Motorcycles have recorded one of the highest number of fatal injuries over time. If you are a motorcycle accident victim, you deserve full entitlement from all the losses that result from the accident. Many people fail to get total compensation for their injuries since they do not consider professional legal representation in their case. We at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney will provide the best legal services that suit your needs.
Meaning Of Catastrophic Injury According To California Laws
The California Laws considers a catastrophic injury as an injury that makes the victim suffer long term or permanent pain, loss of a limb, or loss of the functionality of an organ or limb. Some of the catastrophic injuries that one can suffer from include:
Paralysis results from spinal and neck injuries. Such types of injuries can leave a victim with partial or total use of their torso and limbs. Victims might require life-long specialized care based on the severity of the problem. It can also leave a tremendous battle with emotional scars, the need for physical therapy, and medical care.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Commonly known as TBI. In this case, an accident can leave the victims with life-long emotional and cognitive problems that affect their daily lives. It can also leave the victim unable to recognize his or her loved ones. So, victims will need to be taught how to handle ordinary tasks such as feeding themselves and brushing their teeth.
Loss of limb
This involves the loss of a part of the whole leg or arm, rendering you the inability to walk or use your hands. This leads to an inability to walk and work effectively.
loss of senses
In this case, the victim ends up losing senses such as sight, hearing, smelling, and touch through spinal injuries or head injuries. Therefore, you expect the person to suffer from a poor or slow response when needed to use the senses.
Brain injuries involving cognitive impairment and mood imbalance
In this kind of catastrophic injury, the victim might appear fine after an accident, but end up having lasting disabilities such as irritability, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and mood swings. It might also involve the inability to handle personal issues such as finances.
Life-long Costs Related To Catastrophic Injuries
Most catastrophic injuries leave the victim unable to work and unable to take care of daily needs. The situation might also require the victim to seek regular nursing care, incur medical expenses, and ruin his or her financial situation. Some of the life-long costs that result from the injuries include:
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Regular nurse care visit
- expenses to retrofit the house to accommodate wheelchair movement
- Diminished capacity to earn
- Expenses to purchase every equipment needed for the specialized care
Possible Damages From Catastrophic Injuries
Damages sustained from catastrophic injuries vary between economic and non-economic. It is easy for a jury to prove financial losses such as missed time from work, property damage, lost wages through documentation such as bills of services and receipts. However, it is quite hard to compensate for non-economic damages since there is no way to weigh between the cost and extent of such damages.
In most cases, the jury will award non-economic damages depending on the severity of injuries that the plaintiff has incurred. For instance, if the plaintiff used a total of $ 50,000 in medical expenses and other treatment, the jury will possibly award higher for non-economic damage since the recovery time is quite long. There might be no straight-forward way to reward non-economic damage. However, it is reasonable to determine the damages as several times higher than the medical expenses that the plaintiff has incurred.
It is much easier to calculate the economic accident since they involve aspects such as lost earning through the loss of a job. Calculating lost earning involves adding up the benefits that a victim could have gained while at work.
How To Calculate Future Lost Earning Ability
Calculating the future lost earning capacity is quite hard compared with lost earnings. The main difference arises from the inability to project future aspects using present values. Ideally, future earning abilities depend on the amount that one was earning, age, sex, life expectancy, and race. The jury determines the life-expectancy based on the statistical value provided by the federal government.
Practically, assume that you earned $ 40,000 per year before you incur an accident. Unfortunately, you could only manage to sustain your job ending up earning $ 20,000 per year from your part-time job as a result of the crash. In such a case, your lost earning is $ 20,000 per year, which the jury must compensate depending on your life expectancy. However, the earnings must meet the projected earning in the future, which is different from the present. Such situations require the intervention of a professional economist to make relevant calculations.
Responsibility For A Driver Who Caused An Accident
The California negligence laws provide that a negligent party is responsible for injuries sustained due to their negligence. Therefore, the driver responsible for your accident might end up liable for your catastrophic injuries. However, you must prove a few elements to recover damages from the negligent driver. You should prove elements such as:
- The driver owed the rider a duty of care: This marks the easiest thing that you can prove since all drivers have the duty of care to other people using the road. In legal terms, the duty of care means the responsibility of being reasonably careful of other people using the road by observing the set traffic laws.
- The driver breached the duty of care through negligence: in this case, the driver should have caused the accident out of negligence. Examples of negligence that result in a motorcycle accident include failing to observe basic traffic rules, failing to reasonably avoiding a collision.
- The injuries sustained in the accident resulted from the driver’s negligence: The motorcycle rider should prove that the accident occurred from driver’s negligence to observe basic traffic laws.
- The damages sustained as a result of the injuries: The California laws only allow an accident victim compensation if the injuries sustained from the accident were as a result of the injuries sustained from the crash.
In other cases, a victim does not have to show that the driver acted with negligence if the driver was violating a traffic law as per the California law, negligence per se
Negligence Per Se
The negligence per se presumes that the driver responsible for the accident could have violated a law, statute, or ordinance. For one to successfully file a lawsuit based on this act, the injured rider should prove that:
- The driver violated a regulation, law or a statute
- The injuries sustained from the accident were part of the actions that the laws, statutes or regulations designed to protect
- The person who suffered from the casualties was a member of the people that the rules intended to protect
- Violating the ordinances, statutes or laws caused the injuries sustained by the victim
According to negligence per se, some of the aspects that demonstrate a violation of the traffic laws causing motorcycle accidents include:
- Over speeding
- Running at a stop sign
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Text driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, commonly known as DUI
The attorney representing the victim should prove that the catastrophic injuries sustained resulted from the driver’s failure to observe California’s traffic laws, regulations, or ordinances.
Laws Related To Motorcycle Accidents
It is essential to note that it is quite hard to file a lawsuit if you had not adhered to the minimum legal requirements when riding a bike. Note that you have a duty of care as well, and must observe all traffic laws related to owning and operating a motorcycle.
All laws related to motorcycles are in the California Vehicle Code. Most requirements included in this section of the act applies to all motor vehicles unless stated to be specific to bikes. Here is a list of all laws that are pertinent to motorcycles and can be useful in case of an accident.
Laws Related to Your Ability To Ride
As defined in the California Vehicle Codes, one can be eligible to ride a motorcycle if he or she fulfills the following requirements:
- Be at least 16 years of age and owns a motorcycle operator’s license
- In possession of a valid vehicle driver’s license and completed an approved driving course
- Restriction to ride at night, carry passengers and ride on the freeway
- Have a written parental or guardian permission to ride if one is under the age of 18
- Must have completed the CHP MTC course
If you are found riding a motorcycle without one of these requirements, you might end up incurring fines, criminal charges, and license revocation.
Laws Related To Bike Safety
Besides having laws that restrict riders to specific requirements, there are a few laws that determine necessary safety means that a motorcycle rider should legally consider. These laws include:
- Riding a motorcycle with enough insurance. The California Motorcycle laws require a rider to have at least $ 15,000 injury/death coverage and at least a $ 5, 000 worth of property damage coverage. Note that you cannot recover full damages if you do not meet these requirements. This applies whether you suffer from catastrophic injuries or not.
- Installing motorcycle handlebars at a maximum of six inches above the rider’s shoulder when one is comfortably seated.
- Installing turning signals to a motorcycle built after 1973
- Riding the bike with the headlights on unless the bike is a pre- 1978 make.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Motorcycle helmet laws represent one of the most controversial laws related to motorcycle accidents. The California Vehicle Code Section 27803 categorically requires both the driver and passenger riding a motor-driven cycle to wear approved helmets.
According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards of 2018, the helmets should meet specification ( but might not be limited to):
- A total weight that does not weigh below 3 pounds
- Thick inner linings
- A reverted chin strap
Lane Splitting Laws
California has one of the most controversial laws related to lane-splitting. Even though no laws are prohibiting this action, the law provides that one should do it safely and prudently. Therefore, you do not expect a Highway Patrol to pursue a lane-splitting rider unless one is doing it recklessly, disregarding California traffic laws.
In case of an accident related to lane-splitting, the duty will check whether you or the driver conducted the split safely and prudently. Drivers should maintain a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, while motorcyclists should maintain a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour while lane-splitting.
How To File A Claim
The process of filing a claim starts from the moment when you incurred an accident. However, many people end up settling their claims with the responsible insurance companies, which does not amount to the full compensation that one deserves. The driver responsible for the accident can also compel you into agreeing to the cause, which renders you from total compensation as well.
That is why you need to follow a distinct process to get full compensation from the damages sustained. The method of filing for a catastrophic injury case in California is as follows:
STEP 1: Gather as much information as possible about the accident
You should try gathering as much information as possible about an accident to use it in your defense. Some of the elements that you should collect include:
- Witness contact information
- Name and information of other people involved in the accident
- license plate numbers of the vehicles responsible for the accident
- The year, make, color and model of the responsible vehicle
- Identification number of the car involved in the accident
If the people involved in the accident fail to cooperate, leave the scene, and reach out to the police. You should also take photos and videos of the incidence, especially your damaged bike and the injuries that you have sustained.
STEP 2: Confirm Whether You Have Legal Standing
The California law requires anyone who intends to sue someone for an injury to directly involved in the legal dispute planning to sue. Legal terms consider this as having a standing in a claim.
Step 3: Determine Who To Sue
Figuring whom to sue is essential in filing a catastrophic injury claim. You must prove that the person being sued committed the accident out of negligence and identify the vehicle responsible for the accident as well.
Step 4: Ensure That You Are Within The Statute Of Limitations
Statute of limitations is the period that a plaintiff should take to file a lawsuit. The California Civil Procedure Code provides a general two years to file all cases related to personal injuries. The time starts from the date of the accident. Therefore, you must file the lawsuit as soon as possible.
Step 5: Confirm Whether You Were Partially Responsible For The Accidents
You might be wondering whether you still stand a chance to file a lawsuit even though the fault was 99 percent yours. California’s “comparative Fault” laws suggest that the injured party damages might end up reducing to reflect the shared level of responsibility. As a victim, you will be able to recover damages according to your percentage of fault.
Step 6: Contact A Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Your insurance company can lure you into signing a waiver to do away with their responsibility as soon as possible. Take note that insurance companies only consider paying the least amount possible, which does not match your rights. Therefore, contacting a professional motorcycle accident attorney will ensure that you get the right compensation.
Statute Of Limitations When Filing A Claim
The statute of limitations for a catastrophic injury in motorcycle accidents falls under the California Code of Civil Procedure. It provides a two year period after the accident to take legal action against any damages incurred after the accident. The court might fail to consider your case after the stipulated timeline, ending up losing the right for compensation.
However, there might be a few exceptions that might prompt the court to overlook their stipulated timeline. The first exception applies to a minor victim. The statute of limitations provides that the case does not begin until the minor attains 18 years. However, the victim has two years to file the lawsuit after turning 18 years.
The second exception applies when the injuries sustained from the accident takes a long period to show. Some signs and symptoms, especially those associated with Traumatic Brain Injury, can take quite a while to show. In such a case, you will get a two years window to file for the case as soon as you discover the signs and symptoms.
There are many considerations that result from a catastrophic motorcycle accident. That is the reason why you should find an attorney who will provide the necessary legal advisement and representation when you file a lawsuit. If you are in Los Angeles, contact the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013 to speak to an attorney who will help you with your case.