Motorcycle accidents are prevalent in the state of California, including San Diego. While there are numerous causes of accidents, alcohol-related causes are the most common. They make up almost half of the statistics recorded by the Department of Motor Vehicles in California. As a motorcycle rider, you may find yourself involved in an alcohol-related accident that involves an intoxicated motorist. Due to the impaired judgment of the driver, you could get severely injured from an alcohol-related accident. The severity you suffer increases because the drunk driver may fail to respond quickly to emergency brakes or swerve in time to reduce the impact that he or she causes you.
Consequently, you will face the full force of an oncoming vehicle. After suffering severe property damage and bodily harm, you deserve to pursue legal action and seek compensation from the liable party. In most cases, the drunk driver, who was the primary cause of the accident, has to pay all damages when he or she is found guilty of the offense. Additionally, the driver is under strict laws not to drink and drive, or to drive with a blood alcohol content that is above 0.08%.
While instituting lawsuits may seem straightforward, the accused party has to defend himself or herself, and may even attempt to extend the scope of liability to you. Therefore, you require the services of competent and well trained personal injury lawyers who will help you with your compensatory application. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we work hand in hand with our aggrieved clients to help them receive their claims lawfully. Moreover, our clients trust us to give them professional legal advice on how to deal with insurance adjusters and how to conduct themselves in court as well. Our guidance enables the aggrieved person to ensure that he/she receives the best monetary compensation the judge can give.
The Nature of Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents that involve a drunk vehicle motorist are often very severe because of the high impact that the rider succumbs to. It is important to remember that as a rider, you have minimal protection to any external force in case of an accident because a motorcycle lacks body coverage. Often, there are two major parties involved: the drunk car driver and the victim rider. If the accident is severe and more chaotic, the accident's impact may extend to other bystanders like pedestrians. Additionally, the accident could cause a domino effect, where several other vehicles that could be following the one involved in the accident may fail to brake on time and ram into each other.
Common Causes of Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents
While being drunk is the primary cause of an accident whereby a vehicle may hit a motorcycle, specific factors that arise from the driver’s state of intoxication play a significant role in actualizing the accident. A claimant needs to learn about these common cases because he or she, with the help of the personal injury attorney will use them to put the fault on the defendant as you demonstrate his or her acts of negligence. Some of the common slip-ups that a drunk driver may be liable for in causing the accident include:
Use of High Speed
Several laws limit the speed that a motorist should use while on the road. Therefore, when the driver is drunk, he or she will pay no regard to such regulations, since the mind is in a disrupted state. Consequently, the drunk driver may use an excessive speed that limits his or her reaction time, especially when required to brake. Thus, if you happen to ride close to such a driver, or switch lanes and end up in front of his/her vehicle, the result could be a horrible accident. There is no need to worry about bearing any liability in such a case, as long as your lawyer can prove that you followed all the traffic rules and exercised caution while changing lanes or riding in any other position on the road.
Alcohol is known to have some severe side effects, one of them being blurred or impaired vision. If a driver is too drunk, he or she may lack a clear view of the road or oncoming vehicles or motorcycles. As such, you may be a victim of an accident because of the driver’s blurred vision caused by high alcohol consumption.
Uncoordinated Body Movement
Alcohol also causes the person who consumes it to have uncoordinated body use. It is commonly exhibited by the way a drunk person staggers or rams into objects like tables. Also, because of the spinning head effect, the drunk person may constantly fall because of a lack of balance. When a driver faces all these effects, it is easy to see how quickly an accident could occur. For example, he or she may fail to steer the car correctly or press the gas pedal too hard. Thus, if you happen to ride next to such a driver, he or she puts you in danger of involvement in a severe car-motorcycle accident. The case is even worse when you, as the rider, are unaware of the driver’s intoxicated state and trust him or her to yield to your right of way because you may position your motorcycle right ahead and suffer the high impact from the car.
Ignorance of Traffic Signs and Lights
It is also very likely that a drunk driver will ignore any warning traffic signs and lights, which is dangerous to an innocent oncoming motorcycle rider. For example, if a sign requires the driver to give way at an intersection, he or she may proceed straight and hit you from the side. Alternatively, there are some cases where the accident is a head-on collision because the motorcycle rider cannot swerve out of the way on time. If the drunk driver breaks any of the traffic regulations, he/she will be at fault indefinitely and suffer any repercussions that the judge issues to him or her.
Injuries Sustained From Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
As discussed above, a motorcycle accident is often very severe because of the high exposure to impact a rider faces. The impact may be twice as devastating because he or she is probably unable to coordinate his/her actions if he/she were intoxicated. Thus, an accident victim suffers significantly as compared to the motorist who may even leave the accident scene uninjured. Some of the common injuries sustained include:
Sustaining fractures after a motorcycle accident is common, especially if the motorcycle falls and applies pressure to your limbs or other parts of the body. The fractures could be severe or quite negligible, depending on the nature of the accident. Nevertheless, most victims suffer very severe fractures because of the unexpected nature of collision caused by the drunk driver. A fracture may affect very vital bones in your body that play an essential role in walking or hand coordinations. For example, if your femur fractures, your entire upper thigh becomes weak and cannot support your body while walking. The injury may be so severe that the doctor may recommend confinement to a wheelchair.
Moreover, you may also suffer from broken ribs if the weight of the motorcycle exerts a force on your chest area. Broken ribs may lead to the injury of more delicate body organs like the lungs and the heart. The chances of subsequent injuries are generally slim, and a rib fracture may have more adverse effects than expected.
A broken backbone may cost the victim a lot, especially where the case is severe. The spinal cord plays an essential role in the human body because it supports most bones in their structures. Besides that, it is through the spinal cord that most nerves pass on body signals that include senses of touch and pain, while also enabling transmission of messages to the brain. Thus, injury to the spine may disrupt a lot of bodily functions that are key to the victim’s healthy body functioning. Where the injury is severe, the victim could suffer severe paralysis. This is a disease that disables all sensory nerves and organs such that the patient loses body coordination. As a result, the victim could lose the ability to walk or use his/her hands. The results could dramatically change the accident victim’s life because of confinement to minimal actions.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Your skull is critical in protecting your brain from any injury or damage, especially because the brain organ is delicate. Thus, when you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, it could result in brain injury. The condition worsens if you, as the rider, did not have a helmet on, or the accident's impact caused it to fall off your head. A traumatic brain injury could equally result in serious effects depending on how bad the brain injury is. In mild cases, a person may experience symptoms like recurrent headaches and concussions. He or she may also suffer from the dizziness that may last a while.
In more invasive injuries, brain damage is often severe and irreversible. There are reported cases of amnesia and mild to severe retardation caused by brain damage. Moreover, some patients suffer immensely and remain in a medically vegetative state that commonly leaves them in a coma for days, months, or years. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it is important to seek medical attention so that you can avoid the complication of harm caused.
Sometimes, the motorcycle accident victim may evade severe external injury but suffer from internal bleeding. Mostly, the victim may be oblivious of the internal bleeding until it is too late. The case is common where such a person fails to visit a hospital after the accident because he or she feels fine. In adverse conditions, internal bleeding leads to blood clots that may even cause heart attacks. Thus, it could lead to an unforeseen fatality that may attack the victim way after the motorcycle accident.
There are many other injuries sustained after a motorcycle accident that include but are not limited to:
- Wounds and lacerations
- Severe blood loss
- Broken teeth
All these injuries collectively comprise personal injury, and the victim has a right to file a compensatory suit for all the harm and loss he/she suffers.
What To Do After an Accident
Some of the guidelines we give to our clients are crucial to ensuring that the course of filing the suit runs smoothly. What you do after the occurrence of the alcohol-related accident is, therefore, essential. These guidelines are on the assumption that you are conscious and well enough to execute them after the impact of the accident.
Dial 9-1-1 To Seek Paramedic Response
It is important to request an ambulance with well-equipped paramedics, even if you do not feel hurt after the accident. The requirement is for your well-being because you may never know what may come after the high impact. Moreover, the drunk driver may also be severely hurt and may also require immediate medical attention. While it is not your legal obligation to call for support on his/her behalf, it does no harm to call the medics.
Take Down All The Driver’s Details
After you both acknowledge the accident, you and the driver should engage and take down all essential contact information from each other. This step is critical for you as the victim because you have a lot to lose if you are unable to trace the driver who caused the accident. His/her presence is paramount in court when the compensatory proceedings begin since he/she is the defendant in your case. Hence, you should be keen to take down the:
- Vehicle’s number plate
- Driver’s official name
- Driver’s phone number and address
- Any witness’ contact information
Having this basic information will enable you to track down the driver and conduct any further discussions regarding the accident. These discussions are highly effective, especially when the driver is sober and aware of his/her actions and the consequences that he/she may face.
Contact The Police
Sometimes, you may find it difficult to deal with the driver who caused the accident because he or she may be aggressive from alcoholic intoxication. Thus, he or she may be uncooperative in giving the essential information you need to take down. In such situations, you should not hesitate to call the police who will help you handle the situation. They will also lawfully arrest the driver and charge him/her under the requisite DUI regulations.
Call Your Lawyer
Regardless of the time of the accident, feel free to contact your lawyer for further guidance and assistance. At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we are fully dedicated to our clients, which means that we are accessible at all times. Alternatively, you can leave a brief message that displays the urgency of the situation, and we will get back to you with the adequate advice you require. The most common recommendation is that you should not admit to any fault, especially because you are the primary victim of the accident. Moreover, do not contact any insurance company before consulting with us, as they have very complicated and hidden exclusion statements that may leave you short-changed.
Liability of The Drunk Driver
You can establish liability based on the negligence that the driver exhibited in the case of an alcohol-related accident. By the act of being drunk, your lawyer can come up with several points of reference to use against the defendant in your compensatory suit. Your attorney relies on the aspects of establishing negligence that falls under the law of Torts.
For the judge to determine that an act was negligent, he or she has to be satisfied that:
The Driver Owed You a Duty of Care
Proving the existence of a duty of care that the drunk driver owed you is straightforward. Your attorney will rely on the statutory provisions that require all motorists to drive safely and have other motorists in mind as they operate their vehicles. The California Vehicle Code entails all these requirements that form a duty of care. For example, in the code, a driver should yield to oncoming vehicles and follow all road regulations. Moreover, it also requires all drivers to exercise caution when approaching other cars to avoid accidents. Thus, such provisions are useful in establishing a duty of care.
The Driver Breached The Duty of Care
Proving a breach is also crucial to your case because it shows all the actions the drunk driver undertook that were contrary to exercising the duty of care required. Your lawyer has to prove that there was a law provision that prohibited driving under the influence.
The regulation is in section 23153 of the California Vehicle Code. It expressly makes it unlawful to drive while having a blood alcohol content that is above 0.08%, since such levels of alcohol render the motorist drunk beyond proper coordination. Secondly, the law prevents any person from choosing to drive while drunk by choice. Therefore, if the driver chooses to drive despite knowing that he/she is drunk, it leads to a direct breach of the duty of care.
Secondly, your attorney must prove that you suffered harm or damages because the driver breached the duty of care. Often, such proof is self-explanatory because of visible physical injury. Your lawyer could call you to exhibit all plasters, bandages, or wound cover-ups that become evidence of your injury. A doctor’s report on your injuries and required medical treatment is useful evidence of injury and comes in handy in court proceedings. Also, he or she may display all documents that prove damage to property, like the reports of your motorcycle assessment reports.
The third thing that your lawyer has to prove is that the law prevents the defendant’s actions of his or her breach. This may also be straightforward to prove following the California Vehicle Code provisions on driving under the influence.
In rare proceedings, the judge may determine that you were partly at fault, using the comparative negligence rules. They require the judge to assess any course of action that you undertook, which may have played a role in causing the accident. The defendant’s attorney may use it as a defense and try to shift the blame on you. However, concrete evidence like surveillance footage that proves your innocence will come in handy. Therefore, you should not worry about falling liable for any causation.
What To Claim Compensation For in a Lawsuit
You lawfully need reimbursement for all physical and proprietary damage you suffer from another motorist’s fault. Thus, your attorney will help you come up with viable claims to raise while seeking compensation. They are:
After succumbing to any injuries, you need medical attention as a natural course of action. While these services are essential, they often come at a high cost. From medical surgeries to physiotherapy services, your funds could quickly become overdrawn. Moreover, you may also require hospitalization for long durations so that doctors can monitor your recuperation.
Medicine is also quite expensive, yet you cannot do without it. Hence, after combining all these costs, you should raise a claim to receive compensation because none of it is your fault. The judge will order the defendant to issue you the accurate monetary payments. Compensation may be to reimburse the money you already spent, or cover for the outstanding amount required in the hospital.
Your motorcycle is very likely to be severely damaged after a collision with a vehicle. In such instances, the defendant is responsible for making any payments required to repair the motorcycle or purchase a new one. It is up to the defendant’s insurance company to discharge the payments done. Therefore, you require your lawyer’s assistance when meeting with an insurance adjuster out of court to settle for a reasonable amount.
Loss of Wages
As you recover from injuries sustained, you may be unable to resume work as usual, especially if your job requires constant physical movement. While it is easier for people employed under corporate organizations to seek medical leave and still receive their monthly salaries, the case is different if you are an independent business owner. You may fail to push business operations forward, leading to significant losses. Hence, the defendant must compensate for such losses if he or she is liable for the accident.
On top of the damages that the liable party has to pay for, the judge can also issue punitive damages. They serve to punish the driver for the unlawful act of driving under the influence. He or she will also face additional penalties under the California Penal Code provisions for DUI charges. Since the accident causes injuries and damage to property, the liable defendant may also be guilty of a felony DUI offense.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Moving on to claim compensation for damages caused by an alcohol-related accident requires the help of an experienced lawyer. At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we work round the clock to give you the best results you can hope for. Also, we are available to answer any troubling questions regarding your case in a professional and friendly way. Contact us today at 619-478-4059. We will be happy to hear from you and offer our legal assistance.