Motorcycle riding has greatly increased in the last several years. In 2006, over 1,000,000 motorcycles were sold. In 2004, there were 5.8 million motorcycles on the road in the United States. This increase in ridership leads to more accidents. In 2006, motorcycle fatalities were at the highest level since 1981, and each year more than 500,000 people are treated in emergency rooms in the U.S., according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Bicycles, also a low profile, single-track vehicle, are involved in their share of accidents as well.
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
Bicycles and motorcycles are similar in that they are single-track vehicles that are hard to see. Riders of both should be aware of several different types of accidents. The following are common motorcycle accidents. But each can also involve a bicycle:
- Crashes involving cars and trucks: the most dangerous accidents involve other vehicles. Most of the time the other vehicle will change lanes or turn into your path because the driver does not see you riding.
- Single-bike accidents: many times the police report will indicate the motorcycle operator to be at fault for single-bike accidents. However, much of the time road debris can be the real cause. Such accidents include the high-slide, the low-slide and the “endo” (flipping the bike by hard breaking braking of the front brake).
- Chains and ropes across trails: motorcyclists and mountain bikers who ride off-road should be aware of chains and ropes across trails installed by property owners to keep bikers away. Property owners can be held liable for any accident cause by a chain or rope placed across a trail.
- Rear-end collisions: heavier vehicles cannot stop as fast as motorcycles or bicycles.
- U-turns: some car drivers do not look for oncoming traffic and, even if they do, may not see a motorcycle or bicycle when making u-turns.
- Road debris: grease, motor oil, loose pavement, uneven concrete or blacktop surfaces, tire treads or potholes sometimes cannot be avoided.
- Car doors opening unexpectedly: many people exiting their cars do not look for oncoming traffic.
CALIFORNIA MOTORCYCLE LAWS
Motorcyclists in California should be aware of the various statutes concerning motorcycles and their operation.
- Helmet law: Helmets are mandatory in California. Motorcyclists must wear a DOT approved helmet when riding in California.
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting is legal in California. However, if a lane-splitting motorcycle is involved in a collision, the police will generally blame the biker for the crash and indicate that on the traffic collision report.
- Statutes of limitations: you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit, depending on the type of case. It is, therefore, important to consult with an attorney soon if you are involved in any accident.
- License and permit requirements: to ride a motorcycle in California, you must have an M-Class license. The Department of Motor Vehicles will issue an M endorsement after passing both a written test and a road test.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, SEEK LEGAL ADVICE
Personal injury matters are extremely time-sensitive. It is important to act promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the cause of the accident, and to file a lawsuit prior to the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact James R. Gillen at (877-619-3095).