California Laws That Protect Motorcycle Riders

While fatal or serious injuries are common in motorcycle accidents, laws are in place to protect citizens and to help them to gain rightful damage awards. All such cases are dependent on a series of often overlapping factors that cause or directly contribute to the incident in question. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include: driver error, rider error, road defects, and road repair and construction.

Driver Error

Negligence or reckless driving may force a nearby motorcycle off the road or into a skid, causing a single-motorcycle accident. When an accident is caused by another vehicle without an actual collision, it is often difficult to prove that the other driver was at fault, especially if the driver did not stop and there are no witnesses. Drivers should take special care when navigating around motorcycles, with an awareness of the smaller vehicle’s handling limitations and the vulnerability of its rider.

Rider Error

Motorcyclists must obey all rules of the road that apply to cars and other motor vehicles. If a rider’s negligence contributes to an accident or increases the seriousness of injuries (by not wearing a helmet, for example), then the injured rider may still sue the other negligent party. Any recovery of damages, however, will be discounted by the percentage of fault attributed to the rider. Under California personal injury law, this is known as the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Road Defects

The mountains, valleys, and coasts of Southern California pose significant challenges for road designers, engineers, and construction crews. Steep grades and sharp curves can cause a motorcycle to lose control, causing serious injuries to the rider. If this happens, you should consult with a reliable attorney regarding your options for legal recourse.

A road that is improperly marked may be considered defective. Roads with steep inclines, sharp twists and turns, or low visibility should be augmented with appropriate signage. Likewise, roads that are susceptible to danger from weather conditions should also be labeled as dangerous.

Even long, flat stretches of road can be incorrectly constructed. The wrong materials or improper installation can create road defects that cannot be noticed by the average vehicle. A motorcycle, however, will react to these flaws due to its smaller wheelbase and more sensitive handling. Examples of such irregularities would include defective joint sealant, uneven pavement and debris.

Road Repair and Construction

New construction and road repair often create significant hazards for motorcyclists. Lane closures and construction zones may re-route traffic onto the shoulder where debris and other obstacles can cause a motorcycle crash. Sand and other debris may blow onto the road from a nearby construction zone, going unnoticed by most vehicles, but creating a significant change in the road surface for a motorcycle.

If the road itself is negligently maintained, an injured rider may be able to sue the government agency responsible. Private contractors and subcontractors hired to do the work may also be liable. Even where the construction zone was properly maintained, the motorcyclist still faces dangers from other drivers who do not heed the dangers in construction zones by slowing down and driving with additional care.

Seek Experienced Legal Representation

Many factors can cause or contribute to motorcycle accidents that result in severe personal injury or wrongful death. As an attorney with more than 30 years of experience representing injured plaintiffs in motor vehicle accidents, The Nagelberg Bernard Law Group knows how to properly investigate a motorcycle accident and how to vigorously pursue justice against negligent defendants and their insurance companies.

Los Angeles motorcycle accidents have unique issues of fact related to liability and negligence that may be unfamiliar to an attorney who does not regularly handle motorcycle cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident on the streets, roads, and highways of Southern California, contact The Nagelberg Bernard Law Group for a free consultation.


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