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Entries in motorcycle attorney (4)

Monday
Jun292015

New Bill May Put Motorcyclists' Lane-Splitting in Focus

Motorcycle Accident AttorneyMotorcycle Accident Lawyer

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

 

As a motorcyclist for 30 years, I must admit I did my fair share of lane splitting: Bypassing most of the stalled traffic on the 101 by traversing the white, dashed lines – waving a thank you to the handful of four-wheeled drivers who scooted over a bit to give me just a little more room as I did so.

Motorcycle AttorneyLane-splitting is considered dangerous, but in California it's not illegal. This is the only state where this is not illegal – which isn't to say that lane-splitting is legal, exactly.  

But motorcycle safety theories could be changing now. Motorcyclists who lane-split (at reasonable speeds) may be safer than those who do not, according to researchers at UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC). According to the study, excessive speed by motorcyclists caused more injuries for lane-splitters than other factors.

Thomas Rice, PhD, as principal investigator for the study, explains:

Surprisingly, we found that the difference in speed between the motorcycle and the surrounding traffic was a bigger predictor of injury than speed alone…Above a 15 mile-per-hour speed differential, the risk of injury rose significantly.

Of the nearly 6,000 California motorcycle accidents researched by SafeTREC, nearly 1,000 riders were lane-splitting at the time of the accident. The primary risk occurs when other drivers change lanes without checking for motorcyclists. Because lane-splitters are closer in proximity to the vehicles, both automobile drivers and cyclists have less time to perceive other's actions and make adjustments.

This would support Dr. Rice's comment regarding speed differentials between the riders and the drivers.

New Bill: No Wheelies Allowed

Bike Accident Lawyer

California Assembly Bill 51 regarding lane-splitting was introduced to the legislature last December by Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Kansen Chud (D-San Jose) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale). It was passed by the Assembly in late May by a 53-11 vote.

Continued success of AB 51 as currently written could make it legal (as opposed to quasi-legal) for motorcyclists to lane-split under these conditions:

1. The motorcyclist must have both wheels on the ground.

2. The bike is not traveling faster than 50 mph.

3. The motorcyclist is not riding more than 15 mph faster than other traffic.

One problem with the bill as it is presently worded is the 15 mph differential. As we know in California, one lane of traffic could be moving much faster than the traffic in an adjacent lane.

On the other hand, the bill's writers say allowing motorcyclists to lane-split makes the riders less likely to be hit in a rear-end collision. Either way, motorcyclists whether lane-splitting or not, should always drive defensively and with the best possible protective gear.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3230, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Feb262013

Brown Study: Bad Breaks for Older Bikers

Personal InjuryMotorcycle Accident Lawyer

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

Researchers at Brown University recently published results of a six year study of emergency room statistics in the journal Injury Prevention: Older motorcyclists suffer serious injury when involved in accidents.

In fact, bikers pushing 60 or older are 250 percent more likely (middle-aged riders ranking at 66 percent more likely) to suffer more than scrapes and bruises in a smashup, than motorcyclists half their age. Senior riders tend to get more upper torso fractures, internal organ injuries and brain traumas.

And according to the Los Angeles Times, other studies show an 87 percent increase between 2001 and 2007, in injuries for motorcyclists over 65, while fatalities rose 145 percent. The Center for Disease Control says that 34K motorcyclists were killed between 2001 and 2008, and an additional 1.22M were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for motorcycle accident injuries.

 

Avoiding Serious Motorcycle Injury

 

Here in California, the Department of Motor Vehicles offers two types of licenses. The M1 license is for drivers operating any type of motorcycle; the M2 license is for motorized bicycle and moped drivers. Applicants under 21 must complete a state-approved motorcycle safety course.

Motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet in California – but gloves, boots and heavier clothing to minimize injury are a good idea. In fact, some Brown research critics claim younger bikers suffer more abrasions and contusions than their older counterparts, because they don't buy the proper protective-wear.

Lane splitting, lane sharing or white-lining as it is sometimes called – is still legal in California. However, the state Highway Patrol offers some safety guidelines regarding speed, the environment, and other factors. The CHP website advises, Lane splitting by motorcycles is not illegal in California when done in a safe and prudent manner.

 

More Fracturing Figures

 

The Times article also cites a quarter of all U.S. motorcyclists are over the age of 50, and that this older segment of riders has doubled since 1990.

The Brown study publishers say 35 percent of this group required hospital treatment, while only 25 percent of middle-aged riders and 15 percent of young riders involved in accidents suffered injuries serious enough to require hospitalization.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Mar142012

Big Rig Truck, Motorcycle, Construction Zone - Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful Death Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

In our practice we deal with tragic accidents all too often.  While many people are significantly injured or sometimes killed in auto v. auto accidents, the most violent injuries occur in motorcycle accidents, big rig trucking accidents, and on construction sites.  And when all three are involved– it’s almost always deadly.

We were recently involved in such a case.  We represented a wonderful family who tragically lost their son when his motorcycle collided with a big rig truck.  The family was extremely close, and the loss was devastating for all of them.  

The accident occurred when the truck turned left out of a parking lot and entered the path of travel of our clients’ son.  He did not have time to react and his motorcycle collided with the truck, killing him.  The devastation was compounded by the fact that the investigating officer found our clients’ son – the motorcyclist – at fault for the accident.

The family came to us seeking answers.  They couldn’t understand how the accident could be their son’s fault when he was just proceeding straight when this truck blocked his right of away causing the accident. In reviewing the police report, the truck was turning left out of a parking lot across north bound traffic to head south.  The officer concluded that the trucker had entered the roadway and had essentially taken over the right of way from north bound traffic before finishing the turn to head south bound.

We immediately went to the scene of the accident to investigate, and noticed some very important factors: 

Van Nuys Wrongful Death1. The truck was not turning out of a typical driveway, it was turning out from a construction site.  This is very important because contractors and sub-contractors have strict regulations that need to be followed regarding safety.  Once in litigation, discovery showed that the truck driver was hauling material off of the job site. 

2.  Also, the driveway the trucker was turning out of was at the end of a sweeping curve.  When we put ourselves in his position, it was very difficult to see any traffic coming from his left to ever know if it was safe to turn.

Construction Site Safety

 

Safety is paramount to each and every construction project.  These safety requirements start with the State of California Construction Safety Orders established by CAL-OSHA.  These Orders establish minimum safety standards whenever employment exists in connection with the construction of any fixed structure.

The general contractor on any site is responsible for the overall safety of the jobsite and work environment.  Each contractor and worker involved in a construction project relies on the general contractor to establish the environment, framework and protocols within which they will work. 

Regardless of the general contractor’s responsibilities, however, each supporting contractor (e.g., a grading contractor) and equipment operator (e.g., the truck driver) is responsible for the safety of its own operations and equipment.  It is the responsibility of the general contractor to make sure each such supporting contractor and equipment operator is carrying out duties safely and complying with all safety protocols, rules and regulations.

The most glaring safety violations in relation to this tragic accident were the lack of signs and flaggers to notify and control traffic along the roadway adjacent to the construction site.  The use of warning signs and flaggers were required by CAL-OSHA Sections 1598 and 1599 when hazards exist because of traffic or haulage conditions at work sites that encroach upon public streets or highways.  Other standards required or recommended the use of flaggers as well, including: 

  • The Work Area Traffic Control Handbook (WATCH Manual)
  • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction (MAPC)

The use of flaggers and flagging has become a highly recognizable and important safety component of construction activity.  Because construction activity is temporary in nature, it calls for unexpected and unusual traffic to be moving on and off of the site. 

The large size of the vehicles that tend to be moving on and off of the site also added to the need for flaggers, as the vehicles require extra time to move across the roadway.  The need for flaggers in this situation was compounded by the large sweeping curve that made it more difficult for the trucker to see oncoming traffic, and difficult for our client's son and other drivers to see the truck exiting the parking lot.

Notwithstanding all of the regulations, standards, and industry practice related to signage and flaggers, the Defendants (including the truck driver and involved contractors), failed to provide any protection for motorists.  Once all of this information came out through litigation, the Defendants settled the case prior to a trial.

The settlement was an important step for the family on their road to recovering from this tragedy.  As we see time and again, such simple and obvious safety standards, if followed, would have prevented a tragic death.

David B. Bobrosky is a Wrongful Death Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com. 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct062011

6 Motorcycle Safety Tips | Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents When it Rains

Personal InjuryMotorcycle Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

It’s that time of year again. As we saw yesterday, the start of winter’s rainy season is encroaching.

That means motorcycle safety becomes even more critical when you factor in decreased visibility, an increased distance needed for braking, and the added consideration that it doesn’t rain often enough for Californians to be really good at adjusting to wet road conditions. 

Many drivers still won’t factor in additional time to commute when it rains. So they’re still in a rush to get to work, the kids’ activities, schools and all of the other varied functions that regulate our lives. 

When it rains, traveling becomes riskier for those in cars and trucks, and critically dangerous for motorcycle riders. 

In light of all of this, it may be time to take a deep breath, and rehash basic motorcycle safety tips: 

1. Be Ready for Anything:  As every motorcycle rider learns when they get their first bike, anything can happen. When it rains, be prepared for additional hazards like automobile drivers who: 

▪  Forget to turn on their defrosters,

▪  Don’t maintain their wipers, or

▪  Change lanes to zip around slower moving traffic in frustration. 

Also be prepared for tsunami-like waves of water hitting you as other drivers plow through deep puddles in low-lying intersections. Helmets with face shields can help, but if you get hit with a LOT of water, the force can throw off your balance.

2. Assume Other Drivers Don’t See You (i.e., you are invisible): If automobile drivers have a hard time seeing you in dry weather, imagine how much harder it is when it rains, or when there’s fog. Also imagine how much harder it is for you to see other cars, particularly if they are grey, silver, white or don’t have lights on. 

3. Wear the Proper Gear:  Helmets are mandatory in California; sturdy boots, heavy jackets and gloves are just plain smart. 

4. Slow it down: This should be an obvious one, especially if it rains. But even if it’s not raining and you feel a need for speed, you should take your bike to a track or course where there will be less hazards. 

Manhole covers, metal road construction plates, painted surfaces – all of these things get a lot slipperier when it rains. 

5. Keep Your Head Moving: Don’t get tunnel vision when riding, especially when it rains. Always look to the sides, over your shoulders and check your mirrors. The more potential dangers you can spot ahead of time, the safer you’ll be. 

6. If You Don’t Feel Safe, Don’t Ride:  If the weather conditions cause you to be fearful or insecure, park the bike and find an alternate form of transportation until the skies clear. 

Personal Injury Motorcyle AccidentThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites the federal government with these statistics: 

The number of motorcycle riders who died in 2007 was 37 times the number of car deaths, per mile traveled. In 2008, over 5,000 motorcycle accidents resulted in fatalities for the riders. That was the highest number of deaths recorded since the government began keeping track in 1975. 

Let’s not add to these figures. As a motorcycle rider, you know how dangerous driving can be. Just remember that in the rain, your risk increases. 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of the Personal Injury Practice Group at the Firm, and has ridden motorcycles for over 30 years. You can reach him by calling 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120