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Motorcycle Accidents Overview

In many parts of the country, there are very few motorcycle-vehicle collisions from the late fall to the early spring, simply because it’s too cold and wet to ride. But because of the year-round warm weather in Southern California, bikers are on the road even in the middle of winter.

Unfortunately for riders, that situation does not make the streets any safer, because many motorists are simply not on the lookout for bikers. According to one landmark study, about a third of motorcycle crashes are left turn or U-turn collisions, like the one in the above story. Indeed, many motorcycle crash victims have heard tortfeasors make excuses like “I never even saw her” or “he came out of nowhere.”

Part of the reason motorists aren’t on the lookout for bikers is because they do not particularly like motorcycle riders. Bikleash is not a severe or common as it was back in the day, but it is still somewhat prevalent among both motorists and jurors. Police officers sometimes show this prejudice as well. Officers almost never press serious charges even in egregious fatal accident cases, unless the tortfeasor was also intoxicated or there was another aggravating factor.

This combination of low visibility and callous attitudes often adds up to serious injuries, because riders are almost completely unprotected in these collisions. Some common wounds include:

  • Head Injuries: Helmets protect certain parts of the head, but the forehead and base of the neck are usually uncovered, and these parts of the head house some of the most important brain functions in terms of cognition and mobility.
  • Blood Loss: Even moderate exsanguination, if it is also sudden, usually triggers hypovolemic shock. Due to the fluid loss, the heart cannot pump enough blood, causing serious tissue and organ damage.
  • Broken Bones: Because thrown riders hit the pavement or ground at such high speeds, their bones are often crushed as opposed to broken, requiring very aggressive corrective surgery and long-term physical rehabilitation.

To reduce the risk of visibility impairment collisions, many riders wear bright clothes or take other measures, but there is almost no scientific evidence that these home remedies are effective.

Damages in Motorcycle Crash Cases

The fatality rate among motorcycle riders is twenty-seven times higher than the rate for vehicle occupants, so victims are often entitled to substantial compensation for:

  • Lost Wages: Because of the long recovery time, victims often miss substantial amounts of work. This lost time, along with potential permanent disability, also affects future earning potential
  • Medical Bills: The average injury-related hospital stay costs about $65,000, and this figure does not include physical rehabilitation and incidental costs, like medical devices.
  • Pain and Suffering: It is impossible to assign a dollar figure to pain and suffering, but as a rule of thumb, many lawyers use three times the amount of medical bills and lost wages.
  • Emotional Distress: In addition to physical pain, motorcycle accidents nearly always cause emotional pain and excess stress.

Motorcycle crash victims sometimes receive additional punitive damages. If the victim proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk, perhaps by driving with a high BAC level or a serious medical condition, juries often award additional damages to punish the tortfeasors and help deter future wrongdoing. A cap may apply in some situations.

Insurance Company Defenses

In many intersection, U-turn, and rear-end crashes, insurance company lawyers trot out the last clear chance rule. Essentially, drivers cannot be fatalistic and reason that if a collision is going to happen, there is nothing they can do to prevent it. So, if a driver can slow down or change lanes to avoid another car that ran a stop sign or made an illegal turn, the driver must do so if at all possible.

On crowded SoCal streets, sudden maneuvers to avoid one collision would probably cause another one, and this is the heart of the last clear chance doctrine. There is a significant difference between the last reasonable chance and the last possible chance, and the defense only applies to situations that involve the former.

Motorcycle collisions are among the most serious kinds of vehicle wrecks. For a free consultation with a San Diego personal injury law firm, contact the Injury Trial Lawyers, APC. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.

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