What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident In California - Yuba Law
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What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident In California

What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident In California

What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident In California

Motorcycle collisions are more dangerous than standard four-wheeler accidents and can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal injuries. Amidst all the chaos, the victim often wonders what to do after a motorcycle accident has happened. What are my legal rights, and how can I use them to compensate for the damage? How should I line things up to successfully file a motorcycle accident claim? Should I call the police or my lawyer? Or both?

Well, worry not. Here’s a quick roundup of things that you must do after an accident. Follow them to protect your legal rights and recover the damage caused to you and your vehicle:

  1.   Seek Immediate Medical Help 

After the accident, your foremost priority should be your well-being. Seek immediate medical attention and get yourself thoroughly checked up by a doctor. Don’t neglect medical care even if the accident was not severe, and you’ve received only minor cuts or bruises. Sometimes the injuries could be internal, and the symptoms could arise hours or even days after an accident. Some of the most common injuries that motorcycle riders suffer from after an accident include:

  • Head and Spinal cord injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Fractures and bone dislocation
  • Nerve damage
  • Concussions
  • Eye injury and facial disfigurement
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage

The shock after an accident is so powerful that you might not understand the severity of your injuries. Therefore, medical intervention is highly advised. Also, follow the advice of your doctor and make sure to receive the treatment prescribed by your doctor.

  1.   Report the Accident

Dial 1-800-835-5247 to call the California Highway Patrol to report the incident. Alternatively, you can also call the local police by dialing 911. Once the officials arrive, help them to collect as much information as possible. The officials will investigate the accident scene and collect all the necessary information. This includes the driver’s name, address, registration number, contact information, insurance information, and more. They’ll click the photos of the site, the damage, and the injuries to file an official complaint.

Do not forget to ask for a copy of the report. You would need it while filing the compensation claim. In case you are not able to get a copy of the report, your attorney can even order the copy later when you are ready to file a claim.

  1.   Gather More Information, If You Can 

Identify the eyewitnesses, try to get their names and contact information, and try to ascertain the actual reason behind the motorcycle accident. Was it due to speeding, lane splitting, sudden stopping, or anything else? The eyewitnesses can provide you with valuable and first-hand information about the incident. They can also testify about the incident during your trial for an accidental claim.

So make sure to get the details of the eyewitnesses. Once they leave the sight, it would get extremely difficult for you to find them again.

  1.   Contact an Experienced Attorney

When dealing with motorcycle insurance, it is important to have an experienced attorney by your side. With absolute knowledge and expertise in handling motorcycle accident cases, they can provide you with the best legal advice for your case. They can:

  • Help you file a successful case
  • Protect you when wrong accusations are made
  • Fight on behalf of you if you’ve acquired serious injuries or permanent disability from the accident
  • Help you get your claim processed quickly and easily 

 

  1.   Call Your Insurance Provider

Once you have all the information at hand, it’s time to call your insurance company. Irrespective of who’s at fault, it is important to inform your insurance company of what has happened.

Provide them with all the information you have, including the time and location of the accident, injuries, damage to your motorcycle, and more. However, it is important to seek help from your attorney while doing this as insurance companies are notoriously famous for underpaying their clients. So, if they find you were at fault (not wearing full protective gear), they can take you on a trip. Your attorney will help you ascertain information that you should provide and details that you must keep to yourself.

  1.   Don’t Fall Prey to a Quick “Buy-Out”

The other party who is responsible for the accident may entice you to settle the case by offering you money at the scene of the incident. They may try to convince you that taking the legal route can be full of roadblocks and hassles. Don’t fall to their claims. You’ll never be able to get to a fair settlement until you have accurately assessed the physical and property damage that happened during the motorcycle crash. Keep your foot down to go for only full and final settlement through the legal route so that you get accurate compensation for all your losses.

motorcycle accident in California

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in California

Some of the most common reasons for motorcycle accidents in California include:

  • Speed Driving
  • Lane splitting
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs/ alcohol
  • Brake failure or flat tire
  • Poor road conditions
  • Road obstructions

Your Legal Rights After a Motorcycle Accident

In California, the driver who has caused the motorcycle accident has the legal responsibility to cover your injuries, damages, and losses. Knowing your legal rights makes the entire claim process a lot easier.

Types of Compensation You are Entitled to After a Motorcycle Accident in California

The State of California entitles you to claim two types of damages after a motorcycle accident:

Special Damages

Special damages are economic damages that can be easily quantified and are tied to a specific injury. For example:

  • Physical harm to your body: Loss of limb, internal injuries, medical bills and expenses, transportation expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages due to injury, and more
  • Damage to property: Partial or complete destruction of the vehicle, change of parts, and other repairs
  • Lost Earnings: Loss of wages due to diminished earning capacity, /lost earnings due to permanent disability, or reduction in pay due to change in the line of work.

General Damages

These are non-economic damages that represent the monetary value assigned to the impact that the accident has on a person’s life. These are subjective losses and are often hard to calculate. General damages include:

  • Emotional distress: Sadness, anger, depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and physical pain caused due to accident.
  • Pain and suffering: It includes pain and physical discomfort caused by the motorcycle accident.
  • Reduced quality of life: You can even seek compensation if the accident has caused a reduction in the quality of life or has led to overall life dissatisfaction.
  • Punitive damages: Compensation for gross negligence or carelessness of the at-fault party. These include drunk driving, speeding through a stop, and more.
  • Physical impairment: The socioeconomic burden caused due to loss or disfigurement of any part of the body.
  • Loss of companionship: You are entitled to compensation if the motorcycle accident has led to separation, divorce, or displeasure in marital life.

Compensation Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Motorcycle accidents are the scariest and can result in fatalities. If unfortunately, you’ve lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to claim compensation in Wrongful Death Lawsuit.

These include:

  • Medical bills: You can claim compensation for all the medical expenses incurred on the treatment of injuries due to the accident.
  • Lost financial support: Chances are that the deceased was the earning member of the family. If that’s the case, you can seek compensation for the lifetime of lost earnings.
  • Loss of companionship: The victim’s spouse can seek compensation on the grounds of loss of love and companionship.
  • Cost of funeral and other expenses: Family members of the deceased can claim the cost incurred on the funeral, transportation, and miscellaneous spending.

The Amount that You can Claim in Motorcycle Accident

In California, there’s no upper limit to the amount of general or special damages that you can claim during a motorcycle accident. Like all other states, the claims raised against government entities in California are also capped. For example, if a police officer on duty has rammed his car into your motorcycle, you can claim only $15,000 for every person injured in the accident. Also, the amount cannot go over $30,000 for a single event.

Unlike other states, the punitive damages in California are not capped. However, the damage claim should be reasonable and proportionate to the amount of harm and to the general damages recovered.

Timelines for Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in CA

As per California Courts, you get a statute of two years to file a claim for personal injuries. For property damage, you can file a claim within 3 years from the date of the accident. Once the time is over, you would not be able to claim your compensation. Also, the longer you wait to file your claim, the less value you would be able to recover. This could be attributed to loss of evidence, relocation/ death of witnesses, and more. So, the sooner you file, the better it is for you and your attorney.

While two years seems to be a lot of time, it isn’t. A lot needs to be done to file a successful, award-winning claim. Starting early can help.

Not only does it expedite the process, but it also helps you to:

  • Avoid paying motorcycle accident bills from your pocket
  • Cover up your immediate and long-term medical expenses
  • Avoid gaps in medical treatment
  • Make up for lost wages and work
  • Avoid the stress of unwanted financial burden

Exceptions to the Timelines  

Though the courts are very strict with the timelines, you may get an exception if:

  • You are military personnel and your deployment prevented you from participating in your claim
  • You have faced serious injuries and/or were incapacitated for sometime
  • The accident has caused physical disability, which prevented you from filing your claim on time
  • The accused fled the accident scene and/ or is absconding
  • A minor was involved in the accident

How Much Time Does It Take to Finalize a Motorcycle Accident Case in CA?

The motorcycle claims in California may take weeks or even months to settle. Negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company take both time and patience. Also, the claim settlement process is based on a number of factors:

  • How badly were you hurt
  • How quickly did you heal
  • Was the claim amount
  • Were you at fault too
  • Was the damage economic or no-economic
  • Is the insurance company compensating you reasonably

If the insurance company is not compensating you fairly, you would have to file a suit and the timelines of its settlement will depend on the court’s docket. This means, how many cases are ahead of you in court, how soon is your hearing, the evidence that is submitted by the other party to hold you accountable, and more. Yet, you could expect your case to settle within 2 years.

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help You Expedite the Process

Motorcycle accidents are serious and injuries are often a rule than exceptions. If the accident has been caused due to the negligence of the other party, you may be entitled to significant compensation.

However, the claim settlement amount largely depends on how well you present your case.

Experienced lawyers at The Law Office of Steve Gimblin can help you successfully navigate through even the murkiest motorcycle insurance claims and injury lawsuits. Our skilled injury attorneys carefully, yet quickly, analyze your case and gives you solid legal advice and maximum compensation for your loss. We work with you end-to-end and help you:

  • Estimate the exact value of your claim
  • Determine who was at fault
  • File and settle your claim quickly
  • Get the prompt medical attention you deserve
  • Handle all communications with the insurance companies, police, witnesses, and medical experts
  • Negotiate with the insurance provider for maximum compensation
  • File a lawsuit so that you can recover your damages fully
  • Answer any additional questions you may have

Our strategic and meticulous approach ensures quick claim settlement and the best results possible. Connect with our Yuba City lawyers and get the compensation you deserve. We provide free initial consultation and give a ‘No Win No Fee’ guarantee!

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