Motorcycles are popular in the Stockton area, and it is vital for every rider to know the risks they face on the road. Even the most cautious and experienced motorcyclists can suffer extreme injuries due to the actions of other drivers, and it is vital to know your recovery options if you experience such an incident. A Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can be an invaluable asset for anyone in this situation.
Helping Motorcycle Accident Victims Recover in Stockton, CA
The Ward Firm has an extensive professional record of successful personal injury cases in Stockton, including many filed in response to motorcycle accidents. We know the challenges a motorcycle accident victim is likely to face in the aftermath of such an incident and the many questions they are likely to have concerning their recovery options.
Our goal for every client we represent is maximum compensation for their damages in the shortest possible timeframe. Recovery from a motorcycle accident will require proving fault before any compensation can be recovered, and then the victim will need to file an auto insurance claim to recover as much as possible. If insurance cannot fully cover their damages, a personal injury claim will be necessary to obtain full repayment of their losses.
With our firm’s assistance, you can approach your recovery efforts following a motorcycle accident with confidence and peace of mind. We know that you are likely to have many important legal questions in the aftermath of your accident, and you have a time limit when it comes to pursuing compensation for your losses. The sooner you connect with our team, the sooner we can start working toward your recovery together.
Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Stockton
Motorcycle accidents commonly occur for the same reasons that all other vehicle accidents happen. However, due to their small size, motorcycles are more vulnerable to certain types of accidents and are especially vulnerable in situations involving any type of limited visibility. Most motorcycle accidents reported in the Stockton area are the result of negligence, such as:
Speeding. It is illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit, yet it is very common for drivers to slightly exceed posted speed limits to maintain the flow of traffic. Speeding reduces how much time and distance a driver has to slow down or stop to avoid a collision, and accidents that happen at high speed have the greatest chance of resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Traffic violations. Traffic signals and road signs exist to help drivers anticipate the actions of others on the road. When drivers fail to follow these rules, they endanger themselves and others. Illegal turns, failure to yield the right-of-way, running red lights or stop signs, and performing illegal lane changes are just a few ways that motorcycle accidents may happen.
Lane splitting. California law does not forbid lane splitting, which is when a motorcycle weaves between lanes of slower-moving traffic. The logic behind this is that it can potentially enable a motorcyclist to avoid crashing into the rear of another vehicle and streamline the flow of traffic. However, lane splitting is inherently dangerous and should be performed only by experienced riders in specific situations.
Distracted driving. Whenever a driver’s attention is diverted from operating their vehicle, they significantly increase their risk of causing an accident. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents throughout the United States each year. Your Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can help gather the evidence needed to prove that an at-fault driver was distracted behind the wheel.
Proving negligence in any personal injury case requires proof that the defendant owed a duty of care in the situation, breached that duty of care in some way, and that their actions directly resulted in actual harm to the plaintiff.
Motorcycle accidents can also happen due to illegal misconduct. Reckless driving and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs are the most common examples of this seen in Stockton. When a driver has caused an accident through an illegal act, they face not only civil liability for the victim’s damages but also criminal prosecution from the state. Their penalties, if convicted, are likely to increase significantly if they cause serious bodily harm or death.
How Do You Prove Fault for a Motorcycle Accident in Stockton?
Establishing fault for a motorcycle accident in Stockton may be more challenging than you initially expected. Your injury attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence you need to prove that another party is directly responsible for causing the accident, and this evidence could include:
Vehicle computer data from every vehicle involved in the accident.
The other driver’s cell phone records, which may show they were illegally using their phone during the moments immediately before the crash.
Physical evidence from the location of the accident.
Testimony from witnesses who saw the accident happen firsthand.
Expert witness testimony. If your case involves any complex technical details, your legal team may consult professionals with specific experience who can shed valuable insights and clarify these details to support your case.
An experienced Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can make gathering evidence for your motorcycle accident case much easier. They can also be an invaluable asset if comparative fault is asserted. California follows the pure comparative fault rule, which applies to any civil case in which more than one party shares fault for the damages.
It’s possible for liability for a motorcycle accident to fall to multiple defendants; it is also possible for a plaintiff to be found partially responsible for their accident. In this case, the plaintiff will have a fault percentage assigned that reflects their level of liability for causing the accident. They will then lose this percentage of their case award. For example, 10% fault means the loss of 10% of their compensation, 50% would mean losing 50% of the case award, and so on.
Filing an Auto Insurance Claim for a Motorcycle Accident
Proving liability for your motorcycle accident in Stockton is the first legal challenge you must overcome in your recovery efforts. Once fault is established, you can begin your pursuit of compensation, and this will begin with a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Every driver is legally required to have personal auto insurance coverage that includes:
$15,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person.
$30,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for multiple persons harmed in the same accident.
$5,000 or more to cover the victim’s property damage.
While not strictly required, drivers are strongly encouraged to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage option comes into play when an at-fault driver does not have insurance, allowing the victim to claim against their own policy for some initial compensation. This typically does not result in premium rate increases or other penalties for the claimant.
Your Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can make dealing with insurance companies much easier. They’ll help complete the required proof of loss forms and gather the supporting evidence and documentation you need to submit with your claim. You typically have only a few days after your accident in which to file your claim, so it’s vital to start this process with an attorney’s help immediately after your accident.
The Ward Firm has represented clients before many large insurance companies, and we know the methods they often use to try to convince claimants to settle for lowball offers. We can defend your interests and ensure that the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier processes your claim in good faith and delivers a fair settlement offer. If an insurance company contacts you with a settlement offer, we can help determine whether it is suitable under the terms of the policy.
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage and the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or if their insurance does not fully cover your losses, you will need to file a personal injury claim to recover the remainder of your damages. You must file your claim within the statute of limitations, which is two years from the date the accident occurred. If you miss this deadline, you miss your chance to file a personal injury claim.
How Much Compensation Do You Get for a Motorcycle Accident in Stockton?
Motorcycle accidents have a higher chance of resulting in catastrophic injuries than most other vehicle accidents because motorcycles offer very little protection to riders when accidents happen. The rider is not only likely to suffer severe injuries from a collision with another vehicle, but they are also likely to be thrown to the ground at high speed, resulting in further injuries.
It’s common for motorcycle accident victims to suffer multiple injuries from these accidents, including broken bones, lacerations, burns, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Some of these injuries may heal with time, while others result in various permanent disabilities that can significantly diminish the victim’s quality of life. The victim may also experience post-traumatic stress and other psychological disruptions from the accident.
The total value of any motorcycle accident claim filed in Stockton depends on the extent and severity of the victim’s damages. Your Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can help assess the full range of economic losses you can cite in your personal injury claim, enhancing your recovery. These economic damages are likely to include:
Vehicle repair costs. You can hold the at-fault driver accountable for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Their property damage liability coverage in their auto insurance policy could cover some of these losses, but any remainder not covered by insurance may be claimed in your personal injury suit.
Medical expenses. Motorcycle accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, and a host of other complex injuries that require immediate emergency care followed by extensive rehabilitation treatment. The defendant who injured you is liable for all medical expenses resulting from the accident they caused. Again, any such losses not covered by their insurance can be claimed in your personal injury case.
Lost wages. When you are unable to work and earn income because of the accident you experienced, the at-fault driver is responsible for the income you are unable to earn during your recovery.
Lost earning power. If your motorcycle accident left you permanently disabled and you cannot return to work in the future, the defendant is liable for the future income you can no longer earn. Your Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can help determine how much income you reasonably would have expected to earn in the future and add this to your claim as economic damages.
You may be able to calculate immediate economic damages like vehicle repair costs and hospital bills, but an accurate assessment of the full scope of long-term damages you can claim from the defendant will be very difficult on your own. Additionally, you are also eligible to seek compensation for non-economic damages the defendant caused, specifically your pain and suffering.
California law does not set a limit on pain and suffering compensation in a motorcycle accident case. This means the plaintiff can claim as much as they deem reasonable to reflect the severity of the harm they experienced. If the plaintiff suffered catastrophic harm from the accident, it could result in a substantial amount of compensation for the associated physical pain and psychological suffering.
If your motorcycle accident resulted from an illegal act like DUI, the defendant faces criminal prosecution from the state along with your civil claim for damages. Their penalties in criminal court could increase dramatically if they caused serious bodily harm, and the judge handling their sentence may order them to pay restitution. This, along with your civil claim award, can result in a sizeable recovery.
Options for Resolving Your Motorcycle Accident Case
If you are wondering what to expect during your personal injury case, it is vital to know that the right attorney can significantly improve your overall experience with your recovery efforts and shorten the time it takes for you to recover your losses. If the defendant who caused your accident is clearly at fault and willing to accept liability, they are likely to agree to settlement negotiations with you and your attorney.
During the settlement process, the plaintiff and the defendant meet privately to discuss a resolution to their case. As long as both parties are willing to negotiate, they can potentially resolve the claim in a fraction of the time that litigation typically requires. While settlement may take only a few weeks to conclude, litigation can last months or even longer than a year for some cases.
What to Expect From Your Stockton Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Even if fault for your recent motorcycle accident in Stockton seems perfectly obvious to you, do not assume that you can reach the same result in your recovery efforts on your own as you could with an attorney’s help. When you have an experienced Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer representing you, you are significantly more likely to win your case than you would be by yourself, and you are also more likely to obtain a much larger case award.
Your attorney can streamline the initial phases of your case, helping you gather the evidence needed to firmly establish liability for your accident and to prove the full extent of the losses you suffered. When it comes to filing your auto insurance claim, your legal team can negotiate with an insurer for you and address any bad-faith handling of your claim. If insurance can’t fully cover your losses, your attorney can then move to building your personal injury suit.
Our Goal Is to Help Our Clients Recover Well
The Ward Firm approaches every personal injury case we accept with the goal of helping our clients recover as fully as possible. You can rely on our team to build a compelling case that encourages the defendant to seek a swift settlement, streamlining your recovery efforts. We typically aim to settle our clients’ cases as quickly as we can, but if settlement is not an option or will not produce the results you deserve, you can rely on us to represent you in court.
If you are worried about the cost of hiring an attorney to handle your claim, The Ward Firm will not add to your financial problems by charging exorbitant upfront legal fees. We take personal injury cases on contingency, meaning you pay a fee only after we win, and your fee will be a percentage of the final case award. There is no risk of paying more for legal counsel than you win in compensation, and you owe nothing if we cannot obtain compensation for you.
You have a limited time in which to pursue your recovery following a motorcycle accident, and the sooner you reach out to our team, the more time we have to build your case. If you are ready to learn what an experienced Stockton motorcycle accident lawyer can do for your recovery, contact The Ward Firm today and schedule a consultation with our team.
Schedule a Free Consultation
At your free initial consultation, you will meet directly with Justin, and he will explain how he can best help you with your case. If you decide to work with us, we will immediately get started on creating a strategy that protects your interests.
To get more information, call our office at 916-443-2474 or send us an email using our contact form. We are available by phone 24 hours a day. Se habla español.
The Ward Firm is open and actively assisting clients with personal injury, criminal, and employment related matters, and we do not anticipate any interruption in representation. However, please understand that all appointments will be telephonic as we observe the CDC's recommended social distancing.