Many prefer motorcycles for transport due to their speed and ability to maneuver through heavy traffic. However, against all those advantages, which stir preference for motorcycles are potential accident risks when a person operates a motorcycle under the influence. The California state’s Vehicle Code 23152 illegalizes the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The code defines a motorcycle as any device by which a person or an object may be propelled or moved on a highway. The means of propulsion must not be through human power.
When you incur an injury due to the fault of a drunk motorcycle rider, you will need an attorney who is compassionate and dedicated to defending you till you get compensated for the damages due to injuries. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm team is ready to help you seek compensation.
Operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol can be catastrophic. Operating a motorcycle requires a high level of balance, coordination, and judgment due to the nature of the motorcycles to ensure the safety of the cyclists and that of other highway users. The motorcycle crashes are more dangerous since they involve ejection from the bikes. The cyclist and the passenger do not have the privilege of protection afforded by other automobiles such as seatbelts, airbags, and roof. Lack of this simple protection exposes them to the risks of hitting objects as a result of the accident thrust.
The motorcycles’ ability to swerve the lanes and maneuver in the traffic increases their odds of causing accidents. Even at an alert state, the motorcyclists’ odds of causing accidents increase due to changing weather conditions, potholes, and negligent motorists. Nevertheless, weather conditions contribute about 2% of all of the motorcycle accidents’ causes. These conditions are riskier when cyclists are driving under the influence of alcohol. The recklessness is proportional to the level of BAC. Recklessness in riding a motorcycle contributes to accidents in the following ways:
- When the motorcyclist changes or crosses the lanes without being cautious of other road users or providing proper warnings
- Turning left at T-junctions where the motorists fail to take note of oncoming traffic
- Tail-gating unnecessarily
Any blood alcohol content can lead to fatalities, given the two-wheeled nature of motorcycles. Any level of drunkenness can lead to incoordination of braking, steering, and balancing of the motorcycles. The incoordination due to intoxication leads to risky behavior such as:
- Splitting lanes unscrupulously
- Over speeding
- Not fastening the luggage or safety gear properly
- Listening loud music which impairs the driving discipline
- Tail-gating other motorists or riding close to pedestrians
- Weaving across along their lane or out of one’s lanes
- Driving too fast beyond the conditions can allow for safety
- Making quick lane changes without warning other motorists and road users
- Extreme leaning when negotiating sharp bends
- Carrying a passenger unbecomingly
In most motorcycle accidents, the following factors apart from alcohol increases the chances of injuries and death:
- Failing to wear helmets which reduces the death risks by 37% and head injuries by 69%. The helmet has a hard outer shell which distributes the force of impact and prevents any sharp object. It also has a soft inner lining, which absorbs the shock of the crash around the head, reducing injuries. The Californian state law, Vehicle Code 27803, mandates the motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets.
- The ages of the cyclists and their passengers with a higher likelihood of deaths among those beyond 40 years
- Riding while unlicensed which generally implies that the one lacks the legally approved skills of operating a motorcycle
The federal government regulates the designing of helmets. The design should withstand the impact o a crash without compromising on visibility.
In all states, drivers should not operate any type of vehicle at the BAC levels of 0.08% and above. Commercial cyclists should not exceed the BAC limit of 0.04%, which is the legally tolerable limit of intoxication. However, lower levels of intoxication are enough to sedate the muscles and the nervous system.
Types of Alcohol-related Motorcycle Accident
Riding under the influence of alcohol aggravate the following types of accidents:
Head-On Collisions with Other Vehicles
The flexibility of motorcycles enables them to maneuver through the heavy traffic, and this mostly exposes them to accident hazards. The judgment needed to manipulate the traffic is lessened by alcohol intoxication. The delay in the other oncoming cars’ lanes oncoming leads to accidents. Head-collisions are fatal to the motorcycle riders. It is in sporadic cases that an alcohol-intoxicated cyclist is hit from the rear end by the tail-gating cars.
Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Accidents
This form of accident occurs to motorcycles when they drive between the lanes of slow-moving or stagnant traffic, especially during a jam. The sedative effect of alcohol makes the cyclists inattentive of the traffic changes, which leads to accidents. Lane splitting accidents happen due to:
- The little space left by the slowly moving traffic
- The vehicles drivers are oblivious of the maneuvering motorcycles
- The closeness between the vehicles and the motorcycles
The motorcycle and its occupants are squeezed between moving the vehicles leading to severe injuries since they are in contact with the traffic.
Collisions With Stationary Objects
When a motorcyclist knocks a stationary object, they may lose control because of the motorcycle's delicate stability. The cyclists are often yanked from the motorcycle and hit objects leading to more injuries. Some of the objects pose accident hazards more readily to bikes than other automobiles include:
- Slippery roads due to precipitation like snow and rain
- Gummy or sinking roads due to the heat of the sun
- Unevenly graded highways
- Human-made remains such garbage and dead animals
- Slippery lane markers due to storms or oil spills
Collision When Cars Make Left Turns
Cyclists are exposed to risks of accidents by cars turning left when the cyclists are:
- Overtaking the vehicles, and
- Are driving to a T-junction
The motorcycles are small and inconspicuous, thus unnoticeable through the car’s side mirrors. Therefore, maneuvering motorcycles under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of getting into an accident. Motorists driving in the wrong lane or over speeding have a partial liability to the injuries. However, drivers are always liable for hitting a vehicle that is making a left turn.
High-Performance Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents involving high-performance motorcycles constitute a low percentage of accidents but are more dangerous compared to those involving ordinary motorcycles. Cyclists involved in supersport or sport motorcycles accidents have a higher chance of death due to traveling at high speeds. The motorcycle’s lightweight and sport-tailored design make them a preference for young drivers usually of below age 30. The situation is more dangerous when cyclists are under alcohol intoxication.
Determining Alcohol Intoxication
A motorcycle rider with a BAC of 0.08% and above is considered legally intoxicated and, therefore, an accident risk. The level of intoxication is confirmed through blood, breath, or urine test. BAC surpassing the legal limit calls for a driving under the Influence (DUI) conviction. The BAC may be within the legal limit, but the intoxication may be confirmed from the observation of the traffic police. Such observations include:
- If the cyclist cannot negotiate curves steadily but drifts out of their lane while turning
- If the cyclist has trouble parking or dismounting their motorcycles. An intoxicated driver may find it difficult to turn off the engine and use a kickstand when parking.
- If the cyclist cannot maintain balance even at low speeds
- If the cyclist weaves along or across the lane
Common Injuries from a Motorcycle Accident
The common injuries in a motorcycle crash include:
Motorcycle crashes result in toppling over of the cyclists. They hit the pavements hard, leading to the breakage of bones of the hips, ribs, arms, and legs. When the motorcycles fall over the cyclists, their weight causes fractures on the bones of the rider and their passenger. The ankle joints may twist while the knee ligaments tear. The hands are mostly injured when the riders use them to brace themselves for the fall. The nerves are damaged, fingers break, and the rotator cuffs are torn in the attempt to absorb shock.
Head and Neck injuries
Motorcycle crashes result in concussions ranging from mild bruises to severe injuries such as cracked skulls. The lesions can lead to traumatic brain injuries. The injuries happen even when the cyclist has the protective gear on since the proper safety helmet does not reduce the probability of harm to zero. Some significant number of crashes result in damage to eardrums. Some cyclists survive the crashes with permanent or deficient hearing ability. The impact and the friction during a crash may also lead to deformities on the face and jaws since the helmet may only protect the upper part of the head. The cracking glass attached to the helmet may also injure the eyes. The spinal cord can be affected by the impact of the crash leading to permanent disability.
The impact of the accident sometimes twists the neck, breaking the collar bone. Permanent paralysis may result from this twist.
These injuries occur in a case where the rider’s skin is damaged due to the friction between the body and the ground. They may result in nerve damage, which may require a skin graft to heal. These skin abrasions may lead to further infections.
Injuries can be minimized even when the rider is under the influence of alcohol by wearing protective gear. The safety can be reinforced by wearing:
- Good-fitting helmet made as per the federal regulations
- Thick protective neck collars
- Chest, back and hip armors that are thick-cushioned
- Knee and elbow protective pads
- Leather gloves for protecting the knuckles
Drunk riding can lead to injuries or deaths of the riders, other drivers, and pedestrians as well as damages to properties belonging to the private and government entities. The law requires motorcyclists to exercise reasonable care. The violation of this standard care makes the cyclist liable to any injuries and damages caused to themselves and other highway users under the negligent laws.
This code, though varied in different states, holds the proprietors and employees of alcohol businesses liable for the deaths and injuries caused by the motorcyclists. The dram laws affect even the restaurants, and social gatherings where alcohol availed may lead to injuries and damages by a participant. The liability comes when the beer businesses violate the state’s regulation regarding the sale of beer. The drams are liable when they:
- Sell alcohol to persons who are intoxicated and in turn go to operate motorcycles causing accidents
- Operating the alcohol selling business without a license
- Serve alcohol to an alcohol addict knowingly
- Sell liquor to persons below the age of 21
- Selling the alcohol before the watershed hours
Recoverable Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
When you are involved in an accident caused by a rider operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol, you can claim damages from them. You may file a personal injury claim for damages so that you can receive compensation. The damages include:
Present and Future Medical Costs
If an intoxicated cyclist causes an accident that leads to injuries, you may seek compensation for medical care bills incurred from the scene of an accident, hospitalization bills, and future health care associated with the injuries due to the accident. The future health costs are met if the plaintiff incurred a disability that needs continuous treatment for some time. Such damages included in the personal injury cost of:
- Diagnostic examination
- Emergency care following an accident
- Physiotherapy sessions
- Surgery and the necessary painkillers
- Mobility aid such as wheelchair and crutches
- Any other medication as the doctor may recommend
Damages Due to Lost Income and Properties
You can also recover the losses due to current and future earning potential due to the injuries. The injuries may reduce you to working part-time or cause you to change to a lower-paying job. If you were working on a self-employed plan, you should be able to document the potential profits forfeited with the help of an economic expert.
You are liable for property damages as a result of causing the accident while driving under alcohol intoxication. The properties may be the car and other belongings of the plaintiff that are damaged due to your carelessness.
Pain and Suffering
There is compensation for both physical pain and emotional trauma due to the accident and the injuries incurred. The accident flashbacks could cause one mental turmoil while the depression builds up as one thinks over the losses the crisis has brought about. The family of the plaintiff may also undergo emotional and financial anguish when nursing their loved one. The inability to participate in some of the routine activities due to the injuries are also included here. The damages due to losses and suffering are calculated using the multiplier of the medical costs.
You are likely to be punished as a defendant for recklessly causing the accident due to operating a motorcycle under alcohol intoxication. The carelessness by drunk riding is enough to sustain a legal charge against him. Though these are not compensatory, they deter the cyclist from engaging in such reckless behavior again.
When the recklessness of the motorcyclist results in the death of your loved one, a representative acting on behalf of the deceased may file a claim for the losses incurred. The representative would seek the following compensation on behalf of the survivors:
- Burial and funeral costs
- Loss of income of the deceased that they depended on
- Loss of companionship and immaterial support
Any damages that are not covered by the insurance company or exceed the amount of the cover the insurer offers is always obtained from the negligent party.
Charges that May be Introduced in an Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
The drunk rider can be charged in two ways should they cause an accident while riding a motorcycle while under the intoxication of alcohol. The charges are:
In California, the three circumstances constitute driving under the influence (DUI):
- Operating a motorcycle while the BAC is 0.08 or higher
- Operating a motorcycle for commercial purposes while the BAC is 0.04 and above
- Operating a bike at any level of alcohol intoxication while one is below the age of 21. Operating while intoxicated and yet below 21 is a violation of zero tolerance laws
The amount of alcohol one must drink to reach and exceed the legal limit depends on several factors:
- The number of drinks and alcohol concentration
- The gender and the body size of the person
- Medical conditions that affect alcohol metabolism
- The type of food the driver has eaten or whether they have eaten
This second charge is primarily due to causing accidents. The very fact that one is drunk establishes a valid reason for a negligence claim. The claim only holds if you were injured by the intoxicated rider. You will have to prove the following:
- The negligent rider was supposed to exercise reasonable care possible while riding the motorcycle.
- The rider was not reasonably careful as would another motorcyclist, not under the influence of alcohol and paying attention to traffic laws
- The rider’s misconduct while impaired caused the plaintiff’s injuries
- The compensation you seek in the suit is to cater for the losses the accident caused, and the injuries sustained due to the drunk cyclist’s negligence. The sum also seek to compensate for the loss of a loved one if the accident resulted in a fatality
The defendant, the cyclist, accused of driving under the influence and causing an accident, can bring the plaintiff’s carelessness into question in the negligent claim. Their account may be questionable as the accuracy of their recollection was compromised owing to their drunk state at the time of the accident. However, evidence will be gathered to determine the extent of negligence in both the plaintiff's and the defendant's actions. If the defendant shows the plaintiff contributed to the accident, the compensable damages are reduced.
The prosecutor may decide to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony. When the plaintiff is seriously injured, the felony charge is likely. The penalty for a felony conviction is a three years jail term for every person injured and additional jail terms if the injuries pose a threat to the survival of the plaintiff(s) according to the Californian law.
What to Do After Incurring Injuries from Drunk Driver
Due to the drunken state, the motorcyclist is always at-fault. You are supposed to file a claim for compensation of injuries sustained before the expiration of the statute of limitations. If the injuries are not severe, this filing can be done within 24 hours. Seeking medical treatment is the best option after the accident. It enables you to obtain proper documentation of medical costs. Thus, the at-fault cyclist’s insurer cannot deny the validity of the claim. If possible, you also ought to collect enough evidence at the accident scene through the police, your means, and even the witnesses.
You need to be careful with ratifying the settlement amount offered by the insurance company without involving an experienced personal injury attorney. By accepting a little settlement amount, you forfeit the right to file a lawsuit against the insurance company in case the amount is not worth the injuries. The attorney will help you negotiate for the just amount while taking into consideration all the damages that you ought to be compensated for. The lawyer will also help you gather the evidence from police reports and all other relevant sources. He will advise you whether to accept the settlement amount or file a lawsuit against the insurance company and attend the court sessions on your behalf as you recover from your injuries.
Finding an LA Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
When injured by a negligent motorcycle rider, the best option is seeking a legal counsel that is dedicated to helping you recover the damages. The attorney needs to have matchless experience in handling personal injury cases. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm has lawyers who will fight for your compensation. Contact us for inquiries today by calling 310-935-0089.