California provides Motorcycle riders with the perfect weather for biking throughout the year. However, motorcycles are dangerous to drive, since they lack the balance and protective cover that vehicles have. The risk of injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle accidents increases when either the rider or a motorist is driving under the influence. Alcohol naturally impairs thinking and reasonable behavior. It can make you drowsy or unable to operate a vehicle or motorcycle in a reasonable manner. For some, alcohol can make them drive recklessly with disregard for other road users. If you are the victim of an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney will help you file a claim to collect the damages due to injury or death resulting from the accident.
Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
Alcohol-related motorcycle crashes account for almost 50% of the total motorcycle crashes in California. 75% of these crashes involve a collision with a motor vehicle, and most of them leave the cyclist death or with serious injuries. If you or your loved one is involved in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, you can recover damages by suing the negligent party.
Alcohol increases the rate of motorcycle accidents by at least five percent. The major reason is that alcohol is a sedative that slows down the nervous and muscular system. The higher the concentration of alcohol in your body, the greater the risk that you will be driving or riding negligently.
Most alcohol-related motorcycle accidents involving cyclists occur after group events where cyclists have the peer pressure to drink and drive. However, these accidents are not limited to drunk driving by group riders. Solo cyclists and motorists who drive drunk have an increased risk of being involved in a crash if they are drunk.
California prohibits driving or riding with a BAC exceeding .08%. Commercial drivers, including rideshare and Uber, should not exceed the legal limit of .04%. At this point, the law assumes that the average person is intoxicated. You might be intoxicated even with a lower BAC depending on your tolerance and how long you have been drinking.
Alcohol increases the chances that most people will be reckless on the road. Reckless behavior might include speeding, driving, or riding on the wrong lane, weaving through traffic, ignoring traffic lights and signals, inattentiveness and aggressiveness on the road.
Some of the common types of motorcycle accidents include:
- Unsafe lane changes where the motorist or motorcyclist crosses without checking the vehicles or motorcycles in the way. A lane change could also be unsafe if done without providing a signal.
- Left-hand turns especially at intersections where the driver or a motorcyclist fails to see oncoming cars or bikes causing an accident.
- Parking lot accidents when the car is leaving the parking lot and gets into the way of the motorcyclist
- Poor road conditions
- Weather conditions (storms increase the chances that a motorcycle will crash)
When either the motorist or rider consume alcohol and proceed to ride or drive, they are already in violation of the motorists’ duty of care. Road users are bound by certain laws that require them to prevent foreseeable harm to themselves, others, and property.
When suing for damages from an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, then you have to prove that:
- The defendant acted with negligence
- You or your loved one suffered damage due to the accident
Note that, a personal injury lawsuit is a civil one that does not rely on whether the defendant is charged or convicted for a DUI offense. However, a DUI conviction makes it easier to prove negligence.
Common Injuries from Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are convenient and efficient in getting you around. However, they come with a greater risk of serious injuries and death in case of an accident. In addition, some factors increase the risk of injury. These include:
- Failure to wear helmets: helmets reduce the risk of death by at least 37% and the risk for serious head injuries by 69%. Using a helmet can save your life which is why California Vehicle Code 27803 requires that all motorcyclists and their passengers wear a helmet
- Age: cyclists above the age of 40 are more likely to die from motorcycle accidents compared to younger motorists
- Unlicensed riders: more than 25% of deaths related to motorcycle accidents involve unlicensed riders
Some of the common injuries from motorcycle accidents include:
- Broken bones, which occur when the biker falls off the bike. The most common bones that suffer include those of the legs, hips, feet, wrists, and arms.
- Broken joints: joints of the hips, shoulders, and pelvic could suffer from the impact of the accident resulting in breakage.
- Internal bleeding which occurs when the internal organs suffer injury from the accident
- Head injuries, which are common in most motorcycle accidents. They occur when the head hits the ground or an object during the crash. If you are wearing the helmet, the impact could be lower. Head injuries can be mild to severe. You might lose consciousness, develop internal bleeding, concussions, or suffer severe injuries such as traumatic brain injury.
- Neck injuries could include a broken collarbone, whiplash, paralysis, and in severe cases a broken neck.
- Spinal injuries can arise due to an impact on the biker’s back or neck injuries.
- Loss of limbs, which usually happens at the time of the accident or due to a complication from other injuries
- Nerve damage: nerve damage can occur in any area of the biker that suffers severe injury. For example, a biker’s arm can result in nerve damage to the affected arm.
- Road rash, which is an injury that results from sliding across the surface of the road. The hard surface rubs against exposed skin and may result in permanent injuries such as skin irritations, infection, and damage to the surface nerves.
Most of these injuries are preventable by proper safety gear, and following traffic rules. However, if they do occur due to the negligence of another party, you can sue the person for the damages you suffer.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several things you should do:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can call 911 for emergencies. Help others who are injured in accessing medical treatment. In some cases, you might not feel the impact of the accident; however, you still need to go to the hospital to be checked.
- Gather information about other bikers, drivers, and passengers involved in the accident. Record other information such as the type of vehicles (including the model, make, color and year of the vehicles), and contact information of witnesses. Where possible, take photos to have visual documentation of the accident. Photographs make it easier for reconstruction experts to recreate the scene of the accident.
- Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be interpreted as admitting fault for the accident.
- Contact your insurance provider and notify them of the accident – do not admit fault or blame the other person.
- Contact a personal injury attorney to help you determine whether you have a case
The damages that you can recover from an alcohol-related motorcycle accident lawsuit cover the financial and non-financial losses that occurred due to the accident. They include:
Economic damages reimburse you for the financial losses you incur due to the accident. These are the easiest to calculate as the value is already known or can be determined easily. Economic damages include:
- Lost wages: a motorcycle accident might result in injury that prevents you from working temporarily or permanently. The at-fault party should compensate you for the wages lost due to the recovery. If the accident affects your ability to earn in the future, the court will calculate the value of the income you would have made. You need to present evidence of your income at the time of the accident and medical records that show the extent of the injury. You can recover lost earnings, including your salary, overtime, commissions, self-employment income, bonuses and raises, and lost benefits. When calculating the lost wages, the court takes the following into account:
- Your age
- The length your injuries are likely to last
- Your health before the accident
- If and when you might return to your job
- Your life expectancy
- The number of years you could have worked before having to retire
- Your past earnings
- Benefits, raises, and bonuses as per your company's policies
- Your performance, reviews, talents, goals, and interests
- Other relevant information
- Medical expenses: Due to the seriousness of motorcycle injuries, it could be months before you recover from your injuries. In some cases, you will need medical care for life. These medical bills can be overwhelming and burdensome to you and your family. Luckily, you are entitled to compensation for these expenses if another party was at-fault for the accident. Costs of physiotherapy, counseling, and rehabilitation related to the injuries are compensated as medical expenses.
- Property damage: your bike could have been damaged during an alcohol-related motorcycle accident. You could sue the at-fault party to be compensated for the repair, restoration or replacement costs you incur.
These are awarded to compensate you for the intangible losses you suffer due to the motorcycle accident. Non-economic damages can increase your settlement significantly, especially if you hire a competent attorney. Some of the non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of spousal support, consortium or parental guidance
These damages are subjective and depend on how well you and your attorney present the case. California does not place a cap on the non-economic damages you can get: therefore, these damages can raise your final settlement above the million-dollar mark.
When calculating economic and non-economic damages, the court might require an expert economic expert.
These damages are awarded on a case-by-case basis based on the behavior of the at-fault party. They are meant to punish acts of gross negligence that cause injury to other people. Punitive damages are used to discourage motorists from engaging in such risky and reckless behavior that could result in injury or death.
The court will determine the value of punitive damages after considering factors such as:
- The financial capacity of the defendant
- The nature of the offense the defendant committed
- The consequences of the defendant’s action on the victim
- The criminal history of the defendant
- Financial gain the defendant might have gained from the offense
The Claims Process in California
You have probably thought about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party if you or a loved one suffered injury or death from an alcohol-related motorcycle accident. For small claims like minor injuries, you can handle the claim yourself by contacting the insurance provider of the at-fault party. However, when there is a lot at stake, you need all the professional help you can get.
Personal injury laws are complicated. They have connections to other statutes, which might be too exhausting to trace. Therefore, pursuing a substantial claim on your own means that you might settle for unfair compensation. However, a lawyer understands these laws, past court cases that are similar to yours and how to navigate the court system.
One of the most important steps involves hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will evaluate your case and provide you with an idea of what your case might be, depending on experience. He or she will also help you with gathering the relevant evidence and filing the claim before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in California is two years from the date of the accident.
You should also provide as much information as you can about the injury and the accident. The information you collected at the scene of the accident, witness statements, doctor’s reports, copies of imaging materials such as x-rays and police reports.
Identify the at-fault party so that you do not waste time and resources pursuing the wrong person. In an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, the common at-fault parties are the cyclists or motorists. You should also determine whether you were at-fault for the accident. Contributory negligence plays a big part in most personal injury cases and could result in the reduction of your settlement.
The optimum time to file a lawsuit is when you have reached the maximum medical improvement or have recovered from your injuries. This way, it is possible to calculate the past medical expenses and estimate future expenses.
Your lawyer will begin the claims process by sending a notification letter to your insurance provider. The notification informs the insurance company about your intention to file a lawsuit. The next step involves investigation, gathering, and discovery of evidence. At this point, your lawyer might request the services of an accident scene reconstruction expert. He or she will also send a demand letter, which provides a list of the damages and expenses incurred from the accident.
Your lawyer and the insurance company will then begin the negotiations. Often the insurance company gives an initial offer, which your attorney can accept or reject depending on the amount. If you do not settle at the negotiations stage, you will proceed to a court.
Your lawyer will file court papers against the at-fault party. The next step involves evidence discovery and the introduction of new evidence. The court will then require both sides to go through mediation in trying to come up with a fair settlement.
If the parties do not settle during mediation, the court will proceed to trial. At the end of the trial, the jury will give its verdict.
Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death is referred to as death that could have been avoided if the at-fault party acted with the required duty of care. Wrongful death is different from other personal injury lawsuits in that his or her bereaved relatives represent the victim of the accident. Some of the people who can file a wrongful death include:
- Domestic partners
- Partial and total dependents
The dependents of the deceased can recover damages, including:
- The value of financial support provided by the deceased
- Loss of gifts or benefits the deceased would have given you
- Expenses related to burial and funeral
- The value of household services (in some cases, the deceased might have been a stay-at-home parent who contributed in different ways to the household that the breadwinner. In calculating these benefits, the court will calculate the cost of daycare, house management, and meal planning)
- Non-economic damages such as loss of consortium, loss of training, guidance, moral support, and affection.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
An alcohol-related motorcycle accident is sometimes unavoidable. Whether you are the biker, passenger, pedestrian, or a motorist who was injured in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation. Families of the deceased can also collect compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one. To collect these damages, you need the representation of a personal injury attorney. The Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney has a record of accomplishment in handling alcohol-related motorcycle accidents. Contact us today at 424-231-2013 for a free evaluation of your case.