Los Angeles is perhaps the most recognized city in Southern California, primarily because of Hollywood. Although the city streets are busy, many are ideal for riding a motorcycle. The balmy weather and beautiful scenery also make it a daily pleasure.
However, LA motorcycle crashes are way too common. Heavy traffic contributes to vehicular accidents, despite efforts to control the flow in preparation for the 2028 Olympics.
Experienced riders can avoid most accidents, but sharing the road with motorists makes riding a motorcycle inherently dangerous. When you sustain injuries in a motorcycle crash, the recovery process can be lengthy and painful.
As a motorcyclist in LA, you should be ready with a plan for coping with injuries and seeking compensation. A competent motorcycle accident lawyer can be of great value to you.
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Understanding Motorcycle Crashes in Los Angeles
Riding a motorcycle in the streets of Los Angeles can be thrilling, but it can also be dangerous. LA motorcycle crashes are common, as they are in other major urban areas. Understanding the risks of motorcycle accidents and injuries can help you avoid them.
An excellent way to illustrate the dangers of motorcycles is to look at the proportion of accidents to registered vehicles and miles traveled. Motorcycles made up three percent of registrations and six-tenths of one percent of miles in the US in 2021.
However, motorcycle crashes account for 14 percent of traffic deaths, with a rate of 30.05 per 100 million miles traveled. The injury rate is 421, with a total of 83,000 injuries. California reported 18,271 fatal and injury crashes in 2022, with 1,921 of those crashes occurring in Los Angeles.
More than half (53 percent) of fatalities involved two vehicles, and 59 percent occurred when wearing helmets. Additionally, 28.4 percent of fatal crashes occurred while the operator was alcohol-impaired.
The trends show that the death rate has increased while the miles traveled have decreased. According to the California Department of Vehicles, most LA motorcycle crashes occur during short trips (less than five miles). This suggests that motorcyclists travel less but are at a greater risk of fatal accidents.
Common causes of LA motorcycle accidents
Motorcycle accidents can happen in an instant, so riders must always be alert when on the road. The following are the top causes of LA motorcycle crashes.
Head-on collisions with a vehicle: The 2020 NHTSA report shows that over half (55 percent or 3,138) of motorcycle crashes were fatal. Seventy-six percent were head-on collisions with a motor vehicle, primarily because of the mismatch in size and weight. Seven percent of the motorcyclists were rear-ended.
Left-hand turns: The NHTSA report also identified 42 percent (1,158) of fatal motorcycle accidents when a motorist turned left. The motorist is most likely at-fault for these incidents of distracted driving, speeding, and misjudgment.
Intoxication: Alcohol-related crashes happen more often with motorcycles than with other vehicles. In 2020, 27 percent of motorcycle crashes were alcohol-related, compared to 23 percent for passenger cars and three percent for large trucks. Operating any vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher is unlawful in California.
Lane splitting: California allows lane splitting, making it illegal for other vehicles to prevent it. However, some experts believe that the practice is partly responsible for the increase in accidents in Los Angeles. Motorists may not expect a motorcycle to pass between them and change lanes or open doors without looking.
Road hazards: Motorcycles are unstable, so any unevenness or debris on a West Hills road can tip riders quite easily. Even leaves, if they are slippery and thick enough, can be a problem. Additionally, avoiding debris on the road can lead to crashes with other vehicles or stationary objects.
Speeding: Around 34 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2020 were due to speeding. A larger percentage of fatalities among younger riders aged 15 to 39 are speed-related. The greatest number of deaths involved 25 to 29-year-olds.
Helmet use: Nationwide, 38 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involved unhelmeted riders. California performs quite well in that regard at only 6 percent. The NHTSA estimates that wearing a helmet could have saved 37 percent of unhelmeted riders who died in a crash.
Impact of motorcycle crashes on victims
Motorcyclists are vulnerable to injuries and death because of the vehicle size and lack of structural protection. The impact includes the following effects:
The most immediate consequences of an LA motorcycle crash are physical injuries, ranging from a road rash to traumatic brain injury. Some may require extensive surgery and rehabilitation, and recovery may never be complete. Some riders with serious injuries eventually succumb.
Emotional and psychological
The unseen aftermath of a severe motorcycle accident can be profound. Those who survive their injuries may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and panic attacks. Some may develop phobias and experience depression and mood disorders, leading to social isolation. Family members may also suffer from loss of consortium and survivor’s guilt.
The physical, emotional, and psychological impact of accident injuries have financial implications and can be overwhelming. Aside from medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and therapy, victims may have to deal with lost wages and employment opportunities. Potential long-term care can put the injured victim and their families in dire straits.
Types of injuries commonly sustained in motorcycle crashes
Physical injuries are the apparent result of an LA motorcycle crash, typically requiring urgent medical attention. Knowing the personal injury types sustained in an accident can help prepare you when the time comes.
Road rashes are skin abrasions resulting from forcible contact with a concrete surface, typically worse in bony areas. The wounds can range from mild to severe, the latter often requiring skin grafts. In some cases, the friction can lodge debris in the skin. You can avoid complications such as infections and scars by getting immediate medical care.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
The most recent NHTSA study analyzed traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in more than 10,000 motorcycle crashes. It revealed that 21 percent of unhelmeted riders and 15 percent of helmeted riders suffered from TBI. This type of injury caused the deaths of more than half (54 percent) of unhelmeted riders.
TBI ranges from concussions to severe brain damage. The milder cases resolved on their own, but most required extensive rehabilitation due to cognitive impairment, memory loss, and personality changes. Others lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, necessitating long-term care.
Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
Riders and passengers in motorcycle accidents often get thrown from their vehicles, known as topside collisions. Forcible ejection can result in trauma to the spinal cord, often leading to partial or total paralysis. Victims may experience numbness, loss of mobility, and incontinence, impacting their quality of life significantly.
Motorcycles are unstable upright and often fall over in a collision with the rider’s Leg under the bike. Leg, wrist, and arm fractures can result when riders try to break a fall. The ribs, pelvis, and spine bones may also break in high-impact crashes. Often, these fractures may require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery.
Internal bleeding and damage to organs in a motorcycle crash are dangerous when left untreated. They result from blunt-force or penetration trauma and may involve the chest, lungs, heart, spleen, and kidneys. Victims can expire at the scene without immediate medical attention.
Whiplash is often associated with rear-end car accidents but frequently occurs in motorcycle crashes. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, dizziness, and fatigue. While most cases will resolve within a few weeks without treatment, some experience chronic pain for several months. The persistence of pain can affect the victim’s life significantly.
Coping With Physical and Emotional Challenges After an LA Motorcycle Crash
Local news outlets frequently report on accidents in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other areas of California. For instance, NBC reported an LA motorcycle crash where the California Highway Patrol (CHP) pronounced one victim dead on the scene. Another news article dealt with a fatal accident on the 405 freeway a few days before the writers strike made breaking news.
However, these accident reports don’t typically cover injured victims’ physical and emotional consequences. Their challenges may not be newsworthy, but they can significantly affect their lives and their family. The following is what a motorcyclist should do in the aftermath of a crash to get on the road to recovery.
Seek immediate medical attention
Most experience shock after an accident and may not realize they have sustained injuries. Suppose you get into a motorcycle crash in LA and don’t feel pain. You should call 911 to ensure your well-being. Most motorcycle accident injuries like fractures are apparent, but some, like TBIs or concussions, may not manifest immediate symptoms.
Qualified first responders know what to do. They can assess your situation and decide if you need an ambulance. If you don’t need emergency transportation, you should still go to the hospital for a more thorough evaluation.
Getting tests done as soon as possible means getting treatment for injuries and avoiding potential complications. Medical records are also critical if you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Get ongoing treatment
Victims sustaining minor and moderate injuries in a motorcycle accident often recover at home after initial hospital treatment. The doctor may recommend regular follow-ups, and it would be wise to get them.
However, suppose you sustain serious injuries that require ongoing treatment for a full recovery. In such cases, you should explore your options for acute care, rehabilitation, and therapy. These may include extended stays in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities. In some cases, life care at home may be your best choice.
Long-term medical treatment often entails significant costs. Some of the injuries that may require ongoing treatment include the following conditions:
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Victims suffering from SCI typically require longer hospitalization and rehabilitation for recovery than other injuries. Many suffer from some degree of paralysis, often entailing some changes in lifestyle and career.
Experts recommend programs focused on mobility, strength, and stamina. Patients may need to relearn driving and personal care skills and adjust psychologically to their new limitations.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Motorcycle riders typically suffer from TBI after a severe accident, even when wearing a helmet. The physical impact depends on the severity of the injury, and recovery may involve physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Some may require retraining for life care and other activities, such as driving, which can affect a person’s personality and relationships. Counseling can often help patients adjust to their new lives.
Orthopedic and amputation
Loss or fracture of a limb may require varying degrees of treatment and rehabilitation. While a broken bone might not seem serious, some fractures require surgery and medical devices to stabilize and heal.
The treatment period for amputations depends on the extent of the loss, as it determines the level of disability. For example, losing a toe requires much less recovery time than losing a foot. Traumatic amputations may require physical and occupational therapy and counseling to deal with the psychological effects. Sometimes, prosthetics may be necessary.
Most motorcycle accidents are unintentional torts, where one party acted negligently, causing the accident. Injured victims may be eligible to recover their losses from the liable party or their insurance company.
Overview of personal injury claims and lawsuits
Negligence is the typical basis for personal injury claims in LA motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle. The motorist is generally presumed at fault, especially for left-hand turns or high-speed cases. If the motorist does a hit-and-run, they may also be criminally liable. However, the motorcyclist may bear liability if they violate traffic rules.
Injured victims can file a bodily injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover their losses. Since California is a fault state, the motorcyclist must prove the driver’s liability.
Victims can also file a lawsuit if the insurance company denies a claim or the driver has no insurance. Alternatively, the policy limits may be inadequate to cover the losses. It’s advisable to consult with a personal injury lawyer to understand your legal options in a negligent motorcycle accident.
Importance of documenting injuries and gathering evidence
Establishing negligence in a motorcycle crash involving another vehicle requires proof. Evidence typically includes medical records, witness statements, and police reports. Whether making an accident claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit, you need these pieces of evidence to show you have legal grounds. They will help identify the liable parties, show causation, and establish the direct and indirect costs of the injury.
The role of a personal injury attorney
In California, hiring a lawyer is not necessary to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. However, building a strong case against the responsible parties requires a significant amount of effort to gather the necessary evidence. This can interfere with your physical, emotional, and psychological recovery after an accident.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can handle everything you need for a claim or lawsuit. They possess the skills, knowledge, and resources to manage a case efficiently and meet the statute of limitations. Additionally, they can negotiate or argue for fair compensation for your losses based on the circumstances.
Did you know?
Researchers found that lane splitting can reduce the likelihood of a motorcycle accident in heavy traffic situations. Motorcyclists who engaged in lane splitting were less likely to get into a rear-end accident than those who did not.
Get Compensation With the Help of an LA Motorcycle Crash Lawyer
The road to recovery from a serious LA motorcycle crash can be long and arduous. Accidents while riding a motorcycle are often caused by the inherent risks associated with this mode of transportation. However, it can also be due to negligence. When the accident and injury are due to someone else’s wrongful acts, you can seek compensation for your losses.
Ease the stress and pressure on yourself while recovering from your injuries. Obtain the compensation you deserve by hiring an experienced attorney in your area. The Personal Injury Center provides information about motorcycle accidents, insurance claims, and personal injury lawsuits. The site can also match you with a competent law firm or lawyer to handle your case if you book a free consultation.
Don’t waste your energy and time recovering your losses alone. Visit The Personal Injury Center to get competent legal assistance for your LA motorcycle crash case.
FAQs on LA Motorcycle Crash
You should report an LA motorcycle crash to the California Highway Patrol or the Los Angeles Police Department.
Damages refer to compensation you receive for a personal injury. It can be obtained through a settlement with the insurance company, a liable party, or a court verdict. In any case, the damages you should get depend on your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages cover medical expenses and loss of income. Non-economic damages refer to subjective losses such as pain and suffering.
Motorcycle riders in California must have the same liability insurance coverage as motorists. The injured pedestrian may file a claim with your insurance company if they can prove you were at fault. Responsible parties will have to pay for any damages out of pocket if they don't have insurance. You may also be criminally liable. Consult a motorcycle accident lawyer to represent you, protect your rights, and reduce liability.