Orange County may be the smallest county in Southern California, but its beautiful beaches and landmark tourist destinations attract over 50 million visitors a year. Some of those visitors are motorcycle riders who come to enjoy the county’s stunning coastline and inland routes. Orange County is also the second most densely populated county in the state. Almost 3.2 million residents live in a relatively small 790 square mile area. That means tourists and residents are sharing the same crowded streets and freeways.
The county’s popularity and density add up to lots of traffic and of course, accidents. If you’ve been injured in an Orange County motorcycle accident, call the Orange County motorcycle accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm today for a free consultation at 800-818-1818.
Below you’ll find some of the most common questions we get regarding Orange County motorcycle accidents. We’ve also outlined what to do if you get into a motorcycle accident and how The Dominguez Firm Orange County motorcycle accident lawyers can help.
Orange County motorcycle accident statistics
According to the California DMV, there were 61,781 registered motorcycles in Orange County in 2019. But as previously noted, those 61,000+ motorcycles are competing for space in a compact area. Millions of other vehicles, including motorcycles from outside the county travel into and through Orange County every day. Recent accident statistics reflect the dangers Orange County motorcycle riders face.
1,272 people were injured or killed in motorcycle accidents in Orange County in 2017, the last year for which statistics were available. That places it 11th out of California’s 58 counties for motorcycle accidents, a disturbingly high position.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) publishes a yearly traffic accident report. In it, they broke down the number of motorcycle accident deaths and injuries for Orange County by cityfor 2017. Below are the five most dangerous cities for motorcycle riders in Orange County:
- Anaheim – 8 riders killed/148 injured
- Santa Ana – 6 riders killed/115 injured
- Orange – 2 riders killed/89 injured
- Irvine – 2 riders killed/69 injured
- Westminster – 1 rider killed/58 injured.
It is also worth noting that while Huntington Beach did not have any motorcycle fatalities in 2017 (thankfully), 73 riders suffered injuries in accidents.
Not all motorcycle accidents in Orange County happen in urban areas. Certain inland routes are also extremely dangerous. One of the most notorious yet popular with motorcycle riders is the Ortega Highway. It has been the scene of multiple fatal motorcycle crashes over the years. This scenic route starts in San Juan Capistrano and winds its way through the Santa Ana Mountains before reaching Palm Desert in the Coachella Valley (or vice versa). With its blind curves and uncertain weather, riding a motorcycle along this route is not for novice riders.
Then there is Santiago Canyon Road, which is also known as the Road of Death because of the high number of fatal accidents that happen there. This prompted Orange County Public Works to start a Safety Improvement Project in 2020 to lower the number of catastrophic accidents along this road. As for the Ortega Highway, the CHP has increased its presence there to stop speeding and DUI drivers. Hopefully, these initiatives will lower the number of tragic fatalities along these two routes.
What causes motorcycle accidents in Orange County?
Motorcycle accidents are often caused by reckless or distracted drivers, contrary to what many people believe. Yes, some motorcycle riders are risk takers, but that isn’t always the case. Among the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in Orange County are:
- Impaired visibility
- Unsafe road conditions
- Distracted or aggressive drivers
- Older motorcycle riders with delayed reaction times and declining vision
- Young supersport motorcycle riders who are traveling well above the speed limit.
Another leading cause of motorcycle accidents is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol by either the driver or the motorcyclist. There is absolutely no excuse for drunk or drugged driving. As a motorcycle rider, you can’t control everything around you, but you can avoid becoming a statistic by not driving under the influence yourself.
A rising cause of motorcycle accidents in Orange County and throughout Southern California is driver road rage because of lane splitting. Even though lane splitting is legal in California, many drivers either don’t know it or resent seeing motorcycle riders winding through traffic while they crawl along. There have been cases of drivers attempting to block a motorcyclist’s right of way, which besides being illegal is also incredibly dangerous. Motorcycle riders who are splitting lanes have also been hit by distracted drivers checking their cellphones.
Steps to take after a motorcycle accident
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Orange County, your priority should be your safety. If it’s safe to do so, move out of traffic and call 911 right away. If you can’t call 911, have someone else do it for you. Then check yourself for injuries. You might not notice any immediate injuries but do not turn down medical attention. As a motorcycle accident victim, you should be taken to an emergency room right away. That post-accident adrenaline rush you’re experiencing could mask any pain. Plus, you could have dangerous internal injuries and not know it.
There are certain dos and don’ts right after your accident. Keep these in mind:
- Do exchange insurance and contact information with everyone involved.
- Provide your version of events to the officer on the scene for the police report.
- Photograph the accident scene, any street signs and the damage to your motorcycle and the other vehicles involved.
- If there were witnesses, ask for their contact information.
- Call the motorcycle accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm right away.
- Don’t admit any fault or apologize to anyone. Apologizing could be seen as an admission of guilt.
- Don’t provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster, yours or the other persons. You are under no legal obligation to do so. Ideally, speak to a personal injury attorney in Orange specializing in motorcycle accidents first.
- Don’t turn down medical attention.
What are the most common motorcycle accident injuries?
Due to the unprotected nature of motorcycles, any accident can cause serious injuries or death for the motorcyclist. The only real protection a motorcycle rider has is their helmet, which is mandatory in California. Often, motorcycle riders are thrown from their motorcycles on impact. When falling forward, they can land head first on hard pavement causing massive head injuries. If hit from behind in traffic, they risk being run over or lodged under oncoming passenger vehicles. Any of these scenarios can cause catastrophic injuries, even with a helmet. Among the most common motorcycle accident injuries are:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Road rash
Even seemingly minor injuries like road rash or whiplash can have lasting effects on the victim. Whiplash sufferers can develop persistent headaches, dizziness and neck pain that lasts months and sometimes years. A motorcycle accident victim that suffers a road rash injury is comparable to a burn victim. Besides being in extreme pain, their exposed skin leaves them susceptible to dangerous infections.
What is the individual cost of an Orange County motorcycle accident injury?
A motorcyclist who suffers a catastrophic injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, amputation or spinal cord injury may need hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in medical and long-term care. In most cases, their lives have been completely changed and they lose the ability to ever work again.
Knowing all of this, you may think the insurance companies extend generous settlement offers to injured motorcycle riders, but they usually don’t. The insurance company adjuster’s primary aim is to close an Orange County motorcycle accident claim quickly and for the least amount possible. A five-figure settlement offer may not even cover the emergency room and initial hospital room bill. That holds true even for a so-called minor injury such as whiplash, too.
An experienced Orange County motorcycle accident attorney can calculate the damages (compensation) you should legally be entitled to for your motorcycle accident based on the extent of your injuries and whether you will ever be able to work again.
Among these damages are:
- Emergency room bill
- Current and future medical bills caused by your injuries
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs now and in the future
- Mental health care
- Lost past, current and future wages
- Property damage to your motorcycle
- Long-term or permanent care
- Home modifications
In addition, they will pursue non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Even though non-economic damages cannot be added up with a calculator, they often make up the bulk of an Orange County motorcycle accident victim’s compensation.
I lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident in Orange County. Is there anything I can do?
Yes, you can file a wrongful death claim against the person or persons who caused the death of your loved one in a motorcycle accident. Here in California, the next of kin have the legal right to sue those responsible. The list of those considered next of kin, in order of preference are:
- Domestic partner
- If the children are deceased, any grandchildren
- Any other minors who depended on the deceased for financial support
The sudden loss of a loved one in a motorcycle accident is emotionally and often financially devastating. By making those to blame pay for their actions, you can get the financial peace you need to move forward, especially if there are children involved. And just as importantly, you can know that justice was served.
The Dominguez Firm Is Here For You
If you or a loved one were seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident in Orange County, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries or loss. The Orange County Motorcycle Accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm have over 30 years of experience helping motorcycle riders obtain justice, and we can do the same for you.
Motorcycle accidents are different from other personal injury accidents. There are several reasons why, including:
- The natural bias many people have against motorcycle riders.
- The severe nature of motorcycle accident injuries.
- Many times, the police report does not include the motorcycle rider’s version of events because they had to receive immediate medical attention.
Our Orange County motorcycle accident attorneys have successfully helped clients injured in motorcycle accidents in the past. We know how to counteract any biases or attempts to downplay injuries. We also have the resources to take on powerful insurance companies and are not afraid to go to court for our clients if needed. Not every personal injury law firm can say that. Many will refer your case out or even worse, settle your case for less in order to close it out.
The Dominguez Firm has award-winning personal injury attorneys, in-house investigators and a staff of over 120 legal professionals ready to help clients seek justice.
As a motorcycle accident victim, you shouldn’t worry about how you’re going to pay for an attorney. At The Dominguez Firm, we work on a contingency basis. At the end of your case, we receive a percentage of your final settlement or verdict amount. That percentage will be clearly stated in the client representation agreement you sign with us. There are no hidden costs or upfront fees, period. And if you don’t win, you don’t pay! So, call us today at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation. Let us handle your Orange County motorcycle accident case while you concentrate on your recovery.