Among the leading causes of road accidents in California are negligent drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunken motorists or motorcyclists cause a good number of motorcycle accidents. All motorcycle accidents result in severe injuries and sometimes death. It is because motorcyclists do not enjoy the same protection provided by vehicles. We expect that an alcohol-related accident will be severe, and so are the resulting injuries.
At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we offer help to motorcyclists who have been injured or lost their lives in an alcohol-related accident. We ensure that the accident’s cause is determined, and the injured motorcyclist receives compensation for all the damages incurred. Therefore, if you are in Los Angeles and you or your loved one has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, get in touch with us. We will guide you through the legal process and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Overview of California Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
California has stringent laws against drunk driving. Even so, it is not unusual to find a motorist or motorcyclist who is operating under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. It is a habit that has left thousands of people nursing devastating injuries. Others have lost their lives, and others are still dealing with catastrophic injuries several years after the accident. Personal injury laws are in place to ensure that negligent road users compensate those who suffer damages in accidents they cause through carelessness. Therefore, if you have sustained injuries in an alcohol-related accident in California, you may be able to recover all the damages incurred.
Even a single drink of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. That is why California has a standard BAC for motorists, above which you get arrested and charged in a criminal court. Most drunk drivers who cause California accidents have been caught with a BAC of above 0.08%, which is the national standard. A higher concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood makes it hard for them to concentrate on the road, make quick decisions, and react on time. That is why getting into an accident when driving under the influence is possible.
A motorist that is driving under the influence is probably operating at a higher speed than usual. Thus, they are likely to cause a devastating accident, especially when it involves a motorcyclist. Motorcyclists involved in accidents like these suffer severe, catastrophic injuries, and others lose their lives. It is vital to call the police immediately after the accident to determine the cause of the accident. If it is established that the driver was intoxicated, and that was the cause of the accident, the driver will be held responsible for the resulting damages.
Additionally, an intoxicated motorist is likely to make unsafe turns or change lanes without checking whether it is safe. An oncoming motorcyclist is expected to crash into their vehicle, and the resulting is a devastating accident. The motorcyclist may be thrown off the motorcycle and dragged on the road, resulting in severe road rash injuries. The motorcyclist may even lose their life. Other accidents occur at parking lots, when a drunk motorist crashes on an unsuspecting motorcyclist, injuring him/her severely. All kinds of accidents are likely to happen when there is an intoxicated motorist on the road.
It takes an experienced attorney and an accident expert to understand what happened at an accident scene. Thus, hiring an experienced car accident attorney at the early stages of the case is essential. Again, the injured motorcyclist requires time to get treated and heal from the accident ordeal. You may not have enough energy to start the process of pursuing compensation for your injuries. An attorney’s help goes a long way in ensuring that someone is working on your case as you concentrate on your recovery. An experienced attorney will also know the evidence to collect, prepare it, and file a claim in court on time.
The court will require the injured motorcyclist or the family (in case of wrongful death) to prove negligence when presenting their claim against the alleged at-fault party in a civil court. Be informed that operating under the influence is a form of negligence in itself, as it is against the California Vehicle Code. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated violates the motorist’s duty of care. The plaintiff will then be required to prove how that violation directly resulted in the damages for which he/she is seeking compensation. If the court is fully satisfied, it will grant the plaintiff the damages included in their claim.
However, proving fault is not always easy, especially if the driver is also faulting the injured motorcyclist. The driver might argue that the motorcyclist came out of nowhere and got in his/her way, leaving the motorist little or no time to react. While this could be a valid argument, evidence from the accident scene might help establish what happened and who might have been at fault. An experienced attorney will know what to watch out for and interpret all evidence he/she collects to help the client’s case.
One way to prove fault in alcohol-related motorbike accidents is by looking at the damage done on your motorcycle. Even if your motorcycle is totaled in the accident, the wreckage may provide important information regarding how fast the motorist was and where he/she hit you. More evidence could also help determine whether the motorcyclist was at fault and their percentage fault. Information like this will help you know the kinds of damages and amount to include in your claim.
Investigators will also look at the vehicle that is alleged to have caused the accident. The damages it incurred can tell a lot about the kind of accident and its most probable cause. The type of accident could have been a rear-end accident, head-on collision, a T-bone accident, or sideswiped motorcycle. The vehicle’s amount of damage can also tell the speed at which the car was moving and the severity of the accident. If the driver were intoxicated, the police and other accident-scene experts would be able to tell what happened before and after the accident. It helps prove fault.
Lastly, there are eyewitnesses in every accident scene. They are usually people who were present at the time of the accident and can tell what happened. It could have been a passenger in the vehicle alleged to have caused the accident, other motorists or motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. The court will accept their account about the events of that day as irrefutable evidence in court.
To strengthen the eyewitnesses’ testimony will be the police report. Law enforcement officers are usually among the first people to be called at an accident scene. The police are always prepared and so will collect as much evidence as possible in a short period. Their report is usually reliable and could help prove fault in a civil court.
Note that drunk drivers cause not all alcohol-related motorcycle accidents. An intoxicated motorist and motorcyclist could have caused the accident. In that case, both the driver and motorcyclist can be held responsible for the accident. Their percentage of fault will be determined, and the motorist will only be held accountable for his/her share. It means that if the motorcyclist were also intoxicated, he/she would not be able to recover full compensation for the damages incurred.
Common Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are very easy to ride and are faster than vehicles. One can go anywhere on a bike because they can penetrate easily, even in congested areas. However, there are times motorcycles can be dangerous. In alcohol-related motorbike accidents, the person at a higher risk of suffering severe injuries is the motorcyclist. As mentioned above, motorcyclists do not enjoy the kind of protection offered to motorists and their passengers by the vehicles. That is why they are likely to sustain severe and catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident, and other times death.
Several factors increase this risk. Some of them are:
- Failure by the motorcyclist to wear protective gear, which may include a helmet and a reflector jacket. A helmet protects your head and neck from severe injuries in case of a fall. Without it, injuries sustained could be severe and sometimes catastrophic. A reflector jacket makes the motorcyclist visible to oncoming traffic in the dark.
- The age of the motorcyclists- older riders are likely to suffer more severe injuries and sometimes death than younger riders.
- Unlicensed motorcyclists- Most riders without a license do not have the right skills and experience to ride mainly on busy highways. These are more likely to get into accidents as compared to skilled and experienced riders.
- Alcohol/drugs- alcohol impairs the ability to ride well. Therefore, an intoxicated rider can easily cause an accident as compared to one that is sober.
With that in mind, let us look at the kinds of injuries a motorcyclist is likely to incur if involved in an alcohol-related accident:
When a motorcycle crashes with a vehicle, the likely thing to happen is that the bike will throw the rider off. Since both were moving at considerable speeds, the rider will hit the ground and be dragged on the roadway, resulting in serious road rash injuries. These are common injuries even for riders who are wearing some form of protective clothing. There is not much that can protect a rider from such injuries.
Road rash injuries can be minor or severe, depending on the severity of the crash. In most alcohol-related accidents, especially when a motorist is at fault, the motorcycle is severely hit. So, the rider can hit the ground hard and slide much longer across the pavement. The results would be devastating.
Some road rash injuries can heal quickly, while others may take time. Sometimes the skin does not heal completely, and the rider may need corrective surgery to improve its appearance.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Wearing a helmet is an excellent way in which motorcyclists can protect themselves from death in the event of a severe accident. However, helmets do not guarantee total protection from specific injuries like a brain injury. A severe crash could cause the rider to fall hard on the roadway, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI occurs when the brain’s normal functioning is disrupted due to a sudden and violent crash of the head on an object. If the rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, injuries like severe trauma to the brain could occur. There might be other injuries to the head, too, such as concussions and lacerations.
Brain injuries do not quickly heal away and could affect the rider’s life in more ways than one. For example, his/her ability to speak and perform vital functions may be affected. Trauma to the brain could take months and sometimes years to heal. It means that the rider will require extensive treatment and therapy to regain normal functioning of their brain.
Legs and feet are the most likely parts of the body that a motorcycle rider can injure in a motorcycle accident. The lower part of the rider’s body is at a greater risk of suffering more injuries than his/her upper body part. The legs are closer to the ground and could be the first part of the body to touch the ground after a crash. If their body rolls over, the upper body will fall on the rider’s legs.
Leg injuries can take several forms, including fractures and disfigurement. Disfigured legs and feet will require specialized treatment and physical therapy to get back to their normal condition. A fracture could take months and sometimes years to heal. Some fractures do not heal completely, and the rider may have to deal with life changes.
Lacerations are common too and may occur when the rider’s legs contact the bike or the pavement. Another leg injury that is likely to happen is ligament damage. The extent of damage depends on how the rider’s legs bend when he/she falls off the bike.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine is a susceptible part of the body and is the most at risk during a motorcycle accident. After a crash with a vehicle, some riders will fall on their legs, others on their front, and others on their back. Falling on the back can result in several injuries, among them spinal cord injuries. When the back or head hits the roadway hard, a person can suffer severe damage to the spine that will affect several body functions.
Spinal cord injuries are likely to affect all riders, even those who wear helmets for protection. A person wearing a helmet may protect their head from injuries, but their spinal cord could be affected. Injuries to the spinal cord may result in paralysis. It is a condition in which the part of or the entire body is incapacitated. There are mainly two types of paralysis from which the rider is likely to suffer:
Paraplegia- It is the paralysis that affects the legs and lower part of the body after an injury to the spinal cord. The condition causes the injured to lose their muscle function in the affected area.
Quadriplegia- It is the kind of paralysis that affects the entire body, or mainly from the shoulders down to the legs. It occurs when a spinal cord injury causes the brain’s messages not to be sent to the rest of the body.
Spinal cord injuries require more time and money to treat. Sometimes the injured does not heal completely and may have to learn some skills to survive for the rest of their life.
Compensatory Damages in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
When an accident occurs, and people incur injuries, the law requires the responsible party to pay the injured parties’ compensation. In an alcohol-related motorcycle injury, the at-fault party’s determination is an essential step in the compensation recovery process. Once the plaintiff is sure of the accident and the responsible party’s cause, he/she can prepare a claim form and file a lawsuit in a civil court. The types of compensatory damages the plaintiff can include in the claim depend on the types and severity of injuries incurred. The most likely compensatory damages in an accident like this include:
The economic damages will compensate the plaintiff for all monetary losses incurred in the accident. Financial losses are straightforward to calculate and prove, and may include the following:
- Lost wages incurred during the time the rider was recovering from his/her injuries
- Lost earning capacity if the injuries incurred have made it impossible for you to earn as much as you were earning before the accident
- Medical expenses- these will include all medical costs incurred after the accident, including the emergency medical care you got immediately after the crash. They will also have the transport costs incurred in the course of seeking medical help. If the plaintiff is still undergoing treatment, the expenses that he/she is likely to incur in the future will be included
- Property damage- including damage to the bike and any other personal property you may have lost in the accident
These include all those other losses the plaintiff may have incurred in the accident, but do not have a monetary value. They may include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
After an accident, people go through a lot of suffering that may not be related to monetary loss. That is why these damages are as significant as economic damages. The court decides the amount of money to award for these damages based on the severity of the accident.
The court may also decide to award punitive damages based on how negligent the responsible party was. These damages are used as a form of punishment for gross negligence and warning to other motorists against reckless behavior while driving. The court sets the amount of money assigned to punitive damages based on the severity of the offense committed and the responsible party’s financial ability. In cases where alcohol is involved, the responsible party could be required to pay a higher amount as punitive damages to the plaintiff.
What To Do When Involved In Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
If you get involved in an alcohol-related motorbike accident, the first thing to do is to have yourself examined for any injuries. You need to ensure that you are physically alright before taking any step towards filing a lawsuit against the responsible party.
If you have sustained severe injuries, get in touch with a car accident attorney. An experienced attorney will take the burden off your shoulders, leaving you to recover as he/she takes over your case. Getting an attorney early enough after the accident will ensure that evidence on the accident scene is not lost. You depend on this evidence to prove fault in court and ensure that you receive full compensation for your losses.
Try to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance provider for an out-of-court settlement. It will save you so much time, energy, and money. However, be careful not to settle for less compensation than you deserve. The insurance company will be quick to make an offer when they know that you deserve more than that. Let your attorney take charge of the negotiations. If you cannot agree, proceed to file a lawsuit in a civil court.
Find a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney Near Me
An alcohol-related motorcycle accident is not as easy to resolve as it may seem. That is why you need the best legal help to ensure that the one responsible for your injuries is found guilty and that you have been awarded the compensation you deserve. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we have highly skilled and experienced attorneys who may help you get the justice you deserve. Therefore, if you are injured in Los Angeles, CA, call us at 424-237-3600 and let us walk you through the process.