
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

We know what these injuries are but it is difficult to assign a “one size fits all” definition. A finder of fact (judge or jury) will consider evidence and testimony to determine an award that is appropriate to compensate a victim for his/her particular suffering.

Non-economic damages are taxable because victims are receiving a benefit. You are not being reimbursed for financial costs related to your car accident. Rather, you are being awarded an amount of money to reduce the suffering you are experiencing.

Is there a limit to the damages I can recover after a Los Angeles car accident?

California does not have a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded in a civil personal injury lawsuit. This means that the sky can be the limit for plaintiffs in a car accident lawsuit. However, there are certain situations that may prohibit or reduce your ability to recover compensation.

Prohibitions on Recovery

In California, there are two situations in which you can be prohibited from recovering non-economic damages for injuries in a Los Angeles car accident. First, you may not recover non-economic damages if you were not insured at the time of your accident. Second, you may not recover non-economic damages if you were intoxicated and convicted of driving under the influence.

Comparative Fault

California utilizes the theory of comparative fault. This means that if you are partly responsible for the accident that caused your injury, any damages you recover must be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. Let’s say you were recently injured in a Los Angeles car accident when another driver struck your vehicle. The other driver was speeding at the time, which was a contributing factor to the accident. You were distracted at the time of the accident because you were texting. Had you been paying attention to the road, the accident may have been less severe and/or avoidable. The other driver is considered to be 70% at-fault. You are considered to be 30% at-fault. You both suffered $100,000 in damages. You would be limited to recovering $70,000 from the other driver. The other driver would, at the same time, be limited to recovering $30,000 of his/her damages from you if they also filed a claim.

If a Los Angeles driver is considered to be 100% at fault for a car accident they are prohibited from seeking compensation from any other involved party.

Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

Have you been injured in a Los Angeles car accident? If so, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the harms you have suffered. If you are interested in maximizing the amount of compensation you can recover you should speak with a Los Angeles car accident attorney. As skilled personal injury attorneys, we understand the nuances of California law and the best ways to design a claim for damages. We will highlight the evidence that is most beneficial to your case while also attacking any claims asserted by other parties. Contact our Los Angeles office today to schedule a free consultation with our team of car accident attorneys. We will review your case, determine the type of compensation you may be able to recover, and answer the questions you have.

The Cost of California Car Accidents

More California drivers are getting into car accidents than ever before. In 2016, there were 3,680 fatal car accidents in California. Some blame the economy, arguing that as more jobs are created more drivers hit the roads to get to work. Others blame the rise in technology, arguing that drivers tend to multitask behind the wheel.

Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that car accidents are becoming more common in California. If you have been involved in a California car accident you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Speaking with an experienced California car accident attorney is the best way to learn about your options.

Costs of California Car Accident Injuries

Car accident victims can suffer from a wide range of injuries. It can be incredibly expensive to treat and recover from these injuries. In 2013, the CDC estimates that California car accidents resulted in nearly $38 million in medical costs. Those accidents also resulted in $4.44 billion in work loss costs. Together, that adds up to nearly $4.48 billion in car accident-related costs.

How do most California car accident victims pay for these incredibly high costs? A recent study found that more than half of Americans have $1,000 in savings. The same study found that about a third of Americans have no savings, at all. If the average American is injured in a car accident it is unlikely they will be able to cover the costs by themselves.

Fortunately, California allows car accident victims to file personal injury lawsuits to recover compensation for their injuries. A personal injury claim for damages can help to cover costs including:

In the event of a car accident-related death, a wrongful death lawsuit can help to cover the costs associated with a victim’s funeral.

Steps to Take Following a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident in California it is important to keep the following suggestions in mind. These steps will help to make sure that you are safe, your rights are protected, and that you are able to maximize any future damages.

  1. Ask for Medical Attention: The most important thing after an accident is your health and safety. Go to a hospital or doctor for a medical evaluation after an accident, even if you do not think you have been seriously injured. A full medical evaluation will serve two purposes. First, it will help to rule out whether you have suffered any internal injuries that could be very harmful. Second, the information recorded in the evaluation can be used as evidence in any future personal injury claims you file. The sooner your injuries are documented, the more likely it is that they will be associated with your accident.
  2. Ask for a Police Report: A police report may not be admissible in court as evidence, but it is a great starting point for an investigation. When an officer arrives at the scene of the accident ask them to file a police report. The report can include information that may later be lost or forgotten. This can include witness names and statements or details about road and weather conditions. This can be very helpful to your attorney if you decide to file a claim for damages.
  3. Contact an Attorney: Insurance companies will try to take advantage of the fact that you don’t specialize in personal injury law. They will try to get you to agree to a low-ball settlement that doesn’t fully compensate you for your damages. When you hire an attorney to handle your claim you will have an expert on your side who knows how to maximize compensation.

Recovering Compensation Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you file a personal injury claim for damages after a car accident it is generally based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when one person owes a duty of responsibility to another person but fails to fulfill that duty. When you get behind the wheel of a car in California you have a duty to follow the rules and regulations of the road. You also have a responsibility to drive safely and prevent foreseeable harm. Speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving are all examples of ways in which a driver could be negligent. When you are injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation.

In California, you can even recover compensation if you were partly responsible for the accident. Your recovery will be reduced by the percent of the accident that is your fault. Imagine you were injured in a car accident and you suffered $100,000 in damages. It is determined that you were 20% at fault for the accident because you were speeding. You would then only be entitled to recover $80% ($80,000) of your total damages. You would also be liable for 20% of damages suffered by the other driver.

The best way to learn about your legal rights following a California car accident is by speaking with an experienced attorney. They will review your case, determine potential liability, and answer the questions you have. Most car accident lawsuits in California must be filed within two years of the accident, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you can.

Why Should I Hire a California Personal Injury Attorney?

California Personal Injury AttorneyOne California man is dead and another is reportedly fighting for his life after a car accident on June 8th in the Glen Valley area of Los Angeles. A waste management truck reportedly ran a red light and struck a pickup truck, killing its driver. The force of the collision sent it into a third car. Two passengers in the third vehicle were trapped in the “twisted wreck.”

The driver of the car is in critical condition and his passenger is reporting chest pains and other accident-related injuries. The family of the pickup truck driver and the occupants of the third car may be able to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

How a Personal Injury Claim for Damages Can Help Car Accident Victims

Car accidents, especially those that cause significant injuries, can be incredibly expensive. One study found that the average cost of a bodily injury claim was over $15,000. Most Americans do not have savings sufficient to take care of one $500 emergency, let alone a $15,000 injury. If injuries sustained in an accident are serious and require extensive medical care, these costs can cost victims tens of thousands more.

Fortunately, car accident victims (and families of those who are killed in car accidents) may file a claim for damages from at-fault parties. Damages recovered through a personal injury lawsuit can help to pay for unexpected medical costs, rehabilitation, nursing care, property damage, and compensate for lost wages.

Why Should I Hire a California Personal Injury Attorney?

Immediately after an accident, you may be contacted by insurance companies who represent other drivers who were involved. It is important that you do not speak with them without consulting a personal injury lawyer. These insurance companies will try to take advantage of your confusion during this overwhelming and stressful time. They will take advantage of your lack of specialized legal knowledge and will likely try to convince you to agree to a small settlement. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying out on each and every claim that is submitted. It is in their best interest – and not yours – to pay as little as possible.

An experienced California personal injury attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are able to recover the compensation you desperately need after your accident. Insurance companies will fight you each step of the way. Hiring an attorney can be incredibly important, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal processes and laws involved. In fighting to recover compensation on your behalf, an attorney may:

  • Conduct an independent investigation of the accident that caused your injuries;
  • Review the details provided in the police report;
  • Find and interview witnesses;
  • Contact and hire expert witnesses;
  • Determine potential liability;
  • Research accident statistics; and
  • Communicate and negotiate with other parties, including insurance companies.

Attorneys are experienced negotiators who understand the nuances of the law. Your chances of maximizing your recovery increase when you hire a California car accident attorney.

Many Car Accident Personal Injury Claims Based on Negligence

Many California car accident claims are based on the argument that (at least) one party was negligent, and that this negligence caused your injuries. Negligence occurs when you have a responsibility to act in a certain way and fail to fulfill that responsibility. The success of your claim will be based on your attorney’s ability to prove the negligence of another party. Negligence can be broken down into different elements. Your attorney must prove each element to be successful. A successful negligence claim for damages will show that:

  1. The defendant had a duty (responsibility);
  2. The defendant breached this duty;
  3. This breach caused your injuries; and
  4. You suffered damages as a result.

What is a ‘duty’ that a California driver may have? All drivers on California roads have a duty to “use reasonable care” when operating a vehicle. According to California law, basic standards of care that must be kept include “keep[ing] a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles” and “control[ling] the speed and movement of their vehicles.” In California, a failure to exercise reasonable care is considered negligence.

So, in the case of the accident we discussed above, let’s say that the driver of the third vehicle decided he wanted to pursue compensation from the driver of the garbage truck. A successful claim would require him to prove (1) the truck driver had a duty to follow traffic laws, including traffic signals; (2) the truck driver did not follow traffic laws and signals; (3) running the red light caused an accident involving your vehicle, in which you were injured; and (4) you suffered financial damage (medical bills, property damage) and/or other damages such as pain and suffering.

Claims based on the negligence of another person can become complicated. This is especially true when getting down to the nuances of actual and proximate causation. These theories of causation can be difficult to prove and are best handled by an experienced California car accident attorney.

Contact an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone you know has been injured in a California car accident you may be entitled to recover compensation from an at-fault party. An experienced California car accident attorney can help to maximize the compensation you receive. Contact our Los Angeles office today to tell us about your accident and learn about your legal options.

LA Focuses On Pedestrian Deaths

PEDESTRIAN DEATHS

Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti just released his much-anticipated Vision Zero 2525 plan, but it will be a tough sell in the car-centric and budget-conscious city.

The initiative has the ambitious goal to eliminate traffic fatalities in eight years. Mayor Garcetti unveiled the plan in 2015, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, along with several other city agencies, spent most of 2016 conducting focus groups and collecting feedback on the idea. LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds stressed that Vision Zero is mostly about raising awareness and changing priorities from efficient traffic flow to overall roadway safety. The report also identifies 40 high-injury areas that are in dire need of physical changes; most of these locations are in south Los Angeles.

Ms. Reynolds also wants state lawmakers to redefine “jaywalking” and modify speed limit enforcement procedures.

Pedestrian-Auto Collisions in Los Angeles

Last year, there were almost as many pedestrian fatalities as all other kinds of traffic deaths (bicycle rider, motor vehicle occupant, and motorcycle rider) combined. In November 2016, voters desperate to do something about the carnage narrowly approved Measure M, which increases the sales tax to generate an estimated $120 billion over the next forty years to expand the MTA and take other measures to get people out of their cars.

Despite Mayor Garcetti’s aggressive backing, Measure M faced stiff opposition from South Bay residents because the plan prioritizes development in the northern and central parts of the city. As mentioned earlier, these are the areas where pedestrians are safer. Other voters objected to Measure M’s lack of oversight, and they predicted that the MTA’s cost overruns would derail the expansion project (no pun intended).

What Causes Fatal Pedestrian-Auto Crashes?

According to the laws of physics, speed multiplies the force in collisions between two objects, and that rule holds true in pedestrian-auto crashes. Consider the following:

Vehicle Speed Serious Injury Rate Fatality Rate
20mph 25 percent 15 percent
35mph 75 percent 65 percent
50mph 90 percent 75 percent

 

Speed also reduces reaction time. At 20mph, most cars travel three car lengths between the moment the driver sees a hazard and the moment the car safely stops; at 40mph, that distance triples to nine car lengths.

Reducing the posted speed limits may have some effect on vehicle velocity, but not very much. Especially, in the high-risk corridors, the city will probably need to take more aggressive traffic calming measures, like installing traffic circles, widening the crosswalks and sidewalks, lengthening red light times, and changing the streets from straight to curved. Drivers will not like these measures and the money will not last. Many motorists oppose “eyesore” construction projects and wider sidewalks cost about $8 million a mile.

Common Insurance Company Defenses

Statistically, most pedestrian-auto crashes occur outside marked crosswalks, and so insurance company lawyers usually invoke the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses negligent driving if the driver:

  • Faced a Sudden Emergency: In the legal sense, a “sudden emergency” is a wholly unanticipated event, like a hood fly-up or a tire blow-out. Most hazards, like jaywalking pedestrians and stalled cars, do not qualify as sudden emergencies, because these situations occur on almost every trip and drivers should be ready to deal with them.
  • Reacted Reasonably: It is reasonable to slow down and pull to the right after a sudden emergency, and drivers who do not do so cannot claim the defense.

Last clear chance, a companion doctrine, often applies in T-bone and rear-end crashes when one driver had the opportunity to avoid the crash but failed to take advantage of the chance. If the jury determines that the victim and tortfeasor (negligent driver) were both partially at fault, the judge will reduce the victim’s damages proportionally.

Hit and Run Bicyclist Lawyer

Hit-And-Run Driver Kills Orange County Bicyclist

Authorities have apprehended a suspect in a hit-and-run crash that left a cyclist dead.

Hit and Run Bicyclist LawyerThe wreck happened at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Chapman Avenue. First responders released no information about the accident, other than the fact that the unnamed victim was alive when first responders arrived but was subsequently pronounced dead at a local hospital. Although the suspect initially fled the scene in a champagne-colored Nissan sedan that had sustained considerable front-end damage, authorities believe that they have the tortfeasor (negligent driver) in custody. Investigators spent several hours at the scene gathering evidence.

Bicycle-Auto Crashes

To improve their health, as a means of commuting, or just to enjoy the outdoors, more people are riding bicycles now than ever before, but that’s only one reason that these fatalities increased 12.2 percent last year to their highest level in over twenty years. Most city plans feature wide-laned streets in tic-tac-toe layouts that quickly move vehicles from one place to another but are not very safe for slower-moving bicycles, and partly due to “bikelash,” many motorists are unwilling to approve significant expenditures for designated bike lanes and other safety improvements. At the same time, there are more distracted drivers than ever before, and people who are only half watching the road as they drive usually do not keep a proper lookout.

In Southern California, bicycle safety is not much of a priority. The 53-page Shared Action Mobility Plan, which is supposed to encapsulate Los Angeles’ vision of transportation’s future, contains only a few paragraphs about bicycle safety.

Liability

Myopic street design is no excuse for negligent driving. Tortfeasors cannot blame wide lanes for bicycle-auto accidents any more than they can blame the rain for causing them to lose traction or the sun setting and therefore limiting their visibility. In fact, under the duty of reasonable care, drivers must slow down and otherwise adjust to these adverse conditions in order to safely operate their vehicles. Nearly a hundred years ago, an English judge wrote these words, which are still true today: “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.”

Distraction is one of the most common breaches of the duty of reasonable care. Legally, distracted driving is any activity that causes drivers to take their minds off the road, their eyes off the road, or a hand off the wheel. Other common violations include driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, speeding, and fatigued driving.

The new three-foot law, which requires motorists to give bicyclists at least a three-foot cushion when they are forced to share a traffic lane, when turning, and in certain other situations, may not have done much to improve bicycle safety, but it does make damages easier to prove in court, because of the negligence per se (negligence “as such”) theory. Tortfeasors are liable as a matter of law if they violated a safety statute and caused injury, unless they had a legal excuse for their conduct or some other defense, such as contributory negligence or sudden emergency, applies. In other words, victim/plaintiffs do not have to prove duty or breach in negligence per se cases.

Damages

Some people believe that if a hit-and-run tortfeasor is not caught then they cannot recover damages. But in most cases, that’s simply not true. Instead, in these circumstances, most victims can demand compensation from their own insurance companies.

If the tortfeasor is identified, and that is the case in up to 90 percent of these situations, juries often award the victims additional punitive damages. Essentially, if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor was dangerously reckless as opposed to merely negligent, the jury can award additional damages to punish the tortfeasor and deter future misconduct.

Since California is a tort state, all bicycle crash victims are entitled to money for their economic losses, such as lost wages, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. It is always advisable to contact and experienced personal injury attorney.