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How Do California’s “Percentage of Fault” Laws Apply to Motorcycle Accidents?

by on September 21, 2016 » Add the first comment.

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the roadway as motor vehicle drivers. However, in California, some laws differ for motorcycles versus passenger vehicles. The law recognizes that motorcycles are smaller and more maneuverable and allow motorcyclists to drive in ways motorists cannot, such as lane sharing and lane splitting. Unfortunately, these practices can lead to devastating motorcycle accidents.

California Civil Code and Comparative Fault Rules for Motorcyclists

When a rider suffers damages in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles, he or she can pursue recovery against the responsible party. In many cases, however, both parties are partially at fault for an accident. For example, a motorcyclist may have made an illegal left turn, but the driver of the motor vehicle was drunk while driving. In this situation, the courts assign a percentage of fault to each driver, which is known as comparative fault.

California Civil Code Sections 1431-1431.5 explain the use of comparative fault principles in accident liability cases. Comparative fault laws allow an accident victim to obtain compensation despite being partially at fault for an accident. During case proceedings, the plaintiff has the opportunity to prove the defendant’s fault, and the defendant can rebut the claims with his or her own evidence. After the parties present the case, the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party based on the available evidence.

California abides by pure comparative negligence standards, meaning that it does not adopt the 50% or 51% rules that many other states have in place. In states with modified comparative fault standards, if the courts find a party to be more than 50% at fault, said party will not receive anything in compensation. In California, a party will receive compensation even if he or she was 99% at fault for the accident.

The courts reduce the awarded compensation by the party’s percentage of fault. For example, if the courts deem a motorcyclist 20% at fault for an accident, he or she would receive $8,000 of a $10,000 settlement. It is important to hire an experienced lawyer for any personal injury lawsuit in California to ensure you diminish your percentage of fault and receive the amount of compensation you deserve.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Accidents and Percentage of Fault

California is a state that takes fault into account when deciding who is responsible for accidents. Therefore, motorcyclists have the same burden of proof as passenger vehicle motorists in a personal injury lawsuit. However, the inherent dangers of riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles, riding without a helmet, and debatable practices such as lane splitting may all work against a motorcyclist in court. Even if a motorcyclist acted completely within the law, the courts may find him or her partially responsible for an accident. Whether the motorcyclist was driving in a “safe and prudent” manner is open to interpretation by police officers and court judges.

Failing to wear a helmet, which is illegal for all age groups in California, will not necessarily sway the judge’s percentage of fault. However, it can change the amount of compensation a victim receives for his or her injuries. The defendant can argue that the victim’s injuries, such as a head injury or brain damage, would not have been as bad had the motorcyclist been wearing a helmet. In states where helmet use is not mandatory, this argument likely would not stand up in court.

California’s state-specific motorcycle and percentage of fault laws make it important for accident victims to hire an experienced local attorney. Proving that the other party was more at fault for an accident than you is the only way to earn the compensation you need to cover medical expenses and lost wages. A skilled attorney can prove to the judge that you were riding carefully and that the other driver did something more dangerous that caused the accident.

Seek a Skilled Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, you should contact the experienced Los Angeles accident lawyer team at Grey Law to assist with your case. They can help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact them for a free consultation today! 323-857-9500

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