California has the perfect weather and roads for motorcycling. However, despite the suitable riding conditions that California has to offer, there have been a lot of motorcycle accidents recently. Most of these accidents are related to alcohol. Motorcyclists are usually victims of alcohol-related accidents since they have little cover to protect them compared to other road users. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm will aggressively represent your compensation claim case if you are a victim of an alcohol-related motorcycle accident.
How Alcohol is Associated with Motorcycle Accidents
Once a motorist or a motorcyclist is under the influence of alcohol, they are usually impaired and cannot make the right decisions while on the road. California laws have established a 0.08% BAC limit for all motorists, and anyone apprehended with a higher BAC would face severe penalties. It also provides a 0.05% BAC limit for underage drivers. Anyone who is above the recommended limit is legally considered impaired and cannot make sound judgment when using the road.
Please note, some people might be impaired even with a lower BAC limit compared to the California legal BAC limits.
If a motorist has a BAC level beyond the legal limit, there are high chances of causing a motorcycle accident. Impaired drivers are usually dangerous and can negatively affect crucial driving skills. Here are the driving skills that are affected by alcohol.
The body is affected in a specific sequence. The first part of the body affected by alcohol is the brain, which affects one’s judgment. Therefore, it is hard to think, plan, and make sound decisions. In that case, a motorist would not manage to react to an unexpected situation caused by a motorcyclist. This increases the possibility of causing a fatal accident.
The smallest amount of alcohol can significantly impair your ability to concentrate on the different tasks that driving entails. Driving requires a driver to focus on various aspects such as vehicle positioning, speed, and other traffic rules. Unfortunately, it is hard to focus on those aspects when you are impaired. As a result, there are high chances of causing an accident with a motorcycle since such a driver cannot manage to concentrate on all driving tasks.
Alcohol can also affect your ability to interpret and understand different road signs and signals. It takes longer for a driver to respond to road signs and traffic signals while under the influence of alcohol compared to a sober driver. Therefore, such a driver would easily collide with a motorcyclist while sharing the same road.
Alcohol affects the gross and fine motor skills of a driver. It also affects eye-hand-foot coordination. In that case, an impaired driver would not react accordingly to a situation that requires a quick reaction. This increases the possibility of causing an accident while an impaired driver is sharing the same road with a motorcyclist.
Impaired drivers cannot control their eye movement and see clearly. Their eye muscle functions are significantly reduced, which in turn diminishes the peripheral vision. If a driver has a reduced vision, he or she cannot judge the distance between his or her vehicle and can easily hit a motorcycle from behind. Drivers are also required to use their vision to look out for other road users. However, if they are impaired, it would be hard to achieve this requirement leading to an accident.
Alcohol usually slows down the reflexes and decreases the ability to understand changing situations on the road. Alcohol reduces the reaction time of a driver up to 25% by diminishing the driver’s comprehension and coordination. Since an impaired driver has a slow reaction time, there are high chances of causing an accident while sharing the road with a motorcyclist.
Alcohol decreases your ability to position on the road, locate the centerline, road signs, and other motor vehicles around you. An impaired driver would not manage to track everything on the road. Therefore, there is a high possibility that such a driver would collide with a motorcycle.
Alcohol Impairment and No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents
In most cases, motorcycle accidents in California happen without contact between drivers and motorcyclists. These kinds of accidents are referred to as no-contact motorcycle accidents. In such situations, a drunk driver might cause a no-contact motorcycle accident in the following ways:
- Drifting inside and outside a lane
- Merging on top of a motorcycle
- Making unsafe lane changes
- Cutting off motorcycles
- Brake-checking a motorcyclist
- Speeding and weaving between lanes
- Running a red light
- Making a dangerous pass
All the above-stated actions force a motorcyclist to react, leading to a no-contact crash. If an impaired driver causes a motorcycle accident based on the above activities, this might put him or her liable for the collision.
Types of Injuries Sustained in an Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic. Any part of the body can be injured in such a crash, making it one of the fatal types of accidents that a person can get into. The following are some of the common types of injuries that a motorcyclist can sustain in a motorcycle accident.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries or TBI tops the list of motorcycle-related injuries. According to NTSA, 21% of unhelmeted motorcyclists end up with TBI injuries once they are involved in an accident. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to both short-term and long-term symptoms.
Common long-term symptoms that might result from TBI include breathing problems, vision changes, confusion, paralysis, speech difficulties, and difficulty while swallowing. If anyone ends up suffering from TBI, he or she might spend a lot to mitigate the possible effects that might result.
Since TBI is a form of head injury, there are other possible injuries associated with it. This includes a cracked skull and concussion. Both of these injuries can also lead to symptoms similar to those that might result from TBI.
Spinal Cord Injuries
There are high chances of injuring the spinal cord once you are involved in a motorcycle accident. The spinal cord is a critical part of the body, and any kind of injury can lead to severe consequences. Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis, including paraplegia or quadriplegia. It can also cause permanent disability or coma. Mitigating the possible implications of spinal cord injuries is quite complicated and can incur a lot of expenses.
Lower Extremity Injuries
Motorcyclists can suffer from lower extremity injuries once they are involved in an accident. Lower extremity injuries include fractures and leg injuries. These injuries also vary from minor and severe, depending on the nature of the motorcycle accident. In extreme cases, victims might end up having their legs amputated. In such a case, the victim will require to undergo therapy and purchase necessary aids, leading to significant expenses.
If you are a motorcyclist, your internal organs are at risk if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Most internal injuries occur when one hits a blunt object or when there is a penetration trauma. A blunt-force trauma occurs when one suffers from a blow that does not break the skin. Internal injuries can lead to severe traumatic situations if they are not attended to. Attending such injuries is quite expensive since it involves complicated medical procedures.
When a rider makes contact with the road surface, he or she can suffer from severe skin abrasions or a road rush. The severity of this type of injury ranges from mild to severe injuries, which requires prompt medical attention to avoid susceptibility to severe infections or permanent scarring.
Neck injuries are related to head injuries. These injuries can be minor such as broken collar bone to severe injuries that result in paralysis. Treating such injuries can be quite affordable or expensive, depending on the nature of the accident.
Although helmets are meant to protect the head, three-quarters of the head is left unprotected. Therefore, this might lead to injuries on the face and the jaw. Handling facial injuries can be expensive and might end up costing the victim a lot of expenses. In extreme cases, victims end up with permanent scars on their faces.
Emotional trauma can be explained as one of the worst injuries that a motorcyclist can sustain in an accident. This type of accident is usually attributed to PTSD. Combating Post-traumatic stress disorder can take a lot of years or decades, leading to a significant financial impact on the victim.
The human body has a lot of muscles and can be damaged once a motorcyclist is involved in a motorcycle accident. It may take a few days to heal wounded muscles, but severe cases might take quite long. This means that there would be some expenses incurred when dealing with this kind of injury.
Types of Damages You Can Recover from a Motorcycle Accident
There are different types of damages resulting from a motorcycle accident. Damage can be defined as the monetary award paid to a victim as compensation for loss or injuries sustained from an accident. Typically, damages are divided into two categories. These categories include compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are those types of damages designed to compensate for the injuries sustained in an accident. Punitive damages are types of damages that are awarded to a victim as a way to punish the defendant. The defendant must have acted with gross negligence to be considered suitable for paying punitive damages to the victim.
Compensatory damages are further divided into two types. This includes economic and non-economic damages. Economic costs represent those types of damages that have a monetary value or are calculable. Non-monetary costs represent specific types of damages that do not have a monetary value or are not measurable. Here is a detailed view of the common types of compensatory damages that a motorcyclist can recover after an alcohol-related motorcycle accident.
A significant amount of expenses that result from a motorcycle accident are related to medical bills. This type of cost includes expenses incurred after the accident and in the future. It involves different expenses, such as:
- Treatment expenses
- Purchase of physical aids such as crutches and wheelchairs
- Home-based care
If you suffer from severe injuries, you might need medical attention for the rest of your life. In that case, you must account for the expenses that will result from future medical expenses. Your attorney should help you calculate such costs to determine how much you need.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Most people focus on this as lost wages, but the most crucial aspect is the loss of earning capacity in both the past and the future. Lost earning capacity in the past simply represents lost earnings while the victim was attending to his or her injuries. On the other hand, future loss of earning capacity represents the kind of loss that a person will experience if he or she is severely injured and cannot manage to work as before.
In most cases, loss of future earning capacity does not necessarily mean that a person cannot manage to work. It can also represent a situation where a person has to work in a low-paying job compared to the former due to the injury sustained in the motorcycle accident. In that case, the victim should recover all the additional fees that he or she should have managed to earn if he or she was not involved in the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering describe the pain that you regularly go through due to injuries sustained after a motorcycle accident. There is also mental anguish, which results from the pain of dealing with the accident. You need to claim such damages once you have been involved in a motorcycle accident.
Loss of Enjoyment
Motorcycle accident injuries can easily affect the lifestyle of a victim. For instance, if a victim used to participate in a particular game, he or she can be rendered incapable of participating in such activities due to injuries. Things of such nature also need to be compensated by the at-fault party.
Loss of Consortium
There are specific types of injuries that can affect the ability of a person to enjoy a family relationship. Such kind of injuries is referred to as loss of consortium. It is usually associated with married people and sexual relationships. A spouse is expected to present this damage since he or she is directly affected by it. Also, a victim becomes eligible to recover this damage after recovering other damages.
As a victim, you can claim compensation for your damaged motorcycle besides the injuries sustained from the accident. Property damages will help you recover the cost of repairing the bike and renting a vehicle when the motorcycle was being repaired.
As described above, punitive damages are types of damages that are awarded as a form of punishment for certain conducts that are above the degree of solely compensating someone for the costs incurred from an accident. You have to prove that the impaired driver had an intentional disregard for other people’s safety using the road.
How to Recover Damages from Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
The process of recovering your damages can be complicated. However, with the help of a professional attorney, you can easily manage it. The recovery process involves two major steps. This includes proving that other motorists were at fault of the accident and proving that your injuries need to be compensated.
Proving that the Other Motorist Was At-Fault
Since alcohol is the primary cause of your accident, you need to establish that the motorist’s actions were responsible for your motorcycle accident. You should start by wrapping your head around what happened to determine the exact reason why your accident came into place. This includes researching the events that led to the crash and looking at what happened afterward.
Understanding what happened will help you find out who to hold responsible for the accident. For instance, if the drunk driver hits your motorbike by running a stop sign, the motorist will be held accountable for the accident. Remember, the other motorist has a duty of care and should consider the safety of others. Therefore, the fact that the driver or motorist was drunk and ended up violating a traffic regulation would put him or her liable for your damages.
Apart from that, there are different forms of evidence that prove that the other driver was liable. It is recommendable to seek these pieces of evidence to build a strong case against the at-fault party. Here are some of the documents and evidence that can help you prove that the other motorist was at-fault.
You will need the police report to file a claim against the negligent driver. The report contains all necessary information, such as the contact of the negligent driver, passenger, witnesses, and witness statements, including further details of the observation and determination of the person at-fault of the crash.
As much as you could use the police report in your trial, the police officer can testify in court to refresh his memory.
Witnesses can be a suitable aspect when proving that the other party was liable for the motorcycle accident that you were involved in. This evidence is relevant when there is a neutral third-party that has no stake to the claim and does not know you or the driver.
It is recommendable to take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your motorcycle, and anything else that would be remotely helpful in your case. The images can establish fault and the horrific nature of the wreck, making the case more sympathetic. The photographs will also help the expert witness reconstruct the accident, which will help your case further.
Apart from the pieces of evidence described above, other factors should help you prove that the other party was liable for the accident. This includes:
- Surveillance Camera
- Helmet, bike, and clothing
- Records that show that the at-fault party had a BAC level above the recommended limit.
Proving Your Injuries
To confirm that you incurred damages, you will need to show evidence of three components. These components include that you suffered the injuries, the extent of the injuries, and showing that the other party was responsible for the injuries.
Proving that You Incurred Injuries
This is the easiest part of proving that you were injured out of a motorcycle accident. It becomes more accurate when you seek medical care for your injuries and proof that you sought medical intervention. To prove your injuries, you will have to provide medical charts related to your injuries, your doctor’s testimony, and receipts for your care.
Proving the Extent of Your Injuries and Their Relationship to Your Damages
The second thing that you will need to prove is that you sustained injuries, and they harmed your life or lifestyle. For instance, if you broke a leg out of the motorcycle accident, you will need to prove that it prevented you from working. There should be a suitable link between the injuries sustained to the damages that you intend to be compensated by the at-fault party. Other evidence that you can use to prove your injuries include medical bills, doctor’s notes, and testimony from your employer.
Proving that Your Injuries Were a Result of the At-fault Party’s Negligence
This is a complicated aspect that you should use to confirm your injuries in a motorcycle accident. It requires a thorough investigation and organization of evidence. The best way to prove this aspect is by showing that you had no previous injuries before the accident, and the injuries that you have are a result of the motorcycle accident you were involved in. The evidence that you collect to show that another person was at fault for your accident would be suitable in trying to demonstrate the responsibility of the at-fault party.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
The process of filing compensation after a motorcycle accident is complicated. It requires a reliable personal injury attorney to succeed in the claiming process. At the Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, you will find a dedicated team of attorneys to help you in your accident claim anywhere in California. For more information about us, call us at 619-625-8707 and speak to our experienced attorneys.