Motorcycle accidents are common in California, and they often lead to catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury refers to an injury that has direct and proximate consequences. A catastrophic injury may permanently prevent you from performing any gainful work. Often, catastrophic injuries leave victims with permanent damage.

In most cases, injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident include brain and spinal cord injuries. As long as you have suffered injuries that are serious enough to be debilitating and long-term, you have suffered a devastating injury. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm in California assists people who have suffered catastrophic injuries to seek the right compensation. 

Why Seek Compensation

After suffering a significant injury in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation for several reasons. First, catastrophic injuries are often severe, and the associated medical expenses are high. You may have to undergo one or multiple surgeries to restore your bodily functions. You may also have to undergo lengthy rehabilitation and physiotherapy. As a result of the catastrophic injury, you may require permanent use of medication or a medical device.

You are also entitled to compensation because you may no longer be able to work and earn income after suffering a catastrophic injury. Your injuries may put you out of work permanently or for a considerable period.

You are also likely to suffer immense emotional damage after suffering catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident. You are therefore entitled to compensation for this emotional distress that comes with involvement in an accident. 

A catastrophic injury can be devastating from a legal, financial, and emotional standpoint. After suffering catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may lose a lifetime of wages. You may also lose the wholeness and the purpose that come with engaging in meaningful work. Upon suffering catastrophic injuries, you may require retraining to help you learn new employment skills. You will have to learn new skills that fit within your current limitations. Due to the severe cognitive and physical impairments, you may not be able to maintain any meaningful employment. 

The negative implications of catastrophic injuries will go beyond your work life. After suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may no longer be able to travel or engage in your favorite hobbies and activities. You may longer be able to care for yourself on a day-to-day basis the way a healthy person would.  You are likely to experience immense anxiety and suffer other mental health issues because of the devastating and disabling injuries. It is evident that after suffering a catastrophic injury, your life is never the same again. 

Common Catastrophic Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Some injuries, although significant and painful, may not qualify as catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are more severe and require intense medical treatment. Some of the common types of catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident include loss of function or permanent disability. Other injuries include severe scarring and disfigurement. Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are also common. If a rider is not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, he/she may suffer the loss of sight, commonly known as acquired blindness. It is also common for the driver to suffer damage of hearing, widely known as acquired deafness.

Other common catastrophic injuries include severe burn injuries and paralysis.  After suffering a catastrophic injury, the victim may require lifelong assistance, accommodation, and care. The victim may also have to be on medications for life. The victim may also have to rely on assistive devices or prosthetics. For instance, a person may have to use wheelchairs, canes, and walkers.

You may not be able to seek compensation on your own. It is crucial to seek the help of a personal injury attorney. An attorney will evaluate and document the overall impact of the injuries on your life. The attorney will not only focus on how you are after the motorcycle accident. The attorney will focus on how your life will change and how you will be many years into the future. The attorney will not just focus on your physical injuries. The attorney will consider how the injuries affect your family life, work-life, and your ability to enjoy life. 

Some catastrophic injuries may be harder to detect than others.  If you emerge from a motorcycle accident paralyzed or disfigured, it is apparent that you have suffered a disability or a catastrophic injury. However, if you experience a head injury, the symptoms are not visible. You may appear healthy but suffer lasting signs. Some of the symptoms of severe head injury include the inability to concentrate, memory loss, personality change, irritability, and mood swings. You may not be able to handle many affairs, including financial issues, after suffering a catastrophic injury. 

If you suffer a brain injury in a motorcycle accident, you may have to quit working even if you reach maximum recovery and appear healed. It may be hard to seek compensation, where apparent signs of injury are not present. While seeking compensation, you may have to rely on the testimony of family and friends and neuropsychologists to prove the presence of injury. This would be the only way to prove that you have suffered invisible life-altering injuries. 

Establishing Fault in a Motorcycle Accident

Most motorcycle accidents involve a collision between vehicles and motorcycles.  A vehicle driver might be to blame for a motorcycle accident if his/her negligence caused the accident. A motorcyclist may also be to blame if his/her negligence caused the accident. Motorcycle accidents often involve a high degree of force. The motorcyclist is usually not in protective gear and therefore suffers serious injuries or even death. In some cases, the vehicle driver may not have enough assets or insurance to compensate the motorcyclist for the damages. In case a motorcyclist dies in the accident, the vehicle driver's insurance may not be adequate to compensate the family members of the victim. 

For the victim to get adequate compensation, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation of the case to help identify all the possible defendants. A personal injury attorney analyzes a lawsuit on behalf of the victim to help establish liability. The attorney considers all the potential defendants in a case who may also help in paying compensation to the injured party.

Possible Defendants in a Motorcycle Accident

Other than the vehicle driver, other potential defendants in a motorcycle accident include the employer of the vehicle driver. The employer may be liable if a motorcycle accident involves a collision with a commercial vehicle, including a taxi, truck, or bus. In this case, the driver's employer may be responsible due to the negligence of their employees. According to the law, employers are often liable for the negligence of their employees. 

At times, a motorcycle accident may occur due to motorcycle defects. In this case, the motorcycle seller or manufacturer may be to blame for the accident. The seller or manufacturer of a motor vehicle may also be to blame if a defective vehicle caused the motorcycle accident. If the motorcyclist suffered severe injuries due to a defective helmet, the manufacturer of the helmet may be partly to blame for the victim's injuries.

A motorcycle accident may also occur due to faulty repair and maintenance of the motor vehicle. If this is the case, the shop responsible for repairing the motorcycle or the vehicle involved in the accident may be to blame.

It is common for poor road conditions to lead to motorcycle accidents. A poor condition of a public or a private roadway may lead to a motorcycle accident. Some of the common road conditions that may lead to accidents include poor road design that creates inadequate visibility, improper lighting, inadequate signs and signals, poor design, and maintenance of the roads.  Accidents may also occur due to poorly marked construction sites. Any dangerous road condition of public or private property may lead to a motorcycle accident. In this case, the entity responsible for the maintenance of the roads may be to blame for the accident. The body may include the government and other private contractors responsible for maintaining the roads. 

In some rare cases, a motorcyclist may blame a passenger if the accident occurred due to the negligence of the motorcycle passenger. The passenger may be at fault if his/her unreasonable conduct is the cause of the accident.

The motorcyclist may also be to blame for the accident. For instance, if the motorcyclist operates the motorcycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she may be to blame for the accident.  The motorcyclist may also be to blame for the accident if he/she engages in reckless behavior while on the road. 

If a motorcycle accident has more than one defendant, each defendant may be responsible for the full amount of the victim's economic losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. However, the defendants will only be responsible for the victim's non-economic damages depending on the degree of fault. 

Comparative Negligence

According to California law, comparative negligence applies when the victim is partly to blame for the accident. California is a comparative negligence state. This means that even if you are partly to blame for the accident and your injuries, you may still seek compensation. However, you will receive the compensation less your degree of fault. For example, if the court finds that you are entitled to a compensation of $500,000 but also finds that you are 10% at fault, you will receive the compensation less your degree of fault. Therefore, the court will reduce your compensation by $50,000. You will receive a compensation of $450,000. 

Investigating a Catastrophic Motorcycle Accident

For any motorcycle accident involving a catastrophic injury, a timely and comprehensive investigation is essential. Your personal injury attorney may hire a private investigator to evaluate the scene of the accident. It is wise to work with a private investigator even if the police have not yet issued their report. The investigator should evaluate the scene of the accident as possible from the date of the accident.

It may be hard to know what happened, especially without a police report. It may be hard for the private investigator to know how the accident occurred, especially if the victim cannot recall the facts of the accident. However, an expert investigator can follow some clues at the accident scene. The sooner the investigator gets to the scene, the more like he/she is likely to gather meaningful evidence. Skid marks often fade quickly, and the debris from the vehicles involved in the accident may scatter soon after the accident.

An accident reconstruction expert can check the accuracy of the police report regarding your accident. The expert may also fill some of the critical areas that the police report may not have covered.  At the scene of the accident, the police focus on clearing the accident fast so that traffic can resume. For this reason, it is common for the police to leave out some facts about the accident. Due to their haste, the police tend to make estimates instead of making actual measurements. Simple facts in an accident may make the difference between you winning or losing a case.

In gathering evidence for your personal injury case, the attorney may also engage other witnesses who may have been present at the accident scene.  An eyewitness may provide valuable information that will turn your case around. Unlike the police who only spend a few minutes with a witness, your attorney may spend hours with a witness to gather all the necessary information.

Immediately an accident occurs. Insurance adjusters visit the scene of the accident to gather information. Insurance adjusters work for insurance companies. The adjusters do have your interest but the interest of the insurance companies. After gathering all the necessary facts of your case, your attorney can face the insurance adjusters and negotiate for reasonable compensation. 

Establishing Fault through Expert Witnesses

In a motorcycle accident involving catastrophic injuries, you may require expert testimony to raise your chances of getting compensation. You and your attorney can utilize several possible expert witnesses in your case.

In addition to an accident reconstruction expert, a motorcycle specialist may also contribute to the investigations of a catastrophic motorcycle accident.  Your attorney may engage physicists and engineers with special knowledge of motorcycles and motorcycle accident reconstructions. Unless there is a clear liability in a motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident may help establish fault.

Upon suffering catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident, the victim may sue the helmet manufacturing company. The motorcyclist may sue the helmet manufacturers if he/she feels that the helmet failed to react appropriately at the time of the accident. An experienced biomedical or bio-mechanical engineer may offer expert testimony on the relationship between traumatic brain injury and the helmet. 

In some instances, the motorcycle manufacturing company may be to blame for a catastrophic motorcycle accident. This applies if the victim feels that the accident occurred due to a defective motorcycle. To help prove a manufacturing defect, your attorney may seek the counsel of metallurgists and product liability experts. 

When is the Motorcyclist at Fault?

In some instances, a motorcyclist may be to blame for a catastrophic motorcycle accident. The cyclist may be liable for engaging in lane splitting, running around a car, or making illegal turns. Insurance companies are usually quick to blame the motorcyclist for the accident to avoid making compensation.  However, even if a motorcyclist is at fault, he/she is entitled to compensation because California is a comparative negligence state. 

Liable Motor Vehicle Drivers

In most catastrophic motorcycle accidents in California, negligent vehicle drivers are often to blame. A vehicle driver may be to blame for an accident if it is evident that he/she violated the motorcyclist's right of way.

The vehicle driver may also be liable if it is evident that he/she failed to see the motorcyclist and struck him/her. In most instances, a motor vehicle driver may see the motorcyclist but then underestimate the speed at which the motorcycle is traveling. 

Most motor vehicle drivers in California do not have an understanding of how to share the roads with motorcyclists in a safe manner. It is common for vehicle drivers to tailgate motorcycles, and this is a leading cause of accidents.

Motorcycle accidents may occur when vehicle drivers back out of parking lots or change lanes without checking for motorcyclists. Most drivers are keen to check for other vehicles but forget to check for motorcyclists. 

If a motor vehicle driver fails to see a motorcycle and makes a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist, the driver may be at fault. 

Motor vehicle drivers may be liable for hitting motorcyclists while speeding or engaging in distracted driving. Distracted driving may involve falling asleep while driving due to fatigue. It may also involve texting or talking on the phone while driving.

Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries Suffered in Motorcycle Accidents

After suffering injuries in a catastrophic motorcycle accident, the compensation you receive will depend on various factors. The factors include the extent of your injuries and the circumstances of your case. Some of the available compensation includes:

Medical Expenses

You may receive compensation for the cost incurred in seeking treatment for catastrophic injuries. The compensation takes into account your past, present, and future medical expenses in seeking treatment for injuries suffered in the accident. You cannot receive compensation for pre-existing medical conditions but only for injuries associated with the motorcycle accident.  The compensation includes emergency room charges, surgical expenses, and hospital expenses. Compensation for medical expenses also includes prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, among other medical expenses. 

Lost Wages

You are entitled to compensation if you are unable to go back to work after suffering catastrophic injuries in an accident.  You will receive compensation based on your hourly rate of pay. The amount of payment will depend on the total period you stay away from work.  When awarding damages for lost wages, the court may also consider other factors. The factors include pending promotions, bonuses, and commissions at work.  

After suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may not be able to resume work. If this is the case, you may receive compensation for loss of earning capacity. Even if you go back to work after recovering from the injuries, you may not be as efficient as before. Therefore, you may not generate as much money as you used to make before the accident. For this reason, you are entitled to compensation.

Pain and Suffering 

 You are also entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering associated with the injuries you suffer in a catastrophic motorcycle accident. Catastrophic injuries are often extreme, and the associated pain and suffering are detrimental. The amount of compensation will depend on various factors, including the type of injury and the level of the pain. When awarding compensation for pain and suffering, the court may consider how long the pain and suffering are likely to last. 

Emotional Distress

After suffering catastrophic injuries like permanent disability, spinal damage, brain injury, or disfigurement, you may get compensation for the pain and suffering that comes with the injuries.  To help determine your level of emotional distress, the court may rely on records from mental health experts.

Loss of Consortium

After suffering a catastrophic injury, you may no longer engage in a perfect relationship with your spouse. You may seek compensation for loss of consortium.  This compensates your spouse for the loss of marital companionship and the comfort and affection he/she got from you before the accident. 

Wrongful Death

If a victim succumbs to catastrophic injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, the surviving spouse, child, registered domestic partner, or grandchildren may file a wrongful death claim.  Compensation for wrongful death may include burial expenses, lost wages, and loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

According to California law, if it is evident that the conduct of the defendant was malicious, fraudulent, or despicable, the court may award the victim punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the victim and deter him/her from repeating the offense.  Depending on the heinousness of the crime, the number of punitive damages will vary. The damages will also rely on the misconduct of the defendant and his/her economic status. 

Find a Competent Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you or your loved one has suffered catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident, you deserve compensation according to California personal injury laws.  The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help you seek the compensation you deserve in California. Contact us at 619-625-8707 and speak to one of our attorneys.