Riding the Legal Lane: How To Handle Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Claims

In 2020, Traffic Safety Facts reported 539 motorcycle-related fatalities in California, a 9.8 percent increase from 491 in 2019. Moreover, Sacramento County has one of the highest numbers of fatal injuries.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that a motorcyclist died in a car collision near Fruitridge Road. The incident occurred when a car turned left, hitting a motorcycle and throwing the motorcyclist 20 feet from the accident scene. 

A local news site also reported on the death of a 57-year-old motorcyclist in midtown Sacramento. In 2023, another rider died in Northern California after a vehicle hit their motorcycle. The Sacramento police stated that an adult man died at the scene.

Speak to a motor accident lawyer if you sustained injuries from a road crash. An attorney can handle the legal process following an accident, ensuring you get fair compensation for your losses.

Key Takeaways
  • California imposes several motorcycle safety laws, including the use of helmets and guidelines on lane splitting.
  • A lawyer can properly handle motorcycle accident claims by gathering evidence, notifying insurance companies, establishing fault, and filing a case.
  • Victims can get compensation for emotional trauma, medical expenses, loss of income, and repair costs.

Understanding Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Laws

The relevant motorcycle laws in Sacramento, California, include guidelines on safety equipment and lane-splitting. In addition, the state prohibits driving under the influence (DUI) and distracted driving.

California motorcycle safety laws

The California Vehicle Code imposes specific requirements regarding helmets and safety equipment.

  • Section 27803 requires the use of safety helmets. Aside from motorcycle riders, their passengers must also wear helmets. The helmet must include a manufacturer’s certification that it conforms to the federal motor vehicle safety standards
  • Section 27801 mandates the proper height of handlebars and seats. The driver must reach the ground even when sitting astride the seat. Moreover, the handlebars must be six inches above the motorist’s shoulder height when they sit astride the seat.
  • Section 24951 requires functioning turn signals. They allow the motorcyclist to inform other drivers of their intention to turn. The proper use of turn signals helps prevent fatal accidents at intersections.
  • Section 26709 requires mirrors on every motorcycle. Mirrors provide motorcyclists with better visibility. As a result, drivers can see road users from the sides and behind.
  • Section 25650 mandates motorcycles to have headlights, while Section 24253 requires tail lamps. They provide visibility, especially at night and in dark driving conditions.

California DUI and distracted driving laws

Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code forbids driving under the influence. Motorists with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent should not drive to avoid endangering other road users. In addition, persons under the influence of any drug must not operate a motor vehicle.

An alleged DUI crash killed a motorcyclist in Sacramento. The motorcyclist stopped at a red light, but the driver of a Chevy Tahoe failed to stop. As a result, the Chevy hit the motorcycle, and the rider died at the scene. The Chevy driver admitted that he drank alcohol before driving.

The Vehicle Code also punishes distracted driving. Section 23123 prohibits motorcyclists from using cell phones while driving. First-time offenders may pay a $10 fine, while subsequent violators may pay a $50 fine. However, the law allows communication devices designed for hands-free talking and listening.

California lane-splitting guidelines

California allows lane-splitting, according to Section 21658.1. In effect, motorcyclists can drive between rows of vehicles in the same lane. The CHP provides lane-splitting safety tips, which include the following:

  • Consider the road conditions where you are lane-splitting. These conditions include the size of other vehicles and the width of lanes.
  • Drive at a safe and constant speed.
  • Use turn signals before merging with traffic.
  • Anticipate other motorists’ movements.
  • Refrain from lane-splitting when surrounded by large vehicles like trucks and buses.
  • Avoid remaining in other vehicles’ blind spots.
  • Wear bright-colored protective gear, so other drivers can see you easily.

Since California considers lane-splitting legal, other drivers must not intentionally block motorcyclists. They must also give riders enough space to pass. Hence, they must not open their doors to block a motorcyclist.

Sacramento laws and regulations relevant to motorcycle accidents

Sacramento also implemented a City Code with a title dedicated to motor vehicles. Section 10.08.080 mandates drivers to obey traffic signs, especially near educational institutions. Schoolchildren are prone to motorcycle accident victims since they can be oblivious to their surroundings.

Section 10.16.080 also requires motorists to obey signs at intersections. According to a government agency, more than 50 percent of fatal crashes happen at intersections. Hence, drivers must exercise extreme caution when driving at or near intersections.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

Handling Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Claims

After an accident, find a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney who can collect evidence, notify the other driver’s insurance company, establish fault, and file a personal injury claim.

Gather evidence

It would help if you had several pieces of evidence to strengthen your motorcycle accident case. Here are a few actions to take: 

  • Request a police report from the police department. It includes both drivers’ statements, narration of the motorcycle crash, illustration of the accident scene, tickets issued, and the officer’s conclusions.
  • Get the other driver’s insurance policy details. It helps determine if their policy can cover your financial losses. If not, you can demand compensation from the at-fault motorist.
  • Compile your medical records. They can show the extent of your injuries and the treatments you receive. In addition, they contain the doctor’s recommendations regarding future treatments.
  • Talk to the witnesses. You can ask for their names, phone numbers, and addresses. Witnesses can corroborate your testimony, so the insurer, court, or jury will give more weight to your statements.
  • Take pictures and videos. These photos and videos can show skid marks, injuries, and weather conditions. Surveillance videos can also reveal the events surrounding the crash.

Notify the insurance company

California is an at-fault state, so you must inform the at-fault party’s insurance company. In at-fault states, the insurance company pays according to the degree of fault of the insured. Motorcyclists in Sacramento, California, must carry insurance with minimum requirements stated in Section 16451 of the Vehicle Code.

  • $15,000 for injury of one person
  • $30,000 for injury of two persons
  • $5,000 for property damage

Filing a claim against the other driver’s insurer involves the following steps:

  • Notify the other driver’s insurance company regarding the motorcycle accident.
  • Communicate your demands and show proof of your claim.
  • Negotiate with the adjusters if the insurer does not agree to your demands.
  • Enter a settlement with the other driver’s insurer if they satisfy your claim.

But if you disagree with the offered payout, you can file a claim with the guidance of a personal injury lawyer. Unlike no-fault states, at-fault states like California do not impose restrictions before filing lawsuits.

Prove liability

Your legal team can invoke the negligence doctrine to establish the other party’s liability. The elements of negligence concerning motorcycle accidents include the following:

  • The other driver’s duty to the plaintiff;
  • The breach of duty;
  • The motorcyclist’s injury; and
  • The causation between the violation and injury.

The attorney must prove each element to win your personal injury case. For example, they must establish that the negligent driver drove while intoxicated. It satisfies the first and second requisites involving duty and violation.

Next, the lawyer must show medical records to prove the motorcyclist’s injury. Lastly, personal injury law requires proof that the intoxication caused the injuries. Only then can the plaintiff recover compensation.

Hence, collecting evidence helps establish the at-fault party’s liability. Under personal injury law, you must show proof to support your claims. But it depends on the attorney’s arguments and legal skills to prove causation between the negligence and resulting injuries.

File a personal injury lawsuit

You can file a complaint in court, where a judge or jury will hear the motorcycle accident case. Look for a personal injury attorney because they are essential to winning your case. An attorney offers the following legal services:

  • They file court documents, such as civil complaints. Filing a complaint requires legal knowledge and skills. It considers the court’s jurisdiction, the cause of action, and the reliefs demanded.
  • They draft appeals. In case of an unfavorable judgment, your lawyer will appear in a higher court. Appeals can be either a matter of right or discretionary on the part of the court. It is your attorney’s responsibility to file a proper appeal if they deem it necessary.
  • They deliver arguments in court. Your lawyer will provide opening and closing statements and cross-examine witnesses during court proceedings. They may also raise objections to prevent witnesses’ testimony and evidence admission.
  • They develop legal strategies specifically for your case. Each case has unique facts and evidence that your lawyer will use to ensure you get the rightful compensation.

Damages in Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Claims

An accident lawyer can discuss the possible damages after a motorcycle crash. You can receive compensation for your monetary and non-monetary losses. Compensation may include the following:

Medical expenses

Accident victims may experience common and serious injuries after a motorcycle crash. 

  • Scrapes from an accident can cause road rash. Most rash heals within a few weeks, but severe road rash may need skin grafting surgery. Signs of infection include increasing redness, foul-smelling pus, fever, nausea, and muscle aches.
  • High-impact accidents often lead to bone fractures. Seek medical treatment if you experience pain, swelling, bruising, and inability to move a part of your body. Doctors perform immobilization or surgery to treat broken bones.
  • Contact with heated equipment in a motorcycle can also cause burns. They can range from first to third-degree. Unfortunately, third-degree burns can lead to death. Hence, patients must undergo immediate medical care through skin grafts and extra fluids.
  • A violent blow from a motorcycle crash may lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs’ complications include seizures, brain bleeding, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Doctors usually perform surgery and recommend rehabilitation and counseling to manage TBIs.

These motorcycle accident injuries entail costly medical bills, which victims may demand from the at-fault party.

Lost income

Victims may miss work due to severe injuries from motorcycle accidents. In effect, they may not receive their salary and other benefits. Hence, they may ask for compensation for lost income. It includes salary, commissions, and bonuses.

You must show the following to have a successful claim:

  • Pay stubs
  • Tax forms
  • Bank statements

Moreover, you must prove the causation between the accident injuries and the missed work opportunities.

Property damage

You can include repair costs in your personal injury claim. Motorcycle repairs and maintenance may cost up to $15,000. You can spend up to $1,000 for tire repair alone. Other costs may also amount to $1,000 or more.

After an accident, you must check your motorcycle’s parts to prevent further collisions. For example, if the accident affects your motorcycle’s rotors, stopping will take longer. Moreover, problems with tires and wheels may cause trouble when cornering. Other parts that you must check include the following:

  • Lights
  • Fluids
  • Side mirrors
  • Front suspension

Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering involve physical discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and discomfort. For example, patients with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression can prove pain and suffering by submitting their mental health records, journal entries, and medical bills. They can also testify regarding their mental health after the accident.

Did you know?

Some motorcycle accident cases settle for $9,000, but the amount can reach $200,000. But other injured parties receive less or more than the amount stated, depending on the facts of the case.

Find a Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Sacramento, California, has several laws on motorcycle safety, but thousands of accidents still happen in the city. Fortunately, injured parties can demand compensation for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and mental trauma.

Visit The Personal Injury Center, so we can match you with experienced lawyers who can help you receive fair compensation. We also provide legal information about motorcycle accidents and corresponding actions. Book your free consultation today!

A personal injury attorney can help you demand payment for your losses after a motorcycle accident. Find a lawyer with years of experience through The Personal Injury Center.

FAQs on Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Claims

You may still receive compensation, but the at-fault party’s insurance may argue that you contributed to your injuries. For example, if you experience head injuries, the insurer may blame you for the severity of your injuries.

If the negligent driver did not stop at the accident scene, you can recover from your uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). The UIM may pay for your medical bills and motorcycle repair costs.

The family or personal representative can file a wrongful death case. It has the same elements as negligence, except that the defendant’s breach of duty resulted in the victim’s death.