In Southern California, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident because of a roadway’s poor design or because of poor road maintenance, schedule a consultation as quickly as possible to discuss your legal rights with an Orange County motorcycle accident lawyer.
Distracted and negligent drivers are the number one cause of motorcycle accidents in California and across the nation; defective and faulty vehicles and parts can also cause motorcycle crashes.
But in too many cases, a state or local government agency or a government contractor may be liable for a motorcycle accident due to a flawed road design, negligent highway construction, or by failing to maintain roads and road conditions for safety.
What is your recourse if you are injured in a motorcycle accident because of a poor road design, poor construction, or poor road maintenance? How can you be compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, and related losses? Keep reading to learn the answers you may need.
What Constitutes Poor Road Conditions?
The way that a California highway or street was designed, the way it is maintained, or a temporary situation such as road construction may be the causal factor in a motorcycle accident.
A government agency’s or a government contractor’s negligence may be the reason for misleading or improper road signs, poor visibility, insufficient storm drainage, or direct damage (such as potholes) to the street or highway. Poor road conditions include but are not limited to:
- construction zone negligence
- fences, signs, or other fixtures too close to the street or highway
- inefficient or inadequate storm drainage
- misleading or inaccurate signs
- poor road design
- reduced visibility
Poor road conditions may be the direct cause of severe personal injuries in a California motorcycle crash when, for example, curves are not graded properly, potholes are not repaired promptly, or road signs are obscured for any reason.
Can You Sue the Government Over Poor Road Conditions?
Suing the government is more complicated than suing an individual or a business. You must take several additional steps before you may file a lawsuit against a government agency in California. First, you must submit a notice or “claim” to the agency that you believe is liable for your injury.
The notice you file with a government agency must meet the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act. That law prevents you from suing a government agency in California unless you first complete and file a notice in writing that gives the government agency:
- a chance to settle your injury claim out-of-court
- time to investigate your injury claim and prepare a defense
- time to remedy conditions or procedures that caused your injury and prompted your claim
What Happens After You File a Notice?
After you file a notice with a government agency, the agency must respond to you within forty-five days. Your claim will be investigated, and if that investigation confirms your claim, you may be offered a settlement. Consult your attorney before you accept any settlement offer.
If your claim is rejected by the agency, your Orange County motorcycle accident lawyer will take that agency to court. No response is equivalent to a rejection of your claim.
If your claim is rejected in writing, you must file your lawsuit within six months of the postmark date, but if you receive no response from the agency, you have two years from the date you were injured to file your personal injury lawsuit.
When Should You Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Some California government agencies give you only thirty days from the date you were injured to file a notice in writing. That means you must contact an Orange County motorcycle accident attorney as quickly as possible after you receive medical treatment.
Your attorney will review the details of your motorcycle accident, help you prepare and file the notice, give you frank advice, protect your legal rights, and aggressively fight to hold accountable the party responsible for your injury – even if that party is the government.
Can You Avoid Motorcycle Injuries Caused by Poor Road Maintenance?
Motorcycles pose particularly unique risks. Motorcyclists are exposed. They do not ride inside a passenger compartment, and in accidents, they typically sustain injuries more severe than the injuries suffered by car and truck drivers and passengers.
Adhering to the following suggestions can help California motorcycle riders reduce the number of motorcycle accidents and injuries, even when road conditions are less than optimal:
- Wear a helmet. In this state, it is against the law to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. If you are injured on a motorcycle and you were not wearing a helmet, an insurance company or jury may decide that you were the party at fault for your accident and injury.
- Know your surroundings when you ride, and limit your distractions. Stay alert for debris in the road, oil patches, ice patches, and distracted drivers.
- Enroll in a motorcycle safety course. Sometimes even experienced motorcycle riders need safety reminders. The Motorcyclist Safety Foundation offers affordable safety classes for both beginners and experienced motorcyclists.
What Type of Compensation Can Injured Motorcyclists Recover?
If you are injured by someone else’s negligence in this state – whether that party is an individual, a business, or a government agency responsible for road maintenance, you are entitled under state law to compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages.
However, when the government is the defendant, you will not receive compensation for personal pain and suffering. California government agencies are not required to pay punitive damages to personal injury victims, even if reckless disregard for life or gross negligence was involved.
What Will It Cost You to Seek Justice?
The lawyers who represent motorcycle accident victims work on a contingent fee basis. As an injured victim of negligence, you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your Orange County motorcycle accident attorney recovers compensation on your behalf.
If you’ve been injured, your first consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney is also offered with no obligation or cost. That consultation is your chance to receive personalized legal advice and to find out how the law will apply to your motorcycle accident case.
This cannot be emphasized strongly enough: If you are injured on a motorcycle – or in any other way – because a California road was poorly designed or maintained, arrange immediately to discuss your case with an Orange County accident attorney.