Motorcycles – Be Carefree & Be Careful!

As the weather gets better people throughout Kern County will enjoy the roads on a motorcycle and/or All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV).  And why not?  Feeling the breeze and enjoying sights unavailable from a car are things to look forward to every Spring.

Motorcycles and ATVs can be a safe, reliable mode of transportation; however, they also cause serious injury and death if not used properly.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,976 people died in motorcycle crashes across the U.S. in 2015. That was up 8.3 percent from the 4,594 people killed in 2014 (the most recent data available).  In California alone, nearly 50 people die each year on motorcycles as well as ATV’s.

Two weeks ago, a Bakersfield motorcyclist was killed near South Union Avenue and Taft Highway in what is unfortunately a too common occurrence.

California is unique among most states due to its lane-splitting law, which allows motorcycle riders to ride between lanes of traffic in order to pass slower vehicles. While legal, lane-splitting can be very dangerous for motorcycle riders.  California also requires motorcycle riders to have a certified helmet and to have EPA-compliant exhaust systems on motorcycles produced since 2011.

Individuals injured while riding a motorcycle are generally able to claim damages if the injuries are caused by someone else, or if their negligence caused a crash.  Types of damages can include things such as medical bills, ambulance cost, lost wages, pain, suffering and inconvenienced In most cases, people have two years from the date of the accident to seek damages.  Contact my office if you’ve been injured while riding a motorcycle, and that injury was caused by someone else’s negligence.

 We can generally assist with the following issues:

  • Compensatory and actual damages
  • Special damages (economic losses including earning losses, medical expenses and property losses)
  • General damages (non-economic damages that may have caused pain, torment and emotional suffering)

Use caution when riding motorcycles and ATV’s. It’s the best insurance against serious injury and death.  Below are some suggestions for safe riding:

Motorcycles (According to the National Safety Council):

  • Always wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant helmet.
  • Choose a bike that fits you.
  • Invest in antilock brakes.
  • Never drink and ride.
  • Assume you’re invisible to other motorists
  • Watch for hazards like potholes, manhole covers, oil slicks and debris.
  • Use headlights day and night.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Wear bright and reflective clothing that is durable as well as boots that cover the ankles.

ATVs (According to the ATV Safety Institute):

  • Wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant helmet as well as goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
  • Operate ATVs off-highway. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and when permitted by law, as another vehicle could hit you.
  • Never ride under the influence. This includes both alcohol and drugs.
  • Don’t carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV. Also, no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  • Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
  • ATVs are not toys therefore you should supervise riders younger than 16.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed. Kern County has a rich history with motorsports and motorcycles.  Our open lands are prime spots for ATV’s and the off-roading clubs enjoy tremendous support in Kern County. As part of the entertainment, the Kern County Fair featured motorcycle races in the 1900’s. As a result,  Motorcycles and ATVs continue to provide enjoyment to many Kern County riders to this day.

My office stands ready to assist anyone injured on a motorcycle or ATV if that injury was caused by others, so please contact me for a consultation.


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