Seeking Compensation: Your Legal Rights and Options

San Bernardino Motorcycle Accidents: Legal Advice for Victims

Motorcycling in California comes with its risks. As of 2021, motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state. In San Bernardino, the situation is particularly concerning, with 47 fatalities and 230 injuries involving motorcyclists. Frequent news reports of motorcycle accidents in the area, such as collisions with DUI drivers, highlight this worrying trend.

Is San Bernardino a Dangerous Place for Motorcyclists?

The risks of riding are often unexpected and severe, making it crucial for motorcyclists to be aware of both the laws of the road and the legalities in case of an accident. Knowing your rights under motorcycle accident San Bernardino laws and the necessary steps to take following an incident can significantly impact your ability to effectively manage these challenging situations.

Is San Bernardino a Dangerous Place for Motorcyclists?

In San Bernardino, motorcyclists face significant risks on the road, as highlighted by OTS which ranks the city 10th out of 60 similar-sized cities for motorcycle crashes. This alarming statistic sheds light on the various factors contributing to these accidents.

  • Heavy Traffic Conditions: The bustling nature of San Bernardino contributes to heavy traffic, particularly during rush hours. Such conditions increase the likelihood of accidents, as motorcyclists navigate through crowded streets and highways.
  • Visibility Issues: Motorcyclists often struggle with visibility on the road due to their smaller size. This can lead to dangerous situations, especially at busy intersections or during lane changes, where they might be overlooked by other drivers.
  • Road Hazards: Certain areas in San Bernardino are known for their challenging road conditions. For example, stretches of roads like the I-215 and I-10 corridors are often cited for their high incidence of motorcycle accidents, largely due to factors like potholes, uneven surfaces, and debris.
  • Risky Riding Behaviors: Some accidents are linked to risky behaviors by motorcyclists, such as excessive speeding or unsafe lane splitting. These practices are particularly dangerous on roads known for complex traffic patterns and high vehicle density.
  • Driver Negligence: Accidents often occur due to driver negligence, including distracted driving, driving under the influence, or failing to yield the right way to motorcyclists. Such behavior is a significant safety concern on all roads, particularly in urban areas like San Bernardino.
What to Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident?

What to Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident?

If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in San Bernardino, it’s crucial to know the immediate steps to take. These actions not only ensure your safety but also protect your legal rights.

  • Stay Calm and Assess the Situation: First, stay calm. Check yourself for injuries. If you can move, get to a safe place. If you’re seriously hurt, try to stay still and wait for emergency services.
  • Call 911; Regardless of the accident’s severity, calling 911 is essential. This ensures that you receive medical attention and that the accident is officially reported. The police report will be a vital document if you decide to file a claim.
  • Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved. Be polite, but avoid discussing the fault or details of the accident.
  • Document the Scene: If you’re able, take pictures of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, any visible injuries, and road conditions. This visual evidence can be crucial for any legal action.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries, like whiplash or internal trauma, may not be immediately apparent.
  • Notify Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurance company about the accident. However, be cautious in your communications and consider consulting a lawyer before making any statements that could affect your claim.

In case of injuries, consult a legal professional. The Personal Injury Center can connect you with experienced lawyers in San Bernardino who specialize in motorcycle accidents. They can guide you through the legal process and help you understand your rights.

Motorcycle Accident San Bernardino Laws: Understanding Post-crash Legalities

Dealing with the legal aspects of a motorcycle accident in San Bernardino is vital for ensuring your rights are safeguarded and you receive proper compensation. Here are some aspects to consider:

Motorcycle Accident San Bernardino Laws: Understanding Post-crash Legalities

Understanding California Motorcycle Laws

In California, motorcyclists are subject to specific laws, which include:

  • Helmet Law (California Vehicle Code 27803): This law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets that comply with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. In the event of an accident, not wearing a DOT-compliant helmet can affect injury claims, as it might be considered contributory negligence, potentially reducing the compensation you may receive.
  • Lane Splitting Law (California Vehicle Code 21658.1): Legally recognizing lane splitting, this law allows motorcyclists to ride between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. Understanding this law is essential, as improper lane splitting can play a significant role in determining fault and liability during an accident.
  • Insurance Requirements (California Vehicle Code 16028): Motorcyclists in California are required to have a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. This includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage that may result from an accident. Failing to have the required insurance can lead to legal penalties and difficulties in covering costs in case of an accident.

Understanding these laws is critical as they can directly affect your claim. For example, failure to comply with the helmet law could be used to argue contributory negligence in an injury claim.

Importance of Gathering Evidence

Collecting robust evidence is vital. This includes:

  • Detailed Photographs: Capturing clear, comprehensive photographs of the accident scene is crucial. This should include pictures of the overall scene, close-ups of any injuries sustained, and detailed images showing damage to your motorcycle and other vehicles involved.
  • Witness Information and Statements: Collecting contact information from witnesses and obtaining their detailed accounts of the incident can provide invaluable third-party perspectives.
  • Official Police Reports: Ensure you obtain a copy of the police report filed for the accident. These reports typically include the responding officer’s observations, diagrams of the accident scene, and sometimes an initial assessment of fault.
  • Comprehensive Medical Records: Documenting every aspect of your medical treatment following the accident is vital. This includes initial emergency care, hospital records, treatment from specialists, physical therapy sessions, and any medications prescribed.
  • Preservation of Physical Evidence: Besides photographs, preserving any physical evidence from the accident scene, like broken parts of the motorcycle or clothing, can be vital.

Time Limits for Filing Claims

California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims, under the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, generally gives you two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. This deadline is crucial for preserving your right to compensation. 

It’s important to differentiate between filing a claim with an insurance company and filing a legal suit. While the police report must be filed immediately following the accident, it is separate from the formal lawsuit or insurance claim, which both require adherence to specific timelines.

How Is Fault Determined in Motorcycle Accidents in San Bernardino?

How Is Fault Determined in Motorcycle Accidents in San Bernardino?

Determining fault in a Motorcycle accident in San Bernardino is a detailed process, guided by specific California laws. Each aspect of the incident and its aftermath plays a crucial role in shaping the outcome of a claim. 

California’s Comparative Negligence Law

Under the California Civil Code 1714, comparative negligence plays a vital role in determining fault in an accident. This principle acknowledges that multiple parties may share responsibility for an accident to varying degrees. 

For instance, if you are deemed 20% responsible for an accident due to a minor traffic violation, and the other party is found to be 80% at fault, the compensation you’re eligible to receive will be adjusted accordingly, reduced by your 20% share of fault. This system is designed to allocate liability in proportion to each party’s contribution to the accident.

Vehicle Code Violations and Negligence Per Se

California Vehicle Code, such as Section 22350 (Basic Speed Law), provides specific regulations that, when violated, can significantly impact fault determinations. 

For example, if a driver exceeds the speed limit and causes an accident, they can be held accountable for negligence per se. This concept applies when a law designed to protect public safety is broken, directly leading to someone’s harm. 

Duty of Care

In California, the concept of ‘duty of care‘ is a legal obligation that requires all road users to act in a manner that prevents harm to others. If a party fails to uphold this duty, whether through reckless behavior, distracted driving, or inadequate vehicle maintenance, they can be held liable for any resulting accidents. Establishing a breach of duty is often a critical step in proving negligence.

Investigation by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies play a crucial role in fault determination. They review all available information, including the police report, witness statements, and physical evidence. These investigations are thorough and can significantly impact the negotiation and settlement process. Understanding how insurers assess fault is important, as their findings can dictate the course of your claim.

Seeking Compensation: Your Legal Rights and Options

Seeking Compensation: Your Legal Rights and Options

Navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident in San Bernardino often involves seeking compensation for damages and injuries. Knowing your legal rights and the types of compensation available is essential in ensuring you receive what you rightfully deserve. These may include:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers immediate medical treatment costs, such as emergency room visits, surgeries, and hospital stays. It also includes ongoing expenses like physical therapy, medication, and any necessary medical equipment.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: If your injuries prevent you from working, you can claim compensation for lost wages. This extends to future earnings if your ability to work is permanently affected.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering covers the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident. This can include compensation for chronic pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
  • Property Damage: This typically involves the cost of repairing or replacing your motorcycle, as well as compensation for any other damaged personal belongings.

Settlements and Litigation

After determining the types of compensation you may be entitled to, the next steps are negotiating a settlement or proceeding to litigation.

  • Settlement: Most personal injury claims are resolved through a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This involves negotiating a fair amount to cover all your damages. It’s crucial to have a skilled attorney to negotiate on your behalf, ensuring the settlement adequately covers your needs.
  • Litigation: If a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This involves presenting your case in court, where a judge or jury will decide on the compensation amount. Litigation can be a more prolonged and complex process, but it may result in higher compensation if your case is strong.

Whether through settlement negotiations or litigation, it’s vital to have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side. They can guide you through each stage, from calculating the total cost of your damages to representing you in court if necessary. The Personal Injury Center specializes in connecting victims with expert attorneys in San Bernardino, ensuring you have the best possible representation for your case.

Key Takeaways
  • If met with an accident in San Bernardino, attend to any injuries immediately following an accident.
  • Promptly call 911 to record the accident officially and obtain medical care.
  • Exchange and gather insurance information from all involved parties, and meticulously document the accident scene.
  • Learn about specific California motorcycle laws, such as helmet and lane-splitting regulations, that can impact your case.
  • Strengthen your claim with comprehensive evidence, including scene photos, witness statements, and police reports.
  • Recognize that your fault percentage in the accident can adjust your compensation under California’s comparative negligence law.Be aware of the two-year statute of limitations in California for filing personal injury lawsuits.Seek guidance from a personal injury attorney to effectively navigate claim processes and achieve fair compensation.