Curious if your recent motorcycle accident entitles you to compensation? If so, what compensation do you deserve? What do you need to prove? These are all common questions after an accident, and luckily you don’t have to look for the answers alone. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney in San Luis Obispo can help assess fault and damages and gather evidence. They will answer your questions and help advocate for maximum compensation in your case.
Do I Have a Motorcycle Accident Case?
Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries and damages. If you are a motorcycle accident victim in California, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. However, having a legitimate motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit requires meeting certain criteria and following specific procedures. Some key factors can determine whether you have a legitimate motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit.
The first factor in determining a legitimate motorcycle accident claim is fault. Fault is based on whether another driver’s negligence caused the accident. Negligence can include things like distracted driving, driving under the influence, speeding, or failing to yield. However, being a bad driver does not automatically make one negligent. Negligence is a legal term of art with specific criteria. Proving negligence requires showing that:
- The person had a duty to other vehicles on the road to operate their vehicle safely.
- The person breached this duty by engaging in unsafe behavior.
- The unsafe behavior caused the rider’s injury.
All this means that once you establish the relationship between the breach and the accident, you must show the accident caused your injuries and the extent of your damages.
Injuries and Damages
Injuries and damages are key factors in determining the amount of motorcycle accident claim. Injuries can range from minor to severe, including broken bones, cuts and bruises, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries. The severity of your injuries ultimately factors into your overall damages.
An insurance company will add up your damages and use this number to determine your claim’s value. In calculating these damages, the goal is to compensate a person and make them whole again. An insurance company, or court, will separate your damages into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are losses such as:
- Medical bills,
- Future health care costs,
- Lost income for missed work, and
- Property damage or loss.
Non-economic damages are more subjective, but an attorney knows what to look for in assessing these damages. Some examples are:
- Pain and suffering,
- Physical impairments (disfigurement, scarring, or amputation),
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of consortium.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because no specific monetary value is attached.
To determine your claim’s worth, an experienced San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident attorney will compare your damages to similar claims. The attorney will then consider what an insurance company has paid in the past for comparable damages and arrive at an appropriate value for your claim.
To have a viable motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit in California, you must have evidence to support your claim. This can include police reports, witness statements, medical records, and photographs of the accident scene and your injuries. An attorney will help request medical records, bills, pay stubs, and repair invoices, all of which can help substantiate your claim.
It’s important to gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after the accident, as memories fade and evidence can be lost over time.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for the Motorcycle Accident?
California law applies pure comparative negligence rules in motorcycle accident cases. Under these rules, a person responsible for causing an accident compensates the injured party only by their percentage of fault. For example, if a party is 80% at fault for causing an accident, the person will be liable for paying only 80% of the total damages in a case. In this example, the other party is responsible for 20% of the loss.
An example of comparative negligence in a motorcycle context is lane splitting. Lane splitting is allowed in California, but police officers have the discretion to determine if a ticket is warranted when motorcyclists practice unsafe lane-splitting behaviors. If a ticket is issued, it is likely you will bear some fault for the accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
In California, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. In other words, you have two years to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and damages. If you fail to file your claim within this timeframe, you could lose your right to seek compensation.
It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to California’s two-year statute of limitations. For example, if you were a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be extended until two years after your 18th birthday. Additionally, if you became aware of your injuries after the two-year time frame, the statute of limitations may be extended.
However, filing your claim immediately after the accident is always best. If you need clarification on the statute of limitations for your claim, consult with a personal injury attorney to review the specifics of your case and advise you on the best course of action.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in San Luis Obispo, CA
If you were in an accident, it’s important to consult an experienced San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident lawyer to determine whether you have a legitimate claim and to ensure your rights are protected. Jacqueline Vitti Frederick founded her law firm in 1984. After a decade of successfully representing clients throughout Los Angeles County, Jacqueline moved her law firm offices to San Luis Obispo County and established the first law office in Nipomo, California. Now with over 32 years of trial experience, Frederick Law Firm helps clients throughout the entire California central coast. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.