According to the Office of Traffic Safety, only four counties in California are more dangerous for motorcycle riders than San Diego County, even after adjusting the statistics to account for population and miles traveled. Motorcycle riders are killed or injured almost every day in San Diego County accidents.
Recent deaths of motorcycle riders in National City, the Golden Hill area of San Diego, and I-15 near Miramar Way are all too typical. One of the victims was rear-ended in heavy traffic. Another was struck by a tractor-trailer. The third victim died in the most common motorcycle accident when a driver made a left turn in front of the oncoming rider.
Motorcycle accident victims are entitled to compensation when another person’s carelessness contributed to the accident. Attorney Michael Rehm represents motorcycle accident victims throughout San Diego County, including El Cajon, Chula Vista, Carlsbad and Oceanside. Contact our office for advice about motorcycle accidents in San Diego and surrounding communities.
California Motorcycle Accidents
California has more motorcycle registrations than any other state. That isn’t surprising, since California has a larger population than any other state, and is fortunate to have a climate that permits motorcyclists to ride all year. California roads also have beautiful views that appeal to recreational riders.
California does not, however, lead the nation in motorcycle accident fatalities. In 2016, that dubious distinction belonged to Texas. One explanation for that difference is that California has a universal helmet law that requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. Most adult motorcyclists in Texas can choose not to wear a helmet if they complete a motorcycle safety course or maintain motorcycle insurance with medical benefits coverage of $10,000. Since helmets save lives, anyone who pays attention in a safety course should understand the importance of wearing a helmet. And $10,000 doesn’t go far when a helmetless rider experiences a traumatic brain injury.
Another difference is that 38% of motorcyclists killed in Texas accidents were alcohol impaired, compared to 29% in California. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of a single-vehicle motorcycle accident.
Unfortunately, even helmeted, sober riders are more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in a car crash. Motorcyclists do not have the protection of surrounding “cage” when they are involved in collisions. Per mile traveled, motorcyclists die in crashes 26 times more often than occupants of other vehicles.
In California, the motorcycle accident rate has been increasing. It may be that more people are saving money on gas by riding motorcycles to work, or that an improving economy is giving more people the extra cash they need to purchase a motorcycle as a second (or third) vehicle.
Whatever the reason for increasing accidents might be, statistics tell us that motorcyclists should always ride defensively. It’s even more important for drivers to share the road with motorcycle riders. When careless drivers contribute to a motorcycle crash, however, motorcycle riders are entitled to pursue compensation.
Causes of Accidents
In 1981, the Hurt Report confirmed what most motorcycle riders already know. When a motorcycle and another vehicle collide, the most likely cause of the accident is that the other vehicle turned left in front of the oncoming motorcycle. In fact, the Hurt Report established that left turns in front of motorcycles account for two-thirds of all motorcycle crashes that involve another vehicle.
That finding was recently confirmed by a Florida study of traffic accident data over a ten year period. When motorcycles and another vehicle collided, the most common reason for the accident was a left turn into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
The authors of the Florida study suggested two possible explanations for careless left turns in front of motorcycles. First, drivers tend to judge speed as a function of size. They perceive large vehicles to be moving faster than their actual speed, and they perceive smaller vehicles as traveling slower than their actual speed. Drivers turn left in front of motorcycles because they misjudge the speed at which the motorcycle is moving and wrongly believe they have plenty of time to make the turn.
Second, drivers are not aware of motorcycles on the road. The study determined that drivers who have a motorcycle license are much more likely to notice motorcycles than other drivers. Drivers who do not ride motorcycles too often fail to take note of them.
Other common causes of crashes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle include:
While the insurance industry claims that most motorcycle crashes are “single vehicle” accidents, many of those are often caused by a careless driver. A motorcycle who is forced off the road by a driver changing lanes or a motorcyclist who goes to the ground to avoid colliding with a car that turned in front of the rider will probably find the accident classified as “single vehicle” in the absence of contact with the car. Unfortunately, recovering compensation from the careless driver can be difficult if the driver fails to stop and wait for the police to arrive.
High-speed collisions and falls can be deadly. Even the best helmets can’t protect against the forces generated in a high-speed collision or by hitting the pavement at 60 mph. Motorcyclists who survive often have traumatic brain injuries that affect the ability to think, speak, and work.
Collisions and falls can also cause spine injuries, including paralysis. Depending on the location of damage to the spinal cord, paraplegia or quadriplegia can be the catastrophic consequence of a motorcycle collision.
Non-catastrophic motorcycle accident injuries include:
Those injuries may be permanent or long-term, or they may heal within a few weeks. In any case, a motorcyclist is entitled to compensation if a careless driver contributed to the rider’s injuries.
San Diego Motorcycle Injury Compensation
Motorcycle accident compensation is intended to restore motorcyclists to the condition they were in before the collision. Compensation includes paying medical expenses and lost wages, as well as the cost of future accident-related healthcare. When injuries are severe, compensation may include the expense of job retraining, a personal caretaker, a lifetime of transportation expenses, and the other costs of managing a disability.
Compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress is part of every motorcycle injury settlement. Compensation cannot make pain go away, but it can offset suffering by improving the quality of an injury victim’s life in other ways.
Motorcycle accident victims can pursue compensation even if they were partially or mostly at fault. In California, compensation is reduced in proportion to the accident victim’s fault. A motorcyclist who was 40% at fault can still recover 60% of his or her damages.
Representation in California Motorcycle Accident Cases
An honest and thorough San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer can help accident victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve. Attorney Michael Rehm provides compassionate service to injury victims in all parts of San Diego County.
We deal with insurance adjusters to maximize settlements so that accident victims can concentrate on healing. Most cases settle, but when adjusters are unreasonable, we use our skills as aggressive trial advocates to pursue favorable verdicts for our clients. To learn how we can help you, call The Law Office of Michael Rehm at (619) 787-3456 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Law Office of Michael Rehm
402 W Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 787-3456