Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Los Angeles
If you have ever looked at Los Angeles motorcycle accident data, you’d be hard-pressed to lay eyes on a brand-new motorcycle and not imagine a destructive accident. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities has increased 11% from 494 in 2015 to 548 in 2016. It’s easy to understand why, with the incredibly high level of traffic and large number of roadways in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Bikers and cyclists, even when following all state safety protocol, such as wearing helmets and protective gloves, pants, boots and jackets, have comparatively little protection when colliding with a motor vehicle (whose driver is protected by seatbelts and a large metal cage that’s designed for impact). In addition to these threats, common road hazards like potholes, ice, cracks or slick roads provide a much greater risk for motorcyclists than drivers.
Motorcycle accident injuries are often serious – even fatal. They range from broken bones, bruises and scrapes to spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Motorcycle crashes can leave riders paralyzed, as amputees, or with other types of permanent disability. While the hospital bills for a single injury alone can put financial strain on the biker’s family, those who are permanently disabled in bike crashes often face a lifetime of medical bills and an inability to work.
At Panish, Shea and Boyle, our car and motorcycle accident lawyer team advocates for innocent riders who have faced injury and harm due to careless drivers. We have a solid track record for success in ensuring insurance companies compensate motorcycle accident victims to the fullest extent possible.
Our clients have been able to claim monetary damages to cover their medical expenses, both current and ongoing, as well as money for lost income, rehabilitation and noneconomic losses like pain and suffering.
Why Choose Us?
- We win cases. Our success rate is over 99% resulting from the hard work and dedication of our personal injury attorneys and staff. We have obtained over $2 billion in recovery for clients since 2010.
- We’re committed to our clients. Our law firm has gained an excellent reputation in Los Angeles and throughout the nation for our passionate commitment to our clients’ success.
- We know the laws. Our lawyers know how to navigate the complex laws that often surround motorcycle accident claims, including California’s lane-splitting law.
- We do it all. We are a full-service personal injury law firm that takes care of every aspect of a claim, from crash investigations to civil trials.
- We absorb the risks. Our firm will take 100% of the financial risk of your claim by offering our services on a contingency fee basis. You will not pay any legal fees until we win your case.
When to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents are often serious enough to warrant a phone call to a personal injury attorney. If you suffered a serious injury with expensive medical bills, serious injuries or long-lasting repercussions on your life, including disabilities or permanent scars, contact us for assistance with the claims process. Our attorneys can maximize your odds of securing fair recovery using proven negotiation and litigation tactics. We can strengthen your case against an at-fault party and combat insurance bad faith on your behalf. We offer free case evaluations and represent injury claims throughout Los Angeles county.
How California Law Hurts Bikers
California is one of the few states that allows lane-splitting, a dangerous practice in which motorcyclists can drive on the lane divider (the double yellow or white line) between slowly moving or stopped vehicles. Bikers like this practice because it allows them to move more quickly through stopped or slow traffic, but it has resulted in at least three deaths in the past year alone. The fault isn’t entirely on the bikers; drivers don’t always know to look for a lane-splitting biker, and may pick up speed when the traffic begins to clear without checking for someone alongside them or allow them back into the lane.
Why is Lane Splitting Legal in California?
California did not technically legalize lane-splitting. Instead, it removed the law that banned lane-splitting, making the state neutral on the subject. California neither allows nor disallows lane-splitting. California lawmakers made this change primarily because of a study from UC Berkeley in 2015 that claimed motorcyclists were not necessarily at greater risk of injury when lane-splitting. Researchers found when performed safely, motorcyclists were not at undue risk of crashing while lane-splitting. The study also recommended a few tips for lane-splitting safely.
- Do not lane-split when surrounding traffic is moving at over 50 miles per hour (mph).
- Do not exceed the speed of surrounding traffic by more than 15 mph.
- Be on the watch for motorists attempting to change lanes.
- Always wear a motorcycle helmet.
According to researchers, the difference in speed between surrounding traffic and the lane-splitting motorcyclist was a greater predictor of injury than speed alone. The study not only concluded that prudent lane-splitting was reasonably safe but also that it could prevent serious motorcyclist injuries in collisions. The study found that lane-splitting motorcyclists were 8% less likely than non-lane-splitting counterparts to suffer head injuries in collisions, 10% less likely to suffer torso injuries and about half as likely to suffer fatal injuries.
California dropped the language prohibiting lane-splitting in its motorcycle traffic laws the year after Berkeley published its study, in 2016. The California Department of Motor Vehicles initially posted lane-splitting general guidelines similar to the safety tips given by Berkeley researchers, but later took them down due to lack of official rulemaking. Now, the California Highway Patrol does not regulate how motorcyclists lane-split other than to encourage safety, courtesy to other drivers, prudence and common sense.
Since its allowance in California, lane-splitting has been a controversial topic among motorcyclists and motorists. Many drivers believe lane-splitting to be unreasonably dangerous, especially if a driver needs to change lanes. Motorcyclists speeding between lanes can be startling for drivers who are in slow or stopped traffic, contributing to accidents. Others, however, believe lane-splitting protects motorcyclists by enabling them to exit the highway faster, avoid rear-end collisions and prevent overheating while stuck in traffic on hot days. Lane-splitting motorcycle crashes can be difficult to navigate due to the differing opinions and lack of official laws on this topic.
Determining Fault in Los Angeles Motorcycle Accidents
California law allows that more than one person may be responsible for an accident. At Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, we work closely with law enforcement, witnesses and experts who can help us determine exactly who is at fault in your case. In cases where the motorcyclist and driver are both at fault, your attorney will determine who is more at fault – being partially responsible for the crash doesn’t deprive a victim of their right to damages. It simply means they may receive less compensation than they might have.
California is a pure comparative negligence state. In cases involving both the plaintiff and the defendant’s shared fault for the accident, the courts will assign a percentage of fault to each party based on the facts. The courts will then reduce the plaintiff’s compensatory award by his or her degree of fault, if any. If the courts find the motorcyclist 25% responsible for causing the crash, for example, he or she would receive $75,000 of a $100,000 award.
If more than one defendant shares fault for your motorcycle wreck, California law holds that each defendant may be jointly and severally liable for your damages. All defendants may be jointly liable for your economic damages, meaning each may have to pay the full amount of your economic losses. Each may be severally liable for your noneconomic damages, however, meaning only liable for each defendant’s percentage of fault. Our motorcycle accident lawyers can help you understand liability in your particular accident.
Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
It is against the law to not wear a motorcycle helmet while riding in California. All motorcycle riders and their passengers must wear Department of Transportation approved headgear. Helmets can drastically decrease the risk of serious and fatal head and brain injuries in a motorcycle accident. They could also impact a personal injury lawsuit after a crash. Failure to wear a helmet could become evidence against the plaintiff if he or she is attempting to obtain compensation for a related injury. An injury to the body and not to the head, however, may have nothing to do with whether the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet.
Defendants have the right to use a motorcyclist’s illegal failure to wear a helmet as evidence against him or her during an injury claim. This defense may be valid if the victim suffered a traumatic head or brain injury and if wearing a helmet reasonably would have prevented the injury in question. The defendant may need proof to support this assertion, such as testimony from a safety expert or crash reconstructionist stating that wearing a helmet would most likely have prevented the victim’s injuries.
Since California is a pure comparative negligence state, a victim may still recover partial compensation even if not wearing a helmet affected the claim. The victim will simply recover less than he or she would have had he or she been wearing a motorcycle helmet. The courts will deduct the victim’s percentage of fault from the overall compensation awarded. Help from an attorney could minimize a motorcyclist’s fault, with or without a helmet, to maximize the potential recovery award.
Damages Available After a Motorcycle Accident
Distracted and negligent drivers cause life-changing motorcycle collisions every day. If you or a loved one have been in a motorcycle wreck in Los Angeles, you have rights. You may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, a motorcycle manufacturer, the City of Los Angeles and/or another party. With help from one of our motorcycle accident attorneys, you may be able to obtain the compensation you need to move forward. A settlement or jury verdict could reimburse you for many damages.
- Medical expenses. Past and future health care costs, including surgeries, doctor’s appointments, travel expenses, rehabilitation and prescription drugs.
- Property repairs. The full costs to repair your damaged motorcycle or to replace a totaled motorcycle, based on the pre-crash value of the vehicle.
- Lost wages. Most or all of your lost wages from needing time off work for medical care and/or recovery, as well as lost future earnings for a disability.
- Noneconomic damages. A compensation award for your intangible pain, suffering, distress, anguish and trauma.
- Punitive damages. You may receive additional punitive damages as a way to punish the at-fault party for egregious wrongdoings.
The total amount of compensation you could obtain after a motorcycle accident depends on the specific circumstances of your accident and losses. You can receive an accurate estimation of the value of your claim during a free consultation at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP. We will review your case, help calculate your losses and offer counsel as to how we believe you should proceed.
Contact a Lawyer if You or a Loved One are in a Motorcycle Crash
If you or a loved one are in a motorcycle accident, contact an attorney at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP right away – before you sign any document or agreement. Our experienced team of motor vehicle accident attorneys will review your case and work to protect your interests.
At Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, you will get personal attention from accomplished Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers with a deep understanding of California traffic and liability law. Don’t take on the additional burden of advocating for yourself when you’ve been through the shock and stress of a crash. Let our “Tier 1” law firm handle your legal needs during this difficult time.
Call our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers today at 877-800-1700 for a FREE, confidential case evaluation with our motorcycle accident attorneys.
“I always felt like the lawyers at Panish Shea & Boyle were fighting for ME — my health, my children, and my future. They worried more about me – and not about how much money they were going to make. I always knew they had my back. Deborah [Chang] made me feel like I was more of a friend than a client.”
– Andrea Martinez