Motorcycle accidents tend to have severe injuries. Almost always, the driver is ejected from the bike and suffers far more injury than we would typically see with an auto accident case. Even with modern helmets, it’s not uncommon to see severe head and neck injuries from what would otherwise be a pretty modest accident. Many times, people just do not see the motorcycle because the driver is not paying careful attention to the roadway, is distracted, or just because of the size of the bike. Drivers are looking for something the size of a car. Their mind is not registering the motorcycle. Today, motorcycles virtually always have headlights that are functional. Every motorcycle rider in California is required to wear a helmet and hopefully they’re wearing leather gear that’s going to help them survive with less lacerations.
The most important factor is liability. From all the evidence we gather, we can tell what the motorcyclists did, what the motorcyclist saw before the impact, and whether he or she took the steps available to try to avoid the impact. Speed can be a factor. California motorcycles can split lanes and those kinds of cases are more difficult because the average motorist on that jury sees lane splitting all the time, and recognizes the hazard. Because the nature of the injuries tend to be severe, we’re looking at the conduct that’s attributable to the driver of the automobile that came in contact with the motorcycle. After all, the driver of the vehicle has a massive steel or aluminum machine guarding them and they have to be watchful of motorcyclists. If they’re not, we can find fault on that driver. Those are the kinds of cases we look for.
In California, motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet. The driver and passenger are both required to have a National institute of Highway Safety approved helmet on at all times during the operation of a motorcycle. Even if they don’t have a helmet on, that doesn’t preclude them from having a claim, although it will impact aspects of the claim. If one is not wearing a helmet, the types of injuries that can be avoided by wearing a helmet are going to be tough to have a meritorious claim on.