Orange County Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, call Orange County motorcycle accident John Rapillo. With over 38 years experience handling personal injury cases, Mr. Rapillo has the experience you need to maximize your compensation. We offer a free consultation and only get paid if you win.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The aftermath of a motorcycle accident is a scary and confusing time. Your primary focus should be recovering from your injuries and taking care of your loved ones. Mr. Rapillo and his team will focus on preparing your legal case and negotiating with the negligent party’s insurance company on your behalf.
As part of building your case, we will:
- Gather evidence,
- Collect witness testimony,
- Recreate the motorcycle accident scene, and
- Negotiate on your behalf in and out of court.
Drivers will often say the motorcyclist “came out of nowhere,” however a recreation of the accident scene could help show that a more careful automobile driver would have seen the motorcyclist, thereby preventing the accident.
What If I’m Partly At Fault?
In the state of California, motor vehicle accident negligence, including motorcycle accidents, apply the rules of comparative negligence. This means that if the driver of the car is 90 percent at fault, and the motorcyclist is 10 percent at fault, the motorcyclist will collect 90 percent of the damages awarded.
Unfortunately, determining who is at fault in a motorcycle accident can be difficult. It is important to hire an experienced motorcycle attorney who can block attempts to blame the motorcyclist for the accident.
Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents in Orange County
The statutes of limitations govern the amount of time in which a person who has been injured by another has to file a claim to recover damages. Far too many times, those injured through the negligence of another fail to file a claim of compensation within the jurisdictional time allowed by the statutes. Each state sets their own statute of limitations; in the state of California, a motorcyclist has two years from the date of the accident to file a civil claim against a negligent motorist under California Civil Procedures Code, Section 335.1.
If the motorcycle accident was caused by a defective motorcycle, or a defective motorcycle part, the motorcyclist has two years from the date of the accident to file a product liability claim under California Civil Procedures Code, Section 312. If a governmental entity was responsible for the motorcycle accident, an Administrative Claim must first be filed with the agency, within 6 months. If the claim is denied, the injured motorcyclist has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, which are:
- Physical incapacitation of the victim following the accident;
- Mental incapacitation of the victim following the accident, and
- For a minor under the age of 18, the two-year statute of limitations does not run until the minor has reached the age of 18, then the minor has two years in which to file a claim for compensation.
Common Injuries Suffered by Those in a Motorcycle Accident
According to the CDC, the largest percentage (30 percent) of motorcycle injuries occur to the leg and foot area, while 22 percent of motorcycle injuries occur in the head and neck area. Following head and neck injuries, are chest, shoulder and back wounds, arm and hand injuries, and hip injuries. The American Association of Automotive Medicine conducted a study to determine the differences in injuries between younger motorcyclists and older motorcyclists which had somewhat different conclusions. The AAAM study found that injuries to the upper and lower extremities were the most common motorcycle injuries at 55 percent and 59 percent.
Injuries to the head came in at 24 percent, injuries to the thorax at 23 percent, injuries to the abdomen at 21 percent, facial and neck injuries at 17 percent, and spinal injuries at 15 percent. Obviously, these percentages add up to more than 100 percent, meaning most motorcyclists who are in an accident sustain more than one type of injury. Keep in mind that the two studies above were tracking injuries of motorcyclists who survived a crash. Among motorcyclists who died in a motorcycle accident, head injuries were the most likely type of injuries to result in the motorcyclist’s death.
Head injuries can occur when a motorcyclist’s head connects with a hard, fixed object. The brain can swell past the barriers of the skull, or the skull can be cracked or damaged. A concussion can range from mild to severe, or there can be a traumatic brain injury which can totally change the future and the life of the motorcyclist. Neck and back injuries can paralyze and possibly kill a motorcyclist, or, at the very least, change his or her life forever.
Road rash is also a likely injury suffered by a motorcyclist when an accident occurs. When a motorcyclist flies off his or her motorcycle, concrete or gravel can tear away skin as the body skids across the surface. Road rash can be a very serious injury, as the affected area can become infected, or surface nerve damage could occur.
How Jury Misperceptions Can Affect Your Motorcycle Accident
Unfortunately, stereotypes and misperceptions regarding motorcyclists often work against the motorcyclist after an accident. Far too many people believe all motorcyclists fit the Easy Rider image—hard-living, reckless, risk-takers. Since this is far from the truth, at least for most motorcyclists, it is necessary for the attorney in the case to be able to deal with the misperceptions and stereotypes in the best way possible. It is important that the jury realize that the definition of negligence is failure to act as a reasonable, prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances and that simply being a motorcyclist does not constitute negligence in and of itself. The jury must be educated as to what the law is, rather than basing their decision on their own background and belief system.
Trial Value vs. Settlement Value in an Orange County Motorcycle Accident
If you have been involved in an Orange County motorcycle accident, you may wonder what your potential claim could be worth. Two things must be considered in this determination: liability and damages. In other words, your attorney will need to determine who was at fault for your accident, because if there was no negligence involved, then you might not have a solid case. It is the burden of the plaintiff to show the defendant was negligent, and if negligence was involved, then you are entitled to compensation for the resulting injuries. It is important to note that there are two “values” of your case, so far as potential compensation.
There is settlement value, which is the amount you could reasonably hope to settle your motorcycle accident claim for. Settlement value is almost always lower than trial value, due to the fact that by settling a case, you are avoiding the possibility of losing that case at trial. Trial value is the amount of compensation you could reasonably expect to win at trial. There is a “formula” used by attorneys which would be something like this: Assume your attorney believes you might be awarded $160,000 at trial—but that your chances of winning are only about 50-50. If this were your situation, then settling for $80,000 might be reasonable.
What Type of Damages Can You Collect for Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
Potential compensatory damages in your case are generally split between special damages—those which can be exactly calculated—and damages which cannot be exactly calculated, such as pain and suffering. Special damages include all medical expenses (physician expenses, hospital expenses, prescription drug expenses, rehabilitative therapy expenses, etc.), past, present and future expected.
Lost earnings also fall under special damages, and may include lost earning capacity if you will never be able to return to work. Pain and suffering cannot be precisely calculated therefore a judge will most often leave this calculation up to the jury’s common sense. You may also be entitled to compensation for the damages to your motorcycle. In some instances, a jury may award punitive damages if they believe the defendant acted in a particularly reckless or malicious manner. Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment to the defendant for malicious negligence in the case, and to deter similar behaviors in others.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
In 2014 alone, 4,586 people died in motorcycle crashes—a number which is down 2.3 percent from 2013. Additionally, 92,000 motorcyclists were seriously injured. Additional motorcycle accident statistics include:
- Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than those in a passenger vehicle to die in a crash;
- 39 percent of the motorcyclists who were killed in a collision were not wearing a motorcycle helmet;
- Among motorcyclists age 40 and older, fatalities increased by 14 percent between 2005 and 2014;
- The average age of motorcyclists who are killed in a collision was 42 in 2014, compared with 39 in 2005;
- Older motorcyclists tend to sustain more serious injuries following a motorcycle collision than younger riders, possibly due to declines in reaction time and vision, and the fact that older motorcyclists tend to favor larger motorcycles;
- Twenty-nine percent of motorcyclists involved in a fatal crash in 2014 had a BAC of 0.08 or higher;
- Males represent more than 90 percent of all motorcycle fatalities;
- Thirty-three percent of all motorcyclists involved in a fatal crash in 2014 were speeding, compared to 20 percent for passenger car drivers;
- In Orange County, motorcycle fatalities were up 15 percent between 2010 and 2012, even though motorcycle registrations in Orange County were only up 5 percent during that same time period;
- California is the only state where lane splitting is not prohibited;
- California, Florida and Texas accounted for 31 percent of the total number of motorcycle fatalities in 2015.
Call Orange County Motorcycle Accident Attorney John Rapillo Today
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, which was due to the negligence of another, it is important that you speak to an experienced Orange County motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. The sooner your attorney is able to begin gathering evidence in your case, the more likely he or she will be able to build a solid claim on your behalf.
Your Orange County personal injury attorney will understand the unique and complex issues surrounding your motorcycle accident and will work hard to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.