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Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, Inc.

Orange County Road Hazard Motorcycle Crashes, Part 1: Liability When Road Hazards Cause an Accident

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. During May, motorcycle safety advocates are asking all road users to pay attention to motorcycle safety.
I recently posted a news story about a motorcyclist who sustained multiple injuries in a Tustin motorcycle crash caused by a piece of lumber in the road. Small objects, roadway defects, and other road hazards that pose no problem to drivers of cars and trucks can be fatal to motorcyclists.  Motorcyclists, especially those who normally drive cars, need to understand what constitutes a road hazard for a motorcycle and be alert for potential dangers.
Road hazards include:

  • Road debris
    Small objects in the road
  • Uneven pavement
  • Edge breaks
  • Expansion joints
  • Open bridge joints
  • Gravel on pavement
  • Loose leaves on pavement
  • Animals
  • Ridges in the pavement
  • Potholes
  • Wet pavement
  • Rain, ice or snow
  • Standing water
  • Construction sites
  • Railway tracks and crossings


Motorcyclists must watch for road hazards and take action to avoid them if possible. However, if a biker is injured in an Orange County road hazard accident, other parties may be liable. Whether or not a motorcyclist can make an Orange County personal injury claim is determined by California negligence law and the motorcyclists own behavior. If the motorcyclist was speeding, driving under the influence, or weaving through traffic, he may share responsibility for the motorcycle crash.
Example 1: Several bricks fall off a construction company truck on I-5. A motorcyclist turns onto I-5 from exit 117 and loses control of his motorcycle after hitting a brick. He sustains broken bones and a concussion. Who is responsible?
In this case, the construction company is responsible for making sure their truck is properly loaded and that their cargo does not pose a danger to the public. The motorcyclist was following traffic laws and would not have been injured if the brick wasn't in the road. So, the construction company caused the accident.
Depending on the circumstances, the party liable for an Orange county road hazard motorcycle accident may include:

  • Caltrans
  • The county or city agency responsible for maintaining a road
  • A business
  • An individual driver

Determining liability for CA motorcycle accident claims involving road hazards can be complicated. An Orange County motorcycle accident attorney can help. For information about choosing an attorney, request a free copy of the book, Avoid Lawyer Advertising Hype! A Lawyer's Method for Finding a Lawyer. To discuss your own accident with an Orange County motorcycle accident attorney, contact Allen, Flatt, Ballidis or Leslie at 866-981-5596.


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