What do you have to watch out for the Most when Riding a Motorcycle?

California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Beach Ride
California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Beach Ride

As a California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer, I regularly deal with all sorts of different motorcycle accident cases that are caused by all sorts of different scenarios. As an actual rider of motorcycles, something that sets me apart from other lawyers who handle motorcycle accident cases, I know firsthand the risks and dangers of riding motorcycles.

I am always asked what do you have to watch out for the most while riding your motorcycle. I could write an entire book on this subject, however, I will do my best to answer the question in this short essay.

There really is no simple answer to this question. Motorcycle accidents are caused by other negligent motorists, lack of riding experience or knowledge, road conditions, loose debris, mechanical failure, excessive speed, tire failure, weather, animals, drugs and alcohol, even medical conditions of a rider.

All of these topics warrant a lengthy discussion.

However, in my practice and in my opinion, the single largest cause of motorcycle accidents is other motorists in 4 wheel or greater vehicles, we bikers and motorcyclist call these persons “cagers.”

The largest threats to a biker and motorcyclist from a 4 wheel motorist on his or her motorcycle are; (1) A motorist turning left in front of you, (2) A motorist cutting you off or hitting you while exiting a driveway or an ally, (3) A motorist cutting you off or hitting you while coming from a side street, (4) a motorist merging into you from the side while driving next to you or near you, (5) a motorist pulling out from the curb, and (6) getting rear ended.

Among all of the motorcycle accident cases that I handle, the threats articulated above are the main causes of motorcycle accident and motorcycle accident death cases that I handle.

There are some basic preventative measures you can take to minimize the chances of you becoming the next victim of a negligent motorist while out on your motorcycle.

Beyond taking a certified motorcycle safety course, and advanced course on your own motorcycle, not driving while intoxicated, wearing proper riding attire including a DOT certified full face or modular helmet, and making sure you have a proper motorcycle endorsement, there are a few tricks I have learned throughout the years that I will share with you.

(1) Don’t ride too fast for the conditions you are in.

Most motorcycle accident happen on city streets, and within a 5 mile radius from your home. If you are on let’s say a 4 lane street (2 in each direction), there are risks everywhere. Make sure you keep your speed down so that if you have to stop or slow down quickly, you can. Remember, the faster you ride, the longer distance it takes for you to slow down or stop.

(2) Cover your brakes at intersections or when you see a risk.

Covering your brake means to put your hand over the front brake lever to prepare to use your brake. You should cover your brake anytime you enter an intersection where you see a car stopped on either side of you, or a car waiting to make a left turn in the opposite direction. Why, because already having your hand on the brake lever will give you an extra second or two to hit the brakes and to potentially avoid and accident if one of the cars drives or turns in front of you.

I know it sounds like a hassle, but if you do it everytime, it will become engrained into your muscle memory and you won’t even have to think about it in time.

Under certain circumstances, you may even want to hit your brakes while covering, to heat the them up so that you can stop faster, and to signal the car behind you that you are slowing down. The car behind you cannot see you if you let off of the throttle and use your engine to slow you down.

(3) Look at the tops of the wheels of a threatening car.

When you see a car stopped as you approach a driveway, a side street, or in the oncoming left turn lane, look at its wheels, especially the tops of its wheels if you can see them. If you cannot see the tops, look at the tire rims or hubcaps. The tops of the wheels actually move much faster than the actual car does, and it will give you an indication of whether the car is moving towards you or not. Your eyes will be able to perceive the wheels moving way before your eyes will be able to perceive the entire car moving forward. Don’t ask me why, it is just the way we perceive things.

Obviously if you are riding along and you see a car stopped at a driveway or a side street, and you see its tires moving, you better assume that they do not see you, and take evasive action. The best evasive action is to brake or stop and to not swerve because when you swerve you have less motorcycle tire contact than if your tires are straight up and down. The less tire contact you have, the more likely that you will not be able to stop in time, and/or lose control of your motorcycle and lay it down.

If you see an oncoming car in the left hand turn lane, and its tires start to turn in your direction, assume that they are going to turn in front of you, and take evasive action.

(4) Assume that other motorist cannot see you when you ride.

No matter how bright your clothing, how many lights you have on your motorcycle, how visible you think you are, no matter what you do, for some inexplicable reason, we motorcycle riders seem to be invisible to motorist in cars, trucks, or other motor vehicles. I am not telling you to try do anything you can to be more visible to other motorist, on the contrary, you should do everything you can to try to be more conspicuous to other motorist.

There have actually been studies done to understand how we human beings perceive things, and it has been found that we humans actually and not consciously selectively filter out certain things that we see for various reasons.

It seems that many people riding in cars, trucks, and other vehicles for some reason, filter us motorcycle riders out. After an accident these people swear that they did not see us, when they should have. Whether it is unintentional or not, some motorist flat out do not see us.

When you ride you have to assume that other motorist do not see you and you need to ride accordingly. If you ride as though you are invisible to other motorist, you will actually be a much more cautious and better rider.

Assume that the car in the oncoming left hand turn lane is going to turn left in front of you Assume that if you are on a two lane road with cars parked on the side that a car will pop out from the parked position. Assume that the car you see waiting to turn out of a gas station or waiting to make a right turn at the intersection will turn in front of you.

I know it’s not fair, but as a motorcycle rider, we have to be much more diligent about our own safety when we ride our motorcycles. Yes you may have the right of way, but that is not going to stop the negligent cager from hitting you and doing some major damage to you.

Exercising caution and some restraint, will make your motorcycle riding experience much more pleasurable, and above all, will allow you to make it home after your ride instead of in the hospital.

Keep both wheels on the road!

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © August 28, 2011

One of the Pleasures in Life; Being a Motorcycle Rider.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Malibu, CA
California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Malibu, CA

There are few things I enjoy in life more than jumping on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra and riding my motorcycle on the open road, especially with my brothers.

To be frank, it really is hard for me to express how much I enjoy riding motorcycles. The good thing is that I really do not have to explain it to those of you who already ride motorcycles, because you already know what I am talking about.

One of the reasons I bring this subject up is that last Friday night, I was on my home from a gathering of motorcycle club brothers in Tehachapi, California, when I stopped in Palmdale, California for some gas.

A fat guy dressed in what appeared to me to be medical scrubs of the type that doctors and nurses wear at a hospital, made it a point to walk up to me as I was gassing up my motorcycle to say “You really should not ride motorcycles around here because of all of the illegal aliens and unlicensed drivers.”

I looked at the guy who thought he was giving me genuine advice that would make me stop riding motorcycles after 40 some years, and said “dude, life in general is dangerous, I am not going to live my life here in America, worried about getting hit by an illegal alien or an unlicensed driver. Further, life itself is a fatal illness.”

The guy gave me a puzzled look and walked away.

This guy must be out of his fucking mind thinking that I would quit riding because I was afraid of illegal aliens and unlicensed drivers.

Riding motorcycles is one of the important pleasures that I have in my life.

This guy was not giving advice to a novice. I have literally handled many motorcycle accident cases all over the State of California. Everytime I handle such a case, I think about “what if that were to happen to me.” Yes it kind of freaks you out, but then again, flu season is coming up, am I supposed to hide in my estate afraid of getting swine flu? Hell no.

There is one unalienable fact of life; those who are alive today, will someday die. You cannot live your in fear of what could happen, all you can do is just live.

I am not cavalier about riding motorcycles. I am about as safe of a rider that there is out there, although I could improve my riding attire somewhat. I am thinking about adding an armored riding suit to my repertoire.

This weekend I will be on my new motorcycle. I cannot wait to test out the intercom and the CB that came standard on my Ultra. I have installed the speakers and mic inside Liz’s helmet and mine.

I hope we all have a safe riding weekend everyone; keep both wheels on the road.

Also just a reminder, My 02 Harley Davidson Electra Glide is still for sale. She is sitting in my garage waiting for you to come pick her up. You can check it out here at http://www.galaxystorm.com/bike.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © August 12, 2011

Amongst the Best Motorcycle Riders in the World; a Video

I just saw this video of a motorcycle police officer running his Harley Davidson Electra Glide Police model through an obstacle course and it completely blew me away.

I have seen many skilled riders in my years of riding. Hell I can even do a pretty tight circle in a small area on my motorcycle, but check this guy out in the video. His skill on a motorcycle speaks for itself.

I only wish that I can attain that level of skill on such a big motorcycle.

Enjoy the video.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © July 26, 2011

The California Highway Patrol gets ready to Roust Bikers as Angeles Crest Highway Re-Opens Today

Motorcycle Riders about to ride up the Angeles Crest Highway
Motorcycle Riders about to ride up the Angeles Crest Highway

As the California State Department of Transportation is poised Friday to re-open Angeles Crest Highway, a curvy mountain road beloved by bikers, the CHP will step up enforcement.

The Crest’s sweeping turns and steep cliffs demand motorcyclists navigate the road with care and at a controlled speed, and the California Highway Patrol plans to help folks remember this through the Motorcycle Safety Coalitions grant, the agency announced Wednesday. CHP Public Information Officer Ming-Yang Hsu declined to release the amount of the grant.

The grant, which provides enhanced enforcement effort by CHP officers through September 30, will focus on traffic violations made by motorcyclists, as well as other vehicle drivers that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities, according to a CHP press release.

“Angeles Crest has one of the highest accident rates in the state,” Hsu said, adding the CHP waited to make the grant announcement until Caltrans’ announcement of reopening the road.

According to data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, 164 motorcycle-involved collisions occurred on Route 2 from Starlight Crest Drive to state Route 39 in Los Angeles County between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. Among the collisions, eight were fatal, seven of which were the result of unsafe speed. Of those, speed was the primary collision factor for 98 of the accidents.

Therefore, in an effort to reduce the number of motorcycle-involved fatal and injury collisions along the 38-mile stretch of highway patrolled by the Altadena Area office, the CHP will establish a task force and develop and implement a public awareness campaign by working with local agencies and community members.

Funding for this grant was provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Basically what this grant does is give the CHP more money to put more officers on the Angeles Crest to roust motorcyclist and bikers.

You have now been warned, take it easy out there!

California Biker Lawyer

California Highway Patrol Officer Injured in Motorcycle Collision at the 134 and 2 Freeway Junction in Glendale; Maybe the Accident could have been avoided with a Safety Device.

Glendale CHP Motorcycle Accident
Scene of Glendale CHP Motorcycle Accident

A California Highway Patrol officer was hospitalized with major injuries Tuesday afternoon after he was knocked off his motorcycle by another driver during an attempted traffic stop on the 134 Freeway, according to a CHP traffic report.

Officer J.D Fields, 59, an Altadena resident, suffered a broken femur and wrist after the accident, which occurred around 1:40 p.m. near the intersection of the 134 and 2 freeways in Glendale.

Fields had seen a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road and moved into the right lane, put on his lights, and slowed down to approach the car.

A woman driving a 2010 Nissan vehicle was behind him and failed to see him slow down, according to the report. She veered quickly out of the lane and then “for unknown reasons,” moved back into the right lane and hit Fields’ motorcycle, the report states.

Fields was thrown from the motorcycle and onto the road. He was transported to the Huntington Hospital shortly after the accident.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, according to the report.

This crash brings to mind a safety feature for motorcycles that I think should be implemented; a brake light that triggers with sudden deceleration of a motorcycle.

Let me explain. We, who ride motorcycles, tend to downshift to decrease our speed on most if not all occasions, before we hit the brakes.

If a car traveling fast behind us, does not see brake lights when we downshift to slow down, they do not know we are slowing down, and they rear end us.

I think that is exactly what happened in this rear ender of Officer Fields.

I have been on rides and seen motorcycle on motorcycle rear end collisions due to the same reason.

If there was a sudden decoration device on our motorcycles that triggered the brake light, I think we could save many a biker and motorcyclist lives.

For you inventers out there, maybe you can come up with something. Maybe a device like this should be mandatory for motorcycles.

It would appear that Officer Fields in the accident mentioned above, not only has a Workers Compensation case against the California Highway Patrol, and a separate Personal Injury case against the woman who hit him from behind.

The law in California is that a person driving behind another person, has a duty to maintain a safe distance from the car or motorcycle in front of them, so they can stop in case the vehicle in front of them stops. It appears that the woman is at fault in this case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in the State of California, call the real California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer

Rancho Cordova California CHP Captain Arrested in Suspected DUI Motorcycle Crash

Scene of CHP Officer DUI Motorcycle Accident
Scene of CHP Officer DUI Motorcycle Accident

PLACERVILLE – California

A captain with the California Highway Patrol has been arrested for suspected drunken driving after crashing his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in El Dorado County.

A CHP accident report obtained indicates that Robert D. Patrick, 47, was arrested late Friday night, and then released for treatment of moderate injuries related to the motorcycle accident, at Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

According to the report, Patrick was riding a 2008 Harley-Davidson Fatboy southbound on Mt. Aukum Road south of Fairplay Road when he failed to negotiate a curve. The motorcycle traveled onto the dirt shoulder and overturned.

The report stated that due to Patrick’s level of injuries, his level of sobriety was undetermined and subject to further investigation. Patrick was released from the hospital Saturday.

Patrick is a 25-year CHP veteran and commander of special operations at the CHP’s Valley Division office in Rancho Cordova, according to CHP Asst. Chief Ken Hill, who is Patrick’s immediate boss.

Hill indicated that the investigating officers gave Patrick no special courtesy because of his position with the CHP.

“I can assure you we handled it the way we would with any citizen. There was no preferential treatment,” Hill said.

Hill said an internal CHP investigation was underway in addition to the criminal case that will be handled by the El Dorado County District Attorney.

Hill said appropriate action would be taken at the conclusion, but that a DUI conviction would not necessarily end Patrick’s career with the CHP.

For the record I do not think anyone should be riding motorcycles after drinking any alcoholic beverage, because it is flat out too dangerous.

I have friends who regularly drink a beer or two and then ride. I always tell them that it is a big mistake. It is better to wait until you are done riding, before you drink.

The case of CHP Officer Robert D. Patrick is a horrendous example of the pot calling the kettle black. I wonder how many people Officer Patrick has busted in his career for drinking and driving.

I am quite sure he also knows how alcohol affects a person’s ability to drive, let alone ride a motorcycle.

Officer Patrick is innocent until proven guilty. However, if he is found guilty of DUI on a motorcycle, his ass should be fired. We do not need officers breaking the laws we hire them to enforce.

You can read a copy of the CHP Report by Clicking Here Now.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer

Riding with the Right Gear

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.,
California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., Courtesy of the Riverside Press Enterprise Newspaper, and Jennifer Fraley of Sunshine Photography

You have bought a new motorcycle, taken a motorcycle safety course and are ready to hit the open road.

What else can you do to help protect yourself? Wear the right gear – an approved helmet, face or eye protection and protective clothing.


Accidents can happen to anyone. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF-USA), one out of every five motorcycle accidents results in head or neck injuries. These injuries can be reduced by wearing an approved helmet. I know they may not look cool, but they can save your life.

There are two primary types of helmets – three-quarters and full face. They provide different levels of coverage. To make sure that you get the most protection from your helmet, make sure that it meets U. S. Department of Transportation and state standards, that it fits snugly all the way around your head, and that it has no obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps.

Whatever type of helmet you chose, be sure to that it fastened securely while riding or it may fly off your head in an accident.

Eye and face protection

When riding, you will be faced with wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects and debris thrown up by other vehicles, you can protect yourself from these by wearing a face shield, googles, or good sunglasses. A plastic shatter-resistant face sheild will also help protect your face in the event of an accident, and goggles will protect your eyes if you’re not wearing a face shield.

To be effective, your eye and face protection must:

  • Be free of scratches
  • Be resistant to penetration
  • Afford a clear view to either side
  • Fasten securely so it will not blow off
  • Allow air to pass through to alleviate fogging
  • Permit enough room for sunglasses or eyeglasses if needed

Protective clothing

The right clothing will help protect you in an accident, as well as providing protection from heat, cold, debris and hot and moving parts of your motorcycle.

Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely and fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind. Leather is the best protection but sturdy synthetic materials are a good alternative. Boots or shoes should cover your ankles. Soles should be hard and slip-resistant; tuck laces in so they don’t get caught on your motorcycle. Gloves will give you a better grip and help protect your hands in an accident.

Wear the appropriate clothing for the weather you’ll be experiencing. If you’re too hot or too cold, you may not be able to control your motorcycle as well.

There are plenty of things on the highway that can cause you trouble. Making sure you have the right gear will help
ensure that you have adequate protection should an accident occur.

California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and Biker Attorney

When a Bad Road Causes a Car or Motorcycle Accident in California.

 Dangerous and Defective Roads Kill and Injure Many People Each Year

Many of you may not know that you can recover damages if a dangerous or defective road causes you to crash in your vehicle.

I have dealt with all sorts of defective and dangerous road cases. Some cases involve holes, bumps, debris, rocks, gravel, poorly maintained roads, defectively designed roads, curves, intersections, signals, guard rails, etc.

Some of these types of cases are utterly devastating to the victims.

I recently saw a TV news special where it was flat out stated that many defective roads are known about, but are not being repaired due to budget deficits related to the recession.

The recession and the economy do not excuse anyone from maintaining a dangerous or defective road.

If you are on a public road in California, and the road caused you to crash and become injured, you will need to file a governmental claim with the appropriate governmental agency within 6 months from the day you had your accident.

If the governmental entity rejects your claim within 45 days of receipt of claim, you have 6 months from the date of the rejection to file a lawsuit against the governmental entity.

If they do not reject the claim, you have 2 years to sue from the date of the accident.

If you are on a private road on private property, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.

Defective and Dangerous road cases are very complex to such an extent that many personal injury attorneys do not do these types of cases.

I handle these types of cases. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or defective road, give me a call for a free consultation 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at 800-816-1529, ext. 1, or you may submit your case to us through the blog by clicking here.

By California Personal Injury Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © March 9, 2011

Why I like Riding Motorcycles

California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Beach Ride
California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Beach Ride

The main reason I like riding motorcycles is the feeling I get when I open my Harley Davidson Electra Glide up on the open road.

To be frank, I enjoy riding virtually any brand, make, or model motorcycle on the open road. I just happen to presently ride an Electra Glide.

There is no real way to describe the feeling I get when I ride my motorcycle, except to say that it is it is basically like meditation, or even psychotherapy.

If I am stressed out, taking my motorcycle out for a ride will calm me down.

As for me, I am a long distance rider. This means that I put 10-20k miles or more on my motorcycle every year.

I know many guys who bar hop or event hop on their motorcycles, some just ride on the weekends; hell that is all right too. Whatever floats your boat if you know what I mean?

I really like the fact that many women are also riding their own motorcycles these days. The more riders the merrier.

All bikers and motorcyclist all basically share the same kind of experience when riding; we feel the wind on our face and body, we know what it feels like to crack the throttle on a powerful machine that we ride on and not in, and we all experience the utter freedom and thrill of riding a motorcycle on the open road. City traffic kind of sucks, but once we get on the open road, it is the ultimate.

No cager or person who does not ride will ever understand the feeling of riding a motorcycle, and what a rush it really is.

Another added benefit of being a biker and a motorcyclist is that most if not all bikers and motorcyclist are amongst the most gracious, giving, and all around cool people you are ever going to meet.

You might see a tough looking guy in leathers with a big beard, a real scary looking dude, and yet the guy will turn out to be the nicest guy you will ever meet.

Most bikers will bend over backwards to help each other in times of need, in a way no biker or motorcyclist will ordinarily ever get to experience.

I kind of feel sorry for people who do not ride motorcycles; they will never know the experience of going to a motorcycle rally and having 1000’s of instant friends.

So there it is. I am grateful to be a biker.

By Biker Lawyer and Motorcycle Accident Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, © March 3, 2011

Is riding a Motorcycle like Riding a Bike?

California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Malibu, CA
California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Malibu, CA

You have all heard the old saying that once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you never forget how to ride a bicycle. People use this old saying in analogies all of the time to describe activities which you supposedly never forgot how to do once you learn how to do them.

Well I will tell you what, if you learned how to ride a bicycle as a kid, but then you don’t try to ride a bicycle again until you are an adult, you may be able to balance yourself on the bicycle, and you may be able to peddle the bike, and turn it, but you are not going to ride the bicycle as well as when you rode all of the time as a kid. It takes practice to re-acquaint yourself to the bicycle.

The same hold true for riding motorcycles. I have known many people over the years that think they can just get back on a motorcycle after not riding for many years, or even months, and think that they can ride just as good as they did when they previously rode the motorcycle.

This assumption can kill or maim you. If you have been off of your motorcycle for a period of years or even months, you need to re-acquaint yourself to riding your motorcycle again. I don’t care how good you used to ride, or think you used ride.

Riding a motorcycle is a precision activity. You need to be in decent physical and mental shape to ride safely, and you need to have sharp mental and physical reflexes to ride safely.

Notice I used the term safely.

If you have not ridden a motorcycle for years, and let’s say you have just purchased a new motorcycle, what should you do?

I recommend taking a certified MSF class on your new motorcycle to learn how to ride your new motorcycle, before getting on the road in traffic.

They say it takes at least 1000 miles to get used to a new motorcycle, I say it may take longer to become comfortable on a new motorcycle, especially in traffic.

Riding your motorcycle is not like riding a bicycle, if you have been off of your motorcycle for a time; you need to take it very slow and easy until you get back in the saddle so to say.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © February 8, 2011

Biker Attorney “Jeff H.” A.K.A. Jeff in Korea was in a bad motorcycle accident.


An X-Ray showing Jeff's right arm fracture
An X-Ray showing Jeff's right arm fracture

There is a biker attorney named Jeff H. in Korea that has become a long distance pen pal of sorts with me.

Over the years since I started the Biker Law Blog, he has shared comments, exchanged emails, and such.

Jeff lives, works, and rides, in the nation of Korea, and yes he is a real biker lawyer like me.

A couple of days ago Jeff informed me that he was in a motorcycle accident, and sent me the following letter through the blog describing his accident.

He states that “even biker lawyers can go down once in a while. Be Careful.”

I suggest that all of you read this letter carefully. Maybe it will save your live. It is not often that you get a firsthand account of an accident such as this, written by a fellow attorney.

Jeff I wish you Godspeed on your recovery.

Below is the actual letter sent to me by Jeff in Korea:

Okay. Some of you have no idea what happened to me. Others know basically what happened to me. I think only a few of you know exactly what happened to me. Now that I have this nifty software that allows me to speak into a microphone and watch the words magically appear on the computer screen, I can sit back, rest my arms, and tell you all what happened.

Early in the afternoon of October 30, 2010, my friend Jeremy and I were riding our motorcycles to lunch. After a delicious lunch at the Seamen’s Club, Jeremy headed home, and I took off by myself to go take care of some other business. Just before 1 PM, I was riding along a four-lane highway with two lanes going in each direction. I like to take this particular road because it’s not well traveled by other vehicles, so there’s not much traffic to worry about.

I was southbound on the inside lane nearest to the double yellow lines, and another car was approaching northbound from the opposite direction on the inside lane nearest the double yellow line. Suddenly, and without any warning whatsoever, a large delivery truck that was sitting on the right shoulder of the road completely outside of the traffic lanes began to make an illegal U-turn directly in front of me in an effort to proceed in the northbound lane. However, due to the other car that was traveling opposite me in the northbound lane, the delivery truck could not complete the illegal U-turn and he had to stop his truck directly in front of me, blocking both southbound lanes.

He pulled out and stopped in front of me so quickly that I didn’t have time or space to maneuver around the truck. So, I slammed on my brakes, locked my wheels, honked my horn, cursed as loudly as possible, and prayed for the best. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky day. At some point in the space of what I estimate to be about 2 seconds between the time that he began to pull out in front of me and the time that I slammed broadside into the side of his truck, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to stop.

I had no time to take any other evasive maneuvers or safety measures, such as laying the bike down or doing anything else. I T-boned the truck. I hit broadside. Hard. Very, very hard.

I don’t remember actually hitting the truck. I remember getting very, very close to it, and I remember bouncing off the truck. The next thing I remember was lying on my back in the middle of the road. So, I remember approaching the truck, bouncing off the truck, and laying in the road. The actual impact and landing in the road are gone from my memory.

The driver got out of his truck, and immediately started calling for an ambulance, the police, his company, his insurance company, and anyone else he could reach. I remember mumbling something to him like, “why? Why couldn’t you wait 3 seconds to make that turn?”

It took a few minutes for the police to arrive. While waiting, I had one of the most incredible sensations of my entire life. I knew that my right arm was badly broken because I could distinctly feel that my right hand was laying flat on the road up to my elbow, but my shoulder felt like my arm was pointing straight up in the air. I tried to flex my fingers, but my fingers didn’t move. It still felt like I was pointing toward the sky, but my hand remained flat on the road. It was really a very weird sensation. Also, my left wrist hurt and I couldn’t move my fingers on my left hand, so I knew that my left hand was broken somewhere as well. I knew that both of my arms hurt like hell, but because of the adrenaline or some other reason, the pain wasn’t nearly as bad as it probably should have been.

When the police and the ambulance arrived, the first thing they did, which is something that is standard in every Korean vehicle accident, was to paint the outline of the truck. They spray painted the outline of my bike where it was, and I remember them mucking around and spray painting the outline of my body. It was sort of like a crime scene body outline like you see on TV.

The next thing was the ambulance driver, the EMT, and the policeman wondering how to get big old me onto the gurney and into the back of the ambulance. Eventually, and with no small amount of jostling my broken arms, they managed to get me on to the very narrow gurney and into the back of the ambulance. Now, at this point, it must be understood that Korean ambulances are not like ambulances in America. Ambulances are not these big, huge, spacious, fully equipped mobile trauma centers. Korean ambulances are more like old Volkswagen minivans. They’re very narrow, very old, and in generally very poor condition.

It was my intention to go to Pusan National University Hospital, which is approximately 20 min. away from the accident site in normal traffic. However, due to the fact that the ambulance I was in had no suspension whatsoever, I felt every bump, every pothole, every rock, every cigarette butt, and every gust of air. This made me extremely uncomfortable. Because of this discomfort, I had no choice but to ask the ambulance driver to take me to a closer hospital. The closest hospital was Haedong Hospital.

A quick back story for those who don’t know: Almost exactly 4 years ago, I was involved in another motorcycle accident that left me with a shattered femur in my right thigh. I was treated for that accident at Haedong Hospital. They put a titanium plate and 15 screws in my right thigh. After five weeks in the hospital, I was released. Six days after my release, the titanium plate broke. I had to return to Haedong Hospital, where they opened up my thigh removed the broken plate, did various surgical procedures, and replaced the broken plate with a longer, wider thicker titanium plate. I had my theories as to why the titanium plate broke, and the filed a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the doctor that performed the surgery. After lengthy negotiations, we reached a settlement that I was slightly less than happy with, but I could live with it.

Fast forward back to the date of this current accident. I arrived in Haedong Hospital, and was wheeled into the emergency room. The emergency room physician confirmed that I had a broken arm above the elbow on my right arm and my left wrist was broken. I finally had a chance to look at my left wrist and knew immediately what had happened because I had suffered nearly exactly the same break when I was in junior high school. I knew exactly how it felt and looked. The doctor confirmed that I had suffered a compression fracture on my wrist, which basically meant that I had completely destroyed my wrist joint and the two bones in my forearm had pushed up and past the bones in my wrist, so my wrist was actually below the two bones on my arm.

Continue reading “Biker Attorney “Jeff H.” A.K.A. Jeff in Korea was in a bad motorcycle accident.”

A Horrible Crash in Ocotillo Wells, California, Kills 5, including 4 Members of the Saddle Tramps Motorcycle Club

Scene of accident that killed 4 members of the Saddle tramps MC
Scene of accident that killed 4 members of the Saddle tramps MC

*** November 16, 2010, Update – The driver of the Dodge Avenger is not going to be charged with drunk driving because no alcohol was found in his system. It was originally reported by the C.H.P. that they smelled alcohol on his breath.

A group of riders from the Saddle Tramps Motorcycle Club, a San Diego County club, were riding on Saturday, November 13, 2010, on Route 98, which is a rural freeway, about 80 miles east of San Diego, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, when there was a horrific accident that killed 4 of them including a husband and wife on one motorcycle.

The riders were in a group, when an idiot in a Gold Honda revved up behind them and repeatedly tried to pass the group of motorcycles by crossing over into the lane of oncoming traffic to the left of the motorcycles.

The Gold Honda then caused a Dodge Avenger that was in the opposing lane, to crash into the group of motorcycles as he attempted to swerve out the way of the idiot in the Gold Honda who was trying to pass the pack of motorcycles.

The Avenger then plowed into the group of motorcycles, killing 4 of them. A passenger in the Dodge Avenger was also killed.

The idiot in the Gold Honda who caused the crash by speeding in the wrong lane of traffic, then kept on going and got away for now.

The California Highway Patrol is looking for the guy in the Honda, which did not suffer any damage in the accident.

Witnesses said that the driver of the Honda was wearing a baseball cap. If anyone has any information, they are requested to call the California Highway Patrol.

The C.H.P., arrested the driver of the Dodge Avenger on suspicion of drunk driving because he had alcohol on his breath, however officials do not consider him to be at fault in the accident, because he was forced off of the road by the idiot in the Honda.

Several other bikers who were injured in the accident were airlifted to hospitals.

What lessons can be learned by this day of carnage? There are two; (1) Live each day as though it is going to be your last, because you never know when your number will come up; and (2) if a car comes up behind you very fast, and tries to pass you, yield if you can do so safely. Put your turn signal on, and move to the right, or even get off if you can.

I am not saying this accident could have been prevented, I am saying that when it is car against motorcycle, the car will always win no matter how tough you are, or how in the right you are.

My prayers and condolences go out to the members and the families of the Saddle Tramps Motorcycle Club.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in the State of California, call the real California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x. 1.

November 15, 2010 Update: Click here to read a detailed story about the accident on Yahoo News.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © October 14, 2010

How Peer Pressure can Kill Biker’s and Motorcyclist

A group of motorcycle riders
Peer Pressure can Kill Bikers and Motorcyclist

If you ride motorcycles with friends, brothers, or acquaintances, the issue of peer pressure being exerted on you to do things you ordinarily would not do on your own pop up from time to time.

It can take many forms.

For instance, how many of you have ridden in a pack where the light has switched to yellow then to red, and you ran the red light to keep up with the pack?

How many of you have stayed in a coffin formation (2 abreast) even on roads where it was not safe to do so, or because you were afraid you would look bad if you did not conform?

How many of you have ridden at excessive speeds to keep up with your friends or buddies?

How many of you have had an illness or a medical condition that required time away from your motorcycle, yet your so-called friends or even brothers try to pressure you into riding by calling you a wussy, or a hypochondriac for not riding until you heal?

How many of you have taken turns too fast because you wanted to keep up with the pack, or not look bad to the other guys you are riding with?

How many of you have ridden with guys who tailgate cars in front of them, and not wanting to fall behind, you ride with the tailgater?

How many of you have ridden in in-climatic weather including extreme cold, rain, wind, etc., just because you did not want to look bad to your friends or the guys you are riding with?

How many of you have flat out done stupid things on your motorcycle, just to fit in with your friends, brothers, or acquaintances?

How many of you have split lanes at excessive speeds to keep up with your friends even though you knew it was unsafe to do so?

How many of you have followed friends who crossed a center line to pass traffic in a pack just to keep up?

How many of you do not wear helmets, or wear a beanie helmet, instead of a full face helmet, just because your friends don’t?

How many of you do not wear leather jackets or proper riding attire, because your friends don’t?

The above list of examples is not meant to be all inclusive, but I think you will all get the picture.

I will say time and time again, that on a motorcycle there are no second chances. If you do not feel comfortable doing something, than you should not do it.

It could mean the difference between life and death.

Just because your friends, a group, or acquaintances on a ride want to take their lives in their hands by riding in an unsafe or stupid manner, does not mean you have to do the same.

It is better to come home at night, than to be laid up in a hospital for weeks or months, or even planted six feet under.

The next time you are in a situation where you do not feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing on a ride, fall back, ride behind them, and catch up to them later. If you do not catch up there will always be another day.

Don’t let foolish peer pressure make you do things you do not want to do.

There are always idiots out there who want to jump off of the bridge; you do not have to jump off of the bridge with them!

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © November 9, 2010

A Letter from a Biker Law Blog Reader

102 year old-biker chick
102 year old-biker chick shown for illustrative purposes only

I am publishing a letter from a reader of the Biker Law Blog named Brian W. with his permission. I am not publishing his last name for privacy reasons.

Here is his letter:

I am sending you this email in reference to an article you wrote regarding “Too old to ride” (at least that was the theme of the letter).

I am 68, and had my first bike when I was 14 (1939 Norton), and a steady rider ever since.

I have owned just about ever make and model over the years, and about 6 years ago I purchased a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100. It seemed to fit the bill for what I wanted, which was a reasonably priced touring bike.

Well, all that said and done, it’s truly time to quit and face the fact that I am not 20 anymore.

In the last year, I have “dropped” the bike from a basically stopped position, and also under 5 miles an hour. So many times, I have lost count actually.

As the bike has a dry weight of over 600 Lbs. there is not a hope in hell that I can get it upright by myself.

That is the minor side, as I have had 2 accidents, which of course I took no blame for!

In retrospect, it was a case of age and reaction time and sheer physical strength.

The days of being bullet proof have sadly passed, and I will miss taking my rides, and trips, but common sense has prevailed.

Thank goodness, I was not hurt to any degree, but on reflection, I certainly could have died, and my wife is now a happy puppy and doesn’t sit at home waiting for a phone call.

Best regards, and please pass this on to those who still feel they are bullet proof.

Brian W.

You can read the article that Brian was talking about by clicking here. I suspect that with the Baby Boomer generation all heading into retirement, the issue Brian discusses will become more and more prevalent on a daily basis.

Since writing me the letter and sending it to me, Brian and I have traded a couple of emails back and forth. Part of my response to Brian is below:

Dear Brian,

It saddens me to hear that you have come to a point in your life where you have determined that you can no longer safely ride.

It makes me feel good knowing that after weighing the pros and cons, you have opted to use common sense rather than stubbornness.

I have articles showing that fatal motorcycle accidents for persons over 50 have increased four fold in the past decade, for reasons which you stated in your email to me.


Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.
The Law Offices of Norman Gregory Fernandez & Associates

I do not think there is a need to elaborate on this subject anymore than Brian’s letter to me and my response back to him.

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © October 5, 2005 2010

Should you Ride Your Motorcycle if You Have an Illness or Medical Condition?

Are you too sick or too ill to ride your motorcycle?
Are you too sick or too ill to ride your motorcycle?

If you are a biker like me, you have probably had an occurrence sometime in your life (unless you are superman or superwoman), where you have been sick or suffered from some kind of medical condition, which could affect your ability to ride.

The key phrase above is “could affect your ability to ride.”

I have written other articles on being too old to ride, which you can read by clicking here, and being spooked after an accident, and whether you should ride, which you can read by clicking here.

An illness or medical condition is almost analogous to maybe being too old to ride, or being spooked after an accident, because each also affects whether you should ride or not.

Look folks, if you have an illness or a medical condition which would affect your ability to be 100% sharp on your motorcycle, you should probably not be riding your motorcycle until the illness or medical condition is gone.

If the illness or medical condition that you have is permanent, you will want to speak to your doctor to decide if riding a motorcycle is safe for you.

I myself have had rides planned out with my brothers, or friends, and have had to cancel my ride plans because I had a cold or flu, or a condition that in my mind meant that I could not or should not have been riding my motorcycle.

A simple common cold could be the basis for not riding your motorcycle, until you get better.

How are you going to control your motorcycle, when you are sneezing, coughing, eyes are watering, and your ears are so stuffed that you cannot safely hear?

Is it worth your life to you to take a chance?

Now that flu season is upon us, (and many of you have not received your flu shots,) many of us will be getting the flu.

It should be obvious that riding with the flu is not a good idea; wait until you get better before you get back on your motorcycle.

I heard of one guy who had an epileptic seizure while riding his motorcycle, with his wife on the back. He ended up going off of the side of the road, crashing through a chain link fence, with both of them flying off of the motorcycle into some dirt. They were both roughed up a bit, but they lived.

Look, I am a biker through and through, however do you think I would be riding a motorcycle, or even a car if I had epilepsy? This guy is a candidate for the Darwin Awards. Epileptics have seizures. Being behind the wheel of a car, or sitting on a motorcycle is not compatible with seizures.

I heard of another guy who would pass out from time to time because of a medical condition he had. This guy luckily determined that he should not be riding a motorcycle with his condition. The list goes on and on.

I truly feel bad for those of you with medical conditions that make it unsafe for you to ride a motorcycle. Some of these conditions also make it unsafe for you to operate a 4 wheel car as well.

Hell some people take prescription heavy duty medications for pain. If you get stopped for driving or riding under the influence of these drugs, you can go to jail and lose your license just like if you were drinking and driving.

Do you think it is a good idea to be riding a motorcycle, while under heavy doses of Oxycontin or Vicodin?

For those of you with physical issues, maybe a Trike, or three wheeled motorcycle is for you? Maybe riding is too physically demanding.

Look, the purpose of my article is not to scare you away from riding your motorcycle. The purpose of my article is to educate you.

Sometimes you may have to not ride due to a physical condition or illness, and it is OK to not ride if it is not safe for you to do so!

By California Motorcycle Accident Attorney, and Biker Lawyer, Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © November 4, 2010

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