What is a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident Under California Law?

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Can You Sue for a California No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?

Can You Sue for a California No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?

Aug 18, 2023

When a motorcycle accident occurs, the likelihood that the motorcyclist will sustain serious injuries is much higher when compared to traditional motor vehicles. In fact, the motorcyclist injury rate is almost four times higher than the injury rate for passenger car occupants (and nearly seven times higher than the injury rate for light-truck occupants).

What is a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident Under California Law?

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that an estimated 84,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents across the United States. In most cases, the motorcycle rider collides with a passenger car or truck. However, one other common type of motorcycle crash is known as a no-contact accident. When no-contact motorcycle accidents occur, determining fault can be essential to ensuring that the injured motorcyclist recovers a cash settlement for any injuries and resulting losses.

Below we will review everything you need to know about no-contact motorcycle accidents in California.

What is a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?

No-contact motorcycle crashes are, just as they sound, accidents which occur as a result of no direct collision with another motor vehicle. Some of the most common causes of no-contact motorcycle accidents include:

  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Improper lane changes by the at-fault driver
  • Road rage
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Failure to properly check blind spots
  • Mechanical failure or product defects

When a no-contact crash occurs, the at-fault motor vehicle operator is often referred to as a “phantom driver” because no direct contact was made in terms of a collision between the car/truck and the motorcycle. In some cases, the phantom driver is oblivious to the fact that he or she has caused a crash at all (while in other instances, the individual may commit a quasi-hit-and-run after realizing what has occurred).

In no-contact motorcycle crashes where a phantom driver leaves the scene of an accident, determining his or her identity can be difficult. However, the injured motorcyclist may still have legal recourse, and options such as security video footage and closed-circuit video of the crash scene may be available. Additionally, witnesses may be able to help in identifying the at-fault phantom driver.

How is Liability Determined in No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents?

If a phantom driver causes a no-contact motorcycle accident, he or she is legally responsible – whether or not that individual realizes a crash has occurred.

California Vehicle Code 20002 stipulates that:

(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do either of the following:

  1. Locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle involved and, upon locating the driver of any other vehicle involved or the owner or person in charge of any damaged property, upon being requested, present his or her driver’s license, and vehicle registration, to the other driver, property owner, or person in charge of that property. The information presented shall include the current residence address of the driver and of the registered owner. If the registered owner of an involved vehicle is present at the scene, he or she shall also, upon request, present his or her driver’s license information, if available, or other valid identification to the other involved parties.
  2. Leave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property damaged a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle involved and a statement of the circumstances thereof and shall without unnecessary delay notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred or, if the collision occurred in unincorporated territory, the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol.

(b) Any person who parks a vehicle which, prior to the vehicle again being driven, becomes a runaway vehicle and is involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, attended or unattended, shall comply with the requirements of this section relating to notification and reporting and shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable to the penalties of this section for failure to comply with the requirements.

(c) Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

Whether or not the phantom driver can be identified will play a role in the way your no-contact motorcycle accident civil claim proceeds.

Difference Between Identifiable and Unidentifiable Phantom Drivers

California follows the comparative fault system, meaning the driver found to be at fault is responsible for the victims’ damages and losses. When the phantom driver can be identified, finding him or her at fault can be a straightforward process and help make recovering compensation easier after a no-contact motorcycle accident. As an injured motorcyclist, you may file an insurance claim with the auto insurance provider of the driver at fault to seek a maximized cash settlement for various damages, such as pain and suffering, hospital bills, and lost wages.

When a phantom driver cannot be identified – whether due to negligently fleeing the scene or unwittingly causing the no-contact crash and failing to stop – the injured motorcyclist may have limited options in terms of recovering compensation through a civil claim. However, uninsured motorist insurance coverage may ensure that some of the losses and damages you sustained in your no-contact motorcycle accident are recovered.

A Dordulian Law Group motorcycle accident attorney will be able to provide an overview of all available legal options when you sit down for a free and confidential consultation. If you’ve been injured in a no-contact motorcycle accident, please contact our skilled team at 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

Recovering Financial Compensation After a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident

A no-contact motorcycle accident can be a frustrating experience for the motorcyclist, particularly when injuries are sustained and the phantom driver is unable to be identified. But it’s important to note that you have options under the law, and the best way to ensure that your rights are protected is by calling a Los Angles motorcycle accident lawyer from Dordulian Law Group (DLG) at 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

Our team of personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly to secure all possible damages for your specific claim, such as:

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical care costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional trauma

Contact us today for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation. DLG’s motorcycle accident attorneys have helped injured victims like you secure more than $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a near-perfect 98% winning record.

Go See Sam