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Law Offices of Fernando Vargas
Law Offices of Fernando Vargas

Motorcycle Accident Trial Lawyer

Motorcycle Accident Trial LawyerPeople who ride motorcycles love the feeling of freedom that riding brings. However, the moment a motorcyclist is in an accident, his/her life can change drastically. Motorcycle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries including amputations and spinal injuries or even death. According to the CDC, more than half of all non-fatal motorcycle-related injuries treated in the emergency departments were to the leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (22%).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or death from a motorcycle accident, it is important to choose an attorney who thoroughly understands California’s laws and statutes regarding motorcycle accidents.

California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Fernando D. Vargas has successfully represented clients who have suffered motorcycle injuries. Attorney Vargas is an experienced trial lawyer who, since 1987, has effectively litigated thousands of personal injury cases throughout the Inland Empire and the  counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino with an emphasis in the cities of Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Claremont, Montclair, Ontario, Chino, Fontana, Riverside, and San Bernardino. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is located in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, has recovered millions of dollars in personal injury verdicts and settlements for their clients.

Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Types of Motorcycle Accidents

The cause of motorcycle accidents varies based on the circumstances of each case. However, some common causes for motorcycle accidents include:

  • The other driver did notsee the motorcyclist
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Sudden and unexpected lane changes
  • Sudden and unexpected U-turns
  • Failure of the other driver to yield the right of way
  • Failure of the other driver to check his/her blind spot
  • Crowding a motorcyclist out of his/her lane, causing him/her to run off the road or into oncoming traffic
  • Improper obstruction of posted traffic sign or signal
  •  Failure of a property owner to warn of a hazardous condition
  • Road hazards
  • Defective equipment

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Motorcyclists lack any substantial protective barriers between themselves and the road. Therefore, motorcyclists often suffer serious and catastrophic injuries when involved in a motorcycle accident, including:

  • Facial injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
  • Fractures
  • Loss of a limb, hand, or foot
  • Disfigurement, scarring, and road rash
  • Death

These injuries can be catastrophic and life changing, not only for the motorcyclist, but for his/her family, too. That is why it is so important that you hire an experienced California Motorcycle Accident Attorney who understands the laws and has the expertise and skill necessary to protect your legal rights.


What are the laws that govern motorcyclists in California?

motorcycle02What are the laws that govern motorcyclists in California?

If you live or plan on riding a motorcycle in the state of California, it is important that you understand the laws pertaining to motorcyclists. California has some strict laws when it comes to safety equipment, bike specifications, and rules of the road, which are designed to keep both riders and passengers safe. In the event of a motorcycle accident, the following are a few of the important laws to know:

Safety Equipment – Helmet

The State of California requires every motorcycle rider and passenger to wear a helmet at all times, regardless of the age of the rider or passenger. Helmet speakers with only a single earphone are allowed. The helmet must comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard §571.218.

 

 

Safety Equipment – Eye Protection

Eye protection is not required for the driver or passenger.

 

Safety Equipment – Daylight Headlights

Daylight headlights are required on all motorcycles manufactured after 1978.

 

Bike Specifications

The State of California requires the following for all motorcycles:

  • A passenger seat and footrest if you are carrying a passenger on your motorcycle.
  • The height of the handlebars may not exceed six (6) inches above the driver’s shoulder when sitting.
  • A muffler.

 

Lane Splitting

motorcycle01Lane splitting (also known as lane sharing) is a term used to refer to the process by which a motorcyclist rides between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light. Although this is not legal in most states, lane splitting is legal in California when done in a safe and prudent manner.

According to the CHP, motorists should adhere to the following guidelines when lane splitting:

1. Travel at a speed that is no more than 10 mph faster than other traffic because there is an increased danger with higher speed differentials.
2. Lane splitting is not advisable when traffic flow is at 30 mph or faster because danger increases as overall speed increases.

  • At only 20 mph, in the 1-2 seconds it takes a rider to identify a hazard, that rider will travel approximately 30-60 feet before even starting to take evasive action. Actual reaction (breaking or swerving) will take additional time and distance.
  • As speed increases, crash severity increases.

3. It is safer to lane split between the lanes that are farthest to the left.

  • Other road users are more accustomed to motorcycles splitting between the lanes farthest to the left.
  • Avoid lane splitting near freeway on-ramps and exits.
  • Avoid lane splitting when another motorcyclist is lane splitting nearby, as cars may make additional room for the one rider and unintentionally reduce the space for another rider.

4. Consider the total environment in which you are lane splitting, including the width of the lanes, size of the surrounding vehicles, roadway, weather, and lighting conditions.

  • “If you can’t fit, don’t split!” Only lane split if you have room to safely pass. Some lanes are narrower than others, some vehicles are wider than others, and some motorcycles are wider (like those with wide bars or large bags), which may leave little room to safely pass.
  • Seams in the pavement or concrete between lanes can be hazardous if they are wide or uneven.
  • Poor visibility due to darkness, inadequate lighting, and weather conditions can make it difficult for riders to see road hazards and make it difficult for other drivers to see you.
  • Help other drivers see you by wearing brightly colored protective gear and use your high beams during the day.

5. Be alert and anticipate possible movements from other vehicles.

  • Be aware of what other drivers are doing around you.
  • Be prepared to take evasive action if a vehicle changes lanes.
  • Be prepared for inattentive or distracted drivers.
  • Avoid lingering in the blind spots of other drivers.
  • Constantly scan for changing conditions.

6. Remember the 4 R’s or “Be-Attitudes” of Lane Splitting:

  • Be REASONABLE: Do not travel more than 10 mph faster than traffic flow. Do not travel over 39 mph.
  • Be RESPONSIBLE: Do not put yourself in a dangerous position. Remember, “If you can’t fit, don’t split!”
  • Be RESPECTFUL: Don’t rely on your loud motor to keep you safe. Loud pipes often startle people and can cause drivers to have a negative view of motorcyclists. Also, other vehicles are not required to make space for motorcycles to lane split.
  • Be aware that ROADWAYS and traffic can be hazardous: Pay attention to uneven pavement, wide trucks, distracted drivers, weather conditions, curves in the road, etc.

It is important to remember that motorcyclists who lane split are not relieved of the responsibility of obeying all existing traffic laws. According to the CHP, the following are times when a motorcyclist should NOT lane split:

  • If you don’t have room to safely pass (“If you can’t fit, don’t split!”).
  • At a toll booth
  • If traffic is moving too fast
  • If traffic is moving unpredictably
  • If dangerous road conditions exist (e.g., road construction, uneven pavement)
  • If you cannot clearly see a way out of a space that you’re going into (e.g., if your view is blocked by a large vehicle, such as a van or bus)
  • Around or through curves in the road
  • If you are not fully alert and aware of your surroundings
  • If you are unable to react to changing conditions instantaneously.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable with the situation.


What should I do if I am involved in a motorcycle accident?

 

What should I do if I am involved in a motorcycle accident?

  • The cause of the majority of motorcycle accidents involving multiple vehicles is not the motorcycle rider’s fault. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you should do the following:
  • Do NOT admit fault for the motorcycle accident, especially to the police or the insurance company.
  • Stop. You must stop if you are involved in a motorcycle accident; failure to stop may constitute a hit and run, which is a felony.
  • Your first priority should always be your health and safety and the health and safety of the other persons involved in the accident. Therefore, if you are physically able, the first thing you should do is check to see if everyone is okay. If anyone is injured and requires medical attention, call 911 immediately.
  • Call the Police Department if anyone has been hurt or if there has been substantial property damage over $500. If the police do not come to the accident scene, you should go to the nearest police station as soon as possible to make a report of your version of the accident.
  • If possible, move the motorcycle(s) and vehicle(s) off the road.
  • Get the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information from the driver of every vehicle involved in the accident.
  • Get the name and phone number of every witness to the accident. If possible, interview them regarding what they saw and/or heard.
  • Take pictures of the accident site. Most cell phones have a built-in camera. If you do not have a camera, ask a witness to take a photo with their cell phone and text or email it to you.
  • Notice information about the accident, including the location of the accident, the time of day, the number of vehicles involved, the weather conditions, the road conditions, the direction of travel of any vehicles involved, the speed limit, the visibility or invisibility of any posted traffic sign, etc. As time passes, your memory will fade. Therefore, it is important to obtain this information as close to the time of the accident as possible.
  • If you think you may have been hurt, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
  • Protect your rights and immediately call the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909 / 982-0707 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


The insurance company wants to settle. Do I need a lawyer?

 

The insurance company wants to settle.  Do I need a lawyer?

After the motorcycle accident, it is important that you know your legal rights. It is important that you remember that insurance companies, even your own, care only about saving their company as much money as possible. The insurance company’s goal is to settle your claim as quickly as possible for a little as possible. Therefore, it is extremely important that you not accept any settlement offers before speaking with an attorney.

Selecting the right motorcycle accident lawyer is an important decision. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should choose an attorney who is experienced, aggressive, and dedicated to working to get you fair compensation for your motorcycle injuries.

It is important that you choose a lawyer that is highly experienced in  negotiating and litigating motorcycle accident cases. Your lawyer will use his skill and expertise to fight for your interests to obtain  the greatest possible settlement for your injuries. Your settlement will include compensation for both economic and non economic damages.

 

Economic Damages (also called Special Damages)

Economic damages are tangible, out-of-pocket costs that are directly related to the negligence of another person and include:

  • Medical bills in the past and in the future
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earnings and earning capacity
  • Assistive devices and transportation
  • Loss of household services
  • Property loss (damage to the motorcycle)

Non-Economic Damages (also called General Damages)

Non-economic damages are intangible losses for and include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Inability to perform certain functions
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, sexual relations, etc.)

In order to prove both economic and non-economic damages, The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas uses a team of highly qualified expert witnesses, including medical professionals and economists. This team of expert witnesses will work hard to prove all your damages and will also develop a comprehensive life plan for your future.


Who is at fault?

Who is at fault?

If you are not at fault for your motorcycle accident, you should be able to recover 100% of your economic damages plus a dollar amount to compensate you for your non-economic damages. How much you will be able to recover will depend on a number of variables including whether the other party has insurance, whether you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, and whether you have hired a sufficiently experienced attorney to investigate, litigate and negotiate your case.

In almost every motor vehicle accident case, including motorcycle accidents, the other party will try to blame you, at least partially, for the accident. Under California law, “comparative negligence” or “comparative fault” may be an issue. Comparative negligence is applied in accident cases to determine the responsibility and damages based on the negligence of every party directly involved, including the party that was injured. This rule of law measures your own reasonableness and negligence in relation to your motorcycle accident.  In determining your negligence, the court will look at issues regarding your own negligence and reasonableness, including:

  • Where you were going
  • Whether you were riding your motorcycle safely
  • Whether you were distracted while you were riding your motorcycle
  • What steps you took to avoid the accident
  • Whether an ordinary, reasonable, and careful person could have avoided the accident

Under California law, if someone is injured in a motorcycle accident and is partially at fault, that person can still file a personal injury lawsuit and seek damages for his/her injuries. However, the person’s damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that the court or jury assigns to them.

For example, if you were seeking $100,000 in damages for a motorcycle accident and were found to be 10% at fault, your damages would be reduced by $10,000; therefore, you would be awarded would amount to $90,000.


Free Consultation!

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another, the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas can help. Mr. Vargas has the skill, expertise, and experience necessary to successfully litigate your motorcycle accident case.

In addition, attorney Vargas has a team of experts that will work with him to prove your injuries and damages in order to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. During your free consultation, Mr. Vargas will personally discuss the facts of your case, review the details about your injuries, and advise you about your rights.

Since 1987, California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Fernando D. Vargas has successfully litigated thousands of motocycle cases including motorcycle accidents throughout the Inland Empire and the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino with an emphasis in the cities of Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Claremont, Montclair, Upland, Ontario, Chino, Fontana, Riverside, and San Bernardino. During your free consultation, Mr. Vargas will personally discuss the facts of your case, review the injuries, and advise you about your rights.

No Recovery, No Fee!

Motorcycle accident cases can be expensive to litigate. However, the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is located in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, takes all of the firm’s personal injury cases on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will pay nothing up front and Mr. Vargas will advance all money necessary to prepare your case for either settlement or trial. If Mr. Vargas is unsuccessful in resolving your case, you pay absolutely nothing. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, which is fully staffed with bi-lingual personnel that are fluent in Spanish, has successfully championed the rights of personal injury victims by wining millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for their clients since its foundation in 1995.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is vital that you consult with a reputable and experienced California Motorcycle Accident Trial Lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909 / 982-0707 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. If your injuries prevent you from coming to our Rancho Cucamonga office, we can arrange to visit you at your home or the hospital to ensure the timely investigation of your claim.

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