Fault in California Motorcycle Accidents

What Happens If an Injured Motorcyclist Is Partially at Fault?

Fault in California Motorcycle AccidentsIf you’re hurt in a motorcycle accident in California, there’s a good chance you can seek compensation for your injuries. Most personal injury claims, including motorcycle accident injury claims, are based on a legal theory of negligence. In essence, negligence occurs when someone fails to act as a reasonable person would be expected to act under the circumstances. A motorist might exceed the speed limit, fail to stop at a light or sign, or turn into the path of a biker without looking.

It’s fairly common, though, for both parties to an accident to engage in some type of negligence. For example, a motorist might be exceeding the legal speed limit when another runs a red light, and the two cars collide. If the latter driver had stopped, the accident would not have occurred, but the same can be said about the one speeding. So how is liability allocated when both parties contribute to an accident.

Comparative Negligence in California

For many years, the doctrine of contributory negligence applied in personal injury claims. Underthat legal theory, if an injured person contributed in any way to causing their own injury, there could be no recovery. In application, that rule became harsh, as injured people who contributed in very minor ways were left without a remedy for the extremely careless behavior of other motorists.

Around the turn of the 20th century, most states, including California, replaced the legal concept of contributory negligence with comparative negligence. With comparative negligence, the court first determines the total losses suffered, then allocates responsibility between the parties. The injured party’s recovery is then reduced by their percentage of liability.

For example, if you’re injured while riding a motorcycle and your total losses are $100,000, but the court determines that you were 25% at fault, your damage award will be reduced by $25,000. Because California is a “pure negligence” state, an injured person may still recover monetary damages, even if their percentage of fault is greater than the defendant’s.

Contact Weber & Nierenberg for Proven Personal Injury Counse

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of personal injury victims across California. For an appointment to discuss your options after a motorcycle accident, contact us by e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

What You Must Show the Court to Win a Verdict

Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident ClaimIf you’re hurt while operating or riding a motorcycle in California, you have a right to seek compensation for your losses. Most legal claims for losses suffered in a motorcycle accident are based on a legal theory of negligence.

What Is Negligence?

The principle of negligence has been at the forefront of personal injury law for hundreds of years, originating in the English legal system. To successfully prove negligence in court, you must show three things:

  • that the defendant (the party from whom you seek damages) failed to act as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances;
  • that the failure to act reasonably caused an accident; and
  • that, because of the accident, you suffered “actual losses.”

The Failure to Act Reasonably

Under the legal theory of negligence, every person in society has a duty, at all times and in all actions, to behave as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. This “duty of care” applies to all the routines of daily life, such as driving a car, maintaining your property, using power tools, or manufacturing and selling a product. The law does not, however, identify exactly what constitutes reasonable behavior—that is determined by a jury on a case-by-case basis. However, to ensure some consistency in the outcome of cases, juries are bound by the principle of stare decisis, which requires that weight be given to rulings in prior cases involving similar fact situations.

The Cause of the Accident

To meet the cause requirement, you must demonstrate both actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause means that the accident would not have occurred “but for” the breach of the duty of care. Proximate cause means that the consequences of the breach of duty were reasonably foreseeable at the time of the breach.

Actual Losses

You may recover only for losses actually incurred. Any losses covered by insurance cannot be recovered again in a lawsuit. Likewise, you cannot recover for damage to property that has no value or for injuries that cause no pain and suffering, that do not prevent you from working, or that otherwise have no negative impact on your life.

Contact the Law Offices of Weber & Nierenberg

At Weber & Nierenberg, we bring more than three decades of experience to men and women across California who suffer personal injury, including people hurt in motorcycle accidents. For a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010.

Motorcycle Accident Deaths Decline in California

But Roadways Still Present Increased Risks for Bikers

Motorcycle Accident Deaths Decline in CaliforniaThere are over 800,000 motorcycles registered in California. In 2018, there were just over 14,000 motorcycle accidents in the state, down from 16,505 in 2017. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, the number of motorcycle-accident fatalities also dropped during that time, from 578 in 2017 to 488 in 2018, a decline of 15.57%. The trends in California are similar to those nationwide, although the national decrease of motorcycle fatalities in 2017 was only 5.6%.

Despite the lowering fatality rate, California roadways are still pretty dangerous for motorcyclists. Bikers remain 28 times more likely to die in a collision than someone operating or riding in a passenger vehicle (down from 34 times as likely just four years ago). Approximately three of every four motorcycle accidents are collisions between bikes and at least one car.

Safety experts say a number of factors continue to make the motorcycle-accident-fatality rate relatively high:

  • Distracted driving—In addition to handheld devices, motorcyclists are susceptible to roadside distractions.
  • Aging biker population—Most motorcyclists are now over the age of 40, with the average age of motorcycle-accident-fatality victims being 43.
  • Alcohol and drugs—One in every four fatal motorcycle accidents involves at least one driver with blood alcohol content over the legal limit. The legalization of recreational marijuana use also has led to a higher number of bikers driving under the influence.

Contact Our Offices

At the law offices of Weber & Nierenberg, we have provided strong and effective representation to motorcycle accident injury victims for more than 30 years. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010.

Using Technology to Minimize the Risk of a Motorcycle Accident-old

New High-Tech Developments Enhance Biker Safety

When You're in a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Road HazardEverywhere you turn, things are getting smarter—your television, your appliances… and now your motorcycle. A number of technological innovations have hit the market recently, all designed to help you maximize the enjoyment of your motorcycle while helping you stay safer. Here are some of the more popular new technologies:

  • Airbags—Airbag technology is applied differently to motorcycles—it’s in the clothing you buy, rather than the bike. The most basic airbags are tethered to your bike and deploy when a cord is pulled. The more sophisticated products have computerized systems that detect an impending crash.
  • Directional headlights—The single headlight on a motorcycle, pointed straight ahead, has always been less than adequate, particularly when you’re turning a corner at night. New adaptive headlights use sensors to pivot when you’re rounding a turn, so your headlights shine where you’re going.
  • Antilock braking—Slamming on your brakes is one of the least effective and most dangerous ways to try to stop your bike. Antilock brakes create a “feathering” effect by rapidly reducing and reapplying the brakes a number of times per second. Studies show that fatal crash rates are about one-third lower on bikes with antilock braking systems.
  • Electronic throttle control—This technology replaces the traditional accelerator cable with an electronic device that minimizes the risk of accidental sudden acceleration.
  • Smart helmets—A number of helmet manufacturers are incorporating Bluetooth technology into helmets, allowing riders to see GPS images and rearview cameras on thevisor of their helmet

Another technology in development, but not yet ready for release is vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which integrates sensors into a bike to accomplish two objectives: emitting a signal to nearby vehicles making them aware of the presence of the bike; and giving motorcyclists notification of the presence of nearby vehicles.

Contact Our Offices

At the law offices of Weber & Nierenberg, we have been successfully representing people hurt in motorcycle accidents for more than three decades. To arrange a free initial consultation, Send us an e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010

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.

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.

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.

Tips for Maximizing Your Safety on a Motorcycle—Part One

Things You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Injury

Tips for Maximizing Your Safety on a MotorcycleFor many, riding a motorcycle can be a two-edged sword. There’s exhilaration and freedom you can’t get from anything else when you hit the open road with the wind in your face. But it’s an inherently dangerous venture, too. U.S. Department of Transportation statistics indicate that bikers are 28 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in a crash than someone in a passenger vehicle. In many instances, too, the causes of an accident are beyond your control. There are, however, some specific things you can do to reduce the risk of injury on a bike. Here’s our first installment:

  • Make sure your skills are finely tuned—Don’t be afraid to take a motorcycle safety course. In California, you may even be required to take a safety class or pass a driving skills test. Even if it’s not mandatory, it’s a good idea.
  • Take advantage of safety gear—A helmet, leather pants and jacket, good boots and gloves are essential. You also might look into new airbag technologies available for motorcycles.
  • Keep your bike in top condition—Keep a checklist to go through every time you get on your bike, so you know that brakes, lights, tires, steering and other mechanical conditions are satisfactory.
  • Make certain other drivers can see you—The most common response by other motorists after a collision? I didn’t see the motorcycle. Minimize that risk with brightly colored clothing or reflective tape. Make certain you always use mechanical and hand signals, and ride with your headlights on in the daytime.
  • Give yourself some room—Always allow yourself adequate space and time to stop in the event of an emergency without hitting the vehicle in front of you.

ContactWeber & Nierenberg

At the law office of Weber & Nierenberg, we have protected the rights of injured people in California for more than three decades, including those hurt in motorcycle accidents. We will take the time to listen carefully in order to learn the details of your case, and we will help you seek full and fair compensation. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

California Jury Awards $21.5 Million in Motorcycle Injury Claim

Improper Lane Change Determined as Cause of Accident

A California jury returned a verdict in a motorcycle accident claim determining that the injured biker’s losses totaled $21.5 million. The man was injured in 2017 on the 405 Freeway in southern California. According to trial testimony, the defendant, who worked for a car dealership in Irvine, changed lands without signaling and hit the plaintiff, who was traveling northbound. The impact of the collision threw the plaintiff off his bike and into the path of another vehicle.

According to his attorneys, the plaintiff suffered serious and permanent injuries as a result of the accident. The parties could not agree on a reasonable amount of compensation for the injuries, so the case went to trial.

Witnesses testified at trial that the defendant suddenly shifted from the high occupancy vehicle lane and sideswiped the motorcycle. In addition to the driver of the motor vehicle, the plaintiff sued the car dealership that employed him, alleging that the driver was “unfit and incompetent” to perform the work he was hired to do and that the dealership was negligent in hiring and training him. Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, an employer can be liable for injuries caused by an employee, provided the employee was performing duties that were part of his job at the time of the accident. The driver was delivering a car for his employee at the time of the crash.

Contact Weber & Nierenberg for Proven Representation

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have successfully protected the rights of personal injury victims in California for decades, including those of people injured in motorcycle accidents. We take an individualized approach to every claim, learning the details of your accident and tailoring our counsel to get the outcome you want. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

The Smart Helmet—The Next Step in Motorcycle Safety

The Power of Technology Applied to Your Motorcycle Helmet

The Smart Helmet—The Next Step in Motorcycle SafetyWe all know about smartphones, and most of us are becoming familiar with the applications of smart technology to appliances, security systems and other aspects of our lives. Now smart technology has been integrated with a motorcycle helmet. The result is a helmet that provides instant access to data and lets you effectively track critical information about your rides.

The cutting edge smart helmets are fully integrated with Bluetooth® as well as a technology known as Mesh Intercom™. These systems make a number of functions relatively easy:

  • You can make hands-free phone calls, provided you have coverage.
  • You can listen to music, changing tunes with voice commands.
  • You can get GPS instructions piped in through your helmet.

The Mesh Intercom system lets you communicate with other riders through intercom, rather than phone. It has two settings—open mesh, which allows essentially limitless communications with riders within a mile of you; and closed mesh, where you can speak live with up to 16 other participants within a range of five miles.

Most of the high-end smart helmets include HUD (head-up display), a technology that projects information on the inside of a windshield or helmet visor. With the fully integrated systems, you can see everything you need to know, from speed to temperature gauges, by looking straight ahead. It’s all on the inside of your visor.

There’s also a prototype of a smart helmet that connects to Amazon’s Alexa and has both front- and rear-facing 2K cameras. The helmet also includes an anti-fog visor, a waterproof design and wireless charging. Product developers expect this helmet to be on the market within a year.

Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have more than 30 years of experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in California. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 1-866-288-6010.

 
 
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Fault in California Motorcycle Accidents

What Happens If an Injured Motorcyclist Is Partially at Fault? If you're hurt in a motorcycle accident in California, there's a good chance... [Read More...]