California is a great place to ride a motorcycle, given its warm temperatures and sunny skies. Riding a motorcycle can be a great way to enjoy, but it may also be dangerous, especially while sharing the highway with other motorists.  It is common for other motorists to engage in distracted driving or disregard traffic rules. Many vehicle drivers do not give motorcyclists enough space or consideration on the road.  Due to the negligence of motorists, hit and run motorcycle accidents are very common in California.  If you or your loved one suffers injuries in a hit and run motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve. 

Hit and Run Accidents Under California Law

When a hit and run motorcycle accident occurs, the motorcyclist suffers the most injuries.  Unlike a motor vehicle, a motorcycle does not have safety features like safety belts and airbags. A motorcyclist does not have any shield, and in case of an accident, he/she suffers the worst injuries.  In the state of California, it is unlawful for a driver to leave the scene of an accident, even if the accident is minor. A driver should not leave the accident scene after hitting a motorcyclist even if the motorcyclist only suffers minor injuries. 

If a driver hits a motorcyclist, fails to stop and offer the necessary assistance or give his/her identification or insurance details, he/she may face hit and run charges. Motorcycle hit and run accidents in California may attract either a felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the facts surrounding the accident.

Hit and run motorcycle accidents that result in property damage and do not lead to bodily injuries or death of the victim may attract misdemeanor charges. However, if the hit and run accidents involve injuries and death of other motorists, the defendant may face felony charges.

According to the law, a hit and run accident occurs when a driver leaves the scene of the accident before the police or other rescue personnel arrive. A defendant should remain at the scene of the accident, and in case of injuries, contact the emergency personnel.  In case a vehicle and the motorcycle collide, the motorcyclist suffers severe injuries. If the driver flees the accident scene, he/she is likely to leave the motorcyclist fighting for his/her life.

What Makes People Flee an Accident Scene

There are several reasons why a driver may flee the scene of an accident after colliding with a motorcyclist, for instance. In most cases, the defendant may flee the scene of the accident out of fear or panic. Other drivers may leave the scene because they were operating their motor vehicles without valid licenses. A driver may also flee from the scene of an accident if he/she has outstanding warrants against him/her and is afraid of encountering the law enforcement officers.  In some instances, the driver may leave the scene after hitting a motorcyclist without even realizing that an accident has occurred. In most cases, this happens if a driver is operating his/her vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

No matter the reason for fleeing the accident scene, the defendant has no right to leave the scene of the accident before law enforcement officers arrive. If you are a victim of a hit and run accident, you should contact your personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation.  You should not assume that you cannot obtain compensation because the driver left the scene of the accident, and you cannot trace him or her. Even if the defendant goes into hiding, your attorney can seek the assistance of investigators to help locate him/her.  

Establishing Fault in a Motorcycle Hit and Run Accident

The California law uses a comparative negligence system, which entails apportioning fault to the parties involved.  If you are a victim of a hit and run accident, but you also contributed to the occurrence of the accident, you will receive compensation less your degree of fault.  For instance, if you are 20% at fault in the accident, you will receive a reward of 80%. 

However, it is essential to note that irrespective of who is at fault, California law makes it illegal to leave the scene of an accident. Therefore, you should remain at the scene until law enforcement officers arrive irrespective of the party to blame for the accident. Even if the defendant, in most cases a motor vehicle driver, flees the accident scene, you should remain behind. 

What if a driver hits a stationary motorbike when the motorcyclist is not present? 

The law requires the motor vehicle driver to leave a note on the motorbike if the accident results in damages worth more than $1,000. The note should contain the contact information of the driver. 

Steps to Take after the Accident

If you survive a hit and run motorcycle accident, there are several actions that you should take immediately after the accident. Following specific steps after the accident will make it easy for you to seek compensation for your damages. The steps you should take include:

  1. Gathering Information

Immediately after a hit and run accident, you are likely to get an adrenaline rush and experience intense emotions and confusion. However, if you are in a position to gather information regarding the accident, it is advisable to do so, even amidst the confusion. It is advisable to write down anything that you can remember about the accident. For instance, you may note down the time of the occurrence of the accident. You may not get the registration number of the defendant's vehicle if the defendant flees the scene of the accident. However, you may note down anything you can recall about the car. For instance, you may note down the color and the make of the car. If you remember the physical description of the motorist responsible for the accident, you should note it down.

At times, witnesses may be present at the scene of the accident. Witnesses may consist of other motorists or pedestrians. After the law enforcement officers arrive at the accident scene, the crowd will disperse, and you may not get another chance to interact with the witnesses. It is therefore advisable to ensure that you get the contact information of the witnesses because you may need them when seeking compensation.

If you are in a position, you should take photos of the accident scene. Take pictures of the damages on your motorcycle and also the photos of your injuries. You may also check the accident scene to see if there are surveillance cameras present. The images may be a good source of evidence because the police may be able to get the details of the run-away defendant. 

  1. Police Report

You should ensure that you file a police report as soon as you can after the accident. The police report will come in handy in enhancing the processing of your insurance claim.  If you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the motor vehicle driver, the police report will help to strengthen your lawsuit. 

  1. Ensure you get Medical Attention

It is advisable to seek medical treatment after a hit and run motorcycle accident even if your injuries seem minor. You may not understand the extent of your injuries immediately after the accident. Due to the rush of adrenaline and numbness at the time of the accident, you may not experience much pain. It is only later that you will start to suffer pain once the numbness wears off.

Even when you are unsure about your injuries, you should undergo a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not be apparent at first. For instance, if you suffer soft tissue injuries, brain injuries, or nerve injuries, the injuries may not show up immediately.

  1. Inform your Insurance Company

You should inform your insurance company about the hit and run accident even if you do not identify the other driver. You may be able to get compensation through uninsured motorist insurance coverage. The uninsured motorist insurance coverage may cover your medical costs to a certain extent. The insurance cover may also offer you compensation for property damage incurred. However, the insurance coverage may not provide all the compensation you deserve. A personal injury lawsuit will help you seek compensation for additional losses.

  1. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury attorney can help to determine the extent of your losses. An attorney also raises your chances of getting a larger settlement. An attorney has a vast network of talented investigators who can help to trace the defendant.  Your attorney may also seek the help of a private detective to support the police in their investigations.

Common Injuries in Hit and Run Motorcycle Accidents

When a hit and run motorcycle accident occurs, the victims are likely to suffer certain injuries. Some of the common injuries that the victims may suffer include:

Head Injuries

Head injuries are the most common forms of injuries in a hit and run motorcycle accident. Due to the impact of the collision, the cyclist often falls off the motorcycle injuring his/her head on the tarmac.  Head injuries are often severe and, in most cases, fatal if the motorcyclist was operating a motorcycle without a helmet. It is not a mandatory law to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. However, a motorcycle can make a significant  difference in case of an accident.

Road Rash

Road rash is a common injury that often results when a motorcyclist falls off the bike and slides on the pavement due to the impact.  This often leads to severe cuts and bruises on the skin.

Muscle damages are also common in a hit and run accident. Muscle damage may lead to paralysis or limited mobility. To recover from muscle damage, the victim may need many months of physical therapy. 

Other injuries that may result from a hit and run motorcycle accident include neck injuries and biker's arm.

Obtaining Compensation in a Motorcycle Hit and Run Accident

If arrested by the police, the liable party in a motorcycle hit and run accident may face criminal charges. On the other hand, the victim may be entitled to recover damages for property damage and injuries sustained. One of the crucial actions to take after an accident is to contact the police. You should file a police report within 24 hours. Filing a police report is particularly important if a person has uninsured motorist insurance. To be able to get compensation from your uninsured motorist insurance, a police report is one of the requirements. 

You will recover compensation from the insurer of the defendant as long as the defendant is insured. When you are dealing with the defendant's insurer, you should be careful. It is essential to understand that the other party's insurer does not have your interest at heart. You should not allow the defendant's insurer to intimidate you. Instead, you should work with your injury attorney to ensure that you get fair compensation. 

You can sue the at-fault driver to recover compensation from them if the driver does not have an insurance cover.  By suing the driver, you will be able to get compensation directly from the driver. However, it is essential to note that, at times, the police may never be able to trace the defendant. If this is the case, you may seek compensation from your uninsured motorist insurance coverage. The extent of your compensation will depend on the limits of the insurance coverage. 

Your attorney may also explore other possible defendants in your hit and run motorcycle accident to broaden the scope of your compensation.  Other players may have contributed to the occurrence of the accident, including motorcycle manufacturers, and municipalities. If your attorney can locate the at-fault driver, he/she will facilitate in establishing liability and pursuing the personal injury case. You can be confident that an attorney will do everything possible to hold the responsible parties accountable and to help you seek compensation.

Recoverable Damages

If you are a victim of a hit and run motorcycle accident, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages.  Economic damages are easy to express in monetary terms. On the other hand, non-economic damages are subjective and hard to express in financial terms. Some of the damages you can recover include:

  1. Medical Costs

After suffering injuries, you will require medical treatment, and this will lead to incurring medical costs.

In most cases, hit and run motorcycle accidents result in catastrophic injuries. You are likely to experience the effects of devastating injuries for  an extended period. You will also require medical treatment for an extended period. 

When seeking compensation for medical costs, ensure that you include the past, current, and future medical expenses.  Include the costs of medication, the medical supplies purchased, and the doctor's fees, among other costs. If you need to continue taking the medication in the future, you should consider the costs. You may need months of physiotherapy, especially if you suffer broken bones during the accident. Ensure that you do not overlook the future costs you are likely to incur.  For every medical procedure you undergo, ensure that you keep the medical records and the accompanying financial receipts. These will make it easy to establish the exact medical costs incurred as you seek compensation. 

  1. Lost Wages

After suffering injuries in a hit and run motorcycle accident, you may have to spend some time away from work. During this period, you will not be able to earn the salary you used to make before the accident. Lost wages compensation helps to cover lost income in the form of wages and salaries. The compensation also helps to cover the lost income from other activities, others like a business.  Lost wages comprise of revenue lost from the time of the accident to the time when you resume work. 

While computing lost wages, the court considers your regular rate of pay. For instance, if you earn $20 per hour, the court first determines the total number of hours spent away from work due to the injuries. For example, your employer may comprise of 8 work hours per day. If you missed work for ten workdays, your compensation would be 8 hours x10 workdays x $20. Therefore, you may receive a compensation of $1,600 for lost wages. However, it is essential to note that the court may also consider other factors like your bonuses and commissions. In establishing the authenticity of your pay remuneration details, the court may request for your employment details. 

  1. Loss of Earning Capacity

This compensation covers the loss of your ability to continue earning money in the future. After suffering injuries, you may no longer work as effectively as you used to work before the accident. Therefore, you may not be able to generate much income due to low productivity. When determining the compensation for loss of earning capacity, the court considers the income you used to make before the accident. The court will also consider the amount you can earn after suffering injuries at the accident. The difference between the two amounts is the compensation due. 

  1. Property Damage

You may seek compensation for property damage after a hit and run motorcycle accident. Your motorcycle may be destroyed during the accident.  The cost you incur in repairing the motorcycle should be paid by the party at fault.  You may have an expert mechanic assess the extent of the damage to help you know the compensation due. 

  1. Pain and Suffering

Involvement in a hit and run accident may result in detrimental pain and suffering. You are likely to suffer cuts and burns during the accidental. These types of injuries often lead to pain.  You may have to survive on pain medication to help suppress the effects of the accident. Your attorney will help you seek compensation for the pain and suffering. If you have visible evidence of physical injuries suffered, including visible bruises or burns, it will be easy to claim for pain and suffering. With physical evidence of injuries, it will be evident that you are undergoing pain and suffering. 

Compensation for pain and suffering goes hand in hand with compensation for emotional distress.  You may experience feelings of restlessness and anxiety after suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident.  Reports from experts like psychologists may help to reinforce your claims for emotional distress. For instance, you are more likely to get compensation for emotional distress if you produce evidence of having attended counseling sessions to help handle the distress. 

  1. Loss of Enjoyment in Life

After suffering injuries in an accident, you may no longer be able to enjoy life like before. You may, therefore, seek compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. You may no longer participate in your favorite sports or hobbies. You may no longer go out and hang with your friends due to the injuries suffered.  It is for such reasons that the court awards compensation to accident victims.

  1. Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship or intimacy from a loved one who suffers injuries in an accident. The spouse of a hit and run motorcycle accident victim may seek compensation for loss of consortium. 

In case the Victim Dies During the Accident

It is common for hit and run motorcycle accidents to result in the death of the victim. If this is the case, the victim's surviving family may seek compensation for the wrongful death of their loved ones.  Parties who may file a wrongful death claim include the spouse or children of the deceased.  If the victim does not have a surviving spouse or child, the grandchildren of the spouse may file a claim for wrongful death. The compensation for wrongful death may help cover both the burial and funeral expenses. The compensation may also help cover the lost wages that the deceased may have earned.  The expenses may also include the loss of companionship from the deceased relative. 

Contact an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney if you or your loved one is a victim of a hit and run motorcycle accident. Recovering compensation may be difficult. However, with a dedicated team of experts by your side, you do not have to give up.  Orange County Personal Injury Attorney can help evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. Contact us at 714-876-1959 and begin your journey to seeking compensation.