There are some common threads running through any motorcycle or bicycle accident. Both riders are on two wheels rather than four. There aren’t any specially engineered crumple zones to protect them from an impact, and neither has a steel body and frame around them. There aren’t any restraint systems to keep them from being thrown, and there aren’t any air bags to cushion and protect against a sudden deceleration injury. Riders of motorcycles and bicycles are very vulnerable and completely exposed to serious injuries or death.
They just don’t see them
Most drivers of motor vehicles that have been involved in crashes with motorcyclists or bicyclists relate that they either didn’t see the motorcyclist or bicyclist at all, or didn’t see them until it was too late. That’s primarily because motorcycles and bicycles present small profiles in traffic.
Given their exposure, motorcyclists and bicyclists also share common injuries when they’re involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Severe fractures of the lower extremities are the most common. Those are followed by:
- Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back fractures and disc herniations
- Hand, arm and shoulder fractures
- Damage to internal organs
- Severe road rash with serious infection
Common causes of motorcycle and bicycle accidents
The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is a head-on collision. These carry a very high chance of serious injuries or death. After that, motorcycles share the most common cause of bicycle accidents. That’s when a passenger vehicle turns left in front of the motorcyclist or bicyclist. Since bicyclists are often at the edge of the right traffic lane, they also risk being hit at intersections when drivers are making right turns. When in the main traffic lane, they risk being “doored” by motorists who are exiting their vehicles. Both motorcyclists and bicyclists risk severe injury from potholes and uneven road surfaces.
The law of negligence governs nearly all accidents between motorists and motorcyclists or bicyclists. To show negligence, the claimant must prove four elements. Those are that:
- The motorist owed the motorcyclist or bicyclist a duty of care
- There was a breach of that duty
- The breach of the duty caused the accident and injuries
- The motorcyclist or bicyclist suffered legally recognized damages
If the claimant fails to prove any single one of those elements, his or her case falls in it’s entirety.
As an affirmative defense, the motorist might allege that the motorcyclist or bicyclist was partially at fault for the accident. That involves the law of comparative negligence. If a percentage of fault is attributed to him or her, that percentage will be deducted from any award that a jury might render. For example, a 20 percent determination of fault would turn a $100,000 verdict into an $80,000 verdict. California is what’s known as a pure comparative fault state. In theory, a person who was 90 percent at fault for an accident can still recover a 10 percent award.
After negligence is proved, the motorcyclist or bicyclist must prove his or her damages. Just some of the legally recognized damages in California consist of:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death case
It’s the intention of the attorneys at El Dabe Law Firm to maximize compensation for the damages that every one of our clients has suffered. To assure that our clients receive the full benefits of our experience, resources and courtroom skills, we target our practice exclusively on the law of personal injury. The El Dabe Law Firm and its attorneys are known throughout the Santa Clarita area, and they’re respected by insurance defense lawyers, judges and jurors. Contact the El Dabe Law Firm at 888-542-6021 for a free consultation and case evaluation after any accident. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a recovery for you.