California seems like the perfect place for motorcycling, with its temperate climate and miles of roadways, many traversing spectacular scenery. However, without the external protection of a vehicle, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable in an accident—and unfortunately, many drivers do not pay adequate attention to motorcycles on the road.
If another driver’s negligence or a poorly maintained roadways led to a motorcyclist’s injuries, money damages might be available. A Moreno Valley motorcycle accident lawyer could identify negligent parties and demand compensation for losses resulting from a motorcycle accident. Schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable injury attorney to begin discussing what you could do to obtain compensation.
Proving Negligence in a Motorbike Injury Claim
Sometimes wrecks are the fault of the motorcyclist alone, but often, the actions of someone else contributed to the accident. California Civil Code §1714(a) makes every person responsible for the effects of their actions on themselves and others, meaning the injured biker can seek damages if they can establish that the other party was negligent.
To prove negligence in California, the injured party must show that:
- The other party had a duty to behave in a certain way
- The other party breached that duty
- The plaintiff suffered a personal injury or property damage because of the breach
- The injuries the plaintiff suffered would not have occurred but for the other party’s behavior
Comparative Negligence May Reduce Award
In California, plaintiffs can seek compensation even when they are partially at fault, but any award a plaintiff receives is discounted by an amount equal to the plaintiff’s degree of responsibility. If a biker suffered $10,000 in damages but was 60 percent responsible for the accident, the motorcyclist would be able to collect only 40 percent of the damage award from the defendant, or $4000.
The stakes can be high when seeking damages for personal injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, and apportioning responsibility has a big impact on the damages a victim can collect. It is wise to have a savvy attorney who might be able to show that most of the responsibility for a motorcycle accident rests with another negligent party.
What is Negligence Per Se?
In some circumstances, a plaintiff may be able to collect damages without proving another party was negligent. California recognizes the idea of “negligence per se.” In the context of a claim for personal injuries from a motorcycle accident, this means that if someone gets a traffic citation or faces criminal charges stemming from the accident, that person was negligent by definition.
Imagine that a truck driver was speeding and recklessly changing lanes and collided with a motorcyclist who was driving carefully. Police called to the scene cited the truck driver for traffic law infractions. The biker would not have to prove the truck driver’s negligence in a lawsuit for damages because the traffic citation demonstrated that the truck driver was negligent.
However, to change the example above, perhaps the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, which is a violation of California Vehicle Code §27803. The truck driver (or, more likely, the trucking company’s insurance company) might argue that the biker also is negligent per se and therefore is solely responsible for any head injuries they suffered because they violated the helmet law. An experienced personal injury attorney could provide insight into the implications of negligence per se in Moreno Valley motorcycle accidents.
Consult a Moreno Valley Motorcycle Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible
In general, California law requires a plaintiff seeking damages for injuries to file a lawsuit within two years of the accident. Do not spend that time trying to negotiate a settlement yourself. The sooner you consult a lawyer about your rights after a motorcycle accident, the better your chances of getting fair compensation for your losses.
You may be entitled to get money damages to pay for your medical expenses, lost work time, and even pain and suffering. Consult a Moreno Valley motorcycle accident lawyer right away for information about what damages may be available in your case.