Motorcycles are intensely popular in California. There are approximately 800,000 registered riders in the state. There are good reasons for so many riders. The weather is great. You can ride year-round and there are beautiful stretches of scenic highways. Riding is cheaper than driving a car, and riding a motorcycle can assist you through traffic. Unfortunately, you are at risk from careless drivers while riding.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents can result from various factors, many of which are preventable. The most significant cause of motorcycle accidents is drivers failing to see motorcyclists or drivers misjudging their distance and speed. This type of accident is known as a “failure to yield” collision. Motorcycles have a smaller profile than other vehicles, making them less conspicuous to drivers, especially in traffic or when changing lanes. As a result, drivers may unintentionally merge into the path of a motorcyclist, leading to collisions. Additionally, drivers may underestimate the speed of an approaching motorcycle, causing them to pull out in front of the rider or turn across their path. Understanding what causes motorcycle accidents can shed light on the circumstances surrounding your accident.

Head-On Collisions

More than half of motorcycle accident deaths involve a car striking a motorcycle head-on. Very rarely, about 5 percent of the time, does a fatal causality happen when the rider is rear-ended.

Left-Turn Accidents

Probably the most dangerous situation is when a passenger car makes a left turn in front of a motorcycle. Over 40 percent of all motorcycle crashes are a left-hand turn case of a car.

Lane Splitting Accidents

Lane splitting – the act of driving between two lanes of cars – is legal in many areas in California. However, the act causes many crashes. Drivers may not be paying attention, change lanes, and run right into a motorcyclist. California is the only state that allows lane splitting.


Speeding is often the root cause behind many types of accidents. Traveling at a high rate of speed makes reaction times slower. With less physical protection from the elements, riders need to be especially mindful of the speed limit. About one-third of all deaths in motorcycle accidents involved the element of speeding.

High Performance or SuperSport or Sport Motorcycles

Riders of these motorcycles are more likely to be fatally injured in a crash. Four times more likely, in fact. These types of motorcycles have a high power to weight ratio than a standard version. Riders need experience handling these types of motorcycles.

common causes of motorcycle accidents in California

Distracted Driving

Drivers talking or texting on their cell phones cause quite a few accidents. It is harder to see someone on a motorcycle in traffic, so if a driver isn’t paying attention, they are at greater risk of causing an accident. Distracted driving is a common cause of motorcycle and other vehicle accidents.

Intoxicated Driving

Like in passenger vehicle crashes, alcohol plays a large part in the cause of motorcycle crashes. Close to 30 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve intoxicated driving above the legal limit. This percentage is higher than cars or trucks.

Road Hazards

Motorcycle riders are more susceptible than passenger vehicles to injury caused by road hazards. Potholes, slick pavement conditions, objects in the roadway, or irregularities of the lanes can cause a serious crash.


Many new motorcyclists begin riding each year. Riding a motorcycle is quite different from driving a car. Motorcycles are smaller and less stable. Inexperience in handling such a machine causes many crashes.

Important Precautions for Riders

While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, motorcyclists can take precautions to minimize the risk of accidents, including wearing proper safety gear, such as helmets, gloves, jackets, and boots, to protect yourself in the event of a crash. Staying visible by using reflective clothing and keeping your headlights on is important, especially during low-light conditions.

Practice defensive riding techniques, such as anticipating potential hazards and maintaining a safe following distance. Regular motorcycle maintenance to ensure its optimal working condition can also keep you from experiencing unexpected and dangerous mechanical issues. 

Legal Options After a Motorcycle Accident

If someone else’s negligence caused your motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. You can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in California. To determine if you have a valid claim, consider the following factors:

  • Did the other party breach their duty of care by engaging in negligent behavior?
  • Did this breach directly cause your injuries and damages?
  • Can you provide evidence to support your claim, such as witness statements, police reports, and medical records?

If so, you may consider filing a lawsuit. Generally, this option may happen when the negligent party’s insurance company does not cover the cost of the damages, or there is a dispute over who was at fault. Understanding the causes of motorcycle accidents is crucial for determining who is liable and, thus, the legal options and degree of compensation available. 

Contact Beliz Law Firm

You are at risk every time you ride. This is true even if you focus on safety and following the laws. You have no control over other drivers and the way they behave. However, you can reduce the risk. Knowing what causes accidents, avoiding certain situations, and staying alert are all crucial.

Don’t make the mistake of dealing with an insurance company on your own after a motorcycle accident. Serious injuries are common in these accidents. You need to make sure you’re fully compensated. Instead get in touch with a motorcycle accident lawyer who is prepared to handle your case.