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California Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Common Threads in Motorcycle Crash Claims

Video Transcript:

Joel Siegal:

We will figure out that the accident was caused by the other driver, and we will sell that to the jury.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you’re a motorcycle rider and you're injured in a collision with a car, do you know what to do? Do you know how to get help? Well, that’s what we're going to find out, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer on this episode.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com and my guest is California attorney Joel Siegal. Joel, good to see you. Thank you for answering our questions today.

Joel Siegal:

Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

So first of all, just give us a little background on your experience with these sorts of motorcycle injury cases.

Joel Siegal:

Well, we've been representing riders for over 35 years. On my website we talk a little bit about my background, my history. I started representing the Grateful Dead back in 1985. I was doing some legal work for the Rex Foundation. So I got to meet a lot of bikers in the backstage area, and I've met and represented a lot of different types of bikers. I've represented riders and Christian riding clubs. I've represented professional riders. When I say professional riders, I mean motorcycle clubs for lawyers, for doctors, etcetera. So we've been representing riders for many, many years throughout California.

Rob Rosenthal:

Have you noticed a common thread with all these different types of bikers?

Joel Siegal:

Well, a common thread that I've noticed sadly, is when there's a motorcycle accident, sadly, they're usually very serious accidents. Cars, sometimes we see soft tissue injuries and people seem to do better after a couple of weeks, but motorcycle accidents are much different; there are usually broken bones and worse. So that's a commonality of motorcycle accidents.

Another commonality is that oftentimes insurance companies of the drivers who have caused the accident try to put the blame on the motorcyclist. They think that juries are predisposed against motorcyclists, and so our job is to make sure that isn't what happens.

Rob Rosenthal:

Have you found, in your experience, that juries buy into that blaming of the biker after an accident?

Joel Siegal:

Well, sometimes they do. Sometimes the issue of speed, etcetera, are issues that juries glob onto. However, one thing about motorcycle riders as compared to car riders is I've yet to hear of a case where a motorcyclist is texting or doing something to distract him or herself while driving. So motorcyclists generally are paying much more attention to the road and to road conditions than drivers, and that's something that we always raise in all of our cases.

Rob Rosenthal:

How does fault figure into your analysis of a claim after a biker is injured in an accident?

Joel Siegal:

We tend to be motivated by damages. We represent people who have been seriously hurt. So if people are seriously hurt, we will figure out theories of liability. Working with our experts who are traffic engineers and accident reconstruction people, we will figure out that the accident was caused by the other driver, and we will sell that to the jury, the jury will believe that because it's true. And that's what we're going to do.

Rob Rosenthal:

If a biker, after they're injured in an accident, feel like maybe they're even partially at fault, should they still call someone like yourself? Could they still have a case?

Joel Siegal:

Absolutely. As I say, the issue is one of damages; people who have damages should call us. We will do an analysis of fault. Even if the driver thinks that they are partially at fault or even fully at fault, let us look at the police report. Let us examine the accident scene, and let us do a background check of the other driver. After we do that if there's no fault we'll talk to you. But you know what, we'll find something. So give us a call.

Rob Rosenthal:

Explain comparative fault. Is that a thing in California? And how does that work?

Joel Siegal:

Yeah. In California, your award, your verdict could be reduced by the percentage of fault that a finder of fact, be it a judge or a jury, determines you have. So for example, if the verdict was $100,000 and the jury found you at fault 25%, your award would be reduced 25%. Therefore, you would receive $75,000. So that's how comparative fault works in California.

Rob Rosenthal:

Is there a helmet law in California? And if someone's injured in an accident when they're not wearing a helmet, could that affect their claim?

Joel Siegal.

Yes. So let me talk about helmets for a second. I've been on many bikes; I've been out in the desert; I've been up in the mountains; you know, riding without a home. It's great. It's great to feel the sun on your head, the wind in your hair, but you know what, helmets work. They save lives. They prevent injuries. So the answer is, in California, yes, it's a requirement to wear a helmet on a bike. If you don't wear a helmet on a bike, you can be cited and fined.

In terms of comparative fault, there may be a finding of comparative fault. Now, the question is, is that if your injury is, for example, orthopedic—let's say you've broken two legs—and you're not wearing a helmet, well we would argue that's not a comparative issue of fault. However, if you have some brain injury, if you have a concussion and you weren't wearing a helmet, there will probably be a finding of comparative fault.

Rob Rosenthal:

Joel, you mentioned that people should call you if they think there's damages. If they've been injured, let you guys decide if there are potential damages. Do they need to be prepared to put money out of pocket, to have money upfront? Does it cost anything to talk to you?

Joel Siegal:

No, it doesn't cost anything to talk to us. In fact, much of our day is spent talking to people, determining whether or not they have cases. We really love people around here and we really love hearing what's going on in people's lives. So feel free to call.

Rob Rosenthal:

And you operate on a contingency basis?

Joel Siegal:

Yes, we operate on a contingent fee basis. If we don't win, there's no charge. We will even put in the contingency agreement that if we don't win, we may not come after you, we won't come after you for cost, so it's a no risk issue.

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of great information today, Joel, thank you so much for making some time and answering our questions and helping us out. I appreciate it.

Joel Siegal:

Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been California attorney Joel Siegal. Remember, if you want the very best information or you're ready to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, head on over to askthelawyers.com. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

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