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Legal Insight on Motorcycle Accident Personal Injuries


Riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles, California is a dangerous feat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national statistics for 2018, 82,000 motorcyclists were injured in a traffic collision. That same year, California was the second state with the most motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents in the country.

In 2017, the city of Los Angeles experienced a total of 2,022 motorcycle accidents that resulted in 52 fatalities, according to the California Highway Patrol's 2017 Annual Report.

Motorcycle riders in Los Angeles are more susceptible to serious bodily injuries than car accident victims because they do not have nearly as much protection. As a result of being injured in a motorcycle accident, victims may have to deal with costly medical bills, loss of income, as well as emotional pain, physical pain, road rash, mental suffering, and PTSD. It goes without saying that recovery from a motorcycle accident is a long process.

Motorcycle accidents are typically caused by negligent drivers, poor road conditions, and even defective motorcycle parts. If you have suffered injuries after a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages 
  • Medical bills 
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of earning capacity

1. What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident


There are several important steps to take after a motorcycle accident.

  • Firstly, DO NOT admit fault, even if you think you were responsible for the accident. There are many factors at play that you might not know about. The driver, for example, could have been texting, intoxicated, or driving recklessly. Liability is best determined in a court of law.
  • Secondly, call the police to file an official police report of the accident and begin documenting the motorcycle accident evidence. Gather as much information as you can about your motorcycle accident, including:
    • License plate numbers
    • The driver’s license and insurance information
    • Contact information for any available witnesses
    • Year, make, and model for any vehicles involved in the accident
    • Names and contact information for anyone involved in the accident
    • Photos and videos of your injuries, property damage, and the accident scene
  • Thirdly, seeking medical attention. Your physical well being should be your first priority. Please seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are hurt, call 911. If you seem to not be seriously injured, check on everyone involved to see if they need medical treatment.

Many motorcycle accident victims feel fine immediately after an accident, but wake up days later and experience severe pain. Many injuries take hours or days before any adverse symptoms will take effect. This is why it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately, whether your injuries seem serious or not. Unless you are evaluated by a medical professional, the insurance company is likely to argue that you were not really hurt at all.

2. Motorcycle Risk Factors, Causes, and Injuries


Motorcycle accidents are different from car accidents. A motorcycle rider is at a heightened risk of injury and death. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize a motorcycle accident. However, there are a number of risk factors that may nevertheless place a motorcyclist at a greater danger of injury, including:

  • Sex: Over 90% of all motorcycle fatalities involved males.
  • Alcohol usage: More than a quarter of motorcyclist fatalities involved a rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%.
  • Helmet use: According to California Vehicle Code Section 27803, motorcycle riders and their passengers must wear a helmet. A motorcycle rider and their passenger can both be ticketed for not wearing a helmet.
  • Age: Throughout the last few decades, the death rate for motorcyclists aged 50 and older has steadily risen. More than 35% of motorcyclist deaths in 2016 involved riders who were 50 and over.

There are many types of motorcycle accidents  caused most commonly by the following:

  • Tailgating
  • Loose gravel
  • Hazardous weather
  • Poor road conditions
  • Motorcycle malfunction
  • Cars pulling in front of a motorcycle rider
  • Vehicles recklessly merging into a bicyclist's lane
  • Collisions with a curb, street signs, or lampposts

Even while wearing helmets and protective equipment, a motorcycle rider is at a higher risk of suffering various injuries, including:

  • Scarring
  • Road rash
  • Eye injuries
  • Concussion
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Brain damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Joint breakage
  • Loss of limb(s)
  • Hearing damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Facial disfigurement
  • Neck and spinal cord injuries

3. Proving Liability After a Motorcycle Accident


A negligent party will usually be held liable for any injuries caused to a motorcycle rider. In order for an aggrieved motorcycle accident victim to recover damages, they must show that the driver was negligent.

This includes proving that:

  • The driver owed the motorcyclist a duty of care
  • The driver breached his or her duty of care through negligence
  • The driver's negligent actions were the significant factor that caused the motorcyclist’s injuries

4. Can I Sue After a Motorcycle Accident?


Yes. However, there will be limitations depending on whether or not you were insured. For the most part though, the individual who was responsible for causing your motorcycle accident may be liable for your injuries.

In order to recover damages you must file a personal injury claim with an experienced Los Angeles motorcycle accident injury attorney. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, please talk with a motorcycle accident attorney even before you talk to the other driver's insurance provider.

Auto insurance companies are not on your side. They want to settle your claim for as little as possible and will pressure you into settling quickly. A motorcycle accident attorney with West Coast Trial Lawyers can deal with the insurance companies so that you can focus on your health and well being.

4.1 Can I Sue on Behalf of a Spouse Who Was Killed?


As the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner of someone who was killed after a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.

The family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death claim include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The decedent’s children
  • The surviving domestic partner
  • The decedent’s grandchildren, if the children are deceased
  • Anyone entitled to the decedent’s property according to California intestate succession laws

Recoverable damages after a wrongful death lawsuit will include:

  • Burial costs
  • Funeral costs
  • Financial earnings the decedent would have earned had they survived
  • Compensation for the loss of support and companionship the decedent would have provided

4.2 Can I Sue for Poorly Maintained Roads?


Poor road conditions can easily cause a rider to lose control and crash. Poor road conditions that may cause a motorcycle accident include:

  • Potholes
  • Water leaks
  • Loose gravel
  • Raised asphalt
  • Broken cement
  • Uneven sidewalks
  • Damaged road signs
  • Damaged light posts

Every property owner has a duty to repair road conditions that may lead to a motorcycle crash. If a city or property owner fails to maintain their roads in good condition, he or she may be held liable for injuries or damages caused.

According to California premises liability law, property owners are all required to maintain their property in reasonably safe conditions. This includes:

  • Inspecting their property
  • Maintaining their property
  • Repairing potentially dangerous conditions
  • Giving enough warning about any dangerous conditions

A city or a government agency may also be responsible for dangerous road conditions. If you are filing a personal injury claim against a city, county, or any state government agency, you must prove that:

  • The motorcycle rider was injured
  • This property already had hazardous conditions when the accident occurred
  • Hazardous conditions were the significant factor in causing a motorcycle rider harm
  • These hazardous conditions created a reasonably foreseeable risk for the injury that was suffered
  • The property where you were injured was owned/controlled by a city, county, or state government agency
  • The city/county/state was aware of the hazardous conditions for enough time to take reasonable action to address it

Let’s consider the following example:

Say that Joey was riding his motorcycle at 3 a.m. through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. These are public roads and the city is responsible for maintaining them. The intersection at Figueroa and 7th, in particular, has very bad potholes which many people have complained about.

Given how heavy traffic is on this intersection, a road crew waits until 3 a.m. to make the necessary repairs. As the road crew is getting ready to patch up the potholes, Joey rides by. The road crew hasn’t yet placed any warning signs about the road hazards or the imminent repairs. Joey rides right through the intersection, drives over the potholes, loses control of his motorcycle, and suffers severe injuries.

In this example, the city would be held liable for Joey’s injuries and property loss because they failed to provide adequate warnings.

4.3 Can I Sue on Behalf of a Spouse Who Was Killed?


Not all motorcycle accidents are caused by poor roads or a driver’s negligence. Some accidents may be caused by defective motorcycles or motorcycle parts or machinery. According to California products liability law, any businesses who designed, manufactured, or sold a defective motorcycle or motorcycle part can all be held liable for any injuries or property loss caused.

In these types of cases, an injured motorcycle rider will not not have to prove that the manufacturer or distributor was negligent. Strict liability after a motorcycle defect case can be imposed for:

  • Design defects
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Failing to warn a user of any defects

In order to recover damages, an injured motorcycle rider needs to show that:

  • the motorcycle rider used the motorcycle in a reasonable manner
  • the motorcycle was defective when it left the defendant's' possession
  • the motorcycle rider was harmed or injured because of the product defect
  • the defendant designed, made, distributed and/or sold the defective motorcycle

Let’s consider an example of a products liability motorcycle accident:

Imagine that Dan just bought a brand new motorcycle from his local Harley Davidson dealership. Dan has his license, took all the necessary classes, and immediately goes out for a ride.

Dan is having a great time when suddenly the brakes malfunction and Dan cannot stop at a red light. As a result of this product defect, Dan is hit by a car and experiences severe injuries, including paralysis.

In this example, Dan played no role whatsoever in causing the accident. Dan can file a product liability claim against the bicycle manufacturer and the bicycle retailer for his injuries and losses.

5. Available Damages After a Motorcycle Accident


Available damages after a motorcycle accident will typically cover financial loss or harm that was caused by the accident. Settlement amounts vary depending on the circumstances. California is a comparative liability state, which means that an injured motorcyclist can be found partially at fault.

For example, was that motorcyclist wearing a helmet? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,872 lives were saved by the use of motorcycle helmets in 2017. Were they under the influence when the accident happened? Such circumstances, for example, will likely limit an injured individual’s opportunities for financial recovery.

The injured motorcycle accident victim is entitled to sue for compensatory damages, including:

  • Scarring
  • Lost wages 
  • Medical bills 
  • Property loss
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss Of consortium
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Disfigurement or loss of limb
  • Physical/occupational therapy
  • Medication and medical supplies

An injured motorcycle rider may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are separate from compensatory damages. Punitive damages may be awarded on top of the normal compensatory damages an aggrieved individual may be entitled to and are intended to punish a wrongdoer for their negligent or malicious behavior. Punitive damages are rare and are only awarded at the court’s discretion.

A motorcyclist is always at a higher risk of being injured on the road than other motorists. This is especially true because many drivers don’t respect a motorcyclist's right to safely share the road.

Unfortunately, there have been instances of drivers deliberately hitting motorcycle riders. If a motorcycle rider was intentionally hit by a driver, he or she would likely qualify for punitive damages on top of the normal damages he or she would already be entitled to for their losses and injuries.

6. More Motorcycle Accident Resources


  • Left-Hand Turn Motorcycle Accidents

    There are several factors that come into play when determining who is at fault for a left-hand turn accident. Generally, it would be the individual who is turning that is at fault for the collision. However, there are more considerations to keep in mind.

  • Motorcyclist Who Hits and Runs

    According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), California’s hit and run has increased by 60% since 2009. The state is ranked in the 7th spot nationally for hit and run deaths. Based on the research conducted for this study, the AAA found out that almost 65% of victims were either pedestrians or bicyclists.

  • How to Crash a Motorcycle Safely 

    It is important for motorcyclists to get educated on how to protect themselves from a motorcycle crash. In this article, we will discuss what you should do to safely crash a motorcycle in the event of an emergency.

  • Motorcycle Insurance Requirements and Facts

    First and foremost, it’s important to know that California requires motorcycle specific insurance, which is different and separate from car insurance. A motorcyclist caught operating their vehicle without insurance can be fined anywhere from $100 to $2000.

  • Road Rules for Motorcycles

    California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 dictates that all motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet. Helmets must also be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The outer shell of a helmet will protect you from abrasion and penetration, while the chinstrap will secure the helmet on your head. A helmet with a face shield is also recommended.

  • Used Motorcycle Resale Laws and Regulations

    Private sellers will generally sell their motorcycle as-is, while a dealership will at least offer some form of warranty that is time sensitive in the event that something goes wrong with the motorcycle. Warranties offer a buyer a certain peace of mind, while buying from a private seller carries a greater risk if the motorcycle develops issues.

  • California Motorcycle Culture

    In recent years, California has seen rapid growth in the popularity of motorcycles. There are many benefits to riding a motorcycle, such as easier parking and storage, lower prices for gas and repairs, and positive social perceptions.

  • Motorcycle Sidecar Rules

    Driving a motorcycle with a sidecar is a lot different than driving without one mainly because it changes the effect of leaning. Bikes with sidecars are generally safe because they add more balance to the cycle, so long as the vehicle is made to do so. Motorcycles with sidecars tend to drive in straight lines while vehicles without one tend to have more flexibility.

  • Most Dangerous Places in California to Ride a Motorcycle

    Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle presents a certain amount of danger. However, there are certain roadways in California that present a much greater risk of injury or death for even the most experienced motorcyclists.

  • California Motorcycle Vehicle Requirements

    With over 14.5 million registered automobiles registered in California, it is no wonder that the regulations here tend to be stricter than in most states. Obtaining a motorcycle license in California can rely on several factors.

  • Motorcycle Helmet Laws in California 

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a helmet decreases the risk of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37%. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is important not only because it protects the skull and brain in case of an accident, but it also can play a role in a motorcycle accident legal case.

  • Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

    Many different types of motorcycle accidents exist. However, there are some that are more common that others. Some of the most common types of motorcycle accidents include those caused by speeding, abrupt stops, and inexperienced drivers.

  • Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries

    Motorcycle injuries can be severe since motorcyclists don’t have a lot of protection surrounding their bodies while they ride. The most common types of motorcycle injuries include traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries among others.

  • Motorcycle Accident Recovery Tips

    A motorcycle accident can be brutal and it is essential to take the proper time and care to recover well from one. Some general motorcycle accident recovery tips include getting medical attention, plenty of rest, and moderate stress levels.

  • Motorcycle Insurance 

    In the state of California, it is required that all vehicles, including motorcycles, be insured. Motorcycle insurance is not the same as car insurance, meaning that each vehicle must have the appropriate insurance coverage.

  • What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident │Legal Advice From Experienced Attorneys

    The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be one huge blur. However, it is important to take certain steps after an accident to ensure your well-being and recovery. Some of these important steps include filing an official accident report, receiving medical attention, and filing an insurance claim.

  • Average Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident

    Did the insurance companies try to short-hand you by offering as little compensation as possible? You don’t have to settle for less. Get an attorney who will fight for you to receive maximum compensation and click the link to learn about the average settlements for motorcycle accidents.

  • Motorcycle Accident Without Insurance 

    Sometimes one or more of the parties involved in an accident don’t have insurance on their vehicles. These types of situations are the reason why uninsured motorist insurance exists, to offer you financial support when other vehiclists don’t do their part.

  • Motorcycle Accident vs Car Accident Statistics

    What makes motorcycle accidents different from car accidents is that motorcyclists don’t have the structure of a car to protect their bodies in the case of an accident. This lack of protection can be cause for major injury.

  • Can a Motorcycle Accident Cause PTSD

    Motorcycle accidents can be brutal, causing physical and emotional damage. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is related to events that can be traumatizing, such as a motorcycle accident.

  • Most Dangerous Places in California to Ride a Motorcycle 

    California is known for its beautiful never-ending highways that many motorcyclists enjoy. However, like any place else, there are also places that pose danger to motorcyclists on the road.

  • Motorcycle Malfunction and Accidents in California 

    Motorcycle malfunctions can cause accidents with dire consequences. But who’s responsible for the injuries caused in the accident? California is a comparative liability state, meaning that more than one party could be held liable for causing an accident.

  • Poor Road Conditions and Motorcycle Accidents 

    Poor road conditions can cause a motorcycle accident. Cities found liable for the damages caused in the accident due to poor road conditions as it is their duty to use taxpayer money to ensure public safety.

  • Motorcycle Passenger Liability and Settlements

    What happens when a passenger of a motorcycle gets hurt in an accident? A passenger can hold the parties at fault responsible for causing an accident that they were injured in. Parties at fault could include the motorcyclist, other drivers, the city or others.

  • How to Avoid Accidents │ Motorcycle Safety Tips

    While accidents are bound to happen, there are preventative measures to ensure that you stay safe on the road and minimize the chances of getting involved in a motorcycle accident.

  • Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Los Angeles 

    Los Angeles is a city infamous for its traffic and accidents that involve all kinds of vehicles, including motorcycles. Some common causes of motorcycle accidents in LA include speeding, left hand turns, and road hazards.

  • Are Motorcycles Really More Dangerous?

    There is a stigma against motorcycle riding because of the dangers that it prevails as it is a vehicle that lacks a protective shield to its drivers and passengers, drives at high speeds, and can easily weave through traffic.

  • Used Motorcycle Resale Laws and Regulations

    There are laws and regulations about reselling used motorcycles to ensure the safety of the motorcycle’s new owner. Selling a defective motorcycle can cause an accident for which the seller can be held liable.

  • Motorcycle Sidecar Rules 

    A motorcycle sidecar is an attachment to a motorcycle that allows passengers to ride in a seated position while a motorcyclist drives from the front of a car.

  • Road Rash Treatment

    Road rash is a type of injury that can result from a motorcycle accident. While it only affects the top layers of skin, it is still painful and can leave permanent damage that requires treatment.

  • Hit and Run Motorcycle Accidents

    Drivers are legally obligated to stay at the scene of an accident unless the vehicle they hit was a parked, unoccupied car, or motorcycle. Due to the size of motorcycles, this can be detrimental to motorcyclists.

  • Sudden Stop Motorcycle Accidents

    Sudden stops can cause a motorcyclist to go flying off of their bike and sustain serious injuries. This is why it is important for all vehicles to stop with adequate timing to give notice to other vehicles, particularly motorcyclists.

  • Open Car Door Motorcycle Accidents 

    Motorcycles crashing in to open car doors can be disastrous. These kinds of accidents usually occur when a car is parked on the side of a road when the left-hand doors are opened and a motorcycle is driving in the lane next to the one where the vehicle is parked.

  • Motorcycle Head-On Collisions

    Head on collisions can be impactful and have serious consequences, especially if the head on collision involves a motorcycle. This is because of the smaller, less protected form of a motorcycle in comparison to a larger, more well-protected frame of an enclosed vehicle such as a car or a truck.

  • 9 Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident

    There are some essential steps you should take after a motorcycle accident to ensure that you recover well and get the compensation that you deserve for any damages caused in the accident.

  • Why It's Important to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

    Trying on your own to recover the losses you experienced from a motorcycle accident can be a feat. It is essential to have an experienced motorcycle accident legal team on your side to get the maximum compensation that you deserve.

  • What Percentage of Motorcyclists Have an Accident?

    Riding a motorcycle can be risky and many motorcyclists fear getting into an accident because of the dangers of riding such a vehicle that lacks the protection that a car does. However, not all motorcyclists get into accidents and there are ways to prevent motorcycle accidents.

  • Top 10 Motorcycle Accident Safety Gear Essentials

    Riding a motorcycle, such as operating any kind of motor vehicle, comes with great risk. The difference is that motorcyclists don’t have the outer protection from the structure of a vehicle like cars do. For this reason, it is important to wear all the protective gear, all the time.

  • California Bad Weather Motorcycle Accidents

    California is known for its beautiful sunny days and open roads popular for motorcycle riding. However, sometimes the heat can be unbearable and paired with traffic, can lead to motorists out on the road for long periods of time under the hot sun.

  • Compensation for Pain and Suffering in Motorcycle Accidents

    Motorcycle accidents can be very severe and traumatic. A victim of a crash might be left suffering from PTSD due to the attack. This kind of damage is considered as pain and suffering, a kind of non-economic damage that a victim can receive compensation for.

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