The state of California, and Orange County specifically, is known for its long stretches of beautiful highway. It’s a motorcyclist haven, with long stretches of winding highway that often border on the ocean or scenic overlooks. Living life on a motorcycle is easy to concede, with that picture. However, despite the pretty picture, motorcyclists are still more susceptible to injury in comparison to motor vehicle drivers, which means that a dream ride can quickly turn into a nightmare.
There are a few reasons for the discrepancy in susceptibility. Since motorcyclists are not enclosed in a vehicle, their bodies are left largely unprotected from other vehicles and the road. In addition, motorcycles are smaller, thus harder to see, and do not fare as well when coming into contact with motor vehicles. It is shocking to know that in two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle rider’s right of way and caused the accident. Even more concerning is that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident than those in passenger vehicles like cars and trucks.
What could cause this?
As mentioned, motorcycles are smaller and sometimes other drivers are not mindful enough behind the wheel. If other drivers do not check their blind spots or look carefully into cross traffic, motorcyclists can be caught in the path of a vehicle. Many errant drivers also fail to yield to oncoming motorcyclists. This often occurs when a motorcyclist is attempting a legal left-hand turn.
In short, there are several reasons why motorcyclists are more susceptible to injuries, especially injuries where another party is responsible. Injuries from motorcycle accidents can be life-altering, leaving victims with significant physical, emotional, and financial losses. Fortunately, compensation may be available to these victims after a tragic accident if they decide to take legal action.
What are common causes of motorcycle accidents?
For obvious reasons, motorcycle accidents can be devastating for riders.
Motorcycles don’t provide the protective outer shell of a car or truck, and cars and trucks far outweigh motorcycles. Following are some common causes of motorcycle accidents in California.
Potential Hazards of Riding a Motorcycle
- Left-hand turns in front of riders: In many cases, drivers turn in front of oncoming motorcycles. The rider may try to swerve or even lay down the bike, but often a collision is unavoidable. As with many motorcycle accidents, often these left-turn collisions are due to the car or truck driver’s failing to see the motorcycle.
- Illegal lane changes: Sudden or illegal lane changes are frequent causes of crashes on California freeways. Lane-splitting is allowed for motorcyclists, and sometimes drivers don’t check their mirrors before switching lanes. A motorcyclist injured in a lane-change crash may be entitled to significant compensation for injuries. Drivers who fail to signal a lane change may also be held liable for any resulting injuries.
- Rear-end collisions: The twists, turns and sudden stops on California roadways are known hazards, but people still fail to pay attention to traffic ahead. Motorcyclists who are hit from behind often suffer serious injuries as a result.
- Car doors: When riding near parked cars, it is advisable to proceed with caution, as a door that opens in your path can send you to the pavement. A driver may also be held liable for opening the door of a parked car without first checking the side mirror.
What are the common causes of a motorcycle accident?
It is not rare for Orange County residents to enjoy a motorcycle ride. Due to pleasant weather year-round, most motorcyclists will ride their bikes throughout the year. While it is common for motorists to share the road with bikers, some drivers fail to take precautions when traveling near a motorcyclist or encountering one on the roadway. Thus, a negligent or distracted driver could easily be the cause of a serious, or even fatal, motorcycle crash.
A motorcycle accident is considered a complex event that involves many working parts. In most cases, this tragic event involves the interaction of human errors, multiple vehicles and environmental factors. Although there is no typical type of motorcycle accident, recent statistics suggest that roughly 80 percent of motorcycle collisions result in injuries or death to the motorcyclists or their passengers.
What are the common causes of a motorcycle accident? According the data on motorcycle crashes, about a third of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents are caused by other motorists turning into the path of the motorcyclists. In other words, the failure to yield to an oncoming motorcycle is the cause of about 33 percent of all motorcycle crashes.
Another reason motorcycle accidents occur is lack of visibility. While motorcyclists are taught that they must attempt to be visible at all times, taking precautionary action does not always prevent an accident due to a driver not seeing a motorcyclist. If motorists fail to check their mirrors and blind spots, they could fail to see motorcyclists traveling next to them. If a driver makes a maneuver into the path of a motorcyclist, this could result in a serious collision.
Even if a helmet and protective clothing is worn, these do not always prevent serious injuries from occurring. In fact, a motorcyclist could suffer catastrophic injuries even when his or her safety gear was properly used.
If a negligent driver caused a motorcycle accident, it is possible to recover recourses. A victim could file a personal injury suit, potentially helping the injured victim recover compensation.
What causes motorcycle accidents?
When an accident involves a motorcycle, the outcome can be serious injuries or even death for the rider. Motorcycle accidents are a problem throughout the country and Orange County is no exception.
Many people might think that they know the most prevalent causes of motorcycle accidents. For example, riders might point to inattentive drivers in other vehicles as being the most likely cause of a motorcycle accident. By contrast, drivers in these other vehicles might argue that reckless riding by motorcyclists who weave in and out of traffic at high speeds is the driving force behind many accidents.
For the Federal Highway Administration, pointing fingers and doing guesswork isn’t good enough when it comes to motorcycle safety. The Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has undertaken a massive study to help understand the causes behind motorcycle accidents.
The Motorcycle Crash Causation Study will be the largest motorcycle accident research effort in the past 30 years. The idea is that both rider demographics and the design and manufacture of motorcycles has changed significantly over the years. Thus, it is important to study the cause of modern motorcycle crashes so that industry, government and education can all catch up with regard to motorcycle safety.
A portion of this study is taking place right here in Orange County. According to the Administration, Orange County is an ideal location because of its combination of flat land areas and hills. Likewise, Orange County includes both urban and rural areas and it has daily commuter motorcycle riders, as well as those who ride for leisure. Accordingly, Orange County represents a good cross-section of all riding environments throughout the country.
When the 30-month period for this comprehensive study ends, researchers may be able to definitively point to the common causes of motorcycle accidents.
Defective equipment can lead to motorcycle accidents
Drivers in Orange County may be aware of the possibility of a safety defect with their automobiles. When the auto manufacturer learns of this kind of problem, federal regulations require that it takes steps to remedy the problem. In some cases, this may mean issuing a safety recall of the vehicle. For example, people in Orange County may be familiar with the ongoing recall involving vehicles that have Takata airbags. But cars and SUVs are not the only vehicles that can be subject to recalls.
Motorcycles can also have defects that require the manufacturer to issue a recall. In some cases, the company will voluntarily recall the product, in others the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will order the manufacturer to conduct the recall. In either situation, the manufacturer has to file a public report that describes the safety defect and how many vehicles are involved in the recall. The report must also explain the events that led to the recall, the proposed remedy and the schedule for the recall.
In addition to filing a public report about the recall, motorcycle manufacturers must undertake efforts to notify the owners of the affected motorcycles. Federal law also requires that the manufacturer fix the defect at no cost to the owner.
Defective motorcycles, or problems with related equipment like helmets, can pose a major danger to riders. Motorcyclists have little protection as it is, and any kind of added safety issues can make riding unreasonably dangerous.
Motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries, like broken bones, which can cause permanent disability to accident victims. Although defective motorcycles can cause accidents, so too can other factors like a negligent driver in another vehicle. When a motorcycle accident victim suffers an injury, he or she should understand his or her legal rights against other parties who may have been responsible for the accident.
Wrongful death of motorcyclist could be due to inattentive driver
There are so many good and positive reasons that Orange County residents decide to travel by motorcycle. One great reason is the feel of the open-road. Also, more practically, the gas mileage and effect of the environment is less and thus attractive to many travelers. Others use motorcycling as a time to bond with friends and family.
For all the positive aspects of motorcycling, there are also the downsides. For those who have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, they know how dangerous motorcycles can be. Oftentimes, it isn’t the motorcyclist or the bike that causes the motorcyclist’s untimely death. The real danger is the other motor vehicles traveling alongside, and sometimes colliding, with motorcyclists.
People are more distracted then ever and this has led to incidences of inattentive driving in the wrongful death of a motorcyclist. Distracted driving could look like cell phone use while driving, eating or even putting on make-up. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road can quickly cause a motorcycle accident resulting in the motorcyclist’s sudden and early death. Families of lost loved ones often wonder what can be done to rectify the financial situation for a loved one’s family after their premature death.
At Easton & Easton LLP, we take motorcycle accidents seriously as the consequences can be so disastrous for the motorcyclist and their family. Motorcyclists have every right to safety on the road as anyone else. Oftentimes, collisions with motorcyclists are due to a careless or inattentive driver. While they may not have meant any harm, their actions could have contributed to the motorcyclist’s death and should be noted as such.
Motorcyclists who suffer brain injuries
Even when they wear a helmet, Orange County motorcyclists who get hit while traveling on the roads in or around Orange County can easily suffer a serious traumatic brain injury. Given the size difference between a car and a motorcycle and the fact that a motorcyclist does not benefit from the protection of a closed vehicle, a bad blow to the head either from the other vehicle or even from the road is a real possibility.
The resulting traumatic brain injury can be life-altering, which is why many victims and their families entrust their motorcycle accident cases to our law office. Without the right help, it is very easy for a family to underestimate exactly how much their lives will change in the wake of a brain injury and how much that injury will cost. As a result, they may wind up agreeing to a settlement that is great for the insurance companies, but not so good for the victim.
Brain injuries will no doubt lead to significant medical bills, and these can be ongoing expenses depending on what treatment and care a person needs. In addition to getting treatment for physical injuries, the victim may need occupational therapy and other treatment to help overcome some of the mental and emotional fallout from a brain injury. We do our best to help victims and their families make sure that the person responsible for the accident pays these bills.
Additionally, even a minor to moderate brain injury can leave a person unable to work for months, assuming that they will be able to remain in their profession at all following their accident. A victim or a victim’s family must factor in lost wages as part of their overall costs, and our attorneys will help them do so.
Get Compensated for Motorcycle Accident Injuries
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Orange County, don’t wait to start exploring your options for obtaining the full and fair compensation you need. Motorcycle accident injuries often lead to immense medical expenses, lost time from work, and even permanent disability and death. For more on these matters, please see our motorcycle accident overview.
Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology, “Motorcycle Crash Causation Study Overview,” accessed on Nov. 3, 2014
One.nhtsa.gov, “The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash,” accessed Feb. 4, 2017
FindLaw, “Motorcycle Accidents: Overview,” accessed Sep. 12, 2016