Drug-related motorcycle accidents have increased in California over the past years. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that at least 13 people die each day due to motorcycle accidents. The majority of these accidents are caused by drug impairment, especially in California.
If you are injured in a drug-related motorcycle accident in California, contact an experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney. Our attorneys have the necessary skills to help defend against drug-related motorcycle accidents. We will review your case to determine the at-fault party then come up with the best strategies to fight for compensation.
Facts About Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
Between 2016 and 2018, more than 1200 motorists were arrested for DUI in California. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that the use of cannabis among motorists continues to increase each day. The report further shows that 15 % of motorists have drugs on them, and about 25% of them have an increased chance of causing an accident.
The CDC Injury Center reported that most at-fault parties in drug-related motorcycle accidents are teens. The report showed that teens do not have the correct driving experience and lack the mental capacity to recognize potential hazards. When the teens take drugs then drive, the result is catastrophic.
According to California laws, you have the right to seek compensation when an intoxicated driver hits you. An intoxicated driver is one who has consumed drugs or alcohol that interferes with their judgment to drive a vehicle. You don't have to wait for the driver to be convicted before filing the personal injury suit—all you need to show that the driver acted irresponsibly according to California law. Driving irresponsibility includes driving with your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) higher than the legal limit. It is against the law to drive with a BAC of either 0.08% or higher. High quantities of alcohol in your system mean you cannot concentrate on whatever you are doing.
An intoxicated motorist has an impaired mind, hence careless driving. He/she won't check to see whether it is safe before changing lanes or even making turns. An intoxicated motorist is also not likely to stop at a red sign. A motorcycle approaching in the other direction will crash on the vehicle resulting in a horrific accident. The accident can also happen when the motorcyclist has parked his/her motorcycle on the parking lot before the intoxicated motorist drives recklessly and injures them.
Steps to Take After a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
It is important to be alert if you can after a motorcycle accident. Being alert will help you take the following necessary steps to increase your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries. These steps are :
Seek Medical Help
Your health is your priority after an accident. If no one near you can help, call 911 and ask for emergency assistance. Calling for medical help will help save your life and reduce the risk of infection. Also, medical assistance will provide evidence of the seriousness of your injuries and bills that the faulty party should compensate.
You should also gather all the evidence that could help you in the case against the fault party. Some of the evidence that you need to gather at the scene include:
You should take the information from all the witnesses in the accident. Some of the information you should gather includes their names, phone numbers, and residence. This will help you reach them easily.
Take photos of the scene of the crime, including the vehicle that hit you, the skid marks on the road, and the damage to your motorcycle. You should also take photos of your injuries. If you are in the hospital, ask the doctor to take pictures of your bandaged wounds.
You should also call the police after the accident. Police will make an official report which you can use for your case. The reports are made available to the public so that you can ask for it from the officer. You can tell who the guilty party is from the police report, so ensure you ask for it once the investigation is done.
Refrain from Exchanging Information
The at-fault party or their insurer may try to exchange information with you concerning the case. Keep in mind that they are attempting to get your side of the story to blame you. You need to call a personal injury attorney to help handle the case for you. Some of the questions they may ask you is where you have been injured.
It is best to remain silent. The logic behind this is you may not know the extent of your injuries as the body might be numb. You should also not apologize to the at-fault party or anyone at the scene even when you think you might be at fault. The insurer or the at-fault party may interpret your apology as an admission of guilt, which can jeopardize your chances of receiving compensation. Keep in mind that you are the victim.
Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
You qualify for damages from injuries sustained in the motorcycle accident, mostly if the at-fault party was negligent. You can receive two types of damages; economic and non-economic. Economic damages are damages you receive due to monetary losses you encounter after the accident and the injuries. These include:
You deserve to be compensated for any money spent treating the injuries sustained in the accident. Medical bills range from ambulance fees, surgeries, and medicines. Medical expenses should also include current, future, and any related medical services you may need.
A motorcycle accident could leave you with serious injuries, which may take time to heal. This means you will spend time in the hospital or at home away from work. The time spent away from work can negatively impact your wages as you won't receive payment for work not done. Therefore, ensure you include this in your case by showing how the accident has negatively impacted your work.
Lost Capacity to Earn
Some accidents can leave you with permanent injuries, which may inhibit your capacity to make a living. In such a case, you deserve compensation. You should provide medical reports showing your inability to make a living or go to work because of the injuries.
You should receive compensation for any property that was destroyed or damaged in the accident. If you were ferrying some valuable items which were destroyed by a negligent driver, you deserve compensation for that. You also deserve compensation for any damages caused to your motorcycle.
Some injuries can temporarily or permanently leave you disabled and unable to do the simple things in your home. In such a case, you should be compensated according to personal injury laws.
Non-economic damages are those that cannot be quantified. Establishing non-economic damages is more challenging compared to economic damages. Therefore, your attorney must prove that you indeed suffered due to the at-fault party's negligence. The non-economic damages include:
A motorcycle accident is traumatic. The days after the accident can be challenging for you. You may even find it hard to sleep or concentrate. You may feel humiliated and embarrassed because of how the injuries affected you. The mental anguish can be too much, which is why you need compensation.
Pain and Suffering
You also deserve compensation for the pain and suffering you endured in the accident and after the accident. The pain and suffering could also occur in the future, so it is essential to think of that, too, mostly if your injuries were permanent.
Loss of Consortium
If you lost a spouse who was there to love and offer you guidance, you should sue for compensation. The compensation may not bring them back, but it will help ease the pain.
The purpose of a personal injury suit and settlement is to make the injured party feel whole again. During a settlement, a judge may decide that compensatory damages are not enough. For this reason, he/she will award punitive damages to the defendant. The main aim of these damages at this point is to act as a deterrent to other motorists. Also, the damages are meant to teach the defendant that acting in gross negligence has consequences. However, before the judge awards the punitive damages, the attorney should show that the intoxicated driver is guilty of the following:
Malice is an essential element that proves that defendant is intoxicated. According to California Civil Code 3294(c)(a), malice is willfully acting without regard to road users' lives and safety.
Insurance Firms and Motorcycle Accidents
When you have been involved in a drug-related motorcycle accident, the at-fault party's insurer may want to know the accident's details. They may attempt to ask you questions concerning the accident. It is important to remember that they are not your friends at this point, so they may use anything you say against your case.
The first thing that you should do after the accident is to seek medical help. When you visit the hospital because of your injuries, it will show how severe the injuries are and that they were caused by accident. Also, a medical report can help you file a personal injury suit and receive compensation.
Once you have sought medical help, you can contact the insurance firm to ask them for compensation. The at-fault party's insurer may agree to compensate you without going back and forth about who should be blamed for the accident. But, in most cases, they may need some persuasion. For this reason, you should hire a personal injury attorney to help you deal with the insurer. The insurance adjuster may offer you a settlement offer, which may be a small amount.
Your attorney will sit down with you and discuss the options based on the settlement offer. If the amount is favorable, you can accept the offer; however, you can reject it if the amount is too little. Your attorney will advise you on the best amount depending on the injuries and the loss you have suffered. Remember that you denounce the right to file a claim in court if you accept the insurer’s settlement offer, leading to more money.
When calculating the settlement amount, the insurer will consider your injuries, treatment options, and property damage. The insurance adjuster will provide the figure the company is willing to pay for the damages.
Proving Liability in the Accident
When an intoxicated motorist hits you in a drug-related accident, the intoxication alone doesn't prove liability. However, the intoxication of the driver will act as a basis for your lawsuit. The drugs or alcohol in the driver’s system will show proof of negligence. The judge and jury will consider it as proof beyond reasonable doubt against the driver. But you will also have to provide other evidence to prove liability.
It would help if you also showed that the driver owed you the duty of care. California law states that any driver on a shared road owes a duty of care to you and other road users. If you can prove the driver failed to honor the duty of care, you have enough proof to win the case. Intoxication and failure to observe the duty of care show that the driver is liable for the accident and should compensate you for the Injuries.
Proving the At-fault Party's Intoxication
It is essential to provide evidence showing that the other party acted out of negligence by taking drugs and driving. It is not easy to prove drug intoxication, unlike alcohol intoxication, which you can easily show using a Breathalyzer.
A blood test is required to show that drugs impaired the driver. Police will request this at the accident scene after observing the driver’s behavior. Some of the actions that could show the driver is under the influence are drowsiness and poor coordination. Another sign that the driver could be intoxicated is reckless driving. When the driver is under the influence of drugs, the chances are that he/she is not paying attention to the road.
A drug recognition expert(DRE) may also provide enough evidence to show that the driver was under the influence. A DRE is a government-appointed expert who is trained to recognize signs of intoxication.
You can also show the intoxicated driver’s liability by providing evidence of the wreckage of your motorcycle. The wreckage will show that the intoxicated driver was driving carelessly and at high speed, which resulted in the accident. However, showing evidence of the wreckage won’t be enough as the driver may argue that you came out of nowhere. You must provide more supporting evidence such as witnesses’ testimonies or CCTV recording of the accident.
Causes of Motorcycle Accident
Besides the intoxication, several factors, coupled with the driver’s intoxication, could lead to drug-related motorcycle accidents. They include:
Over speeding is a common cause of accidents on the road. Motorists usually over speed when there is slow or no traffic. Speeding is a problem because it decreases the chances of reacting when there is an obstacle on the road. Intoxicated motorists are the biggest culprits of overspeeding, mostly because the drugs have impaired their judgment.
Changing Lanes Unsafely
When an intoxicated driver changes lanes without checking whether it is safe to do so, there is a high likelihood of an accident.
Lane Splitting / white lining/Stripe-riding
Lane splitting occurs when the driver drives the vehicle between lanes or between rows of either traffic that has stopped or moves slowly. When an intoxicated driver engages in lane splitting, the chances are that he/she might hit an oncoming motorcycle resulting in severe injuries.
Common Injuries in a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
You can sustain minor to severe injuries if an intoxicated drug-driver hits you. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a motorcycle accident's risk of severe injuries and fatality is high compared to a vehicle. As a motorcyclist, you don’t have a protective body shielding you like in the case of a vehicle. When an intoxicated driver struck you from behind, you will be thrust forward onto another vehicle or stationary object.
Some of the injuries you can sustain in a motorcycle accident are:
Facial trauma includes all the injuries that occur on your face in a crash. Facial trauma in a motorcycle accident mostly occurs when you are not riding with a helmet. The injuries range from tissue injuries such as bruises, lacerations, and burns to the eye socket, nasal, and jaw fractures. The symptoms of these injuries will depend on where the injuries occurred.
A road rash is a common injury experienced in a motorcycle accident. Road rash is an abrasion of the skin which occurs when your skin scrapes against the tarmac or the road surfaces. Road rash is painful; however, the pain's intensity will depend on the injuries’ seriousness. The injuries can be easily treated at home, but you should see a doctor if they are deep. If you choose to treat the injuries at home, make sure you keep an eye on some of these signs:
Drainage of pus
Debris embedded on the injury
Your bones or muscles are visible.
Head injuries mostly occur when you have not worn your helmet. The injuries occur on your scalp, skull, and brain. Head injuries could be mild or severe. The treatment options will depend on the severity of the injuries. The injuries could be open or closed. Open injuries occur when an object or the impact of the accident cracks open your scalp and skull. Closed injuries, on the other hand, are those that don't crack your skull.
Internal injuries are those that affect the internal organs in your body. When there is a forceful impact in areas where the organs are directly located, you will likely experience internal injuries and bleeding. These injuries are serious because they are not easily noticeable.
Soft Tissue Injuries
You can also sustain soft tissue injuries in a motorcycle accident. Soft tissues in the body include cartilages, tendons, muscles, and blood vessels. Soft tissues are essential in the body, and any injury affecting them could lead to serious health issues. The recovery period of soft tissue injury will depend on the severity of the accident.
A broken rib is an injury that occurs when the bones in your rib cage are broken. You will experience broken ribs when you are thrown out of the motorcycle after the intoxicated driver hits you from behind. The symptoms of a broken rib include consistent coughing accompanied by pain in your chest. You can also experience pain in your chest when laughing or breathing in.
Spinal Cord Injuries
You are also likely to experience spinal cord injuries in a motorcycle accident. Spinal cord injuries are those that affect the nerves, ligaments, and vertebrae. The force of the impacts can crush, dislocate, or fracture the spine. The injuries result in permanent changes to the body’s sensation and strength below the injury area.
Spinal code injuries result in paralysis. The paralysis can be either Tetraplegia or Paraplegia. Tetraplegia means the injury affects the pelvic organs, arms, hands, trunk, and legs. Paraplegia, on the other hand, means the injuries affect the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
Fractures and Broken Bones
Fractures and broken bones are common injuries that occur when you are involved in a motorcycle accident. These injuries, however, can result in permanent nerve damage, disfigurements, and even disability.
Find a Car Accident Attorney Near Me
Drug-related motorcycle accidents have claimed lots of life and caused severe injuries to the survivors. You deserve compensation for any injuries you sustain in an accident due to negligence. You can reach out to our attorneys at Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney to help you with the case. We are experienced in handling drug-related motorcycle accidents. Call us at 424-237-3600 if you have any questions.