Fresno Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Serving Kings, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Merced Counties: Nunes Law Can Help
If you ride a motorcycle, then you know firsthand why being a biker is so exhilarating. Few things can compare to being on a motorcycle on the open road, particularly in California, with mild weather year-round and gorgeous winding highways along the coast.
Yet riding a motorcycle comes with its own unique risks. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash as compared to occupants of passenger vehicles. In 2017 alone, 89,000 motorcyclists suffered injuries in accidents, while an additional 5,172 bikers died in crashes.
If you are hurt or if a loved one dies in this type of collision, a Fresno motorcycle accident attorney can help you recover the compensation that you need to move forward with your life. Serving Kings, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Merced Counties, Nunes Law is well-positioned to help accident victims throughout Northern California. We offer free consultations for all prospective clients, and we handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can happen in any number of ways. Common causes of these crashes include:
- Colliding with a stationary object, such as a tree, curb, sign, or light pole;
- Adverse driver not paying attention;
- Vehicles pulling out in front of a motorcycle rider;
- Uneven roads;
- Vehicles cutting off a cyclist when merging;
- Loose gravel;
- Hazardous weather conditions;
- Temporary metal plates on the road; and
- Dangerous or defective parts.
Certain factors increase the risk of a fatal motorcycle accident, including the time of year, helmet use, age, sex, alcohol and/or drug impairment, engine size, and whether the rider is unlicensed. In particular, a failure to wear a helmet can increase the risk of serious or fatal injuries. In California, all motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet.
Motorcyclists may be more susceptible to injury in a crash, given the lack of protection around the rider and how bikes tend to fall during an accident. Common motorcycle accident injuries may include:
- Broken bones
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Road rash
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Loss of limb
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Internal bleeding
- Eye injuries
- Hearing loss
Wearing appropriate protective equipment can reduce the risk of injury. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), motorcycle riders should always wear a helmet, plus appropriate footwear, face protection (such as goggles and a face shield), gloves, and hearing protection. These items should be both comfortable and protective.
What Should I Do After a California Motorcycle Crash?
After a motorcycle accident, your first priority should be seeking medical attention. Even if you feel fine, you should still get checked out by a doctor or at a hospital. Doing so can help you get the right diagnosis and treatment, and will also establish a record of your injuries.
If you are able to do so, gather as much information as possible about the accident. This may include things such as the name and contact information for others involved in the accident as well as potential witnesses, driver insurance information, vehicle plate numbers, and a police report (if available). Taking photos or videos of the scene, your bike, the other involved vehicles and your injuries with your phone can also be helpful.
When talking to others after the accident, be careful about what you say. Doing something as simple as telling the other driver that you’re sorry can be construed as an admission of fault. Remember that the question of fault in a personal injury claim can be complicated. Your best course of action after a motorcycle accident is to stick to getting the basic information and avoid saying anything beyond what is necessary.
Finally, contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible after a crash. The other driver’s insurance company may want you to accept a settlement offer and sign paperwork soon after an accident. Don’t sign anything before consulting with a lawyer, who will advocate for you to receive the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to under the law.
Filing a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident
If someone else caused your motorcycle collision, whether it was a driver, a fellow motorcyclist, or even a pedestrian, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. These cases are usually based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
Negligence has four elements: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and (4) damages. To recover damages, you will need to show that:
- The at-fault driver (defendant) owed you a duty of care;
- The defendant breached (violated) that duty of care;
- The breach or violation was the cause of the accident; and
- You suffered damages as a result.
In some cases, it will not be necessary to prove negligence. For example, if a motorist was texting and driving at the time of the collision, they have violated California’s laws on distracted driving. Your personal injury lawyer may be able to argue that they were negligent per se, which means that you do not have to prove that they were negligent, just that they broke a law that is intended to prevent accidents like this.
Alternatively, if a motorcycle part was defective in some way, causing you to crash, then you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of that product. In situations where poor road conditions caused a collision, you may be able to file a premises liability claim against the property owner, including a city, county, or state government agency.
There are three types of damages that may be available in a motorcycle accident case: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic and non-economic damages are meant to compensate an individual for the losses that they have suffered. By contrast, punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Economic damages cover financial losses, such as medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and reduced earning capacity. They are usually proven through things like invoices, pay stubs, and bills.
Non-economic damages are intended to pay for intangible losses. They may be for things such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.It can be harder to prove this type of damages, but a skilled motorcycle accident attorney will use their experience and knowledge of similar cases to develop a demand for compensation.
Finally, punitive damages may be awarded in situations where the defendant’s conduct was intentional or reckless. Because most personal injury lawsuits are based on a theory of negligence, punitive damages are rare in this type of case. Your attorney can advise you about whether punitive damages may be available for your claim.
Fresno Motorcycle Accident Lawyer FAQs
I Was Partially at Fault for My Motorcycle Accident. Can I Still Get Compensation?
If you were responsible — in some part — for a motorcycle collision, you may still be able to recover for your losses, including medical bills, property damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. California follows the rule of comparative negligence.
Under the principles of comparative negligence (sometimes referred to as comparative fault), a person who is partially at fault for a motor vehicle accident can still recover for their losses. However, their total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that they were to blame. In California, a judge or jury will divide fault among the parties involved in the motorcycle accident, for a total of 100%.
For example, consider a situation where a car pulled out into the road in front of you without looking both ways, causing a crash. You had right of way, so the other driver is at fault for failing to yield or to make sure that it was safe to pull out — but you were speeding at the time. If your damages were $100,000 and a jury decides that you were 20% at fault, then your total recovery would be reduced by 20% ($20,000) to $80,000.
Can I File a Lawsuit If Poor Road Conditions Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
You may be able to file a lawsuit against the city, state, or a private property owner if poor road conditions caused you to crash. Motorcycles are more sensitive to road conditions than cars, trucks and SUVs. Things like metal plate coverings, loose gravel, lifted asphalt, potholes, and water leaks can all lead to motorcycle accidents if the driver loses control.
Under premises liability laws, individuals are responsible for keeping the property that they own or occupy in a reasonably safe condition. In California, this includes a duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining and inspecting the property, repairing any dangerous conditions, and/or warning of any dangerous conditions.
If a property owner, including a city, county, or state government agency, fails to do so, they may be held responsible for any injuries that occur as a result. To win a personal injury claim against a government entity, your Fresno motorcycle accident lawyer may need to prove the following:
The city, county or state owned or controlled the property;
The property was in or had a dangerous condition at the time of the crash;
The dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that occurred;
The city, county or state had notice of the dangerous condition for a long enough time to have protected against it;
You were harmed in the accident; and
The dangerous condition was a substantial factor in causing the injuries that you suffered.
The At-Fault Driver Violated a Traffic Law. How Does that Affect My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Most personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. However, if the other driver was violating a traffic law at the time of the crash, and the law in question was intended to prevent accidents, then they may be considered “negligent per se.” In this situation, you will not have to prove that the other driver acted with negligence.
Negligence per se may be presumed if a driver violates a law, statute, or an ordinance. This may include things such as speeding, running a stop sign, texting while driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
To show negligence per se, your Fresno motorcycle accident attorney will need to prove that: (1) the other driver violated a statute, regulation, or ordinance; (2) the violation caused death or injury to person or property; (3) the death or injury resulted from an action that the statute, regulation, or ordinance was designed to prevent; and (4) the victim was a member of a group that the statute, regulation, or ordinance was trying to protect. This may make recovery in a California motorcycle accident case more straightforward.
Can I File a Lawsuit If a Malfunction Caused My Motorcycle Crash?
n some cases, a motorcycle accident isn’t caused by another driver, but by a defective part or piece of equipment. In these situations, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer or distributor based on a products liability theory.
In a product liability lawsuit, you will not need to prove that the company who produced, sold, or distributed the part was negligent. Instead, the case will be based on a theory of strict liability if there was a manufacturing or design defect, or if the company failed to warn users appropriately. For example, if your motorcycle’s brakes were faulty in some way, causing you to wreck, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the company.
To win a product liability lawsuit and recover damages for your losses, you will need to demonstrate:
The company (or companies) designed, manufactured, distributed or sold a defective product;
The product contained the defect when it left the their possession;
You used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner; and
You suffered harm or an injury as a result of the defect.
How We Can Help
After a motorcycle accident, our law firm will deal with the insurance companies and medical bill collectors so that you can focus on what is important: recovering from your injuries. Each case starts with a free consultation, where we will review your information and get your statement. If you decide to work with our firm, we will conduct a thorough investigation and put together a strong legal claim based on California law and the facts of your case.
With a law office in Fresno, Nunes Law represents clients in Kings County, Madera County, Fresno County, Tulare County, and Merced County. We offer free case evaluations, and only charge a fee if we recover a settlement or jury verdict in your favor. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Fresno personal injury attorney, contact us today at 866-609-5908 or email us at any time.
We offer free consultations. There is no fee if there is no recovery.