Riding a motorcycle is popular in Southern California because of our beautiful weather and scenic roads, and many riders use their motorcycles for transportation all year long. Unfortunately, motorcyclists have a greater danger of suffering catastrophic injuries and death in accidents than occupants of passenger vehicles.
If you choose to ride motorcycles, it's critical to understand the major causes of these accidents to reduce your risk. We also want you to know what to do if you're involved in an accident, and how to protect your right to injury compensation if a motorist is at fault.
Six Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
While motorcycle riders aren't always blameless in a collision, the majority of these wrecks are caused by negligent motor vehicle and truck operators. They have a duty to drive safely and to share the road with motorcyclists. However, there are numerous reasons why this duty is breached:
- Speeding. Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit need a distance of at least 16 vehicle lengths to slow down or stop effectively to avoid hitting a car or motorcycle in front of them—and that's only if road and weather conditions are good. Unfortunately, motorcycle riders can suffer more serious injuries because the force of impact is more significant when motorists speed.
- Unsafe lane maneuvers. When drivers fail to signal before changing lanes or don't check their blind spots for nearby motorcycles, they can collide with a rider or cause them to be struck by another vehicle if they try to swerve out of the way. The danger increases if a motorcycle rider is lane splitting—which is legal in California.
- Intoxication. Motorists affected by drugs or alcohol are much more likely to cause a motorcycle accident because their vision, judgment, reaction time, and other driving skills are significantly impaired.
- Left turns. Drivers must yield to oncoming traffic before making a left turn onto a road or at an intersection. When they fail to see a motorcycle behind a passenger vehicle or try to beat the light, they can be held responsible if they cause a crash.
- Open doors. Occupants of motor vehicles parked along the street should check for oncoming traffic before opening their doors to enter or exit the vehicle to avoid the path of a rider.
- Road hazards. Potholes, cracks in asphalt, and debris are much more dangerous for motorcyclists, and they can lose control no matter how skilled they are. If the lack of road maintenance caused the accident, a city or local municipality may be liable for restitution in an injury compensation case.
What to Do If the Negligent Driver Flees the Scene
Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes are often hit and runs. A motorist might be intoxicated, have outstanding tickets, or have a warrant out for their arrest. Whatever the reason, a driver who flees the scene is still liable, so it's vital to do what you can to protect your rights and locate them. Here are a few tips to get started right away:
- Try to get the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle that struck you.
- Call police to the scene and obtain a copy of the police report. They may be able to identify the driver as part of their crash investigation.
- Seek out any witnesses to the accident and get their contact information.
- Secure surveillance footage from nearby businesses that may have recorded your accident as it happened. You must act quickly to get it before it's recorded over, which usually happens every 15–30 days.
- Hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you find the at-fault driver, file your claim with their insurance company, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact a San Diego Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a family member was injured in a motorcycle accident in San Diego or Southern California, my knowledgeable legal team and I can help you hold the negligent driver accountable for their actions. Start a live chat or call my San Diego office to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your options for recovery.