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Motorcycle Accidents in California

Arsad Ali
Motorcycle Accidents in California

California has the most motorcyclists out of any other state with over 785,000 motorcycle registrations in 2020. Coming in second is Florida with 620,000 and third drops significantly with 384,000 in New York. With California’s frequent sunshine and ocean view highways, it’s easy to understand why motorcycles are such a popular choice. However, this doesn’t come without its dangers as motorcycle accidents are notorious for their grim outcomes and high fatality rates. The metal frame of a car provides considerable protection when the operator is involved in a crash. Without similar protection, motorcyclists are at higher risk of serious injury during a collision.

California is a sprawling state where motorcycle deaths, according to motorcycle accident statistics in California, represented 17 percent of all road fatalities, vs. 3 percent nationwide. Los Angeles County has the most motorcycle accident fatalities, followed by San Diego County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Orange County. 

Traffic Laws

California traffic laws for standard passenger vehicles also apply to motorcyclists. However, there are additional laws specific to motorcyclists riding on California roadways.

Perhaps the most important traffic law for California motorcyclists is the state’s lane-splitting law. California is the only state in which lane splitting is a recognized, legal practice. The law defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle between two rows of vehicles in the same lane.

A motorcycle accident is part of personal injury law. Lane splitting can be dangerous, as few motorists realize that it is a legally protected practice in California, and therefore do not expect a motorcycle to navigate between lanes. If a driver doesn’t check their blind spot before switching lanes, they might collide with a lane-splitting rider and push them into an adjacent car or oncoming traffic.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) strongly discourages inexperienced riders from lane splitting and advises motorcyclists who do choose to lane split to proceed with extreme caution.

Nevertheless, the lane splitting law offers new protection for victims of motorcycle accidents. Before the law went into effect in 2017, the legal gray area that lane splitting occupied made it difficult for these motorcyclists to obtain the compensation they deserved after an accident.

Under the new law, motorcyclists can feel more secure when engaging in this practice, and if they are involved in an accident while lane splitting, they have a firmer legal ground to stand on when making their case to an insurance company or court.

Types of accidents

Each day, the high volume of vehicles traveling through Los Angeles County creates unique and challenging driving conditions for motorcyclists. Familiarizing yourself with the most prevalent types of motorcycle accidents may help you to recognize potential dangers when on the road.

Left Hand Turns: Motorcyclists often find themselves the victim of left-hand turn collisions in intersections when a left-turning car crashes into a motorcyclist passing on the same side.

Stationary Objects: Motorcycle crashes involving stationary objects occur with shocking frequency, and approximately a quarter of these accidents are fatal. A motorcyclist traveling at even relatively low speeds can be seriously injured upon impact with an object.

Road Hazards: Inclement weather, loose debris, and poor road infrastructure pose serious risks for a motorcyclist, due to vehicle size and relative instability.

Head-on Collisions: These occur when a motorcyclist crashes head-on with a stationary object or an oncoming vehicle. These collisions are often deadly for the rider.

Wearing proper protective gear while riding significantly decreases the likelihood of serious injury in the event of a crash. However, even the most careful rider with the best quality gear can suffer a severe injury at the hands of another driver. Spinal cord injuries and TBIs often require expensive medical treatment, including surgery and occupational or physical therapy.

After an accident

Obtaining compensation following an injury is one of the many challenges survivors face after a motorcycle accident. Proving fault, negative stereotypes about motorcyclists, and insurance companies intent on protecting their own interests all stand in the way of a motorcyclist’s ability to obtain fair compensation after a Los Angeles motorcycle accident.

Fortunately, California’s motorcycle and traffic laws are designed to give riders as much safety as possible on the road and afford legal protection for riders involved in a crash.

An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand these laws, and explain how they can work in your favor. 

Get in touch with MAJK Law today.

Arsad Ali
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