Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injuries compared to other road users in the Golden State. Lack of external protection puts riders at high risk during collisions; although motorcycles make up only make up a small percentage of vehicles, riders account for a high percentage of fatalities in California.
If you believe another motorist’s actions led to your motorcycle accident, you have the right to seek compensation. But how do insurance companies determine fault in motorcycle accident cases? Let’s look into the elements of assigning responsibility for motorbike crashes in California.
Crucial Evidence for Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Establishing fault in motorcycle crashes involves reconstructing the entire sequence of events to see which motorist’s actions led to the accident. Doing this requires a solid body of evidence, some of which you can only gather a short time after the crash.
Evidence that could support your claim may include:
- Photos and video footage of the crash scene
- Surveillance camera footage
- Footage from your own motorbike’s dash cam
- The police report
- Your medical records
- Witness testimonies
- Statements by expert witnesses (healthcare providers, private investigators, automotive professionals)
- Your detailed written record of the incident
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Orange County
If you suffer a motorcycle crash in Orange County, you should:
- Stay safe. Step aside to a traffic-free location and call emergency services. If necessary, help move injured persons or vehicles to safety; however, if possible, try to avoid moving anything until the police arrive.
- Wait for police officers to reach the accident scene unless you need emergency medical care. Ask for a copy of the police report.
- Collect the information of any other motorists who were involved in the accident, including contact information, license plate numbers, and insurance details.
- Take photos of your motorcycle, any other vehicles that participated in the crash, the entire accident scene, and other relevant details.
- Seek medical care, even if you believe you suffered no significant injuries. Some serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, may only become apparent days after an accident. Save all your medical records.
- Avoid sharing information about the accident with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company since they’ll typically try to use everything you say to refute your claim. If an insurance adjuster calls you, say nothing except for confirming your personal details.
- Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer for a quick case evaluation. Never accept a settlement offer before consulting a motorcycle accident attorney.
Establishing Fault in Accidents That Involve Multiple Motorists
Determining fault in motorcycle accident cases can be complicated, even if the crash only involves two motorists. In multi-vehicle collisions, investigation can be even more challenging.
Generally, the main liable motorist is the one whose actions started the sequence of events that led to the accident. For instance, let’s say that you lane-split while riding, which is legal in California. A vehicle blocks you, causes you to swerve, and then another vehicle hits you.
If you and your attorney can prove that you were practicing lane-splitting responsibly and the first driver unlawfully impeded you, that driver would probably carry the main share of liability in this case. The driver who hit you may also be liable if the case investigation shows they could have avoided the collision.
Because of the complexity of multi-vehicle accidents that involve motorcycles, it’s crucial to work with a competent and experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
The Potential Impact of Comparative Fault on Your Claim
Assigning fault in motorcycle accidents could be tricky. Ideally, you’d want to show that the other motorist was 100% at fault, but following California’s comparative negligence doctrine, you could still claim a settlement if you share some of the responsibility. However, the payout would drop proportionally to your percentage of fault.
In this fatal crash in Costa Mesa, a motorcycle collided with an SUV. The impact of the crash threw the rider from the motorcycle into a traffic lane, where multiple vehicles struck him, leading to his instant death. The other motorists involved in this tragic incident were unhurt.
The investigation showed that the rider was speeding. Does this mean the victim’s family would have no grounds for a wrongful death claim? Not necessarily; it all depends on the details.
In a hypothetical case, the SUV driver could potentially be liable if they abruptly stopped or slowed down, leading to the initial rear-end accident. The drivers of the vehicles that hit the motorcyclist could also share some of the liability if case analysis shows that they should have noticed the rider and stopped. If the investigation determines that the rider was 50% at fault for the accident, his family could collect 50% of what the settlement would have been if other motorists were 100% responsible.
How an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help Resolve Your Claim
Proving fault in motorcycle accident cases is only the first step in building your claim. Even after accepting responsibility, insurance companies may use various tactics to downplay the extent of your damage and pay you as little as possible. An assertive local lawyer will fight for your rights and improve your chances of suitable compensation.
Your motorcycle accident lawyer can:
- Assess your case and examine the available evidence to establish fault
- Gather and present evidence to construct a strong claim
- Document and prove the extent of accident-related damages, especially potential damages like future costs and income losses
- Communicate with insurers and help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer
- Appeal a claim denial and/or take your case to court if an insurance company acts in bad faith
Contact Khalil Law Group and Start Your Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim Today
Establishing fault in motorcycle accident cases can be a complex process that requires skill and local experience. At Khalil Law Group, we will handle your motorcycle accident claim from start to finish, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurers and fighting for appropriate compensation on your behalf.
Call (714) 617-7870 24/7 or contact us online for a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer in Newport Beach, CA.