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Motorcycle accident but no motorcycle insurance.

I was injured in a motorcycle accident. I have liability insurance on my car but not on my motorcycle. Can I still make an injury claim?

- C.J., California


If the other driver was at fault for the accident, then you can still make an injury claim, even though you didn't carry liability insurance on your motorcycle, but the money you can ask for is limited due to the fact that you didn't have liability coverage.

California law (Vehicle Code Section 16020) requires that every driver carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is coverage to pay for another person's injuries if you are at fault for an accident. If you own a car and a motorcycle, and you purchased liability coverage for your car, that coverage will not automatically apply to your motorcycle. You have to specifically ask the adjuster to include coverage for your motorcycle under the policy. Or you have to purchase separate liability coverage for the motorcycle.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident that was someone else's fault, but you did not have liability insurance, what is the effect of not having motorcycle liability coverage? California law will penalize you for not complying with the law by carrying liability insurance. The penalty is that you cannot make a claim for "non-economic damages," i.e., pain and suffering. You can only make a claim for "economic damages," which means monetary losses, i.e., property damage, medical bills (past and future), and lost wages (past and future) or loss of earning capacity.

Being precluded from claiming pain and suffering means that the value of your claim will be substantially reduced. It will be so reduced that a personal injury lawyer may not be willing to take your case because it simply does not have enough value. The more serious the injuries, the higher the medical bills and lost wages, then the more likely that a motorcycle accident lawyer will take your case.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash that was someone else's fault, and you did not have liability coverage, call our firm for a free consultation. We will explain the law to you, explain what you can make a claim for, and tell you whether we can take your case. We charge nothing for the consultation. In fact, if we take your case, we charge nothing unless we are able to recover money for you.

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