San Diego Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents are different then car accidents for obvious reasons. Motorcycles are smaller, lighter, usually only have two wheels, and do not enclose the rider in a strong metal box to protect them. It goes without saying motorcycle riding is riskier than riding in a car.
Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injury or death as compared to car accidents. Per vehicle mile travelled, motorcycle riders are 8 times more likely to be injured, but 35 more times likely to be killed! ((http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810990.PDF)) That means per accident, the risk of death is significantly higher in motorcycle accidents compared to others.
This article provides an overview of California motorcycle accident cases and what you need to know to ensure your rights are protected. If after reading this whole article you still have unanswered questions, contact a personal injury attorney in your area immediately. Consultations are free, so it won’t cost you a thing.
Unique risks of motorcycle riding
There are specific risks unique to motorcycles. Already mentioned above motorcycles are smaller, lighter, and therefore harder to see. Contrary to urban legend drivers of cars don’t really want to crash into motorcycles. They just can’t see you.
- Less visibility to cars.
- Road hazards. Motorcycles are at much higher risks of a crash due to debris, uneven road surfaces, or slick pavements.
- Stability. 2 wheels are less stable than 4. Quick changing road or traffic conditions can cause a bike to go down.
General Rule: You are owed money for any injuries caused by someone else
If someone caused you to crash your motorcycle and you suffer any type of damage or injury, they owe you money. ((California Civil Code 3281)), ((California Civil Code 3282)) In legal terms, this is called “damages.” All harm caused in the accident is considered damages. These include:
- Medical bills
- Lost time at work
- Prescription medicine
- Damage to your motorcycle
- Pain, suffering and inconvenience
- Any thing else that was harmed
If someone damages your TV, they owe you a new TV. If they break your window, they owe you money for a new window and possibly the costs of cleaning up the old, broken glass. But when someone causes you significant pain for 6 months, they can’t replace those 6 months. They can’t reset the clock.
Your injuries are real, you experienced the pain, the suffering, the inconvenience. So the legal system has determined the best way to compensate for these injuries is with a monetary sum, determined by a jury of your peers.
You can also secure future damages. In other words, collect a monetary sum for harms in the future. For example, if you need to see the doctor for 5 years after the accident, you are owed those medical bills, as well as any continued pain and suffering. The only requirement for future damages is that the amount is certain enough to be counted ((California Civil Code 3283))
How long does a motorcycle accident case take?
There are many factors that determine how long a motorcycle accident case takes. If your injuries are relatively minor, with just a few months of therapy and treatment, then the case can settle within 6 months or even less.
If the injuries are more severe, it is possible the insurance company will not want to pay a fair and reasonable amount for your injuries, and so your case may take longer. You might need to file a lawsuit, and If necessary, take the case all the way to trial. Such a case takes a few years form start to finish.
If liability is an issue, in other words there is dispute as to who caused the accident, this can also lengthen the time of your case.
The most important thing is to wait until your medical treatment is finished before trying to settle a case. You might not be 100% healed, but as long as you have reached a stable condition then a settlement is possible. If you settle a case before your medical condition is stable, you run the risk of a more serious condition being discovered or determined.
At that point, if you reached a settlement and signed a contract releasing the at-fault party, then you may be prevented from pursuing more money. So there is risk in trying to settle a case too early.
If a lawsuit is filed, this does not mean your case will go to trial. Both sides usually try to settle the case even though court proceedings were initiated.
How long do I have in California to file a lawsuit in a motorcycle accident case?
In most situations, you have two years from the date of the accident. ((California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1)) This is called a statute of limitations. This is the maximum time you have to file a lawsuit against someone who caused injury to you. There are exceptions to this rule but in general, you must file a lawsuit or settle your case within 2 years. If you don’t, you will be barred forever from pursuing this case because you are prohibited from filing a lawsuit.
If your claim is against the government (such as a city or state worker who crashed in to you while on the job) then you have 6 months from the date of the accident. ((California Government Code 911.2))
If they reject your claim, you have 6 months from the date of the rejection notice to file a lawsuit. ((California Government Code 945.6)) If you never hear from the government agency (they neither reject or accept your claim) then you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
If your claim is against the government (state, city or local) you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney immediately. 6 months is a short timeline especially when you consider recovery and treatment after an accident. You might not have a lot of time left to file this claim form.
How much is your motorcycle accident case worth?
There really is no easy answer here. The value of your case depends on many factors, the most important factor being what a jury of 12 complete strangers think it is. But some generalizations can be made.
A quick summary of your case value is:
Medical Costs + Future Medical Costs + Missed Time at Work + Future Earning Capacity + Pain, Suffering & Inconvenience + = Value of Your Case
Lawyers fight over each one of the items in this formula. We know that the defendant owes you something if they caused your injuries. They are liable for all the damage they caused. ((California Civil Code 3333)) So the role of the lawyer is to assess your case pre-lawsuit, and make a demand on the insurance company. If they agree with the assessment, or mostly agree, then both sides can work towards a settlement amount satisfactory to both sides, and avoid a lawsuit.
If not, then a lawsuit is filed.
Do you even need a lawyer for your motorcycle case?
Not always. If you are not injured or your injuries are very very minor, then it is possible to handle the case on your own. Call the insurance adjuster up, tell them what costs you’ve incurred (damage to your bike, medical bills) and they might settle your case for a reasonable amount. If they do not pay a fair amount, you may be able to pursue the case through Small Claims. ((http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm))
But if you did suffer injures that are more significant, you might not need or want a lawyer but it is highly suggested that you do. The sooner after the accident the better. You don’t have to hire the lawyer right away, but consulting with a lawyer isn’t going to hurt and can only help. We don’t charge for initial consultations so it won’t even cost you any money.
A 30 minute consultation and case review will point you in the right direction. If after the initial consultation it looks like you have a solid case, a longer more intensive meeting will be immediately scheduled.
If you do hire us, we can:
- Find out Liability and Insurance Policy Information.
- Get your motorcycle out of the tow yard and repaired or replaced
- Get your out-of-pocket expenses back
- Get you the best medical care, and figure out how your medical bills will be paid for.
- Get your lost wages back.
- Determine how much your case is worth.
- Maximize your case value.
How much does a lawyer cost?
It does not cost you a thing to hire us. We work on a contingency fee, which means you do not pay us a dime unless you win your case. Our interests are aligned directly with yours since we won’t be paid until you win. That means we won’t be billing and an obscene hourly rate, just to stick you with a large bill even if you don’t win. You may be responsible for expenses but you don’t pay us a fee until you win.