Santa Barbara Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Although motorcycles are convenient in urban areas like Santa Barbara, motorcyclists are at a higher risk of fatal injuries when they get into a bad accident. Motorcycle accidents are often the result of distracted driving, which can lead to fatalities. A victim of a serious motorcycle accident must be compensated in order to cover the cost of the damages. With the proper evidence, witness accounts, and the help of a motorcycle accident attorney, they may have the chance to obtain a high settlement amount.
With the help of a dedicated motorcycle accident attorney in Santa Barbara, Southern California, you can obtain the settlement you deserve. Their additional support will help present your personal injury case in the best light. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer now for a free consultation.
How Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Santa Barbara Can Help You
When you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should receive compensation for your serious injuries even if you are partly at fault. A personal injury attorney can make the process easier for you.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
If drivers and motorcyclists aren’t paying attention to the road, it increases the chance of accidents and deaths. Sometimes, it may be a case of poor weather conditions. However, in most circumstances, the reason a motorcycle vs. car accident occurs is due to distracted driving. A motorcyclist is 29 times more likely than a car driver and their passengers to be injured in a collision.
Drivers who are not focused on the road account for a high percentage of crashes, which means that they are probably liable if you are injured after a collision. Other reasons that motorcycle accidents occur are due to motorcyclists making improper turns, maneuvering between cars, speeding, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving has resulted in one out of three motorcycle accidents. Additionally, 45% of motorcycle accidents cause more than just minor injuries. Mostly men are involved in motorcycle fatalities, with the average age being 43. Despite the low number of motorcyclists on the road — motorcyclists only account for 3% of all registered vehicles — they make up 14% of annual traffic deaths.
Motorcyclists are at a heightened risk of spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury because they don’t have the same protection that a car provides. Motorcycle collisions often happen because of the following reasons:
When car drivers are turning left, they often don’t notice smaller vehicles in the oncoming traffic. They typically only spot other average-sized or larger motor vehicles. When a motorcyclist is driving in the opposite lane, it can be difficult for a car driver to see this much smaller vehicle, causing a car driver to collide with a motorcyclist by accident.
Because cars are much larger than motorcycles, the car driver may find it difficult to see the motorcyclist in their blind spot. Car drivers must check their blind spots through their mirrors and by looking over their shoulders. If they neglect to do this, it can result in an accident when they change lanes not seeing the motorcyclist.
Car drivers sometimes speed, run red lights, ignore yield signs, cut people off, brake check, tailgate, and do other reckless behavior that can result in injured motorcyclists. Aggressive drivers don’t follow traffic laws due to impatience and can increase the chance of a motorcycle accident.
Distracted drivers create dangerous conditions by not being attentive to others sharing the road because they are talking to passengers, self-grooming, eating, and doing other activities. They also may be on their phones texting, GPS mapping, sending emails, and more. As soon as a driver takes their eyes off the road, they are less likely to be able to stop in time before colliding with a biker.
What Do Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyers Do?
An attorney can review your case and guide you through the steps you need to take for your claim. For example, your legal professional will tell you that you need to collect information from the other parties after you were injured, get medical help for your injuries, document information about your pain and suffering, and can help gather information from witnesses. This information can be used as evidence for your case, and your law firm will present your case to the insurance company to help you obtain compensation.
Here are some items that your attorneys can take care of on your behalf after a serious California traffic accident involving injuries:
Your personal injury attorney will point out essential facts to help your case. An insurance company will always be looking to save money. However, they will not be able to ignore your injuries when your legal professional makes a stand for you and protects your rights. They may take your case to court if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement amount.
Collection Of Evidence
Motorcycle accident personal injury lawyers work by obtaining the necessary evidence to prove how you were injured. They do so by obtaining traffic camera footage, police reports, chemical or breathalyzer results, photographic evidence, accident reconstruction information, eyewitness testimonies, and other useful data. Our methods are very reliable and have a proven track record of creating stronger cases.
Your injury lawyer can calculate the economic cost of your damages. Your attorney will calculate damages such as wage loss, future medical bills, and other costs. However, there is much more than property damage that will be accounted for. For example, your lawyer will include non-economic damages like pain and suffering in the total estimation. In severe accidents, you can also include loss of a limb, rehabilitative treatment, disfigurement, reduced earning capacity, and the cost of future medical care. Your legal professional will know whether testimony from medical experts is necessary and what approaches they need to take to help calculate your settlement amount.
Help Prevent Errors
There are many mistakes that a motorcyclist could make when filing a personal injury claim after a motorcycle accident. Your injury attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls. After a crash, your attorney can provide you with useful advice to help support your traffic accident claim. For instance, they will give you advice to prevent insurance companies from lowballing your settlement or disputing your damages.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Attorneys are great at negotiating to help you get the compensation you deserve. The driver’s insurer will try to offer a settlement that is lower than what you need. Your attorney can negotiate with them to ensure they make a fair offer.
Going to Trial
If none of the parties can come to a settlement agreement, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This helps relieve you of all the preparation for trial as your legal professional prepares the documentation for you. They will prepare all of the necessary evidence and present your claim.
Motorcycle Laws in Santa Barbara
If you routinely ride a bike in Santa Barbara, California, you should be aware of the traffic laws that apply to you as well as your vehicle. These regulations are designed to protect your safety and the safety of others on the road, sure, but failing to follow them can also result in reduced compensation if you are injured in an accident. Some insurance companies in a motorcycle accident case may argue that you were partly or wholly at fault for your serious injuries because you were not wearing a helmet or changed a lane illegally.
Here are some of the most important laws you should know:
California law requires that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards. The helmet must fit properly and have a fastened chin strap. It must also have a label that indicates compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury or death in a motorcycle crash by up to 69%.
Lane splitting is the practice of riding a bike between rows of moving or stopped traffic in the same lane. While it is legal in California, it must be done in a safe manner. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has issued the following guidelines for this:
- Avoid lane splitting at speeds over 30 mph or when the traffic speed differential is more than 10 mph.
- Avoid lane splitting near freeway exits, curves, or where traffic is unpredictable.
- Avoid lane splitting between buses, RVs, trucks, or trailers.
- Be visible and wear bright or reflective clothing and gear.
- Use caution when crossing seams or bumps on the road surface.
Motorcycle equipment regulations
California law requires your bike to have certain equipment to operate legally on public roads. These include:
- Headlights: Motorcycles built in 1978 or later must have a headlight that is on at all times, day or night. The headlight must be white or yellow and visible from at least 300 feet in normal sunlight.
- Taillights: All motorcycles must have a red taillight that is on whenever the engine is running. The taillight must be visible from at least 500 feet in normal sunlight and from at least 300 feet in darkness.
- Brake lights: They must have a brake light that is activated by either the front or rear brake. The brake light must be red and visible from at least 300 feet in normal sunlight and from at least 100 feet in darkness.
- Turn signals: Motorcycles built in 1973 or later must have turn signals on both the front and rear. These signals must be amber or white on the front and red or amber on the rear. They must be visible from at least 300 feet in normal sunlight.
- Mirrors: Each bike must have at least one mirror that provides a clear view of at least 200 feet behind the vehicle. The mirror may be mounted on either the left or right handlebar.
- Horn: Bikes must have a horn that can be heard from at least 200 feet away.
To operate a motorcycle in California, you must have either a Class M1 license or a Class M2 license. A Class M1 license allows you to operate any type of bike, while a Class M2 license only allows you to operate motorized bicycles, mopeds, scooters, or motorcycles with an engine size of 149 cc or less.
As per California law, all motor vehicle operators must carry liability insurance that covers bodily injury and property damage in case of an accident. The minimum coverage amounts are $15,000 for injury or death of one person, $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage.
Passenger and cargo rules
You can legally carry a passenger on your bike in Santa Barbara if:
- You have a Class M1 or M2 license
- Your bike is designed to carry a passenger
- Your passenger has a helmet and a seat with footrests
Additionalluy, you may only carry cargo on your motorcycle if it is securely fastened and does not interfere with your vision, steering, or braking.
Knowing and following these local laws can help you as a rider to protect yourselves from legal troubles and maximize your chances of getting a fair settlement if you are injured in a traffic accident. That said, you may still face challenges in proving liability and dealing with insurance companies – which is why you need the guidance of an experienced Santa Barbara motorcycle accident lawyer.
Comparative Negligence and Duty of Care: How They Impact Your Compensation After a Bike Crash in Santa Barbara, CA
California follows the principle of pure comparative negligence, which means the fault for an accident or injury can be shared among multiple parties, including the motorcycle accident victims.
If you are injured in a bike crash, you can still seek compensation from the at-fault driver(s), even if you were partly to blame for the motorcycle accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 20% at fault and your damages were $100,000, you can only recover $80,000 from the other party or parties.
This is also where “duty of care” comes into play. Like most states, California also requires that all drivers owe a duty of care to other road users, including motorcycle riders. Drivers must act reasonably and safely to avoid causing harm to others. Those who breach this duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly can be held liable for the damages they cause. Some examples of breaching the duty of care include:
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Making an unsafe lane change or turn
- Failing to check blind spots or mirrors
If a motorist runs a red light and hits you, they have breached their duty of care and can be sued for your injuries and losses.
Keep in mind that for personal injury claims, including Santa Barbara motorcycle accidents, the statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the injury. If you are injured in a vehicle collision, you only have two years to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to sue and recover compensation.
FAQs For Motorcycle Accident Victims
Here is additional information that can help prepare you for your settlement claim. You can also ask our motorcycle accident lawyers about how to get started.
How Much Will My Settlement Be?
The compensation you receive depends entirely on the damages you suffered. For example, if you suffered a long-term disability after the accident, you will be unable to work. For this reason, your settlement amount will be higher. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and more. For wrongful death victims, the surviving family members can also claim loss of consortium, loss of mentorship, loss of guardianship, loss of valuable services, and many other damages. If the wrongful death victim had dependents, the settlement would also considerably increase. The amount you can collect for these damages depends on a variety of factors that your attorney can discuss with you.
What Does Being Partially At Fault Mean?
In a complex motorcycle accident, you may be held partially liable for your injuries if you contributed to the accident. Your settlement amount will depend upon the proportion of the accident that was your fault. In Santa Barbara, California, you have to be 100% at fault for your motorcycle accident to not receive compensation of any kind. The police report can reveal if the driver contributed to the crash. Your attorney can also analyze the evidence by reviewing eyewitness accounts, traffic cameras, and more.
If you were partially at fault for your accident, this doesn’t prevent you from receiving damages in the State of California, according to the law of comparative negligence. In some states, you aren’t given any compensation if you are more than 50% at fault. In California, even if you are 99% responsible for your injuries, you can still receive 1% compensation. This is calculated with the help of your attorney based on the circumstances of your case. To get an accurate assessment, speak to your attorney and tell them how your errors could have helped cause your motorcycle accident.
How Does The Contingency Fee Work?
Our law firm won’t require any upfront costs. Instead, when you receive your settlement, we take an agreed-upon percentage of that amount for our services.
Learn More About How to Work With Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Santa Barbara, California
After you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, it is beneficial for you to receive formal legal advice to help you through this difficult circumstance. Motorcycle accident cases can be hard to prove, and once you sustain injuries, you’ll need additional support while you are recovering. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and make the process easier. You can get access to the talent of an experienced professional who can represent your case in Santa Barbara, Southern California, and help you get a fair settlement amount. Insurance companies aren’t always looking out for your best interest, which is why a lawyer can aid you. You can contact a Maho | Prentice LLP lawyer today and request a free consultation.