One minute you’re riding your motorcycle along San Diego’s beautiful coastline, the next you’re in the hospital with serious injuries due to a crash. Not only are you unable to work, but you also face steep medical bills. We certainly hope this scenario never happens to you, but if it does, do you know what to do next?
Clearly, your health should be your priority. But to deal with your medical bills, you’ll need money, and frankly, lots of it. The good news is you have the right to sue those responsible for your injuries. And the best way to do that is with the services of a lawyer with experience successfully handling San Diego motorcycle accident cases.
The attorneys at The Dominguez Firm have been helping motorcycle accident victims in San Diego and throughout Southern California for over 30 years. Call us now for a FREE case evaluation at 800-818-1818. Below you’ll find more information on how to proceed and how our San Diego motorcycle accident lawyers can help you piece your life back together again.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in San Diego and the U.S.
The city of San Diego ranks fourth among large California cities for motorcyclists injured or killed in accidents in 2019. The county itself comes in just one slot lower in fifth place. This is according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
The statistics for motorcycle accidents and deaths at the national level in 2019 are just as disturbing:
- 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in accidents, which is 14% of traffic deaths overall.
- Rider and passenger deaths were almost 29 times more common than deaths for occupants of cars per miles traveled.
One of the few positive trends, if we want to call it that, from the NHTSA report is that the number of motorcycle deaths dropped slightly in 2019 to 5,014 from 5,038 in the previous year. Also, states like California, which have mandatory helmet laws accounted for 9% of riders killed who were not wearing a helmet. This percentage was much lower than the 57% killed in states where wearing a helmet is optional.
What Are the Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in San Diego?
Most San Diego motorcycle accidents are caused by distracted or reckless drivers. The great increase in the use of cellphones by drivers has led to more traffic accidents. As for motorcycle riders, sadly they made up the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired vehicle operators involved in fatal crashes in 2020.
Even something as seemingly harmless as tailgating can cause a serious accident with a motorcycle rider. Whereas accidents at low speeds between two cars won’t usually cause injuries, it can be very different if a motorist bumps a motorcycle rider.
Here are some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in San Diego:
- Distracted or aggressive drivers
- Lane splitting
- Driving or riding under the influence
- Road debris
- Lane splitting
California made lane splitting legal in 2017. Other states have initiated legislation to legalize it, but as of 2022, the Golden State is the only one that allows it. Motorcycle riders can travel between cars at all times. The idea being that lane splitting allows motorcycles to flow between traffic without slowing it down. The negative aspect of lane splitting is that it can lead to serious accidents between drivers and bikers. Unaware motorists can easily switch lanes and hit a motorcycle rider with devastating consequences, especially if it happens on a San Diego freeway.
Another major contributor to motorcycle accidents is road rage. This is much more common among drivers as opposed to motorcyclists. Some drivers are unaware or resent motorcycle lane splitting in heavy traffic. As a result, they have been known to cut off motorcyclists or target them in dangerous and even deadly road rage incidents.
What Should I Do if I Get Into a Motorcycle Accident in San Diego?
First, check yourself for any injuries. Your priority should be your health and safety. Then:
If it’s safe to do so, move to a safe area away from any traffic – Only do this if it doesn’t endanger you and the other people involved in the accident. One note, if you move away on your own, it might be seen as leaving the scene of an accident. Communicate with the group and make sure it’s safe for everyone to move.
Call 911 – If you can’t, have someone else do it for you.
Don’t refuse medical attention – There are two reasons why you shouldn’t do this. One, you may appear to be okay outwardly, but you could have serious internal injuries and not know it. Also, refusing medical attention diminishes the value of your case as defense attorneys will question why you did this.
Exchange information with everyone else involved, but don’t apologize or argue – Be polite and exchange license, insurance and registration information with everyone. Don’t discuss how the accident happened or apologize. Apologizing can be used against you as an admission of guilt, unfair as that may sound. On the flip side, don’t argue. This just reinforces negative stereotypes about motorcyclists as aggressive daredevils. These same tips go for talking to the police too.
Take photos – Photograph the scene of the accident, your injuries, the injuries to others involved, any notable signage and any debris on the road which may have caused your motorcycle accident. Also photograph the damage to your motorcycle and the other vehicles.
Seek out witnesses – Get their names, emails and phone numbers.
Don’t throw anything out – You may be tempted to throw out the clothes you were wearing or your helmet. Don’t! All of these articles are vital evidence that can help prove your case.
Call The Dominguez Firm – Get our lawyers involved sooner rather than later. Our team will jump into action right away. Our investigators will arrive at the scene to gather evidence while our attorneys begin constructing your case.
The Insurance Company for the Person That Hit Me Sent Me a Settlement Offer Right Away. Should I Take It or Start Calling Motorcycle Accident Lawyers?
Never accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer, even if it seems fair to you. At the very least, consult with an attorney first. There are several reasons why you received an offer from the other person’s insurance company immediately after your motorcycle accident. Two of the most common are:
- Many motorcycle accident victims face large medical bills. Often, insurance companies make a quick offer in the hopes you’ll accept it to have money on hand right away.
- They’re hoping you don’t realize just how much your motorcycle accident injuries may cost you in the long run. Plus, if you accept, there’s no going back and asking for more money later on.
They wouldn’t have made such a quick settlement offer if they thought you were to partly or totally to blame for your motorcycle accident. This gives you an advantage, but only if you move forward correctly; by hiring an attorney.
First, and foremost, don’t talk to or try to negotiate directly with the insurance company representative. No California law says you have to do so. You don’t have to provide a recorded statement either. Insurance adjusters are employees and their main goal is to serve the best interests of their employer, not accident victims. They will also use certain tactics to try and get you to say something that reduces your claim’s worth. Remember, insurance companies are a business. If they can avoid making large payouts, they will.
The Dominguez Firm recommends not speaking to any insurance agents at all. Instead, seek immediate legal representation. The insurance company will take your claim a lot more seriously if they know you’ve hired an attorney to represent you. Our attorneys negotiate for a living. We know how they negotiate, the true value of your case, and how to fight for your rights. You don’t have to deal with the insurance company at all. Concentrate on getting better and let our lawyers handle them for you.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney or Can I Use Someone Who Practices a Different Type of Law?
It may be tempting to hire friends or family who are lawyers for your San Diego motorcycle accident injury case. You know them and you don’t need to worry about high legal bills. But unless they’re lawyers who specialize in the area of complex injury accident cases, you’re making a costly mistake.
Chances are, they won’t consider handling it anyway. They aren’t doing this to upset you. On the contrary, as legal professionals, they know the importance of hiring the right attorney for your injury case. Just as you wouldn’t go to a pediatrician for a toothache, you wouldn’t ask a tax law attorney to handle your personal injury case.
Motorcycle accident cases almost always feature severe and even catastrophic injuries to the motorcycle rider. You need a motorcycle accident attorney with experience and a proven track record in this practice area. The attorneys at The Dominguez Firm have been helping motorcycle accident victims and their families for over 30 years. In that time our lawyers have won millions of dollars for our injured motorcyclist clients. Let us do the same for you.
How Do I Pay The Dominguez Firm?
If you’re worried about the cost of hiring us, you don’t have to be. We always offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay us anything upfront. There are no retainer fees, hidden costs or out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever, period. Instead, we receive a percentage of your final settlement or verdict amount. You won’t have any surprises there either. That percentage will be clearly stated in your client representation agreement.
One question we get a lot is, “What happens if you can’t get me anything?”. We have a 96%* success rate. The odds of our lawyers not obtaining any compensation for you are extremely low. Nonetheless, if that were to happen, you would owe us nothing. If there is no recovery, there is no fee.
How Much Time Do I Have to File My San Diego Motorcycle Accident Claim?
In most cases, you have two years from the date of your motorcycle accident to file your personal injury lawsuit. If you were hit by a government vehicle, such as an MTS bus, you would have six months from the date of your motorcycle crash to file your claim. This time limit is known legally as a statute of limitations.
There is one important exception to the deadlines stated above. Active military members are not subject to these time limits while they are serving. Instead, the statute of limitations is paused until they leave the service. This is also legally known as tolling.
Children are given the same benefit. The clock is stopped for them until they turn 18 years of age. Then, they are subject to the time limits outlined in the first paragraph of this section.
Whatever your situation, we advise you to file your claim right away. Call The Dominguez Firm immediately after your motorcycle accident. The main reason is crucial evidence will certainly be lost if you don’t. And if that happens, the value of your case will be reduced significantly. Even if your case is tolled, let our lawyers get to work on it right away. We have the investigators, motorcycle accident experts, and resources to present your accident case in the strongest light possible. But we can only do this if you involve us early on.
Can A Child Sue if They Were Injured In a Motorcycle Accident?
They can’t sue directly. This is because they’re minors, that is, under the age of 18. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have rights. Their parent or guardian would file a claim on their behalf through an attorney.
When it comes to children and motorcycles, no law in California specifies how old a child must be to go for a ride with an adult. That may shock you, but rest easy, there is a physical requirement. They need to be able to comfortably reach and stay on the footrests. They must also be at least four feet, eight inches tall. That’s the same height requirement to no longer need a car seat. If your child does meet the footrest and height requirement, they also need to wear a helmet, just like you.
Children over the age of 15½ can get a motorcycle license. They, along with all applicants under the age of 21 must complete a training course to do so. They also need to have an instruction permit for at least six months. The other requirements and restrictions for underage motorcycle riders can be found on the California DMV website. If they were injured while operating a motorcycle, their parents or legal guardian would hire an attorney to sue those responsible.
Regardless of the circumstances, if your child suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident in San Diego, phone The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation today. Let our lawyers help you and your child obtain justice.
What Are Some Common Injuries in San Diego Motorcycle Accidents?
Compared to passenger vehicles and trucks, motorcycle riders have little protection from injury if they get into an accident. They can’t count on seatbelts or airbags. Given the size and weight of even a compact car, any collision will almost always cause serious injuries to the motorcyclist.
Among the most common motorcyclist injuries are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Injury to internal organs
- Crush injuries
- Lacerations and bruising
- Neck injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Permanent paralysis
- Road rash
Even accidents involving “minor” injuries such as lacerations and bruising can leave a victim permanently disfigured and cause mental health problems.
What Compensation Could I Get For My Injuries?
As you read in the section above, most motorcycle accident injuries are quite serious. Some can be permanent while others lead to a victim’s death. Given all of this, medical bills make up the bulk of the injured motorcyclist’s expenses. For catastrophic injuries, such as para or quadriplegia, the estimated lifetime cost can easily be in the millions of dollars.
This fact may shock you, but realize that many of these permanent injuries require specialized medical attention, home modifications and in some cases, in-home care. Medical expenses fall under the category of economic damages. “Damages” is simply the legal term for the compensation you would be entitled to for your accident injury. These damages are meant to compensate you for the financial expenses your motorcycle accident cost you. They include:
- All medical expenses related to your San Diego motorcycle accident:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room fees
- Visits with medical specialists
- All surgeries
- Physical therapy
- In-home care
- Home modifications
- Mental health counseling
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity in the future
- The cost to repair or replace your motorcycle
You would also be entitled to non-economic damages. These are meant to compensate you for the emotional toll your motorcycle accident injuries have had on you and your family. Even though these can’t be added up like economic damages can, there is no limit as to how much you can be awarded for non-economic damages in California. For this reason, non-economic damages usually make up the largest part of the victim’s final settlement or verdict.
Some examples of non-economic damages are:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The motorcycle accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm have over 30 years of experience successfully handling these and other types of personal injury cases. In that time we have won over $1 billion* for injured clients. Allow us to fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to as well.
Can Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Tell Me Exactly How Much My Case is Worth?
No personal injury attorney can give you a specific answer to this question. They can compare it to similar cases they’ve handled in the past to get an estimate. But since no two motorcycle accidents are the same, there will always be a few different variables. The worth of your case will largely depend on the following:
- The extent of your injuries – A lucky few bikers walk away with a minor injury such as a little bruising. Their compensation won’t be anywhere near the same as someone who was left permanently paralyzed or suffered a brain injury.
- Whether you are expected to make a full recovery or not – Do the doctors expect you to make a full recovery? Even a diagnosis of paralysis can be a temporary injury. Or do they expect your injuries to be permanent? For example, if the victim suffers a crush injury and the doctors are unable to save a limb, the person could require amputation.
- Whether you share any responsibility for your motorcycle accident – If you share any of the responsibility, it will impact the worth of your case. A court will determine your percentage of liability and subtract it from your final settlement or verdict. We’ve written more extensively about this factor in the section directly below.
- Whether or not you can return to work – If your injuries are serious enough, you may never be able to work again. In other cases, you can be retrained and given a different position.
- The strength of your evidence – Hiring the right personal injury law firm will go a long way to making sure you present the strongest case possible. The Dominguez Firm has the skilled lawyers, in-house investigators and resources for that.
Proving Fault for Your San Diego Motorcycle Accident Injury Case
An important part of proving fault, legally known as liability in a San Diego motorcycle accident case means presenting strong evidence. It also means fighting certain obstacles unique to these cases. One is the negative bias against motorcycle riders as reckless adrenaline seekers. Many people will automatically blame the motorcyclist for any accident and assume they were speeding or attempting dangerous maneuvers. Defense attorneys know this and will try to push the stereotype.
Another issue that arises in motorcycle accident cases is that the motorcycle rider is often seriously injured, so they must be rushed to an emergency room. That leaves their account of how the crash happened out of the police report. Many police reports only give one side of the story, the driver’s. That can place liability for the accident on the motorcyclist.
If you get into a motorcycle accident in San Diego, you want the services of a personal injury law firm that knows how to counter these obstacles effectively. The motorcycle accident attorneys, investigators and legal staff at The Dominguez Firm will:
- Gather evidence from the scene of the accident
- Interview witnesses
- Request any video footage of the motorcycle accident
- Review the police report and challenge any prejudicial or inaccurate information
- Consult with motorcycle accident experts to reconstruct how your accident happened.
Our motorcycle accident attorneys will do all we can to obtain the maximum legal compensation possible for your San Diego motorcycle accident injury by proving liability. And if the insurance companies and their defense attorneys won’t make a fair offer, our litigation attorneys aren’t afraid to take your case to trial. While most personal injury cases settle out of court, The Dominguez Firm has the resources to see your case through to the end if necessary. Be aware that not all law firms can do that.
I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet. Can a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Still Help Me?
Even though all motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear a helmet in California, you can sue for your San Diego motorcycle accident injuries if you weren’t wearing one. You would receive less in damages than if you had been wearing a helmet, but you’d still have the right to sue for your injuries.
California personal injury cases follow the comparative negligence rule. That means you can share some responsibility for your accident and still collect damages. A court will determine your percentage of liability and subtract that from your final settlement or verdict amount. So, say you were found to be 30% responsible for your motorcycle accident injuries due to the lack of a helmet, your final compensation would be reduced by 30%.
One word of advice, don’t take this kind of motorcycle accident claim on by yourself. And certainly don’t try to settle with the insurance company directly. Insurance adjusters and the attorney for the other person involved will do everything they can to downplay your injury. They do this to diminish your claim or get it dismissed outright because of the circumstances. You don’t want to jeopardize any part of your potential compensation at such a difficult time, especially since motorcycle accident injuries usually result in very high medical bills. Rather, let the skilled lawyers at The Dominguez Firm handle your claim for you.
I Was Injured While Riding as a Passenger. Can The Dominguez Firm Help Me?
In almost every case, if you were injured while riding a motorcycle as a passenger you can hire an attorney and take legal action against those responsible. This is because motorcycle passengers are very rarely held liable for an accident. Just as with cars, it’s usually one of the operator who causes the accident.
Note that the person responsible for your injury isn’t always the driver of the car or truck involved. It may be the person who was operating the motorcycle. There are two other possibilities:
- If the accident was caused by a defect in any of the vehicles involved, you’d be looking to sue the manufacturer in question.
- If the accident was caused by a poorly maintained road, the municipality where the accident happened would be the target of your lawsuit.
In short, you have the same right to sue for your accident as anyone else. Your first act should be to make sure you receive immediate medical attention for your injuries. Then, as soon as you’re able, we highly recommend you contact San Diego’s premier motorcycle accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation.
I Lost a Loved One in a San Diego Motorcycle Accident. Can the Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm Help Me?
As long as you are the legal next of kin of the deceased, then yes, you can pursue litigation against those responsible. However, you wouldn’t be filing a personal injury claim. Instead, an attorney would help you file a wrongful death claim for your loss.
The damages you could receive for your wrongful death lawsuit are also somewhat different from those awarded in motorcycle accident injury lawsuits. While you would be entitled to damages for any medical bills the deceased had due to their motorcycle accident, other common damages can include:
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Income the deceased would have earned over their lifetime
- Loss of companionship
If the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or malicious, the deceased’s family may also be awarded punitive damages. While rare, punitive damages are meant to make an example of the defendant and discourage similar behavior by others in the future.
The Dominguez Firm: San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in San Diego
When you hire the lawyers at The Dominguez Firm to represent you for your San Diego motorcycle accident case, you’re hiring a team of experienced, award-winning motorcycle accident attorneys. They in turn are backed by our in-house investigators, accident experts and a staff of over 130 legal professionals. We also work with a network of dedicated medical providers to make sure you receive outstanding care during your recovery. And if you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, we can assist you with filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Put our 30+ years of experience to work for you. Call The Dominguez Firm for a FREE consultation today at 800-818-1818. You can afford quality representation. We serve all of San Diego County from Carlsbad to Chula Vista.