Los Angeles Motorcycle Accidents Lawyer

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are often painful and traumatic. Because motorcyclists are exposed to the elements and have little in the way of protection from other vehicles, the damages from collisions are typically much more severe than seen with auto accidents. This can leave accident victims with financial, physical and mental consequences that will last for a lifetime.

Here’s something that’s even more disturbing: If you ride a motorcycle in California, you’re increasingly likely to be injured in a collision. According to a report from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, fatal motorcycle accidents have been rising for 22 years.

West Hollywood and the South Bay are some of the most congested cities in Southern California. As such, motorcycle accidents occur with great frequency in West Hollywood and the surrounding area. It is important for West Hollywood visitors and residents to be extremely vigilant while riding a motorcycle due to dangerous intersections and inattentive drivers.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at motorcycle collisions in California, and what you need to do in case of an accident.

California Motorcycle Collisions: By the Numbers

Currently, motorcycling accidents make up 14% of all traffic deaths in the US, even though motorcycles only represent about 3% of all vehicles on the road. California, which ranks in the top 15 among all states for motorcycle fatalities, witnessed more than 400 motorcyclist deaths in 2017, and thousands more serious injuries.

In total, motorcycle deaths on California roads have more than doubled since 1997. Summer is the deadliest season, with most motorcycle fatalities occurring in July. Roughly half of motorcycle deaths occur on the weekends, and the majority of those occur after 6 p.m.

With the increase in traffic congestion in West Hollywood and the surrounding are, motorcycle accidents and deaths continue to rise. Despite efforts by the City of West Hollywood to make streets safer for drivers, serious motorcycle accidents in West Hollywood occur on an almost daily basis.

Most Common Reasons for West Hollywood Motorcycle Accidents:

  • Inexperienced riders: Many residents of West Hollywood and the South Bay use motorcycles as a second means of transportation and are often inexperienced when it comes to motorcycle safety.
  • Alcohol & drugs: West Hollywood and the South Bay have a vibrant nightlife with many bars and clubs, leading to an increase in alcohol and drug related injuries.
  • Distractions driving (texting, talking on a cell phone, eating etc.)
  • Weaving in and out of traffic: South Bay and West Hollywood’s crowded streets tempt drivers to try to beat the flow of traffic, often resulting in serious injuries.
  • Tailgating. Following too close to other vehicles in one of the most common injury scenarios in West Hollywood and the South Bay.
  • Lane splitting: Although legal, drivers of other vehicles are often not paying attention to their surroundings, making lane splitting a dangerous proposition.
  • Improper or no use of helmets: Many residents of West Hollywood and the South Bay feel safe running errands or jetting around town without a helmet because they are close to home and not on freeways.

California Motorcycle Laws

The following are relevant laws related to California motorcycle drivers:

  1. Lane Splitting: California is the only state in the nation to specifically legalize lane splitting. However, the state has issued the following guidelines:

    • Never ride a motorcycle at more than 10 miles over surrounding traffic.
    • Never lane split at speeds greater than 30 miles per hour.
    • Never lane split around large vehicles such as buses or semi-trailers.
    • Never ride on the shoulder.

    Visit the following link for a more detailed discussion regarding lane splitting in California.

  2. Registration: All motorcyclists must register their bike with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

  3. Insurance: All motorcyclists must carry insurance that specifically covers their motorcycle.

  4. Equipment Requirements: Your motorcycle must meet certain specifications. For instance, your motorcycle must have a muffler and mirrors. Additionally, your motorcycle must have passenger footrests if you are going to carry passengers.

    Your handlebars cannot elevate your hands six inches above your shoulders. Almost all motorcycles require front and rear turn signals.

    There are also requirements for personal safety equipment. California law dictates that you must wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation. Your helmet must also have a visible DOT sticker. Passengers must also wear a DOT-approved helmet.

  5. Operation Rules: If you are driving a motorcycle built after 1978, you must drive with your headlights on at all times, even during the daylight.

  6. Minimum Age Requirements: If you are under 21 years of age, you must have a learner’s permit for six months before you can obtain a license. During this period of time, you cannot carry passengers on your motorcycle.

  7. Obey All Laws: As with every other driver in California, motorcyclists must obey all laws and rules of the road.

View the California DMV motorcyclist’s handbook here.

I’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident. What’s Next?

If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a motorcycle accident, there are some key safety steps you need to take.

  • Contact first responders immediately and render first aid if possible. Make sure that no one is left lying in the road or in a dangerous position.
  • Exchange vehicle, license and insurance information. Ask the police officer on the scene to provide an accident report number if possible.
  • Take photos and video of the scene, any injuries and any damage to vehicles. This may help establish liability.
  • Ask any witnesses to provide contact information and/or statements.
  • Keep a running tally of any expenses you’ve accrued as a result of the accident. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medicals bills etc.

It is important not to attempt to handle your case directly with an insurance adjustor as they their primary goal is to settle for as little as money as possible. Insurance companies employ experienced negotiators who are trained to get you to settle for less. They may be friendly and pleasant to deal with, but they do not have your best interests in mind. Instead, put your trust in an experienced lawyer like Craig Charles who fights for victims of car crashes every day. Don’t let the insurance company deny you fair compensation and cause you to leave money on the table.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney with the knowledge and skill to obtain maximum compensation. Craig Charles Law has a long track record of fighting on behalf of clients injured in motorcycle accidents, thus ensuring the best possible outcome for you.

Craig Charles Law has offices located in West Hollywood, El Segundo and San Diego to serve the needs of clients throughout Southern California. We are a gay friendly, LGBTQIA affirming law practice. Call Craig Charles Law today for a free, no obligation consult at 424-343-0660

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