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!
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