CALIFORNIA MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
MICHAEL REHM - (800) 978-0754
With over 870,000 registered motorcycles, California easily leads the nation in motorcycle ownership. Because of its size, California also leads the nation in motorcycle accidents.
While commuting to work on a motorcycle saves gas, riding can be a risk when drivers fail to share the road. While California has some of the most scenic motorcycle routes in the country, blind curves and treacherous mountain slopes make it difficult for riders to avoid collisions with negligent drivers.
California Motorcycle Accident Fatalities
The most recent nationwide statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that more than 5,000 motorcycle riders and passengers were killed in collisions in 2019. California had 474 motorcycle fatalities that year, the highest total in the country. However, fatalities were lower in California than at any point in the last five years.
The average annual number of California motorcycle accident fatalities between 2014 and 2019 was 529. Fatal crashes were probably significantly lower in 2020 because of stay-at-home orders. While we hope that the reduction in motorcycle deaths reflects a long-term trend, it remains to be seen whether the fatality rate will climb significantly after motorcycle road trips again become common.
Motorcycle accidents account for about 14% of fatal traffic crashes in the United States. For the same number of miles driven, a motorcycle rider is 29 times more likely to die in a traffic accident that an occupant of a four-wheel vehicle.
Helmets save lives, but the protection they provide is limited. California has a mandatory helmet law that most riders obey. Of California's 474 fatalities, 94% were wearing a helmet. The number of fatalities would likely have been much higher if California motorcycles were not so diligent about wearing their helmets.
California Motorcycle Accident Injury Statistics
Data from California's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System indicates that 12,926 motorcycle riders and passengers were injured in California traffic accidents in 2019. Like the number of fatalities, that statistic reflects the lowest injury rate in the last five years. The average number of annual motorcycle accident injuries from 2014 to 2019 in California was 14,619.
Not surprisingly, the most populated California counties have the highest rates of motorcycle crashes. The largest number by far occurred in Los Angeles County, followed by San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Causes of California Motorcycle Accidents
The insurance industry wants people to believe that motorcycle accidents are usually the fault of the motorcycle rider. Unbiased studies have determined that collisions involving motorcycles and cars are usually the fault of the car's driver.
Drivers who turn left in front of oncoming motorcycle riders are the leading cause of California motorcycle collisions. Studies show that drivers base estimates of speed on the size of an oncoming vehicle. They think large trucks are moving faster than their actual speed. Conversely, they believe motorcycles are moving more slowly than their true speed. Drivers fool themselves into thinking they have time to complete a turn before the motorcycle arrives at the intersection.
Other common causes of California motorcycle accidents include:
- Running red lights and colliding with motorcycles in an intersection
- Failing to observe a motorcycle because the driver is texting or dialing
- Sideswiping a motorcycle while making a lane change
- Failing to yield to motorcycles while merging onto a freeway
- Striking a motorcycle while exiting a driveway
In many cases, fault is shared between a driver who caused an accident and a motorcycle rider who might have been able to avoid a collision. California law entitles motorcyclists to recover compensation if a driver was even partially at fault. Compensation is reduced in proportion to the motorcyclist's fault. For example, a motorcycle rider who is 20% at fault will receive 80% of full compensation.
California Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The most serious motorcycle injuries are catastrophic. Some of those injuries cause death. Others cause a severe and lifelong disability. Traumatic brain injuries that affect the ability to think, speak, or work are a common example of a catastrophic motorcycle injury. Spinal damage that causes paralysis is another tragic example.
Even non-catastrophic injuries can be life changing. Burn injuries, crush injuries, severe road rash, broken bones, jaw injuries, torn muscles, and joint injuries can all cause long-term or permanently disabling conditions.
California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
More drivers than motorcyclists sit on juries. Convincing jurors and insurance adjusters to see motorcycle riders as individuals rather than stereotypes is the key to bringing a successful motorcycle accident lawsuit. California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Michael Rehm can help injured motorcyclists obtain the compensation they deserve.