Although it’s fairly easy to hear motorcycles in traffic, it’s hard to see them. And since the average driver isn’t listening for hazards but, rather, looking for them, riders are incredibly vulnerable to motorcycle accidents — especially when other drivers fail to exercise reasonable care.
To exercise reasonable care means to follow the speed limit, abide by all applicable traffic laws, and generally drive in a predictable manner. It also means checking for motorcyclists before changing lanes.
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident and you think another driver’s unsafe lane change was to blame, here’s what you should know about pursuing compensation for the damages:
1. What Constitutes an Unsafe Lane Change?
Unsafe lane changes occur far more often than they should. Every time a motorist moves over before signaling or checking the vehicle’s blind spots, they have made an unsafe lane change. Committing traffic violations such crossing solid lines in certain scenarios also constitutes unsafe lane changes.
Changing lanes haphazardly is incredibly dangerous because it can cause sideswipe accidents, rear-end collisions, and even multi-vehicle pileups. If a rider happens to be nearby, it can also cause a devastating motorcycle crash.
2. How Can I Prove Liability for a Motorcycle Accident Caused by an Unsafe Lane Change?
To recover compensation in a negligence claim, you must prove how the defendant’s lane change prior to the wreck was, indeed, unsafe. You must also demonstrate how you would not have been hurt but for this negligent behavior.
A skilled personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and compile evidence of liability. Such evidence might include:
- The official police report;
- Photographs of the wreckage;
- Dash cam or helmet cam footage;
- Surveillance recordings of the scene;
- Eyewitness deposition;
- Deposition from an accident reconstruction expert;
- Cell phone records; and
- Toxicology reports.
3. What Kinds of Damages Should I Be Tracking Following My Motorcycle Accident?
In California, personal injury claimants have the right to pursue compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages they incur. Examples include:
- Past medical bills;
- Anticipated health care expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Property repairs;
- Alternative transportation;
- Home care;
- Child care;
- Meal preparation;
- Home and vehicle modifications needed to accommodate any permanent disabilities;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment in life; and
- Pain and suffering.
If you happen to be married, your spouse may be entitled to compensation, as well. California tort law recognizes loss of consortium, which encompasses the loss of love, support, affection, companionship, moral guidance, and intimacy that one spouse incurs when the other sustains serious injuries.
California also allows for punitive damages under some circumstances. Generally speaking, a plaintiff may only seek a punitive award if the defendant’s conduct constituted malice, fraud, or oppression.
4. How Long Do I Have to File the Lawsuit?
Although most personal injury cases are resolve without having to file a lawsuit, there’s always the chance that yours will end up in litigation. If the negligent motorist disputes liability, for example, or their insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, filing a formal lawsuit may be the only way to seek the compensation you deserve. In this scenario, you will have to act fast because California has strict lawsuit filing deadlines in personal injury cases.
The standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years. If you intend to take action against a government entity, though, you will have to submit notice of your claim within just six months.
5. What If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet at the Time of the Accident?
Not wearing a helmet doesn’t automatically bar you from recovering compensation following a motorcycle accident. It could, however, influence the outcome of the proceedings.
California has a pure comparative fault rule, which essentially means that a plaintiff’s negligence will offset a defendant’s liability. In other words, if the opposing party can prove that your injuries would not have been as severe had you been wearing a helmet, you won’t be able to recover compensation for 100 percent of the damages. Instead, you may only seek funds for the portion of losses for which the defendant is deemed liable.
6. Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to File My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
While it is possible to file a motorcycle accident claim without legal counsel, it is advisable to call an attorney before proceeding. You have enough to worry about when recovering from serious injuries; let a seasoned professional handle the logistics of your case.
A motorcycle accident lawyer can:
- Gather evidence;
- Handle all correspondence with the opposing party;
- Track damages;
- Apply legal pressure as needed to obtain critical evidence;
- Prevent you from jeopardizing the case inadvertently at every stage of the proceedings;
- Negotiate with the claims adjuster; and
- Litigate your case if a lawsuit is filed.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were seriously hurt while riding your motorcycle because another driver made an unsafe lane change, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. A top-rated trial lawyer, Michael D. Waks is committed to seeing every case through to the end—and he has the knowledge, experience, and resources to do so.
By letting us handle every aspect of your claim, you can focus on more important matters such as making a full recovery and taking care of your loved ones. To schedule your free consultation with a skilled Long Beach motorcycle accident lawyer, reach out on our website or dial (562) 206-1939.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response .PDF
Since riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, it’s wise to prepare for all eventualities. In the event of a crash, documenting the scene thoroughly will give your subsequent claim the best chance of success. If you print our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf and keep a copy under your seat or in one of your saddlebags, you’ll always have a handy guide for documenting the scene of an accident. Download it HERE for free.
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