There are all sorts of scenarios that can lead to a motorcycle accident, but one of the most common is when a passenger-vehicle driver is turning left at an intersection and hits a motorcyclist who is traveling straight. Due to their small structure, motorcycles are more difficult to notice than typical cars, trucks, and SUVs—and the widespread prevalence of distracted driving certainly hasn’t helped matters.
If you were hit by a motorist who failed to yield the right of way, you may be entitled to monetary damages such as healthcare costs, lost income, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney can review your case in a free consultation, provide answers to your questions, and help you plot the way forward.
In the meantime, read on to learn the answers to some FAQs about these claims:
1. Is the Left-Turning Driver Always Liable?
Left-turning drivers are usually liable for these accidents since they must typically yield the right of way to the vehicle going straight; however, there are some circumstances when the motorcyclist could be at least partially at-fault. For example, if the motorcyclist was driving well over the speed limit, it may be determined that the crash might not have happened or would have been less severe had they been traveling at a safe speed. If the accident occurred at night, the motorcyclist may be held liable if the bike’s headlight was out since this would have diminished the other driver’s ability to notice the vehicle.
2. How Can I Prove Liability After a Left-Turn Motorcycle Accident?
Chances are you would bring the claim on the basis of negligence, meaning you would have to prove that the other driver breached the duty of care owed to you. Since all drivers owe one another a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner—for example, by adhering to all traffic laws—establishing that a duty of care existed should be straightforward. To prove the duty of care was breached, your attorney would have to demonstrate that the other driver failed to yield the right of way to you.
Evidence of liability may therefore include:
- Video footage of the accident from surveillance systems or dashcams;
- Photos of the crash scene and vehicle damage;
- The deposition of an accident reconstruction expert who evaluated the available evidence and determined how the crash occurred;
- The police report; and
- Deposition from the other driver and eyewitnesses.
3. Are Punitive Damages Available After a Left-Turn Motorcycle Accident?
To win punitive damages, you would have to prove that the defendant acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. In other words, punitive damages cannot be awarded against a defendant on the basis of ordinary negligence. Because failing to yield the right of way is typically considered ordinary negligence, punitive damages probably would not be available after a left-turn motorcycle accident.
That said, there are some circumstances when punitive damages may be awarded in these cases. For instance, if the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this may constitute malice. Punitive damages may also be obtainable if the liable driver fled the scene.
4. How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case?
Some personal injury claims are resolved within a few months, but it’s not uncommon for these cases to continue for well over a year. Below are a few factors that could impact the duration of the proceedings:
- The Strength of the Evidence: While there are many kinds of disputes that could arise during the claims process, most can be prevented or overcome with strong evidence. If you have sufficient evidence to prove liability, causation, and damages, there’s a good chance that the claim will be resolved without dispute, which of course would shorten the proceedings.
- The Severity of Your Injuries: With little protection from the force of impact, motorcycle riders are incredibly vulnerable in the event of an accident. It’s not uncommon for these collisions to cause brain trauma, spinal cord damage, and other catastrophic injuries that can take months or even years to heal. Under some circumstances, it is strategically advisable not to accept a settlement until the injuries have reached maximum medical improvement. Otherwise, there’s a chance your medical care and other damages could turn out to be more expensive than anticipated, and the settlement might not be enough to cover the costs.
- Whether You Mitigate the Damages: You have a duty to take reasonable steps to facilitate your medical recovery. If you fail to do so—for example, by deviating from your doctor’s orders—the opposing party might refuse to pay for 100 percent of your damages. If the dispute is not resolved, your case might enter litigation.
- Other Aggravating Factors: There are many reasons why a dispute might arise that leads to litigation. Besides failing to mitigate the damages, you may also face a dispute if the accident aggravated a preexisting injury or illness, you discussed the crash or your injuries online, or you were partially liable for the accident.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Speak with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Even if you weren’t at-fault for the accident, the insurance company may still try to undervalue or deny your claim. Attorney Michael D. Waks can ensure you are treated fairly. He will help you compile evidence, approximate a fair settlement amount, and fight for the payout you deserve. Call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message to schedule a free consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney in Long Beach.
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The scene of a serious wreck is always chaotic. Even if you weren’t severely injured, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by such a nerve-racking experience—and it’s easy to overlook important details. By keeping our Car Accident Response .PDF in your vehicle, you will be prepared to record the information needed to build a strong claim. Download it HERE for free.
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