Thousands of motorcycle deaths occur in the United States every year, and these incidents can lead to catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage and bleeding, and even paralysis or death. If you were in a motorcycle accident and suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries.
An experienced San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney is your best asset if you believe you have legal grounds for a claim against a negligent driver who injured you in a motorcycle accident. Your attorney will help you fully assess your claimable damages, assist you in gathering the evidence you need to prove liability for your accident, and guide you through the complex legal proceedings you face.
Why Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
You may wonder why you may need to hire a San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney, especially if fault for your recent accident seems clear. You might assume that you can simply file an insurance claim to recover your losses or that you can easily navigate a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your motorcycle accident. However, insurance may not cover the full extent of your losses and navigating any legal claim on your own is very difficult.
The average person with no legal training will experience significant challenges if they attempt to navigate a personal injury claim on their own. Additionally, dealing with insurance claims is very difficult even when your claim seems straightforward. Most people would have tremendous difficulty navigating any legal claim while struggling with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident and the associated medical recovery.
Hiring an experienced San Diego motorcycle accidents lawyer is the best option for ensuring you receive appropriate compensation for your losses. The attorneys of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates have years of experience helping our clients throughout the San Diego, CA area with their motorcycle accident and other personal injury claims. Our firm believes in providing compassionate, client-focused legal counsel. We do not rely on one-size-fits-all legal representation because we know that every client is unique, as is every case we represent. Our firm is flexible, resourceful, and fully prepared to handle the various challenges you face as you work toward your recovery.
Is It Worth Getting an Attorney for a Minor Accident?
You may wonder whether you need to hire an attorney for a recent accident. If your vehicle only suffered minor cosmetic damage and you and the others involved did not suffer any injuries, it is possible to settle the matter privately through insurance. However, California state law requires drivers to contact the police and report any accident that causes an injury, death, or significant property damage. If there is any doubt whether you need to report your accident, it is always best to do so. This will prevent you from facing any legal penalties for hit and run and will also generate an official police report for the incident. You can then refer to this report if you do need to take legal action for the accident in the future.
If you sustained any kind of injury, it is best to hire an attorney to ensure you fully understand your legal rights and options for legal action against the responsible driver. You may think you only sustained minor cuts and scrapes only to later discover your injuries are much more severe. Unfortunately, if you already agreed to a settlement with the at-fault driver, you may have missed your opportunity to secure a full recovery. Seeking prompt legal counsel after a motorcycle or any type of motor vehicle accident is the best way to ensure the fullest recovery from your losses.
How Much Are Motorcycle Accident Cases Settled For?
After another driver has caused a motorcycle accident, injured you, and caused substantial economic losses, it is natural to wonder whether you can secure financial compensation for your losses and if so, how much you can expect. Keep in mind that motorcycle accidents typically involve significant losses. If you want to be sure you can secure maximum recovery for the damages you experienced from your motorcycle accident, you need a San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney to guide you through the civil claim process.
California state law allows a personal injury claimant to seek economic and noneconomic damages after suffering the results of another party’s negligence. Economic damages in your motorcycle accident claim are likely to include:
Medical expenses, both immediate and future. You have the right to recover any and all medical costs you incur due to another party’s negligence. This includes immediate costs like hospital bills, prescription medication costs, and other healthcare expenses that occur immediately following your motorcycle accident. If your injuries cause long-term damage, disability, or require extensive ongoing treatments, you have the right to claim compensation for the future medical expenses you are likely to incur following your accident. Motorcycle accidents commonly cause catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ injuries, many of which will have lasting effects and cause long-term damage and disabilities.
Lost income. Your motorcycle accident can cause injuries severe enough to force you to miss work for an extended period. You have the right to include your lost wages in your civil claim. If your motorcycle accident caused injuries that prevent you from resuming the same job and you are forced to take a lower-paying position, you can include the difference in income in your personal injury claim. Should you be left completely unable to work at all in the future, an experienced San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney can help you claim the lost earning potential you suffered. Your attorney will calculate the amount you would have reasonably expected to earn until retirement had your accident not occurred.
Property damage. When a larger vehicle collides with a motorcycle, the bike is likely to sustain considerable damage or even become damaged beyond repair. You can claim vehicle repair or replacement costs in a civil claim. It is also possible to claim property damage if the accident damaged or destroyed any other personal belongings.
Economic Versus Noneconomic Damages
When you calculate your economic damages with the help of an experienced San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney, your total recovery could be much more than you initially expected. However, many motorcycle accident victims discover that their noneconomic damages yield the most compensation in successful personal injury claims.
“Noneconomic damages” refers to the physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma a plaintiff experienced from their personal injury. In other words, noneconomic damages pertain to any damages that cannot be measured purely in monetary terms. It may seem impossible to assign a dollar value to the pain you experienced from a recent motorcycle accident, but your San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney will help you determine an appropriate figure to include with your lawsuit.
In some cases, an attorney will multiply the total amount of your economic damages by a factor of up to five that reflects the injuries’ severity, the length of your recovery, and the significance of any long-term damage experienced from the incident. If your motorcycle accident left you paralyzed or struggling with other long-term medical complications that permanently deteriorate your quality of life, you could secure much more in pain and suffering compensation than your physical damages combined. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in medical expenses, your attorney could seek $200,000 or even millions of dollars in pain and suffering compensation, especially if your injury left you permanently disabled.
If you are unsure how much your motorcycle accident claim is worth, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced San Diego motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. The sooner you begin working on your case, the better your chances of maximizing your recovery. An experienced attorney will help you explore every available channel of recovery for your case.
What Is the Most Common Cause of San Diego Motorcycle Accidents?
Distracted driving continues to rank the highest among the most cited causes of serious motor vehicle crashes, including those involving motorcycle riders. “Distracted driving” is a broad term that can apply in any situation in which a driver is not paying full attention to the road ahead. Using a cell phone while driving is one of the most reported causes of motor vehicle accidents in California, as well as throughout the US.
Since the advent of cell phones, motor vehicle accidents have increased significantly due to distracted driving. In response, California has made the use of cell phones illegal while driving unless drivers use hands-free devices. Unfortunately, accidents caused by distracting cell phone use can and do occur on a regular basis throughout the state.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Distracted driving is just one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the San Diego area. Unfortunately, there are many ways for motorcycle accidents to occur. When such an incident occurs due to one driver’s negligence, the injured victims need to know their rights as they pertain to securing compensation for their losses.
Motorcycle injuries are typically catastrophic for the motorcycle rider, as they have substantially less protection than motorists on the roadways. Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents include the following:
Changing lanes and running into a motorcyclist. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than most other passenger vehicles. However, this does not excuse driver inattention, and all drivers must use caution when changing lanes.
Speeding. Speed limits exist to ensure a safe flow of traffic. When drivers exceed posted speed limits, they may be unable to slow down or stop in time to avoid crashing into another driver.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle of any kind under the influence of alcohol. If a driver causes a motorcycle accident while intoxicated, they are not only likely to inflict severe injuries on the motorcyclist but also likely to injure themselves. If a driver causes an accident because of intoxication, they will face civil litigation for the victim’s damages and criminal prosecution from the state of California.
Motorcyclist illegally driving between two lanes of traffic. “Lane splitting” is a term to describe a vehicle passing between slower-moving lanes of traffic. While California does not have any laws expressly forbidding this practice, it is vital for motorcyclists to resist the temptation to weave between slower-moving vehicles. Lane splitting may seem perfectly safe in some situations, but doing so can easily startle nearby drivers and cause catastrophic accidents.
Vehicle opening a car door into a motorcyclist. When a driver parks along a road, they should be careful before opening the driver’s side door and exiting their vehicle. If a driver opens their door suddenly without surveying the area for approaching vehicles first, a nearby motorcyclist driving in the near lane could be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the opened door.
Sudden stopping. It is important for drivers to leave adequate space between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them. If a driver tailgates another driver and the driver in front suddenly slows down or stops, the tailgating driver may not be able to slow in time to avoid hitting them. Drivers should aim to leave at least one vehicle length of space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them for every 10mph of speed. This provides a safe distance to slow down if a leading driver suddenly applies their brakes.
Left-turn accidents. Left turns can prove hazardous for all drivers but are especially perilous for motorcycles that are smaller and harder to see. When making left turns, motorcyclists should use extra caution, especially when full visibility of the other lane may be obstructed by nearby large vehicles.
No-contact motorcycle accidents (motorcyclist lays down their vehicle in an attempt to avoid an actual collision). It is not always necessary for a driver to make physical contact with a motorcycle to cause a motorcycle accident. If a driver’s dangerous behavior forces a motorcyclist to “lay down” their bike or forces them off the road, the driver is likely liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries.
As you can see, there are many ways motorcycle accidents happen in California. When a motorcyclist suffers injuries and economic losses because of another driver’s negligence, the injured motorcyclist should know their options for legal recourse. Auto insurance may be the first step toward recovery after a motor vehicle accident, but insurance may not fully cover an injured motorcyclist’s losses. If you want to fully explore the entire scope of your claimable damages, you should connect with an experienced San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Motorcycle Accident
California state law requires every driver and motorcyclist to purchase auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. These coverage requirements include bodily injury liability coverage for a single person, total accident bodily injury liability coverage, and property damage liability coverage:
Drivers must have at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person. This coverage is applicable when the insured driver causes an accident and repays a single victim’s medical expenses.
Drivers must also have at least $30,000 in total accident bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage applies when the insured driver causes an accident that injures multiple people, such as another driver and their passenger.
Drivers must also carry $5,000 or more in property damage liability coverage. If the insured driver causes an accident with another driver, this coverage will repay the other driver’s vehicle repair costs.
While not required by California law, it is strongly encouraged for all drivers to also purchase underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance coverage becomes applicable when the policyholder suffers an accident caused by a driver who does not carry auto insurance or who does not have an auto insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. California has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the US, so it is a good idea for all insured drivers to add this coverage to their auto insurance policies, if possible.
When you experience an accident and the other driver is clearly at fault, your first step toward recovery is usually to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. If you can do so safely after an accident, you should take photos of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. You should also take photos of the immediate area, any skid marks in the road, vehicle debris, and other elements at the scene of the crash to form a more complete representation of the accident site. When the police respond to the crash, they will clear it, potentially removing critical evidence you may need for your insurance claim and/or a subsequent personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Obtain the other driver’s contact information and auto insurance details so you can begin the insurance claim filing process.
Keep in mind that dealing with insurance companies is rarely easy, and many insurers will look for any justification they can find to deny a claim or reduce a claimant’s settlement. In the worst scenarios, they may even try to dupe claimants into admitting fault or downplaying their damages. To add authority to your insurance claim and reduce the chances of experiencing pushback from the insurer, you should have a San Diego motorcycle accidents attorney assist you while drafting your demand letter to the insurance company. This will significantly reduce the chances of the insurer attempting to minimize their losses with your claim and is more likely to yield an appropriate settlement.
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are usually very damaging to the motorcyclist, and the total cost of your losses may exceed the at-fault driver’s available insurance coverage by a substantial margin. In this situation, your attorney can advise you whether it would suit your best interests to file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your motorcycle accident. If you succeed with your claim, the settlement could mean securing the uncovered amount, helping you maximize compensation for your losses.
Proving Negligence for a Personal Injury
Succeeding with a personal injury claim hinges on your attorney’s ability to prove negligence, a term that describes a failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. Your attorney must also provide a complete and accurate accounting of the damages you are seeking, as well as clear proof the damages resulted from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause. The team at Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates have handled some of the most complex vehicle accident claims and personal injury trials in the San Diego area. We know how to find the evidence you need to establish the other party’s liability for your losses and maximize your recovery. If you have suffered injuries and economic damages in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, we can help you recover your losses to the full extent of California law.
Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim in San Diego, CA
Motorcycle accidents typically cause serious injuries, including death. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident due to another motorist’s negligence, you may face medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, permanent paralysis, or life-long medical challenges. In the State of California, you only have two years from the date of the accident that caused your injuries related to a motorcycle accident to file a claim to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. While two years may seem like a long time, building a strong personal injury claim related to a motorcycle accident can involve an extensive investigation as well as expert testimony and analysis of evidence related to the accident. Do not delay in contacting an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact a San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, you may feel overwhelmed with mounting medical bills and the inability to return to work resulting in a loss of income. Building a strong personal injury case following a motorcycle accident can be legally complex and challenging. For more than 20 years, Ken Sigelman, a licensed medical doctor as well and an award-winning trial lawyer, has had an exceptional record of verdicts, settlements and arbitration awards. If you suffered any injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident, contact our experienced and compassionate motorcycle accident attorneys at 866-971-8956 or online today for a free consultation.
Kenneth M. Sigelman and Associates possesses an exceptional and thorough knowledge of California law, decades of legal experience and a commitment to achieve justice and obtain fair compensation for victims. Click below to learn more about our team of attorneys.
KEN SIGELMAN J.D., M.D.
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