Motorcycles offer California residents an exhilarating and convenient alternative to standard passenger vehicles, but tragically, numerous bikers suffer devastating or even fatal injuries every year.
Although motorcyclists are sometimes at fault, these severe accidents are frequently caused by other motorists, and distracted driving often contributes to these wrecks.
Recently, the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers represented a biker who was severely injured by a distracted driver. Fortunately, Sally Morin and her team successfully obtained the compensation that the biker deserved for their injuries and lost wages.
The case demonstrates why it’s critical for motorists to avoid distractions, and it also raises questions about the overall legality of lane splitting — a motorcycle maneuver in which the biker drives in between two vehicles in adjacent lanes.
How Sally Morin’s Team Helped Their Client Recover $150,000 After a Motorcycle Accident
Sally Morin and her team represented a career electrician and biker. The motorcyclist suffered a serious wreck when traveling eastbound on SR-4 in Antioch, California. They drove in between two vehicles in front of them, but, unfortunately, one of the drivers was distracted at the wheel and struck the motorcyclist, resulting in them sustaining severe injuries.
The biker suffered a fractured ulna — one of the two forearm bones — and a comminuted and displaced left distal radius fracture. The radius is the other forearm bone, and the distal radius is where the radius connects with the carpal bones in the wrist.
These serious fractures required open reduction and internal fixation surgery, leaving the victim unable to work their job as an electrician. On top of the pain and inconvenience of suffering from these injuries, the at-fault driver’s insurance company denied liability. The company made the case that the motorcyclist was partially at fault for the accident because they engaged in lane splitting.
The injured biker felt overwhelmed by the paperwork and legal process, and they were unsure how to recover money to pay their medical bills. Fortunately, they contacted Sally Morin’s team to take on the case.
Sally Morin and her team of expert personal injury legal professionals successfully beat the insurance’s argument that their client was partially liable for the accident, and the legal team maximized the overall value of the case settlement. Sally even negotiated the medical bills and liens down, allowing the client to keep more of the damages.
Ultimately, Sally recovered $150,000 for the client, and the injured motorcyclist was able to keep $82,418 after medical bills and other expenses.
Lane Splitting Guidelines in California
Although lane splitting is not explicitly legal in California, it’s also not illegal. California road laws didn’t even mention the practice until 2017 when the state added Section 21658.1 (a) to the California Highway Code. This section defined lane splitting and also called on the California Highway Patrol to create guidelines.
The California Highway Patrol now offers helpful guidance for engaging in this maneuver in the safest way possible. Their guidance is as follows:
- Bikers’ risk of wrecking while lane splitting increases at greater speeds, and the risk also increases if bikers operate their motorcycles at a notably different speed from surrounding vehicles.
- It’s safer to lane split in the far left lanes.
- Motorcyclists are more likely to suffer a wreck when they lane split larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, motor coaches, and RVs.
- Bikers need to be aware of motorists’ blind spots, and they shouldn’t remain in these blind spots for extended periods.
- Motorcyclists can reduce the likelihood of an accident by increasing their visibility. This may include using high beams during the day and wearing high-visibility clothing on top of proper protective gear.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Sally Morin’s personal injury case serves as an important reminder that driving while distracted for even a moment can cause devastating wrecks, resulting in serious injuries or road fatalities.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) gave a chilling statistic: Distracted driving accidents kill around 3,000 people in the United States every year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three different types of distractions:
- Visual: A visual distraction is something that takes the driver’s eyes away from the road, such as looking at a smartphone.
- Manual: A manual distraction refers to something that causes the driver to take one or both of their hands away from the wheel, like adjusting a radio, for example.
- Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is any kind of distraction that causes a driver to lose complete focus on the road. This could be a passenger talking to the driver, or a driver can even become distracted while listening to the radio.
It’s important to be aware of some of the most common ways in which drivers become distracted, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Using a smartphone
- Becoming distracted by passengers
- Looking at a GPS
- Adjusting the radio
- Reaching for an item within the vehicle
Any one of these distractions can cause a driver to wreck into a motorcyclist. Distracted driving is especially dangerous for bikers because motorists have a harder time spotting motorcycles than other vehicles. Some of the ways in which a distracted driver may cause a motorcycle accident include:
- Changing lanes without noticing a biker
- Turning left without seeing an approaching motorcycle
- Rear-ending a motorcycle at a traffic signal
- Failing to notice when a motorcyclist is lane splitting
Recovering Compensation After a Distracted Driver Motorcycle Accident
If you’re injured by a distracted driver, you need to seek compensation for damages. When you enlist the legal expertise of experienced motorcycle personal injury attorneys, you’ll greatly increase your likelihood of recovering damages, which may include money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, loss of consortium, and other damages, depending on your case.
For expert legal support in motorcycle accident cases in the San Francisco Bay Area, call the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers at 877-380-8852 or contact us online here. We offer no-risk, free case evaluations, so get started with your motorcycle accident case today!