Category Archives: Motorcycle Accidents

California Statistics and Laws on Drinking and Driving

Monday, July 26, 2021

Drinking and driving, or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and threatens the well-being of other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians that they encounter on the road. 

Over the last 40 years, public information campaigns such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have set out to eliminate drunk driving through education, prevention, and enforcement by advocating for stricter laws to be passed for drunk driving offences, and while this has helped decrease the amount of DUIs nationwide, it has not ended the problem. In 2019, according to MADD, 10,142 people were killed due to drunk driving which makes it #1 cause of death on America’s roads. The state of California accounted for 1,066 of the nation’s drunk driving fatalities, approximately 10%. 

California Drinking and Driving Statistics 

The most comprehensive statistics for alcohol-impaired driving is from Responsibility.org for the year of 2018. 

  • Total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 1,069
  • Under 21 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities: 113
  • 69.8% of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities had a BAC of 0.15+
  • 77.9% of drivers with BAC 0.15+ were repeat offenders
  • Total DUI arrests: 127,250 (Nationwide: 1,001,329)

California Drunk Driving Laws

In California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. The law does not distinguish between prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs. If the drug or medication impairs your ability to drive safely, you can still be charged with a DUI.

California has enforced tougher laws for first time and repeat offenders in an effort to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, drunk driving on our roads. Here is a summary of laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handbook. 

  • It is illegal to use or possess alcohol or cannabis products in a vehicle. Any open containers must be stored in the trunk or where passengers do not sit.
  • It is illegal for any person to operate a vehicle with the following BAC limits:
    • 0.08% or higher, if the person is 21 years +
    • 0.01% or higher, if the person is under 21 years old
    • 0.04% or higher, when a passenger for hire is in the vehicle at the time of the offense
  • It is illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless accompanied by a parent or other person as specified by law and the container is full, sealed, and unopened. If caught, the car may be impounded for up to 30 days, driving privileges may be suspended for up to 1 year or delay the issuance of a first driver’s license for up to 1 year, or a fine of up to $1000 may be charged.

Similar laws also prohibit riding bikes and scooters or driving boats under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California

A victim of a drunk driving accident can suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Medical bills can pile up, they may not be able to work or perform their job as before, and their mental state may be different due to the accident. The criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, but it does not compensate victims of the accident. 

This is when a victim of a drunk driving accident would seek expert legal representation to pursue claims in a civil court for recovery of monetary damages from medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages from missed work, property damage, and/or modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates, are standing by to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

We represent DUI accident victims in Kern County and throughout California. Call us to request a free consultation at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:29 pm

What Are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Motorcyclists face many dangers on California roads. Any accident between a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle can result in devastating injuries with long-term complications. While safe driving practices can help motorcyclists avoid preventable collisions, these accidents can occur for several reasons, including poor weather, dangerous road conditions, and negligent driver behavior.

Unsafe Lane Changes

One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents involve unsafe lane changes. When a driver intends to merge into another lane, he or she must ensure that the roadway is clear before moving over. Unfortunately, a driver may rely on his or her mirrors to ensure the road is clear or fail to check the lane at all. A motorcyclist may be traveling in the driver’s blind spot when he or she is merging, leading to a serious collision.

Car Doors

A parked car can pose an unexpected risk to motorcyclists. In some cases, a driver may open his or her car door into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist will then collide into the door, leading to very severe, often life-threatening injuries.

Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol and drugs impair many of the essential functions for driving. A driver may experience diminished concentration, motor skills, and judgement. He or she may be unable to focus on the road or react to unexpected situations on the road. As a result, the driver could easily lose control of his or her vehicle, run a red light, or commit another act of negligence that leads to a collision.

Speeding

Driving over the speed limit increases a vehicle’s risk of collision. If a driver is going too fast, he or she does not have enough time to react to a collision if he or she encounters a hazard on the road. Additionally, the faster that a vehicle is traveling, the greater the impact will be. A motorcyclist can sustain very serious injuries in a high-speed crash.

Motorcycle Part Defects

In some cases, driver negligence may not be responsible for a motorcycle collision at all. A defective motorcycle part, such as an improperly manufactured engine or poorly designed brakes, can cause an accident. A motorcyclist may lose control of his or her bike when an unexpected failure occurs, leading to severe injuries. In these situations, the motorcyclist could file a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the defective part.

Dangerous Left-Hand Turns

Many motorcycle collisions occur when a driver makes an unsafe left-hand turn. The driver may run a red light or fail to yield the right of way, colliding with a motorcyclist as he or she travels through an intersection. The driver may attempt to overtake or pass the motorcycle in an unsafe manner, leading to a serious accident. Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger cars, making them more difficult to see and more vulnerable to these left-hand turn collisions.

Poor Road Conditions

Other accidents may involve dangerous conditions on the road itself, such as potholes, cracks, or poorly designed streets. If a motorcyclist encounters these road hazards, he or she can sustain a serious accident without another driver being involved. In these situations, the motorcyclist could file a lawsuit against the government agency responsible for maintaining the road.

If you are in a motorcycle accident, it is important to speak to a California motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney can represent you in your claim against the government, product manufacturer, or negligent driver. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your accident and optimal path to recovery.

Posted by highrank at 5:32 pm

Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys in Bakersfield

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A “hit-and-run” accident is when someone leaves the scene of an accident that s/he was involved in. These accidents typically involve two (or more) vehicles or a pedestrian or cyclist and a vehicle. If the responsible party for the accident flees the scene, and is not caught, the injured party can still recover compensation for injuries, damages, pain and suffering, lost wages or death of a loved one caused by the accident.

It is important to note that if you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should remain on the scene until law enforcement arrives and you can give a full statement. Take notes and pictures of the scene and write down everything you can recall about the accident and any description of the other vehicle. Do not try to chase the perpetrator down. There is a chance that other people may have witnessed the accident and can provide information to law enforcement to catch the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is caught and identified, civil charges can be pursued. Having representation by a hit-and-run attorney will help you get the compensation that you need to move forward with your life.

If the perpetrator is not found, you may be able to submit a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage.

About Uninsured Motorist Coverage

About 85% of California auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. This means that if you are in an accident that is not your fault – whether it is a hit-and-run or a driver who is not insured or does not carry enough insurance coverage – your auto insurance company will cover your losses, damage, and medical bills dependent upon the amount of coverage you have.

However, there are cases when people are surprised to find that they do not have full coverage and the minimum coverage is not sufficient. If this is the case, having a personal injury attorney on your side will help you get fair and just compensation from your insurance company by using one or more of the following tactics.

  • Assembling evidence to prove that you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident including evidence of injuries – how severe they are and if they are going to affect your life permanently.
  • Holding the insurance company accountable by making sure they are being transparent in their communications and not using difficult or deceptive tactics to confuse the victim and give less than what the person is entitled to.
  • Calculating damages accurately for your claim including quantifying your damages and asking for enough money to make sure you will be covered for medical fees, medical devices, future treatments, and, if applicable, pain and suffering and lost income.
  • Negotiating with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Attorneys are familiar with the tricks that insurance companies use during these negotiations that can trap an unsuspecting victim to settle for less.
  • If the insurance company and attorney cannot come to a settlement, the attorney can take the case to trial on your behalf to fight for you.

At Rodriguez & Associates, our Bakersfield hit-and-run accident attorneys are committed to making the responsible party pay so you can focus on getting back on your feet.

If you or a loved one was involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact us at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262 to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:41 pm

Lane Splitting in California: What You Need To Know

Monday, May 18, 2020

If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic and seen a motorcycle create its own lane by zipping between your car and the one next to you, you’ve witnessed what’s called lane splitting. It’s a common move for motorcyclists on freeways and crowded streets. It also causes its fair share of controversy.

Lane splitting enjoys a special privilege in California, one of the only U.S. states where the move is actually legal. While it’s a time-saver for motorcycle riders and, by some arguments, safer, lane splitting also causes a lot of tension on the roads. If not done correctly and carefully, it’s a risky move, and even when a motorcyclist is doing it responsibly, drivers of surrounding passenger vehicles often find it stressful and confusing.

The move’s legal status in California also complicates the process of determining fault when there is an accident involving lane splitting. Drivers of passenger vehicles should be aware of certain regulations — for motorcyclists and themselves — around lane splitting when they get behind the wheel. In the event of an accident, it is helpful to know these things up front.

Lane Splitting Basics

In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 into law in California, which officially made lane splitting’s status legal. The law defines lane splitting as “driving a motorcycle, that has 2 wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, as specified.”

Following the signing of AB 51 into law, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) developed certain guidelines around lane splitting, which were released in 2018. The CHP’s guidelines are meant to somewhat regulate the practice of lane splitting to make it safer for both motorcyclists and other vehicles around them. That said, they are guidelines only — not laws.

For example, there is no law dictating the maximum speed at which a motorcyclist can lane split. Guidelines and officers of the CHP have said a motorcyclist should be going no more than 10 miles per hour over the speed of other vehicles. So if slow-moving traffic on the freeway is inching along at 20 mph, a motorcyclist should not be lane splitting faster than 30 mph. Motorcyclists should never go above 50 mph while lane splitting. They should also split on the far left lane and avoid splitting next to large vehicles (buses, big rigs).

While none of these things are law, police can still ticket a motorcyclist that is driving recklessly while lane splitting. Riding on the shoulder of the road or freeway is illegal and never considered lane splitting.

The CHP also notes in its guidelines that “Lane splitting can be dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised” and that “The risk of death or serious injury during a lane splitting collision increases as speed and speed differential increases.”

Car Accidents and Lane Splitting

If you are in an accident with a motorcyclist that was lane splitting, be prepared for a complex journey in terms of filing a claim. In other states, where lane splitting is illegal, the fault would obviously lie with the motorcyclist that was lane splitting. Because of the move’s legal status in California, determining liability isn’t a clear-cut process.

In such an accident, any number of parties could be to blame: the motorcyclist, the other driver, even local government agencies.

As mentioned above, a motorcyclist can still be ticketed if they are driving recklessly while lane splitting. In the event of a crash, they could be held liable if they were not following the CHP’s guidelines. For example, the CHP’s guidelines instruct motorcycle drivers to avoid other cars’ blind spots. If your accident occurs because the biker was lane splitting in your blind spot, they might be at fault.

On the other hand, drivers of other vehicles need to make sure they are following a few rules themselves.

While lane splitting can be frustrating for drivers of passenger vehicles, because it is legal in the state of California, you cannot intentionally block someone from lane splitting. In fact, it is illegal to do so. If you are doing this and an accident happens, you could be held partially or even fully responsible for the crash.

Drivers should also be on the lookout for motorcyclists before they change lanes, and always use their car’s signals when turning or switching lanes. While these are common-sense practices in most driving situations, they are important to follow when it comes to sharing the road with those on motorcycles.

Sometimes, the fault lies elsewhere, like with the government. A great example of this is poorly maintained roads. If the road itself is not kept in good repair by the state of California, which in turn makes it more difficult for the motorcyclist to switch lanes, the fault of the accident could lie with a government agency.

More often than not, the fault will lie with no one single party and will be a combination of multiple factors. However, in order to receive the compensation you deserve after this type of accident, it is best to consult an attorney. This person should not only have experience with car and motorcycle accidents, they should ideally have handled past cases involving lane splitting. Determining fault and filing a claim for compensation especially in this case can be a challenging process. To minimize your frustrations, seek the help of an experienced professional.

Rodriguez & Associates has long been committed to helping drivers protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve from motorcycle accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash, please reach out to us today ((661) 323-1400) for a free consultation.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:04 pm

What Is the Difference Between Punitive Damages and Actual Damages?

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for losses you suffered in an accident that was not your fault. The aftermath of these accidents can leave us with unexpected medical expenses, lost wages while we are healing, property damage, emotional anguish, and more – and filing a lawsuit provides a pathway to recover from these significant damages. There are many types of damages you can claim, including actual damages and punitive damages.

What Are Actual Damages?

Actual damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They make up the bulk of the settlement that the court can award you at the conclusion of your case, and seek to help you restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. To claim these damages, you will need to prove that the accident was the direct cause for them.

Actual damages come in two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered from in the course of the accident. You can prove these damages in court by supplying invoices, receipts, and bills. Common economic damages include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalization, etc.
  • Lost wages during recovery time or loss of earning the ability
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage

On the other hand, you cannot supply receipts or invoices to prove non-economic damages. These actual damages include the intangible losses you suffer in the wake of an accident, commonly known as pain and suffering damages. Some examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Courts calculate the amount of the non-economic damages you can claim in different ways. In most situations, the jury will examine the facts of your case after your attorney proves that the at-fault party is the cause of your injuries. Based on your case, the jury will assign an amount based on a combination of evidence and reasonability.

In the state of California, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

What Are Punitive Damages?

On the other hand, the court does not intend for punitive damages to restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. Their purpose is to punish the at-fault party in your case for dangerous, reckless, negligent, or intentional behavior. At the conclusion of your case, the at-fault party will have to pay punitive damages on top of actual damages – they will not affect the outcome of your settlement.

The court will determine whether or not the at-fault party acted in a way that warrants punitive damages and makes a decision on the amount he or she will have to pay. The amount can vary based on the circumstances of your case, and the more severe cases typically result in a higher amount of punitive damages.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case?

Calculating these damages and knowing exactly how much you can claim in civil court can be difficult. You may forget about a certain line item that you could claim as an economic loss, or remain unsure of whether or not you qualify for non-economic damages. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

Your lawyer can help you determine which economic and non-economic damages you can claim, collect the evidence necessary to prove your economic losses, advise you on the amount of non-economic damages you might receive, and whether or not your case could qualify for punitive damages.

If you are grappling with the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim actual and punitive damages for your losses. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:05 pm

California’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Monday, October 9, 2017

As a motorcyclist in California, it’s your duty to know the laws that apply to you and obey them. It’s also your right to stand up for yourself when you know you were following the rules and still ended up in an accident. Having a thorough understanding of California’s motorcycle helmet law can give you confidence and control when you hit the open road and a solid foundation should you need to hire a Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyer and file a personal injury claim. You’ll know exactly when you were in the right. Here’s an overview of what you should know.

California motorcycle helmet laws

Do You Need a Helmet in California?

Yes. California is one of 19 states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. California Vehicle Code Section 27803 states that a driver and any passenger shall wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. It is unlawful for a driver or a passenger not to wear a helmet at any time while on a motorcycle in California. The law applies to motorcyclists on rural and urban roads and highways. It is a statewide, universal law that applies to all ages.

“Wearing a safety helmet,” means the helmet must comply with federal laws, and fit snugly on your head. Look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker when purchasing a helmet, or another indication that the manufacturer complied with federal safety standards in the creation of the helmet. The helmet must be of a size that fits the wearer’s head securely, without excessive movement, and fastened with helmet straps. The law does not apply to those on fully enclosed three-wheel motor vehicles over seven feet in length and four feet in width.

While California’s current law makes it mandatory for everyone to wear a motorcycle helmet, the law could be changing in the future. In 2011, Assemblyman Chris Norby introduced Assembly Bill 695. AB 695 proposes an amendment to the existing motorcycle helmet law, wherein a person who is 21 years or older who has either completed a safety training program or received authorization to operate the vehicle with a class M1 license or endorsement for two or more years would not have to wear a motorcycle helmet. This amendment is currently pending.

Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet

Motorcyclists and their passengers can face fines and penalties for failing to wear approved helmets while operating in California. The law states that an enforcement officer has the right to either charge the individual with a simple equipment violation or a greater penalty. An equipment violation is a $10 fine with a proof of correction, according to the California Vehicle Code. The California Highway Patrol, however, states that a violation of the helmet law is an immediate safety hazard and is therefore not correctable.

If the officer were to follow the CHP’s guidelines, you could face up to $250 in fines and one year of probation. It’s largely up to the arresting officer, as the laws are unclear. Avoid any penalties and protect your personal safety by wearing a motorcycle helmet in California. It’s currently the law, and it could save your life.

Posted by highrank at 5:19 pm

Is Lane Splitting Legal in California?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lane splitting, also called “lane sharing” or “white-lining,” describes a motorcyclist cutting between lanes of slower-moving traffic, or pulling in front of stopped traffic at a red light. While this may sound dangerous, it can actually help improve the flow of traffic and allow motorcyclists to escape congested areas where they are more likely to get into motorcycle accidents.

California allows competent, experienced motorcyclists to lane split as long as they follow a few guidelines:

  • The motorcyclist should not exceed 10 miles per hour faster than the surrounding vehicles. For example, in a 25 mph speed limit zone, motorcyclists should not exceed 35 mph to lane split. Higher speeds mean less time for motorcyclists to react to changes on the road or slow down in time to avoid colliding with other vehicles.
  • Motorcyclists should only engage in lane-splitting in low-speed areas. Ideally, no one should lane split at any speed above 35 mph. At even 20 mph it can take several seconds for a rider to notice and react to a change in traffic, and the rider can travel up to 60 feet in that short time.
  • Try to only engage in lane-splitting in the two leftmost lanes. Drivers are more accustomed to seeing lane splitting on the left side of the road, and drivers may not react appropriately to lane-splitting on the right side of the road.
  • Avoid lane splitting on sharp curves and freeway ramps.
  • Only one motorcyclist should attempt to lane split at a time, and motorcyclists should never attempt to lane split across multiple adjacent lanes at the same time. For example, if two motorcyclists attempt to lane split between three cars across three lanes, motorcycles suddenly appearing on either side of the driver in the middle lane may startle him or her, or the driver may drift to one side or the other to make room for the motorcyclist the driver spots first.
  • Refrain from lane splitting on sharp turns, long curves, or roads that have differently-sized lanes.
  • Avoid lane-splitting at night when visibility is poor. A motorcycle suddenly speeding between lanes can be difficult to see, and other drivers may react poorly. Nighttime is a good opportunity for motorcyclists traveling together to engage in “lane-sharing,” or driving side-by-side in the same lane. This actually makes the motorcycles more visible to other drivers as their taillights resemble a larger, more visible car from a distance. Motorcyclists who lane-share still need to be very aware of the distance between them.
  • Avoid lane-splitting during severe weather. Inclement weather makes driving more difficult for all drivers, but motorcyclists often suffer the most. Motorcycles are more prone to sliding and other water-related hazards than larger, heavier cars. Lane-splitting in the rain makes an already hazardous situation more dangerous.
  • Be very careful of the time you choose to split lanes. Stay alert for sudden changes on the road, and complete each split as quickly as possible. Taking too long could mean lingering in another driver’s blind spot for too long.

Lane splitting is legal in California and can sometimes help other drivers by alleviating traffic congestion. However, it’s important for California motorcyclists to understand the risks of lane splitting and only do so when conditions are safest. If you or somebody you love was injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Bakersfield.

Posted by highrank at 3:21 pm