When You’re in a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Road Hazard

Recovering Compensation for Your Injuries in California

When You’re in a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Road HazardAccording to statistics, approximately three of every four motorcycle accidents involves a collision with another vehicle. Single vehicle crashes result from a variety of causes, including biker carelessness, excessive speed, substance abuse, and road hazards.

A study commissioned by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that about 75% of motorcycle accidents caused by roadway hazards can be prevented. Though many road hazards can cause or contribute to wrecks, the most common adverse roadway conditions tied to motorcycle crashes are the following:

  • Uneven road surfaces or potholes, often in construction areas;
  • Roadway debris, such as sand, gravel, rebar, cones, signs, or other materials;
  • Oil or water on the roads; and
  • Poor or limited traffic visibility from side roads due to trees, bushes, vegetation, or other obstructions.

Determining Who’s Responsible for Your Injuries

The first step in pursuing compensation for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident is determining who caused the crash. If one of the at-fault parties is a private individual, you’ll likely pursue damages by filing a personal injury claim based on a theory of negligence. You’ll need to show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, thereby causing the accident that led to your losses. But what if the accident was caused, in whole or in part, by the failure of a governmental body to maintain the roadway?

As a general rule, government entities (including the state of California) are immune from liability for personal injury claims unless explicitly authorized by statute. Under the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA), the state of California can be sued when someone suffers injury in a motorcycle accident as the result of the government’s failure to properly design or maintain a public roadway. Before an injured person can file a lawsuit, though, CTCA requires that the claim first be filed against the public entity within six months of the accident. The public entity then has 45 days to either accept or reject the claim before a lawsuit can be filed.

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to injured people throughout California for more than 30 years, including victims of motorcycle accidents. Send us an e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Eye Injuries a Serious Risk for Scooter Operators

University Study Shows Increase in Facial Trauma

Eye Injuries a Serious Risk for Scooter OperatorsResearch at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) indicates that as the popularity of electric scooters has risen dramatically, the number of scooter injuries has skyrocketed as well, with a significant portion of them involving trauma to the head and face, particularly the eyes. The study, conducted over a 12-month period in late 2018 and early 2019, looked at injuries suffered by scooter-accident victims who sought treatment at two UCSC emergency rooms. The report found that many patients coming into the emergency room with scooter-related injuries had complex facial fractures to bones around the eyes, and many had serious eye injuries as well. Nearly all had some type of facial fracture (over 90%), with most of those being complex fractures. About 75 percent needed hospitalization, and one in four required surgery. Of those who participated in the study, two of every three underwent an eye exam. Doctors found retinal hemorrhaging and numerous lacerations involving eyelids. One patient experienced temporary blindness because of pressure inside his eye. None of those who suffered injury were wearing a helmet

Under California law, electric-scooter operators over the age of 18 are not required to wear a helmet. Though studies in other parts of the country indicate that the mandatory use of helmets dramatically decreases the number and severity of head injuries among scooter operators, such laws have not been enacted. Opponents say requiring helmet use would be a significant disincentive to use of electric scooters—people will choose to rideshare or walk instead

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have effectively represented personal injury victims throughout California for more than three decades, including victims of vehicle accidents. Contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-866-288-6010 to set up a free initial consultation

Wearing a Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle

Can You Recover Compensation When Someone Else Causes You Injury but You’re Not Wearing a Helmet?

Wearing a Helmet While Riding a MotorcycleCalifornia, like many other states, requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet while operating a bike on the road. You can receive a ticket for failure to do so. But what happens if you’re on a motorcycle and another motorist causes an accident that leaves you injured? Are you precluded from seeking damages because you weren’t wearing a helmet?

The Impact of Not Wearing a Helmet on a Personal Injury Claim

Fortunately, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet does not automatically prevent you from filing a lawsuit for your injuries. It may, however, limit the amount that you’re able to recover.

Here’s how it works. Like all other states, California applies the concept of comparative negligence to cases where there is negligence on the part of both parties to a personal injury claim. Under California’s “pure comparative negligence” approach, the jury first determines the full extent of losses suffered by the plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit) and then determines the extent to which the plaintiff’s own carelessness or negligence contributed to the injuries suffered. The total damage award is reduced by that percentage.

If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident and were not wearing a helmet, it’s likely that the jury will consider your failure to do so evidence of carelessness or negligence. Accordingly, if you suffer head injuries—cuts, bruises, or traumatic brain injury (TBI)—and the jury determines you wouldn’t have sustained those injuries had you been wearing a helmet, then you may not be able to fully recover for those losses. Under the California pure comparative negligence statute, though, you will always be able to recover something, unless the jury finds you to be 100% responsible for your injuries.

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have effectively represented personal injury victims throughout California for more than three decades, including victims of motorcycle accidents. Contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-866-288-6010 to set up a free initial consultation.

Scooter Injuries Increase Dramatically Nationwide

UCSF Study Documents Rise in Mishaps

Scooter Injuries Increase Dramatically NationwideA recently released report from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), which looked at data from 2014 through 2018, found that the number of injuries sustained in accidents involving e-scooters more than tripled over the four-year period. The study found that scooter-related injuries went up by 222% and hospital admissions rose by 365%. Nearly a third of the confirmed injuries involved head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The Numbers

Researchers documented approximately 40,000 e-scooter-related injuries throughout the United States over the four-year-period of the study, with the number of injuries escalating each year as e-scooter usage increased. The study found that e-scooters were used for nearly 40 million trips in 2018 alone. Of those who suffered injury, most were men (around two-thirds) and more than half were between the ages of 18 and 35. After TBI, the most common injuries were fractures (27%), scrapes and bruises (23%), and lacerations (14%).

The study also concluded that the actual numbers are likely higher, as many people injured in scooter accidents choose not to seek treatment for their injuries.

California’s Efforts to Reduce the Number of Scooter-Related Injuries

In an effort to address concerns about e-scooter safety, California legislators have put certain measures in place:

  • E-scooters have a 12-mile-per-hour speed limit.
  • E-scooters may not be ridden on sidewalks.
  • If ridden on a street with a speed limit higher than 25 miles-per-hour, the e-scooter must be in the bike lane.
  • E-scooter operators may not carry packages while in motion.

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have more than 30 years of experience effectively handling personal injury claims in California, including motorcycle accidents. Contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-866-288-6010 to set up a free initial consultation.

No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

Can You Recover Damages If There’s No Collision?

No-Contact-Motorcycle-AccidentsIt’s an all too common occurrence—you’re out on the road on your motorcycle and a distracted or careless motorist turns into your path. To avoid a collision, you lay the bike down or veer and lose control. You suffer injuries when you hit the pavement, and your bike is damaged, but there was no contact with the motor vehicle. Can you still pursue compensation for your injuries and losses? The answer is generally yes.

The Legal Basis for a Personal Injury Claim

There’s no requirement that there be impact between your bike and another vehicle for you to have a valid claim for damages. Most personal injury claims are based on the legal principle of negligence. Under this rule, everyone in society is deemed to have a duty to act reasonably at all times, including while operating a motor vehicle.

To establish liability for negligence, you must prove three things in court:

  • That the defendant (the person from whom you are seeking compensation) failed to meet the standard of care reasonably expected—Another way of saying this is that the defendant “breached the duty of care.”
  • That the breach of duty caused an accident—You must show that the accident would not have happened if the defendant had acted reasonably and also that your injuries or losses were reasonably foreseeable as a consequence of the breach of duty
  • That you suffered actual losses as a result of the accident—If your losses are covered by insurance, you cannot recover them from the defendant. In addition, if you have property loss, but the property has no value, you cannot recover damages for it.

In a no-contact accident, then, the court will look at the facts of the case and apply these standards. Did the motorist carelessly turn into your path or cause you to take evasive action? Did that carelessness cause you to lay down the bike or lose control? Did you suffer actual losses as a result?

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have protected the rights of personal injury victims throughout California for more than 30 years, including victims of motorcycle accidents. Contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-866-288-6010 to set up a free initial consultation.

Comparative Negligence in California Motorcycle Accidents

What Happens If You Are Partially Responsible for Causing a Crash?

Comparative Negligence in California Motorcycle AccidentsThough there are many motor vehicle accidents where the courts ultimately find only one party responsible, the reality is that many crashes are caused by carelessness or negligence by both the person seeking damages and the party being sued. For example, a motorist may make an illegal turn or fail to stop at a stop sign and you may have been speeding. If the motorist had not turned into your path, the accident would not have happened, but if you hadn’t been speeding, it wouldn’t have happened, either. What happens when you’re involved in a motorcycle accident where there’s liability attributed to both parties?

For centuries, the principle of contributory negligence applied to such a situation. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, a person who contributed in any way or to any degree in causing the accident that caused his/her injuries could not recover any compensation. As the principle developed, defense attorneys adopted a strategy of looking for any evidence of carelessness or negligence on the part of the injured person (the plaintiff). That led to situations where a grossly negligent person could escape responsibility for injuries suffered by someone who was only nominally careless.

The perceived unfairness of the contributory negligence approach led lawmakers across the country to adopt a new approach. All states now use some form of “comparative negligence” to determine how liability will be allocated when both parties were at fault. The comparative negligence scheme looks at the plaintiff’s total losses, determines the degree to which the plaintiff was responsible, and reduces the total award by that percentage. For example, if the total losses were $100,000 and the plaintiff was deemed 25% responsible, the total award will be reduced to $75,000.

Two different approaches to comparative negligence have evolved: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. With pure comparative negligence, an injured party will always receive something, unless deemed to be 100% responsible. With modified comparative negligence, if the plaintiff’s negligence exceeds a certain threshold (usually 50%), there will be no recovery. California is a pure comparative negligence state.

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we bring decades of experience to personal injury victims throughout California. Contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

Understanding California’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

When a Helmet Must Be Worn | Helmet Requirements

Understanding California's Motorcycle Helmet LawStatistics show that riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous that traveling in a passenger vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that approximately four of every five motorcycle crashes result in death or serious injury. Studies also show that the right type of helmet can significantly reduce your risk of death or serious injury if you’re involved in an accident.

Under California law, all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet. The operator of a bike may receive a ticket if a passenger is not wearing a legal helmet, and a helmeted passenger may be cited for riding with an un-helmeted driver. California’s statute mandates that the helmet is worn properly on the head, with all chin straps securely fastened. Furthermore, the helmet must be tight enough to reasonably limit excessive movement.

In California, a motorcycle helmet must meet these minimum legal requirements:

  • The helmet must comply with federal weight standards, which require a minimum weight of three pounds.
  • The chin straps on the helmet must be made of sturdy material and attached to the helmet with solid rivets.
  • The helmet must have an inner liner made of polystyrene foam, with a minimum thickness of one inch.
  • The helmet may not have any object or item protruding more than one-fifth of an inch from its outer shell.

All helmets that meet California safety standards should have a sticker attached indicating compliance.

Contact Weber & Nierenberg for Experienced Legal Counsel

At the law office of Weber & Nierenberg, we have successfully represented motorcycle accident victims in California for decades. We understand the serious nature of injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents, as well as the common causes of motorcycle wrecks. Contact our office online or call us at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

Lane Splitting in California—It’s Legal, But Is It Safe?

Lane Splitting in California

It’s Legal… But Is It Safe?

Lane Splitting in California—It's Legal, But Is It Safe?It’s a fairly common occurrence on many of California’s busy roads. Cars are backed up at an intersection or light, or even on the freeway, and a motorcycle will navigate between them to move forward. It’s common because it’s legal. It’s called lane splitting (or occasionally “lane sharing) and has been permitted under California law since 2016. Though it may be legal, there’s no consensus on whether the practice is safe.

In 2015, the University of California at Berkeley conducted a study on the practice. The data gathered indicates that lane splitting is relatively safe, but only under certain conditions. The two most important factors affecting safety are the speed at which the bike is traveling and the speed at which surrounding traffic is moving. Lane splitting becomes unsafe when the motorcyclist exceeds 50 miles per hour or exceeds the flow of traffic by more than 15 miles per hour.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has indicated that lane splitting may reduce congestion and increase safety. Citing the fact that lane splitting is legal in many foreign countries, NHTSA would like to see further safety studies on the practice.

The American Motorcyclist Association, a national group that lobbies for bikers, says lane splitting is generally safe, provided the biker is traveling at a reasonable speed and paying attention to other motorists.

Contact Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have successfully represented personal injury victims in California for more than 30 years, including people hurt in motorcycle accidents. We’ll take the time to learn what happened to you, and what your injuries are, so we can tailor our counsel to get the outcome you want. Contact our office online or call us at 1-866-288-6010 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Minimize the Risk of a Motorcycle Accident in 2020

Measures You Can Take to Reduce the Likelihood of Injury

Minimize the Risk of a Motorcycle Accident in 2020If you’ve been a motorcycle enthusiast for any length of time, you know it’s a two-edged sword. There’s nothing quite like the feel of the open road, wind in your face, taking in California’s spectacular scenery. But motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than other types of vehicles. Statistics indicate that bikers are 28 times more likely to sustain a serious or fatal injury in a crash than travelers in passenger vehicles. You can, however, take measures to minimize the risk of a motorcycle accident:

  • Drive defensively—The evidence is pretty conclusive—other drivers generally don’t look out for bikers on the road. That means you have to take concrete measures to protect yourself. Keep an eye on the motorists around you. Look for signs that they might be turning without giving a signal. Keep a safe distance behind the motorist in front of you in order to maximize your reaction time. Watch out for potholes, loose gravel, or debris on the road.
  • Improve your skills—Take a safety course or learn new techniques for handling your bike. Go to a vacant parking lot and practice and practice for a while.
  • Make certain other drivers can see you—Wear bright clothing. Keep out of blind spots. Always use turn signals and hand signals. Consider driving with your headlights on at all times.
  • Make certain your bike is road-ready—Check the brakes, throttle, horn, and turn signals before you get on the road. Make certain your tire pressure is good and that you have plenty of fuel.

Contact Our Experienced Motorcycle-Accident Lawyers

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have provided aggressive legal counsel to personal injury victims in California for more than three decades. We will listen carefully to learn the specific details of your claim, as well as what you need to compensate you fully for all your losses. Contact our office online or call us at 1-866-288-6010 to schedule a free initial consultation.

The Importance of Having Motorcycle Insurance in California

How Proposition 213 Affects Your Right to Compensation After an Injury

The Importance of Having Motorcycle Insurance in CaliforniaIn California, as in other states, all motorists (including motorcycle operators) must carry a minimum amount of insurance. Nonetheless, many drivers, including bikers, either fail to obtain the necessary coverage or carelessly let their policy lapse. Obviously, if you have no valid insurance policy in place, you can’t look to an insurer to cover your losses after an accident. In California, Prop 213 also may prevent you from recovering damages in a lawsuit, even if another party was at fault.

The Effect of Prop 213 on a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim in California

Prop 213, known as the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996, bars uninsured drivers from recovering a general damages award in certain circumstances. General damages typically include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. Prop 213 states the following:

  • An uninsured motorist can never collect general damages, regardless of fault.
  • An uninsured motorist may be able to collect compensation from an at-fault party’s insurer for medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses.
  • Passengers on or in a vehicle driven by an uninsured motorist may collect general damages in a lawsuit.

Exceptions to the Rule

The driver of an uninsured vehicle may still be eligible for general damages when the accident occurs under the following circumstances:

  • The uninsured vehicle is owned by the driver’s employer.
  • The accident occurs on a private road.
  • The vehicle involved in the accident is uninsured, but the driver has insurance on another vehicle.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Weber & Nierenberg

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have more than 30 years of experience successfully handling a wide range of personal injury claims, including injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents. We will takethe time to learn the details of your accident, as well as what you need to be fully compensated for your losses. Contact us online or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

 
 
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