california trucker law

Motorcycle Crashes: How to Avoid, What to do After

Motorcycle accidents can leave riders with catastrophic injuries, and as the hobby continues to be popular throughout the United States and especially in California, better education to both riders and car drivers alike can only help to heighten everyone's awareness and hopefully prevent future crashes. After all, there are an estimated 8.6 million motorcycles on the roads, and if you drive a car or truck on California roads, you are guaranteed to be driving alongside motorcyclists eventually. Despite the inherent risk, California is a wonderful place to ride, and the state is home to some of America's most picturesque roads. For both motorcycle riders and car drivers alike, better education can prevent crashes.

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

Pay Attention at Intersections

Nearly half of all motorcycle-vehicle collisions happen at an intersection. Thus, when approaching an intersection on your motorcycle or in your car, you should be aware and alert that this is where many crashes happen. Vehicles make bad turns - too wide, too soon or out of turn, illegal u-turns, you name it, they happen at intersections. Sometimes the buildings at intersections in commercial areas are distracting, and there can be a lot happening at any given moment, leading to distraction. Every driver passes through intersections regularly, so it's a good habit to develop to pay particular attention to your surroundings at intersections. Remember, even if you're doing everything by the book, that doesn't mean the drivers around you are. For your own protection and safety, paying close attention to traffic in intersections can help you avoid a crash.

Intersections in California can be particularly distracting, as lane-splitting is now legal in the state, meaning when you're stopped, you may have a motorcycle approach you and pass you in-between lanes. Motorists should by now be aware that this technique is legal, but many drivers become frustrated and angry, sometimes creating a dangerous situation for both themselves and the motorcyclist. 

Helmets Save Lives

California requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, and the requirement saves lives. Based on extensive studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are more than 67 percent more effective at preventing brain injuries than those not wearing a helmet, and helmets are approximately 37 percent more effective at preventing death. California has required riders to wear helmets for some time now, and the effect has undoubtedly been many lives saved. Some motorcycle riders from out of state are unfamiliar with the requirement; failure to wear an appropriate helmet can result in a ticket, regardless of whether you were aware of the requirement or not. The State of California has a free motorcycle safety and laws handbook, which is available for download, and is also available at all California DMV locations. The contents of this handbook are valuable for all riders, both those who live in California and those who do not. 

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Motorcycles Are More Dangerous Than Cars

More people die in car accidents every year than in motorcycle accidents, but that's because there are more cares on the road than motorcycles. In fact, motorcycles are an estimated 27 times deadlier than cars in the United States, based on federal government comparisons of death per mil traveled. Part of the reasons for so many deaths related to motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles do not provide protection to the rider, so when there is a collision between a car and a motorcycle, the rider's body takes the impact, whereas a car's doors and frame take the impact in a car accident.

Also, a motorcycle rider can easily fall off his or her bike after impact with another vehicle, so even a seemingly minor collision can put a rider onto the roadway; depending on how fast he or she was moving at the time of collision, a motorcyclist can die as a result of a minor impact, after losing control of the bike and falling into the roadway at a high rate of speed. 

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash

First, regardless of what happened, who caused the crash, and many other important questions, you must take care of your health. Seek proper medical treatment, even if you're worried about your ability to pay for the resulting medical bills. Many people involved in car crashes decline to go to the hospital or see their doctor based on financial pressure; while understandable, this decision can have devastating consequences in the long run. If you weren't at fault for the crash, a good injury lawyer will likely be able to recover the costs of your medical care, so you won't be stuck with high bills in the end. Reasonable medical attention should be sought when your injuries require an expert's opinion. Sometimes this is obvious, such as with fractures and lacerations. Other times, such as whiplash and neck and back pain, people decide not to go to a doctor, but they may be setting themselves up for many months or even years of pain that could otherwise be treated by a competent doctor.

Document Everything

If you were injured, you will eventually be making a claim to the other party's insurance company. Any money you are paid will likely come from their insurance, but first you will need to prove everything, including that you were actually injured, the cost of your medical treatment, and any other expenses for which you are seeking compensation. Don't expect the insurance company to take your word for it, or to show much sympathy. Their job is to pay as little money as possible to resolve your claim. Expect the insurance adjuster to reduce your medical bills, meaning they will offer to pay a portion of the bill, but not the bill in its entirety. Again, a good injury lawyer will make sure this doesn't happen, but it is to be expected if you try to settle your claim alone. Of course, because motorcycle accidents can result in serious injury, the medical treatment required can sometimes be very expensive. Before undergoing very expensive procedures, you may want to discuss your claim with a personal injury lawyer, as the phone call may give you some insight into how the procedure will affect your case, and whether the bill is likely to be paid by the at-fault driver's insurance company or not.

Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

You may decide not to hire a lawyer in the end, but the information you will learn by talking with an injury attorney can be invaluable. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent motorcycle riders throughout California for all types of injury claims, including lane-splitting crashes, debris on the roadway crashes, motorcycle versus auto crashes, and most other motorcycle-related claims. At the very least, a telephone call with a knowledgable attorney will give you a better understanding of how your claim will be processed, the timeline of claim processing, and even the approximate value of your case. The Lions Injury Lawyers strive to help their clients return to full health, and return to financial stability. If it wasn't your fault, you should not have to pay for medical bills, and you should be paid for the pain and suffering you've endured. Call the Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyers.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

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It's no surprise that the large semi trucks that carry much of the food we eat and the products we use throughout the country can cause serious safety threats to other drivers on the road. After all, most of these trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, and are nowhere near as agile and maneuverable as a common automobile. California highways are sometimes choked with trucks, which is due to the large population of California, as well as the several shipping ports, where the trucks receive their loads from abroad for distribution in California and throughout the country. If you're driving on California highways, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of in order to stay safe.

Remembering Elementary School Science: Inertia

Remember learning about objects in motion staying in motion until another force acts upon it to slow it down? A large truck will stay in motion unless the driver tries to slow it down. This is all common sense. The catch is, even when the driver of the truck tries to stop the truck's intertia, depending on how big and heavy the truck is, it can take a very long time to slow a moving truck. Now consider how fast trucks travel on California freeways - usually at least 60-70 miles per hour. Going this speed, it can take a great distance for a typical 18 wheeler carrying a normal load to slow. Now recall how often you see passenger vehicles, like your standard car or SUV, dart in and out of traffic. Large trucks cannot stop in time to avoid contact, it is as simple as that.

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Driver Fatigue and the Laws Regulating Trucker Drive Hours

Truck drivers make their living by carrying loads from point A to point B. The more distance they travel, the more money they make. There are regulations in place to keep truck drivers from getting too tired and drowsy to drive, but the reality is that truck drivers get tired and occasionally doze off or fall asleep at the wheel, often times causing collisions with other cars. The laws regulating truck driver hours are not always clear cut, either. For example, consider the "14-Hour Limit," which states that commercial truck drivers cannot  "drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period." This limitation applies to truck drivers who are carrying goods and products in their cargo, while other limitations apply if truck drivers are carrying passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truck driver hours, and these limits apply to the following drivers in specific vehicles only, known as a "CMV" vehicle: 

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

While these regulations certainly prevent some drivers from driving too long and becoming dangerous due to the human propensity to need sleep and doze off after long hours of driving, the rules to not obviously apply to all potentially dangerous drivers. Not all trucks meet or exceed the weight limits, or are transporting goods requiring special placards. 

Common Trucking Accidents or Crashes

There are several categorizations of car crashes, and those involving commercial trucking vehicles tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Rear end collision (usually from common cars cutting in front of trucks and the truck can't slow)
  • Head on collisions (often from cars darting in front of a truck, again, trucks cannot slow down)
  • Jacknifes
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe
  • T-bone or other side-impact collisions (often resulting from vehicles turning into the path of the truck, which is unable to avoid collision due to an inability to slow in time)
  • Cargo shift causing rollover or jacknife
  • Cargo spill

Trucking Accidents Resulting in Injury

Tragically, many crashes involving commercial trucks result in injury. Sometimes, the injuries are non life-threatening, such as whiplash, sore neck and back, and what are categorized as "soft tissue" injuries. Unfortunately, due to the heavy nature of commercial trucks, many auto versus truck accidents result in catastrophic injury and death. The amount of property damage a truck can cause a pedestrian vehicle is also significantly greater than a typical auto versus auto car crash.

Trucking Accidents Often Result in Fire

When an 18-wheeler crashes into a small SUV, for example, the result is often fatal, sometimes due to fire. Crashes with trucks often result in fire, as the trucks necessitate large amounts of petroleum based fuel, or gasoline. Fortunately, as clean(er) energy options enter the market (such as the newly-announced truck from California's own Tesla), future crashes with trucks may be less likely to result in fire. Many large players in the domestic shipping business have placed orders for the Tesla truck, so hopefully the technology will soon spread throughout the industry, bringing safer trucks to the roads.

What To Do If You Were Injured by a Truck

If you were injured while traveling in California by a truck, you should first take care of your health. Seek medical attention immediately. Proceed to take care of yourself and any passengers involved as you would with a common accident - your health is most important. When you are able to think clearly and are beginning to try to figure out how to recover financially and physically, a call to a California injury law firm may be beneficial. Trucking companies are often represented by aggressive law firms that tend to deny liability on all crashes, sometimes even in contradiction with reports issued by the California Highway patrol or the local police department. Even if you think you were not at fault and that it is obvious that the trucker was at fault, do not assume the truck's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, if you were injured by a truck, you are actually more likely to face an uphill battle in recovering your costs. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured plaintiffs throughout the state of California, and are ready to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. The sooner you discuss your injury claim with an experienced and trusted attorney, the more likely the attorney will be able to help you. When you call The Lions, you will speak directly with an injury attorney, not a salesman. Access to a lawyer who is experienced in handling California injury claims will help you navigate the often complicated world of injury insurance claim settlements.