If you spend any amount of time riding a motorcycle in San Francisco, you are probably aware of the risks and dangers that come with it. Crowded city streets and roads, rainy or foggy weather, and distracted or reckless drivers all factor into motorcycle accidents. What makes this so frustrating is that you have little to no control over these conditions. Worse yet, when these conditions cause accidents, they frequently lead to injury–and in the worst-case scenario, death.
No motorcycle rider wants to consider the possibility that an accident could be fatal, but unfortunately, this is a fairly common result in San Francisco and throughout California. 2021 Data from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) shows that San Francisco averaged 6.8 fatal motorcycle accidents over the past five years.
Experienced and Compassionate Service From San Francisco Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Fatal motorcycle accidents are an unfortunate reality that our San Francisco motorcycle accident lawyers deal with all too often. Motorcycles are inherently less stable and less visible than other vehicles on the road, and accidents involving motorcycles often result in serious injuries or even death.
At The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan, we provide our clients with crucial support and guidance during what is an incredibly emotional and difficult time. When a motorcycle accident turns fatal, we’ll be there to help your family make sure they get the benefits and compensation they need. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.
Why Are San Francisco Motorcycle Accidents Fatal?
As one of California’s largest and most densely populated cities, San Francisco has many qualities and conditions that lead to motorcycle accidents. Conditions that most frequently cause motorcycle accidents include the following:
- Traffic congestion
- Many steep hills, sharp turns, and narrow streets, which can be challenging for even the most experienced motorcycle riders to navigate safely.
- Inexperienced or reckless riders may find themselves in dangerous situations that can result in serious or fatal injuries.
- Sudden changes in weather, with conditions that can vary depending on the time of day and location within the city.
More to the point, though, motorcyclists are at a higher risk of injury or death in an accident compared to drivers of cars and trucks because they lack the protection provided by an enclosed vehicle. Even a relatively minor accident between a motorcycle and a larger vehicle can result in serious, fatal injuries for the person on the motorcycle.
Causes of Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
Conditions aside, motorcycle accidents are usually caused by the negligence or recklessness of other drivers that a motorcyclist shares the road with in San Francisco. This is particularly frustrating because often the person on the motorcycle has nothing to do with the cause of the accident. Nonetheless, motorcycle accidents are very serious and are usually caused by the following:
- Speeding – Drivers who speed or drive aggressively are at an increased risk of getting into an accident with a motorcyclist, especially on winding or hilly roads.
- Distracted driving – Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, or adjusting the radio can cause drivers to miss important cues on the road.
- Driving under the influence – Alcohol and drugs impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
- Failure to yield – Drivers who fail to yield to motorcycles when turning left or changing lanes can cause serious accidents.
It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and the causes of fatal motorcycle accidents in San Francisco can vary from case to case. Still, it’s important for both riders and drivers to practice safe driving habits and be aware of their surroundings to prevent accidents.
What Fatal Injuries Are Common in San Francisco Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents in San Francisco, like anywhere else, can result in a wide range of injuries, some of which can be fatal. Here are some examples of fatal injuries that can occur in a San Francisco motorcycle accident:
- Traumatic brain injuries – This is a severe injury to the brain that can occur when a motorcyclist’s head strikes a hard surface such as the pavement, a car, or a guardrail.
- Spinal cord injuries – A spinal cord injury can occur if the spinal cord is damaged in an accident, resulting in loss of sensation, movement, and other bodily functions.
- Internal organ damage – Blunt force trauma to the abdomen or chest can result in damage to internal organs, which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Severe fractures – Motorcycle accidents can result in severe fractures to the legs, arms, ribs, and other bones, which can cause significant blood loss or damage to internal organs.
- Burns – If a motorcycle catches fire after an accident, the rider may suffer severe burns, which can be fatal.
- Wounds and blood loss – Severe bleeding from an open wound can lead to exsanguination, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
It’s worth noting that there are steps motorcyclists can take to reduce their risk of accidents and mitigate the severity of injuries in the event of an accident. While it can’t outright prevent a fatal accident, it can certainly improve the chances that an accident won’t be as severe.
How Can Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Be Avoided in San Francisco?
Unfortunately, there are too many overriding conditions outside of your control as a motorcyclist to allow for the total prevention of an accident. However, there are several steps that you can take to reduce the risk of a fatal accident. Some of these steps include:
- Wear proper safety gear – Always wear a helmet and other protective gear, such as gloves, boots, and a riding jacket. This can help to reduce the risk of serious injuries in the event of an accident.
- Follow traffic laws – Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits, traffic signals, and lane markings. Avoid dangerous maneuvers like lane splitting at high speeds or weaving in and out of traffic.
- Practice defensive driving – Anticipate the actions of other drivers and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary. Maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles and always signal your intentions.
- Increase visibility – Wear bright or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to other drivers, especially at night or in low light conditions. Make sure your motorcycle’s lights are working properly and use them at all times.
- Maintain your motorcycle – Keep your motorcycle in good condition by performing regular maintenance and inspections. Check your tires, brakes, and other vital components before every ride.
Again, these steps can only reduce the risk of being in a motorcycle accident. But because every motorcycle accident carries with it the possibility of being fatal, it’s in your best interest to take as many precautions as possible to avoid an accident. Still, if you are in a motorcycle accident that ends up being fatal, your surviving family has legal options available to them.
What Kind of Claim Can Be Filed After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident in San Francisco?
In fatal motorcycle accidents, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims allow family members to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. In San Francisco, a wrongful death claim can be filed against the party responsible for the accident.
To file a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members must show that the death was caused by another person’s:
- Intentional action
In a motorcycle accident, this might mean showing that the other driver was at fault for the accident, such as by running a red light or failing to yield the right of way.
In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members can seek compensation for a variety of damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred before the victim’s death
- Loss of income and financial support
- Loss of companionship, love, and emotional support
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Punitive damages (in some cases)
It is important to note that wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations, which means that they must be filed within a certain amount of time after the victim’s death. In California, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of death.
MJQ Law Will Be There To Help You and Your Family After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident
Death is by far the worst outcome of a motorcycle accident. Although it’s an unthinkable tragedy, fatal motorcycle accidents happen frequently in San Francisco. When you or a loved one find yourself in this situation, it will be up to your surviving family to take action.
At The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan, we have a team of experienced motorcycle accident lawyers that can help your family recover some measure of normalcy and justice. We know how devastating a fatal motorcycle accident can be and the impact in can have on your surviving family. That’s why we treat every client with compassion and dedication. If you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up a free consultation to explore your legal options.