California is one of the best states for motorcycle riding, with picturesque scenery along the coast and a moderate, year-round climate. However, motorcyclists are at a greater risk for accidents, given the number of vehicles on the road, especially in cities like San Jose. Drivers don’t always pay attention to motorcycles, which can have catastrophic results. If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident due to another driver’s negligence, please get in touch with a motorcycle accident lawyer in San Jose.
The personal injury attorneys at GJEL Accident Attorneys have years of experience assisting injured victims in getting the compensation they’re owed in serious motorcycle crashes. Let us review your case and tell you how we can help you.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in San Jose
Motorcycle accidents happen regularly in San Jose for numerous reasons. Some accident causes are more common than others. We have found that accidents occur most often due to the following factors.
Drivers who become distracted put other motorists at risk, whether texting and driving, changing the radio station, looking at the GPS, eating, or talking to passengers. Anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road for even a second could result in a motorcycle collision.
Improper Lane Change
Drivers sometimes fail to see motorcycles when preparing to change lanes. A driver who fails to check their blind spots could easily miss a motorcycle, especially given its smaller profile.
Drivers who follow too closely to a motorcycle could easily rear-end them. The driver might not realize the motorcycle is suddenly coming to a stop and ram into the back of the bike.
Left-hand Turn Accidents
Turning left in front of an approaching motorcycle is dangerous as drivers tend to misjudge how close the motorcycle is or how fast they are traveling. A motorcycle may turn left in front of a vehicle, resulting in a crash, but the majority of left-hand turn accidents involve the vehicle turning left in front of a bike.
Many motorcycle accidents occur because motorists engage in reckless behaviors. Perhaps they are speeding, swerving in and out of traffic, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Dooring refers to a motorist who opens their door without looking. They could strike an approaching motorcycle resulting in serious injuries.
Splitting lanes is legal in California, with some caveats. This practice involves a motorcycle riding between slow-moving or stopped traffic. It can help reduce stop-and-go traffic, but motorists must be extra cautious and watch for motorcycles approaching. Some drivers hate motorcycles that split lanes and may intentionally try to hit the bike or cause them to swerve and hit another vehicle.
Adverse Weather or Hazardous Road Conditions
Adverse weather and hazardous road conditions can contribute to accidents as well. Someone can travel under the speed limit, but it’s still too fast for current weather conditions. A pothole or some other road-related hazard can also contribute to accidents.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle accident injuries are often severe to catastrophic. Motorcycle riders lack the same safety protections that vehicle occupants have. Passenger vehicles have airbags, seatbelts, shatter-resistant glass, and more. But a motorcyclist’s body can directly impact a car in an accident. Their only protection is a helmet and whatever protective clothing they are wearing.
Given the severity of motorcycle injuries, many claims are worth significant amounts because of the lengthy recovery times and propensity to have claims with permanent damage. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries we represent clients for include the following.
While wearing a helmet can reduce the risk and severity of head injuries, it’s still possible to have a traumatic brain injury. The severity of brain damage varies from victim to victim. One person might only experience mild symptoms, while others might be in a coma with permanent damage.
The spinal cord is very delicate. Any collision can lead to significant damage. Spinal cord damage is often permanent, resulting in partial or total paralysis. Victims typically require lifetime care and substantial changes to their lifestyle.
Internal injuries are also prevalent in motorcycle accidents. The lack of protection and the impact force can lead to internal bleeding and organ damage. It’s crucial to seek medical treatment following a motorcycle accident, even if you don’t think you have serious injuries. You might have internal injuries that a doctor needs to diagnose.
An impact on the pavement or vehicle is often enough to break bones. Arms, hands, legs, and feet are common areas of the body that are affected. Many of these injuries require surgical intervention to repair.
You might hear the term “biker’s arm,” which refers to the nerve damage in a motorcycle rider’s arm following a collision. It’s instinctual to protect yourself in a fall, which means you might brace for impact with your arm. That can result in severe injuries to your arm and shoulder.
Some impacts are so severe they can result in severed or crushed limbs. A crushed limb can be so severely damaged that doctors are forced to amputate it. These injuries are life-changing and require the victim to make significant adjustments. Prosthetics and follow-up care can be costly for the amputee.
When motorcycle riders contact the pavement, their body is in motion. That movement can result in road rash, which is severe skin damage. Riders who don’t wear leather or protective clothing could have severe road rash. Dirt and other substances may be embedded in the skin, which puts the victim at a higher risk of infection. These infections are often difficult to treat, which could lead to significant scarring.
A hard fall or impact can cause numerous neck and back injuries. Some injuries might be soft tissue damage, which eventually resolves independently or with some physical therapy. Other times, injuries might involve bone, muscle, tendon, or nerve damage. Even with rehabilitation, victims might have lingering pain and problems with their spine later in life.
How to Prove Liability Against the Defendant
Successfully proving liability in California requires you to meet specific criteria. For a negligence claim, there are four mandatory elements. These elements are:
- The other driver must owe you a legal duty,
- That driver must have breached their duty,
- Their breach of duty is what led to the accident and your injuries, and
- You must have sustained damages, such as medical expenses or lost wages.
Proving the first element is straightforward since all motorists owe each other a duty to follow traffic laws and practice defensive driving. When someone speeds, runs a red light or breaks another traffic law, they have breached their duty.
Some motorcycle accident claims might involve more complex legal issues, such as a defective product if something failed on the motorcycle (for example, the brakes). You need a skilled San Jose motorcycle accident lawyer to identify all potential defendants and causes of action. Otherwise, you could be missing out on the compensation you deserve.
Under California law, you don’t have to prove the defendant was 100% at fault to receive some compensation for your injuries. The reason for that is because of California’s pure comparative negligence law. Under this law, you have the legal right to pursue a compensation claim even if you’re partially at fault. However, you will not receive the total value of your claim. Your percentage of fault reduces your compensation.
To better understand comparative negligence, consider an example where the motorcycle rider was 30% at fault. That means the motorcyclist will only receive 70% of their damages, and the other driver could pursue a claim for 30% of their injury claim. If the motorcyclist is 70% at fault, they would only receive 30%, and the other driver can pursue a claim for 70% of their damages.
Why Choose GJEL as Your San Jose Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
You have a lot of choices for personal injury lawyers in the San Jose area, so you might wonder what sets GJEL apart from other motorcycle accident lawyers. Our lawyers are committed to helping you get better. Here are some of the things that set us apart from other law firms in San Jose:
- We have had a 99% success rate with helping injured clients since the early 1970s;
- Our peers have ranked us among the top personal injury firms nationwide; and
- We’ve recovered more than $950 million for our clients from corporate defendants and insurance companies.
Our lawyers establish a personal connection with each of their clients. We are passionate about fighting for the little guy. Developing a one-on-one relationship between attorney and client is extremely important to us. We always prioritize quality over quantity. Cases involving catastrophic injuries require significant attention to detail, so we must be highly selective about the cases we accept.
Other law firms may have experience with personal injury cases, but it doesn’t mean they can handle the complex legal issues that arise in motorcycle accidents. When you hire a GJEL motorcycle accident lawyer in San Jose, you can relax knowing you have one of the best attorneys representing you. We fight tirelessly for our clients and will do our best to help you recover the maximum compensation possible.
How Can a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in San Jose Help Your Case?
When you retain GJEL Accident Attorneys to represent you, we will be there for you every step of the way. We will conduct a thorough independent investigation and preserve all evidence that supports your case.
Your lawyer will handle all communication with the defendants’ insurance companies and lawyers. Insurance adjusters for the defendants will try to convince you to give a recorded statement without legal representation. When a lawyer represents you, the adjuster is prohibited from communicating with you directly.
We will handle all negotiations when it’s time to discuss a potential settlement with the defendant’s insurance adjuster. Some adjusters like to lowball injured victims who are unrepresented. We know the tactics insurance adjusters use to save money on claims and won’t let them try to take advantage of you.
If the insurance adjuster is unwilling to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. We are not afraid to take a case to court if that’s what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. We have the skills and resources to fight your case all the way to a jury trial when warranted.
In severe injury cases, it might be necessary to hire industry experts to assist with your case. In complex liability disputes, we might need to hire an accident reconstructionist who will prepare a report indicating how they believe the accident happened. If you have permanent injuries, we might hire someone who can provide an opinion on what your future medical expenses and pain and suffering are worth. Rest assured, we will take every step to help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
Having a San Jose motorcycle accident attorney representing you means you can relax knowing you won’t miss any critical legal deadlines in your case. However, if a deadline has passed before hiring us, it could complicate your case. That’s why you should hire a lawyer immediately following the accident.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable in a Motorcycle Accident?
Your damages from a motorcycle accident fall under two main categories—economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are your tangible losses, which can be easily calculated by referencing things like receipts and bills. Examples include:
- Medical expenses to date,
- Future medical costs,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Property damage,
- Out-of-pocket expenses, and
Non-economic damages are more complicated to calculate because they don’t directly correlate to financial losses. These damages can often make up the bulk of your injury claim. Potential examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Diminished quality of life,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Loss of consortium,
- Disfigurement, and
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Recoverable damages will vary depending on the circumstances of your injuries. When you hire a San Jose motorcycle accident attorney with GJEL, we explain which damages apply and why. In limited scenarios, you might be eligible to receive a third type of compensation—punitive damages. In California, these damages are solely awarded by courts to punish the defendant for malicious or very reckless behavior. Any award for punitive damages is on top of your economic and non-economic damages. For a motorcycle accident, punitive damages might be available if the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision.
Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Claims in California
Like other types of personal injury accident claims, the law requires you to adhere to specific deadlines, such as the statute of limitations. This date is the last possible day to file a lawsuit against the defendants who caused your injuries.
In most motorcycle accidents, you only have two years from the accident date to file your lawsuit. The court will likely dismiss your case if you inadvertently miss that deadline. That means you are barred from recovering any compensation. It won’t matter if you were in settlement negotiations with the defendant at the time, either. You must show proof you filed within the deadline.
While the deadline is two years from the accident date in most cases, it’s not absolute. Some situations can extend or reduce the filing deadline. For example, accidents involving minors will have different statutes of limitations. Or, when an accident victim dies from their injuries, certain family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The filing deadline for a wrongful death lawsuit in California is typically two years from the date of death.
If the defendant is a government agency, you could have as little as six months from the date of injury to file an administrative claim. Don’t risk jeopardizing your potential settlement by trying to represent yourself. If you miss the statute of limitations, there may not be anything a lawyer can do for you.
Frequently Asked Questions ABOUT MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS IN SAN JOSE
Understandably, prospective clients have questions about pursuing a motorcycle accident claim. To help you prepare for your initial appointment, we’ve answered some of the most asked questions below.
How do you respond to a motorcycle accident? What would you do if the victim was injured in a motorcycle accident?
When an injured victim contacts our firm, we will review the facts of the accident and whether there’s a likelihood of recovering compensation for their injuries. If the victim cannot come into the office for an initial consultation, we will arrange to meet them somewhere more convenient. In the event we cannot represent the victim for a motorcycle accident claim, we can provide a recommendation to another firm that might be able to assist.
What to do when you get hit by a motorcycle?
If you’re driving a vehicle and are struck by a motorcycle, you still need to contact the police to have them take a report. If you’re injured, seek treatment as soon as possible. Report the claim to your insurance company and the motorcycle’s insurance company. Hiring an attorney is equally as important, even if you were the vehicle’s driver versus the motorcycle rider. Accidents involving a motorcycle and car are not automatically the car’s fault.
Who is responsible if the motorcycle was used in a crime?
Determining legal responsibility in an accident involving criminal activity will vary depending on individual circumstances. The rider could be liable for your damages. In some instances, the owner can also be legally responsible if they permitted this individual to use the motorcycle.
Under California’s permissive use statute, owners are vicariously liable for injuries or death up to $15,000 for one person and up to $30,000 for all parties in one accident for a driver’s negligence when the owner gave permission. This issue can become complex when the owner denies giving permission. If you were injured by a motorcycle used in a crime, please contact a motorcycle accident lawyer in San Jose for assistance.
What type of compensation can I expect to receive after a motorcycle accident in San Jose?
The compensation you can receive following an accident depends on several different factors:
- The type and severity of your injuries,
- Who is liable for your injuries,
- The total amount of your damages, and
- How much liability insurance coverage is available.
We will explain how we calculate your potential settlement value based on these factors.
When should I contact a San Jose motorcycle accident attorney after the accident?
We recommend contacting a motorcycle accident attorney in San Jose shortly after the accident. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner we can protect your rights. You could inadvertently do something or say something to jeopardize your case if you wait too long to hire a lawyer.
Does riding without a helmet hurt my claim in a motorcycle accident?
If you weren’t wearing a helmet in the accident, it doesn’t mean the defendant’s insurance company will immediately deny you compensation. However, they will try to reduce your overall compensation for failure to wear proper safety gear as required by law. The insurance adjuster will undoubtedly argue that your injuries might have been less severe or not have occurred had you been wearing a helmet. Pursuing compensation is more challenging but not impossible. You need a skilled San Jose motorcycle accident attorney at GJEL representing you to maximize your potential settlement.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in San Jose
When you’ve sustained injuries due to another party’s actions in a motorcycle accident, speak with the legal team at GJEL. We have 50 years of experience assisting injured victims in motorcycle accidents. We know what it takes to build a solid case. We provide aggressive yet compassionate representation. We understand what an emotional and stressful time this is for you and your entire family. Let us be there for you when you need it most.
Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your case. There’s no cost or obligation, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with us. We’re here to explain your legal options and let you know how best to proceed. We will do everything to minimize your stress after a painful motorcycle accident in San Jose.