COMMON MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES
Spine Injury 〉
Brain Injury 〉
Wrongful Death 〉
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys of California
Everything you as a victim need to know...
Motorcyclists love to ride for a variety of reasons. Many people find motorcycles exciting and feel that riding a motorcycle connects them to their surroundings and provides them with more freedom. Others enjoy riding motorcycles because it provides a sense of comradery and enables interaction with other people. Still others find motorcycles more cost efficient, especially with the rising price of gasoline. Motorcyclists, however, also recognize the risks that go along with riding motorcycles.
According to the CDC, motorcyclists in 2020 were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in motor vehicle crashes and 4 times more likely to be injured.
In 2020 alone, 5,579 motorcyclists died in crashes in the United States. In California, motorcycle fatalities have increased yearly and, according to the CHP, motorcyclists are overrepresented in the overall number of traffic deaths in California.
Furthermore, the increase in motorcyclist deaths has occurred while significant gains have been made in other areas of traffic safety.
To attempt to make the roads safer for motorcyclists, it is illegal for other drivers to intentionally block or impede a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider or to open a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist. In addition, drivers in the far left lane are supposed to move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists more room to pass.
The CHP has established additional safety tips for all motorists to make the roads safer for motorcyclists:
- Check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or turning
- Signal an intention before changing lanes or merging with traffic
- Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other motorists
- Never ride or drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or fatigue
- Be courteous and share the road
SAFETY TIPS (cont.)
The CHP also recommends that motorcyclists adhere to the following guidelines:
- Cover arms and legs completely when riding a motorcycle, ideally by wearing leather or heavy denim
- Wear boots or shoes that are high enough to cover ankles
- Wear gloves for a better grip and to protect hands in the event of a crash
- Wear brightly colored clothing with reflective material
Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legal in California. Lane splitting is defined by California Vehicle Code § 21658.1(a) as follows:
For the purposes of this section, “lane splitting” means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.
The CHP provides the following lane splitting safety tips for motorcyclists:
- Always consider the total environment when lane splitting, including the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, and the condition of the roadway, weather, and lighting
- Danger increases at higher speed differentials and increases as overall speed increases
- It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic
- Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles like big rigs, buses, and motorhomes
- Riding on the shoulder is illegal and is not considered lane splitting
- Avoid remaining in blind spots or lingering between vehicles
- Always be visible to other vehicles
- Wear brightly covered/reflective protective gear and use high beams during daylight
In California, it is required that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a safety helmet. California Vehicle Code § 27803 states the following:
(a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.
(b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).
In addition, the helmet must be U.S. DOT compliant and certified by the manufacturer as complying with U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. A helmet that meets this safety standard will have a DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet.
Novelty helmets are not safe and will not protect a motorcyclist in the event of a crash. Such helmets should never be worn while operating or riding a motorcycle.
U.S. DOT compliant helmets are required because, according to the California DMV, head injuries account for the majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries. With few exceptions, a proper safety helmet will reduce the risk of head injuries. The DMV points out the following regarding the use of safety helmets:
- Most collisions happen on short trips (less than five miles long)
- Most motorcyclists are riding slower than 30 mph when a collision occurs, a speed at which a U.S. DOT compliant motorcycle safety helmet can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by 50%
- A non-U.S. DOT compliant helmet generally has very thin liners and protective padding and lack the strength, size, and ability to protect the rider during a collision
Motorcyclists can choose from three types of helmets: a half shell, three quarters, or full-face helmet. The full-face helmet provides the best coverage and protection to the back of the head. The helmet should fit snugly and remain securely fastened while riding. In addition, the helmet should not have any obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding, or frayed straps.
INJURIES CAUSED BY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
Lower Extremity Injuries
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, lower-extremity injuries are the most common injuries sustained by motorcyclists in crashes. The most frequent injuries were to the motorcyclist’s legs followed by pelvic fractures and knee injuries. The most common injuries to legs were long-bone fractures of the tibia, fibula, and femur.
Road rash is a friction burn or skin abrasion caused by skin scraping against the roadway or some other rough surface. The outer tissue is ripped or torn away when it scrapes against the road or other surface. Road rashes can be extremely painful and can leave permanent scars. If the road rash is serious enough that it takes off several layers of skins, a skin graft may be required.
Head and Brain Injuries
Even with a U.S. DOT compliant helmet, a motorcyclist can sustain a head injury from a motorcycle accident.
Injuries to the spine, including the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions, can result in pain and discomfort but may also cause paralysis, including paraplegia and quadriplegia or tetraplegia.
Upper Extremity Injuries
Motorcycle accidents can result in injuries to the arm, wrist, hand, and shoulder. Acromioclavicular joint dislocations and hand fractures are common in motorcycle accidents.
On average, over 5,000 people lose their lives each year as the result of a motorcycle accident.
DAMAGES FOR MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or someone you love has died as the result of a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you for your losses.
Economic damages are ascertainable monetary amounts, including lost wages and medical bills. If injuries are severe, you may not be able to return to work and therefore may be entitled to the loss of future wage-earning capacity for the remainder of your anticipated life expectancy. In addition, some people injured in a motorcycle accident require medical treatment for the rest of their lives. To calculate the amount that this long-term care will cost, our firm may retain a specialist to prepare what is known as a “life care plan,” which is a plan that sets out medical and medically related care that will be needed over the remainder of the injured person’s life.
Non-economic damages include items such as emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and humiliation.
In some situations, a motorcycle accident can result in death. In such a case, the deceased’s family members, or wrongful death beneficiaries, may be entitled to recover the medical bills as well as the funeral and burial costs. The deceased’s loved ones can also recover for their own damages due to the loss of love and society of the deceased person.
TIME LIMITS FOR FILING CLAIMS FOR MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
In California, the statute of limitations for filing most claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury. If, however, the claim is against a state or local governmental entity, the deadline to provide notice of your claim may be as little as six (6) months. For example, if the person causing the accident was an employee of a city, county, or state, notice of the claim would have to be provided within six (6) months of the accident. For this reason, if you believe you or someone close to you may have a claim for damages, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
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