California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you have been in a motorcycle accident that left you injured or facing other damages, a California motorcycle accident attorney may be able to help. A legal team can provide valuable knowledge, guidance, and resources that can make the recovery process easier to manage. The experienced team at Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law has years of experience helping victims and their families through the complex process of financial recovery after enduring the actions of a negligent driver.
It is better to get started sooner rather than later when it comes to collision claims, and Singh Ahluwalia is ready to help you now! Call (559) 878-4958 or Contact us online to get started with a member of our team who can help you set up a consultation. All consultations are conducted by one of our trusted attorneys. We are passionate about serving our community, so we aim to help as many families as we can. We speak English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish.
What Services Can a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Provide?
Motorcycle riding is an exhilarating hobby, but part of the thrill may come from its notorious dangers. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were over 5,500 motorcycle crash-related fatalities in 2020 alone. This number is an 11% increase from the previous year, when motorcycle fatalities were reported at just over 5,000.
With little to no protection, motorcyclists face unique dangers on the road that drivers of traditional passenger vehicles do not have to worry about. Because a person is so exposed when riding a motorcycle, serious injuries are not uncommon, and crash victims should always act cautiously after impact.
Because the effects of a motorcycle accident can be severe, insurers have a high motivation to avoid paying out the full costs of damages. They will use their own experience and familiarity with the process to leverage the most-favorable outcome for them. Because the average person does not have much litigation experience, it can make the fine details of dealing with an insurance company much more difficult — and less likely to result in the desired settlement value.
There is no margin for error in personal injury claims, and the process cannot move efficiently without all parties’ swift and organized cooperation. Delaying paperwork completion while researching aspects of your claim that you don’t fully understand could mean wasting precious time that a qualified legal professional can save for you. A legal team is a valuable resource, as they can help you save not only money, but also time and energy as you walk through each step of the litigation process.
The professionals at Singh Ahluwalia can help you with all of the following tasks.
Manage Both Paperwork and Communication
The monotonous task of organizing evidence and reading through claims documents can be time-consuming. Our legal team is trained in efficiently retaining and processing key information from endless documents that a person with limited experience in insurance claims might find overwhelming. This service alone can save the victim of a motorcycle accident hours’ — if not days’ — worth of time.
Help You Understand the Laws and Systems in Place for Motorcycle Accident Claims
Every state has different laws and regulations surrounding all types of accidents, and many judicial districts can have their own quirks. This variability means that there is a sea of conflicting information out there, which might confuse you as you independently research each question that comes up. An attorney can help clarify any confusion you have around your claim’s process and save you countless hours while steering you towards the most-effective strategies.
Investigate Evidence for Your Claim
To prove your story, it is important to compile a variety of evidence that helps the insurer understand exactly how their policyholder was negligent, causing your injuries. They must also have concrete documentation establishing the nature of your injuries and your treatment costs.
Police reports, photos, and witness statements are all considered key evidence in a motorcycle accident claim. Medical documentation is also essential to prove your injuries and their connection to the accident. An attorney can help extract key information from evidence and present it later during negotiations — or in court.
Negotiate a Fair Settlement on Your Behalf
Arguably, one of the most difficult steps of the claim process is negotiating the actual settlement. Once the damages have been confirmed and their economic value has been tallied, a meeting at the negotiation table is often necessary to determine the official value of the claim.
An attorney with vast experience working against insurance companies, like our team at Singh Ahluwalia, can confidently fight for your best interest during this step. The goal is to use information and evidence gained from previous steps in the claim process to negotiate a settlement that can help our clients return to normalcy without a financial burden weighing them down.
Common Injuries Sustained in a Motorcycle Accident
Every accident looks different, and the severity of one’s injuries depends solely on the unique details of the crash. Motorcycle accidents are alarming because of the high potential for serious injuries or death.
In 2020, there were over 82,000 motorcyclists reported injured. Thankfully, this is a 2% decrease from the previous year, but it is still an alarmingly high number of injured bikers.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer like the team at Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law for help.
It is important for all motorcyclists to engage in universally accepted safety precautions like wearing thick clothing and helmets. Even with safety precautions, however, other drivers and conditions outside the motorcyclist’s control could lead to a serious accident.
Some of the most commonly injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident include:
- Neck and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Brain injuries
Common Causes of a Motorcycle Crash
Even when a motorcyclist operates their vehicle in a safe and responsible way, the actions of another negligent driver on the road can pose a life-threatening risk. Motorcyclists are taught, typically as they learn to drive, to carefully watch other drivers on the road because of how small their vehicles are and how careless other drivers tend to be around them. The compact nature of a motorbike makes it easier for bikers to be trapped in a traditional vehicle’s blindspot, which is a recipe for disaster.
Some other common negligent actions that cause motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Nationwide, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of vehicle collisions. Simple habits that may seem harmless actually play a large role in car accidents across the country. Eating, texting, or even something as simple as changing the radio while driving can be enough of a distraction to cause a serious accident.
- Impaired driving: Impaired driving is an extreme danger to all drivers on the road. Impaired drivers are less likely to see a motorcycle operator, and they could injure them through careless or reckless behaviors. On top of drugs and alcohol, driving while tired is considered impaired driving. Many people are implicated in this, not seeing the harm that it can cause. They should recognize that staying awake for just 17 hours can have the same effects as a BAC of 0.05%.
- Failure to share the road: In most states, lane splitting is illegal, but California is the exception. Because many California roads are wide enough for cars and motorcycles to share, it remains legal for motorcyclists to split lanes and weave through traffic. Unfortunately, this action often enrages some drivers on the road who believe that they shouldn’t have to share their line with a biker. Even though blocking a motorcyclist from passing is illegal, many drivers still try, sometimes causing dangerous accidents.
- Decision errors: One of the most-common crash scenarios for motorcycles happens when a larger vehicle turns left through an intersection, cutting across oncoming traffic. Drivers tend to misjudge the speed at which motorcycles are going, leading to the bike crashing head-on at highway speed. Drivers can also misjudge the distance needed to safely brake, rear-ending a motorcycle in the process.
Determining Fault for a Motorcycle Accident in California
California is considered an “at-fault” state. This means that in the event of an accident, the negligent party responsible for causing the accident is liable for damages caused by the event.
It isn’t always that simple though, as in some cases more than one driver can be deemed at fault. It is essential that proof of negligence can be determined before a settlement can be discussed.
Four Points of Negligence
Liability, in most motorcycle accident cases, is determined by the legal concept of negligence. Negligence is defined by four main elements, which are as follows:
- Duty of care: Generally, all drivers on the road have a duty to operate their vehicles responsibly. This is their duty of care to other people that they share the road with.
- Breach of duty: When a driver fails to uphold this duty, it is considered a breach in their duty to act responsibly.
- Causation: It must be provable that it was the driver’s breach of care which caused the accident to happen. Typically, the assessment of the scene along with initial statements taken by a police officer is enough to prove this, but further investigation may be needed.
- Injury Damages: The accident caused another person mental or physical harm that resulted in measurable losses, or damages.
Some cases are more complicated than others, especially when more than one party acted with negligence at the time of the accident. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning that a percentage of the blame can be placed on all parties involved, depending on their negligent acts.
Blame could even be leveled at the injured claimant. For example, if a motorcyclist is trying to pass a car on the freeway by splitting lanes, but the larger vehicle swerves to block the rest of the lane, causing an accident, they will likely be deemed fully at-fault. However, if the motorcyclist was speeding in order to pass the car, they may also receive a portion of the blame. In a claim where the victim was awarded $100,000 but must take 20% of the blame, they may see a reduction of $20,000 to their claim, as an example.
Fighting allegations of shared fault is one major reason to hire an attorney. Insurers are looking to reduce the settlement value of a claim any way possible, so defending against allegations that you contributed fault can mean a large difference in the final settlement’s size.
What Does the Typical Injury Claims Process Look Like?
While every accident comes with its own unique details, there is a pretty standard set of steps that can be followed after an accident to protect the validity of your claim moving forward. In the event that the negligent party becomes uncooperative, following these steps may provide the evidence you need to successfully prove that your claim is valid and that you are entitled to due compensation.
Do Not Delay Receiving Medical Attention
In a serious accident, it is typically advised to urgently receive medical attention regardless of if the victim feels any pain or not. After a collision, your body will release adrenaline, possibly blocking any sensation of pain, masking the true extent of your injuries for hours. Because of how unprotected motorcyclists are, the chances of serious injury are high. A crash victim could be walking around with a broken bone or a concussion for hours without even realizing it.
If a person ignores their accident-related injuries for too long, it may result in the worsening of the injury. The other party’s insurance company could then argue that they cannot be held responsible for the full extent of said injuries because it was the person’s negligence that worsened them.
Thoroughly Document the Scene
If you are physically capable, it is essential to have documentation of the scene, including photos and videos. Take pictures of everything, including license plates, tire tracks, debris, and other small details. You will also want documentation of your injuries immediately following the crash. It is important to remember that after the scene of the accident has been cleaned up, the only way to look at the event is through photos and videos.
Witnesses can also be a valuable ally, so surveying the area for people who might have seen the actual crash happen can add another level of credibility to your story. Encourage witnesses to stay and offer statements to law enforcement, as your attorney can use these reports to reference later.
Filing a Notice of a Claim
Once you have been able to process the aftermath of your accident, it is important to immediately contact the negligent party’s insurer to file your initial claim. It is likely that the insurance representative will try to ask you a series of questions to map out the details of the accident. You should never discuss specific details about the accident with an insurance representative without talking to a lawyer first.
An insurance representative will analyze everything you say — often hunting for information that may hurt your settlement in the end. Avoid giving specific details, and only reveal what is essential to the story. Your attorney can guide you through the rest of your communication with the insurer.
Formal Letter of Demand
Once your claim has been investigated and an official recounting of the events can be concluded, it is time to write a formal letter of demand stating the details of the event, the negligent acts carried out, and what damages you endured as the victim. This letter must include every expense that you have incurred relating to the accident.
Insurers Must Respond Promptly
In California, an insurer has just 15 days to respond to this letter, and they can either accept the request in full or deny certain demands that you have made. Your attorney will attempt a preemptive negotiation to persuade the insurance representative to make certain changes to anything that they have denied, but if a compromise cannot be reached and the victim is not happy with the amount offered to them, a lawsuit is a final step.
Filing a Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit may be the last resort for someone working with an uncooperative insurance company. The team at Singh Ahluwalia is fully prepared to help you file a civil complaint and represent you through each step.
After the official lawsuit is filed and each negligent party has been served, an official discovery process including a questionnaire and deposition will be carried out. After the discovery process, the attorneys will have a chance to negotiate during mediation. This is typically where most cases close, but in serious instances, a full jury trial may be necessary. We at Singh Ahluwalia have years of experience representing clients at trials and hearings; we are fully prepared to represent you and to present the strong case we have built during the claims process.
Injured in a Motorcycle Crash? Call an Experienced California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer!
Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law has years of experience helping families in California communities recover from personal injury accidents. If you have suffered from the consequences of another person’s negligent actions, we may be able to help.