‘Look Twice And Save A Life’. Sharing The Road Is Vital For Motorcycle Safety

May 19, 2021 | 6:00 am


Preliminary state data shows that more than 500 people were killed in motorcycle-involved crashes in 2020, and more than 11,500 people were injured in California, according to the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

In all, California has more than 1.4 million licensed motorcycle riders, and Kern County riders certainly make up a large percentage. So, with May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds us all to make sure motorcyclists and drivers stay safe on the road, by sharing the road.

“Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable people on our roadways, which is why it’s vital for us all to be mindful of all riders, as we are drivers,” said Matt Clark, senior partner at accident attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “For drivers, taking the time to look twice for motorcyclists can save a life.”

Accidents involving motorcycles account for nearly 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States, but motorcyclists make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One way to make sure motorcyclists stay fresh on riding safety is to enroll in the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which trains about 55,000 motorcyclists each year. To find a training site near you, visit motorcyclesafetyca.com.

To help drivers and motorcyclists alike on the road, here are some tips to prevent motorcycle-related collisions.

DRIVERS

  • Always us a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
  • Stay alert. Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Follow at a safe distance when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.
  • Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

MOTORCYCLISTS

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Ride safely when lane sharing and always proceed at safe speeds.
  • Get properly licensed, and obey all traffic laws.
  • Use turn signals at every lane change or turn.
  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
  • Ride safely when lane sharing and always proceed at safe speeds.
  • Never ride distracted or impaired.

 

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT Q&As

In times of tragedy, clients often have a number of questions regarding their case. To better accommodate our clients’ needs, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers for many of the practice areas that the firm specializes in, including motorcycle accidents. Here are a few of the questions and answers:

Is an investigation of my motorcycle accident case important?

It is critical. Since there is almost a presumption in the general public that motorcyclists assume the risk for their own injuries and they are usually at fault for causing accidents, it is essential that a quick and thorough investigation is performed to establish fault on other responsible people or entities and to establish that the motorcyclist did little or nothing to contribute to the accident.

Investigation should consist of an examination of the scene, an examination of the instrumentalities that were involved in the accident, obtaining statements from witnesses and obtaining the reports from investigating agencies. Of prime importance is maintaining the motorcycle and helmet in the exact condition they were in at the moment when the motorcyclist came to rest after an accident.

How long do I have after my accident to file my motorcycle injury case?

A motorcycle accident or wrongful death action, under California law, must be brought within two years of the date of the accident.

In cases against public entities, a claim must be filed against the public entity within six months from the date of the accident. If the plaintiff is a minor, a minor has until their 19th birthday to bring a case unless there is a government claim in which a minor should bring the claim within six months of the accident, or one year at the latest.

Is it important to retain an attorney for my motorcycle accident case?

Yes, if the motorcycle accident has resulted in a serious injury or death. Without an attorney, there will always be an assumption that the motorcyclist was at fault and evidence will be gathered by the other side to support that contention. You need to hire an attorney to perform investigation and retain the right experts to prove your case and your injuries. Further, through the litigation, an attorney will be able to cross-examine witnesses against you and hopefully turn their testimony to your favor.

 

KERN COUNTY CASES

The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have successfully represented people who have been seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. In fact, we have obtained more multi-million dollar personal injury case results on behalf of our clients than any other law firm in Kern County.

In one recent case, the defendant entered the roadway and did not allow enough room for the plaintiff on a motorcycle to enter with traffic approaching, causing him to be hit by crane. The plaintiff in that case lost his right leg, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles helped resolve the lawsuit for $10 million.

In another case, the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle when the defendant in a truck that was parked on the side of the road pulled out in front of the motorcyclist. The crash caused the plaintiff to be thrown 50 yards down the road, and suffered severe injuries. That case resolved for $4.5 million.

And on July 14, 2015, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with the deputy’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash. The deputy violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern on behalf of Maharrey’s wife, Paula, and other family members. A settlement was reached in April 2018 for $3.8 million.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Pedestrian Safety Month: As pedestrian accidents climb locally, we all have a responsibility to share the road

September 5, 2018 | 9:37 am


Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in Kern County and California, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.

In 2016, 867 pedestrians were killed and more than 14,000 were injured on California roadways alone. Since 2012, pedestrian deaths have increased by nearly 33 percent, growing substantially faster than any other type of traffic-related death, BPD statistics show.

And in the City of Bakersfield, 47 pedestrians have been killed and another 473 pedestrians have been injured over the past three years.

This month for Pedestrian Safety Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with local and state agencies and community partners throughout Kern County, are urging pedestrians and drivers alike to be aware of each other at all times, and share the road responsibly.

“We all have a responsibility watch out for everyone’s well-being while walking, cycling, and driving,” said Matt Clark, senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “More often than not, these accidents are preventable. Pedestrian safety depends on safe walking habits, and safe driving habits as well.”

As an example, 12 pedestrians were killed when crossing the street outside of a crosswalk last year.

This month, Bakersfield Police Department is sending out special unit officers to patrol areas with the highest incidences of pedestrian collisions in Bakersfield. Officers are on the lookout for unsafe pedestrian crossings, as well as poor driving. Those areas include:

  • Union Avenue between Brundage Lane and 21st Street.
  • Wible Road and New Stine between White Lane and Stockdale Highway.
  • Ming Avenue between Hughes Lane and Gosford Road.

In February, the City of Bakersfield announced a “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan,” a partnership with California Department of Transportation to examine the city’s roadways and determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. The goal was to recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advocated and fought to raise awareness of bicycle, pedestrian and driver safety throughout the streets Bakersfield and Kern County. Each fall, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County.

This month and always, keep in mind these safety tips to keep everyone on our streets safe, whether you’re walking, riding a bike, or driving:

Pedestrians:

  • Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk
  • Make eye contact with drivers; never assume a driver sees you
  • Look left-right-left before stepping into a crosswalk. Having a green light or the “WALK” signal does not mean that it is safe to cross
  • Look for cars baking up, including white backup lights or signs the vehicle is running.
  • Don’t dart out between parked cars
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t walk and use your phone at the same time
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials at night
  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.

Drivers

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.