Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney

California has the second highest motorcyclist fatality rate in the country, according to the most recent data reported in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Due to a lack of protection, even when cautious, riders are at a high risk of being seriously injured if not killed. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligent actions of another party, contact Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. You and your family deserve to be compensated for your suffering. Our Sacramento motorcycle accident attorneys offer free case evaluations.

Why Pick Us?

  • Our personal injury lawyers have been successfully handling motorcycle accident claims since 1959.
  • Our expansive legal knowledge and extensive experience dealing with insurance companies guarantees that you will be treated fairly.
  • Only when we win, will we collect a fee. We will cover all upfront costs related to your case so there is no financial risk to you.
  • We have obtained numerous multimillion-dollar settlements on behalf of clients, including in these motorcycle accident cases:
  • $5.65M Settlement: Motorcycle Collision Causing Paraplegia
  • $4.5M Settlement: Motorcycle Collision Causing Loss of Leg

Do you need a Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyer?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may wonder if you need a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney or if you can handle the case by yourself. There are some situations in which you may not need an attorney. For example, if you strike a tree and are completely at fault, you probably do not need an attorney. However, if your motorcycle crash was the result of another person’s negligence, damaged roadways, confusing traffic signs or faulty signals, or roads covered with debris, then you should probably hire an attorney.

Motorcycle accident cases can become incredibly complex. A high percentage of all motorcycle crashes result in injuries or death. Because of this, and the bias that many insurance carriers have towards motorcyclists, an attorney is almost a necessity.

California Motorcycle Laws

The following laws are relevant to motorcyclist safety:

Helmet laws

Some states do not have laws regarding helmet use for riders. California, along with 19 other states, requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets. California Vehicle Code 27803 states that all riders and passengers on a motorcycle must wear a helmet that is certified by the manufacturer stating that the helmet complies with the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.

Head injuries account for the majority of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents, and a large percentage of these injuries and fatalities could be reduced with proper helmet use.

Motorcyclists and their passengers can face fines and other penalties for not wearing an approved helmet. The law states that any police officer has the right to charge a violator of this law with a simple equipment violation or a greater penalty. Equipment violation charges can result in a $10 fine with proof of correction. However, the California Highway Patrol states that a violation of the helmet law is an immediate safety hazard and, therefore not correctable. Following CHP guidelines, a violator could face up to $250 fine and one year of probation.

Headlights

Motorcycles manufactured after 1978 must have a headlight that automatically turns on and stays on as long as the engine is running in order to increase visibility day or night. (CVC 25650.5)

Handle Bars

Working turn signals on both the front and rear of the motorcycle are required for all motorcycles build and resister on January 1, 1973, or later.

Exhaust Systems

All motorcycles and exhaust systems manufactured after 2013 must be compliant with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

Lane Splitting

A two-wheeled vehicle may share a lane with stopped or moving vehicles when traveling in the same direction. California is the only state that allows lane splitting. (CVC 21658.1)

Safety Course

Riders under the age of 21 must complete the California Highway Patrol’s Basic Rider Course. Riders 21 and older can complete a skills test without having to take the safety course. (CVC 2930-2935)

Passenger Regulations

There must be proper seating at the rear or an attached side car that is intended for passengers, as well as footrests for all riders. (CVC 27800)

Most common causes of motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle accidents, just like other car accidents, happen due to a variety of causes. Some accidents involve negligent conduct or careless driving on the part of the motorcyclist. However, many other crashes happen for reasons outside of the motorcyclist’s control. This can include negligence on the part of other drivers and the failure of another driver to see and recognize the motorcyclist in traffic. Some of the most common causes of these crashes include:

  • Unsafe lane changes. Drivers risk colliding with a motorcyclist when they fail to check their blind spots or signal when changing lanes.
  • Car doors. There are times when motorcyclists are injured when a driver opens the door of their parked vehicle into the path of a motorcyclist.
  • Speeding. Speeding is the leading cause of injury and death in an accident and is particularly dangerous for mostly unprotected motorcyclists.
  • Driving under the influence. Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs pose a danger to motorcyclists.
  • Distracted drivers. Just like impaired drivers, distracted drivers can also cause significant injuries to motorcyclists.
  • Sudden stops. Rear-end accidents often result from vehicles following too closely to motorcycles. If the motorcyclist has to come to an abrupt stop, a serious crash can occur.
  • Inexperienced drivers. Inexperienced drivers are much more likely to operate unsafely around motorcyclists.
  • Left-turn accidents. Right-of-way errors or misjudgments of distance when making a left turn are common causes of serious motorcyclist injuries and fatalities.
  • Dangerous roadway conditions. It is the duty of municipalities to regularly inspect and maintain the roadways. Potholes, crumbling pavement, debris, and lack of necessary signs and signals can cause serious accidents to motorcyclists.
  • Motorcycle defects. If a motorcycle manufacturer makes a poorly designed vehicle or part, they could be held liable for any injuries or deaths that arise as a result.

It is 28 more times likely for a motorcyclist to be killed in an accident than for a driver or passenger in other vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How do you determine liability?

Determining liability in a motorcycle accident is vital for receiving compensation. Frequently, a motorcycle accident claim comes down to the negligence of either the motorcyclist, the vehicle driver(s), or a combination of both.

In some cases, the circumstances of the crash make it clear who was at fault. Other times, there are conflicting claims of liability. In many cases, an at-fault driver or their insurance carrier will bring up actions of the motorcyclist as a defense against a negligence claim.

California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that an injured party can receive compensation even if they are 99% at fault. A person’s final settlement will be reduced if they are found to be partially at fault.

You or your attorney will gather all of the evidence necessary to prove the other side’s fault. This can include accident reports, photographs and surveillance, eyewitness statements, medical records, and more.

California motorcycle accident statistics

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, we see that there are more than 900,000 total registered motorcycles in this state, more than any other state in the country. During the latest reporting year of reporting data available, there were 529 motorcyclist fatalities and 15,328 motorcyclist injuries.

When we look deeper at these statistics, we can see that:

  • 92% of motorcyclists killed were wearing no helmet
  • 27% of motorcyclists killed were not properly licensed
  • 15% of killed motorcyclists who were at-fault were operating impaired

Where do most motorcycle crashes occur?

Motorcycle crashes can occur any time a motorcyclist is on the roadway. However, there are some locations that pose more risk than others for motorcyclists. Some of the main places that these accidents occur are:

  • Intersections. One of the most common locations of motorcycle accidents is intersections. Intersection crashes can be fatal for a motorcyclist. There are several ways that a motorcyclist can be injured at an intersection:
    • Left-hand turns: this is the single most dangerous scenario for motorcyclists and causes 42% of all motorcycle accidents. When another driver fails to recognize an oncoming motorcyclist and makes a sudden left turn, the motorcyclist is likely to slam into the vehicle.
    • Rear-end accident: at stop signs or stoplights, a motorcyclist is vulnerable to rear-end accidents. The average passenger vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds and can cause major damages and injuries when slamming into a motorcyclist.
  • Freeways and Interstates. Interstates and freeways are another common place that motorcycle accidents occur due to increased traffic and high rates of speed. On interstates, motorists often change lanes suddenly and into the path of a motorcyclist. Increased speed is a major factor in motorcycle crash severity.
  • Two lane roads. Two lane roads and highways are dangerous because of oncoming traffic. When a motorcyclist is going around a curve in the roadway, a distracted or impaired driver could veer into their lane. With little room to escape an oncoming vehicle’s path, a head-on collision at high speeds can be fatal for a motorcyclist.

Why You Need an Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle accident attorneys are equipped with the resources necessary to investigate and prepare your claim. Insurance companies and other parties to the litigation are looking out for their own interests. A qualified motorcycle accident lawyer will care for your needs and make certain that you are properly compensated for your injuries, even if that means taking your case to trial. Many attorneys that handle motorcycle accident claims do not require a large payment up front and will work on a contingency fee basis. Therefore, no money will come out of pocket and you will only pay legal fees once you’ve won.

Contact Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger

We are driven and determined to protect the rights of injured motorcycle accident victims. With almost 60 years of experience, our team of Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyers have the knowledge and skill needed to obtain just compensation for your case. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.