Many of the
motorcycle accident cases I have handled over the years involved a driver who failed to notice
(or failed to yield to) a motorcyclist when making a left turn. Those
who drive cars look out for other cars on the road. As a result, they
frequently fail to notice motorcycles. Also, many drivers are unfamiliar
with how motorcycles operate. This can cause a driver to misjudge a motorcyclist’s
speed and distance. As a result, they may turn directly in front of a
motorcyclist because they think they have sufficient time to complete
their turn. As a motorcycle rider, I know how dangerous this situation
can be and how frustrating it can be to get drivers to notice you and
to yield to you when you have the right of way.
According to California Vehicle Code §21801: “The driver of
a vehicle intending to turn to the left ... shall yield the right-of-way
to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close
enough to constitute a hazard ... and shall continue to yield the right-of-way
to the approaching vehicles until the left turn ... can be made with reasonable
safety.” However, the Vehicle Code also states, “drivers of
vehicles approaching ... from the opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way
to the turning vehicle.”
Huh? So who has the right of way?
The police report (if there is one) won’t be much help. Under California
law, the report is hearsay. In other words, because the police officer
did not witness the accident, his conclusion about who caused the accident
is not admissible in evidence.
In my experience, the other driver’s insurance company frequently
tries to blame the victim. They may argue that the motorcyclist was riding
at an "unsafe speed" or was "inattentive." Doing so
plays on the public’s perception about motorcyclists: That we’re
all reckless riders. Worse yet, if you laid your bike down to avoid a
collision, the insurance company may claim you overreacted. Remember,
insurance companies will do or say almost anything to reduce their insured's
liability so they can pay you less for your injury claim.
In most vehicle versus motorcycle accidents, you should expect a fight
with the other driver’s insurance company over who is at fault for
the accident. Proving liability is a battle and you need an experienced
motorcycle accident attorney on YOUR side to fight for YOUR rights. I
am a motorcycle rider and I have successfully handled hundreds of motorcycle
injury claims and I can help you!