The warm climate and the scenic views in California have made motorcycling a popular means of transport. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are exposed to a higher risk of sustaining injuries in the event of a crash than vehicle drivers on the road. Motorcycle accidents can occur due to several reasons, but drugs and alcohol are a significant cause of all types of accidents. Despite drugs or alcohol being a cause of the collision, the presence of chemicals in the blood system of the at-fault motorcyclist or driver doesn't mean your claim for compensation is won. Mitigating factors can prevent you from being awarded the damages. Because of that, you should consider help from The LA Personal Injury Law Firm. We are prepared to manage every aspect of your injury claim, including holding the negligent driver responsible and recovering your damages.
Overview of Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
Several motorcycle accidents occur due to drugs or alcohol. Drugs, either legal or controlled substances by all motorists, pose a considerable risk, especially to motorcyclists. Bikers are exposed to more risks because motorcycles are small in size, making them less visible by impaired or intoxicated drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs slows the reaction time and perception of motorists, thus increasing the risk of a crash. Intoxicated drivers also exhibit a lack of environmental awareness, increasing the probability of a collision when someone is intoxicated.
California VC 23153 considers drug-related motorcycle accidents as a DUI with injuries. Therefore, in case someone’s negligence causes a motorcycle accident that leaves you with injuries, you can choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. Also, if the person had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or drugs in the bloodstream, causing impairment, the individual can still face DUI charges. Some of the substances that are associated with drug-related motorcycle crashes include prescription and recreational drugs. These illegal substances cause impairment preventing a motorcyclist from exercising caution in a manner a sober motorcyclist could have applied, thus increasing the risk of an accident.
The majority of motorcycle crashes stemming from intoxication are contributed by group rides meant for fun. These groups often ride when drunk or on drugs, and usually, they don’t observe traffic rules, which increases the risk of accidents. Remember that these accidents don’t occur only when another party crashes the motorcyclist. When an intoxicated motorcyclist hits a pedestrian, property, or crashes with a car, it’s also a drug-related motorcycle accident. The injured party can sue the motorcyclist for negligence. Some of the persons who can be held responsible for motorcycle accidents include:
- A driver
- Another motorcyclist, or
- A pedestrian
After a motorcycle crash has occurred, law enforcement agencies will come to the scene. Their objective is to gather evidence by getting a blood or urine sample of the drivers involved in the crash to conduct a toxicology test. They might also use a Breathalyzer to get the BAC levels of the drivers. Witness statements, information about the driver’s license, and training are taken and put in a police report. When going to lay a claim, you will require this police report since it contains all the information that you might need to prove that the other operator was negligent and the negligence led to the injuries.
Common Drug-Related Motorcycle Accidents
There are a variety of motorcycle crashes related to drugs that are common in California. These collisions include:
Rear-end Collisions at Intersections
These crashes are frequent when a driver is approaching an intersection, and due to poor visibility and slow reaction from drugs, crashes the rear of a motorcycle. The impact of the collision can throw the biker off the motorcycle, which can cause severe injuries or even fatality.
Right of Way Crashes
These collisions are frequent where a driver crashes into you when you have the right of way. The collisions occur when a vehicle changes lanes and crashes into a motorcyclist or when a vehicle pulls from a parking lot, hitting a passing biker. The accidents are associated with drivers who fail to focus on the road, especially when they are high on drugs or alcohol.
They are common where parking spots run parallel with active lanes. If a motorcyclist is riding fast on the busy road and a driver of a car parked in a place parallel to the lane opens the door without checking if any motorist is approaching, the motorcyclist will crash on the door of the vehicle causing severe injuries.
When a biker passes through an intersection, and a motorist coming from the opposite direction tries to make a left-turn in front of the rider, a collision may happen, and it is usually fatal.
Other Causes of Motorcycle Accidents Aside From Drugs
Riding while intoxicated is one of the reasons motorcycle crashes occur. However, several other reasons that can cause Motorcycle accidents. These causes include:
- Motorcycle Lane Splitting
A lot of these accidents happen when there is a traffic jam and vehicles are not moving or when they are moving slowly. A motorcyclist will decide to drive between the two lanes of the slowly moving cars, which exposes them to a lot of risk in being involved in a collision. Accidents occur in these situations because the maneuvering space is limited, and the drivers of the stopped cars don’t anticipate any vehicle from behind. Also, motorcycles will be passing the cars in a traffic jam, and the proximity of these cars increase the risk of collision. Because lane splitting is legal in California, you can recover damages when an accident occurs.
- Left-hand Turns
Drivers making a left-hand turn cause 42% of collisions involving motorcycles and cars. The crashes occur commonly when the motorcyclist is:
- Riding straight through an intersection
- Trying to overtake a vehicle, or
- Passing a car
When the driver of the car does not pay attention to the road, or when he or she overestimates the motorcyclist’s position in a blind spot, a motorcycle crash may occur.
- Road Hazards
Road hazards like potholes, slippery pavements, unexpected objects in the road, dead animals, and uneven lanes do not increase the risk of danger for car drivers like they do on motorcyclists. Motorcycles are not stable and are small in size, making road hazards increase the risk of accidents. If your motorcycle crash was due to road hazards, hire a personal injury attorney to help you find the person whose negligence caused the accident.
- A collision between a Motorcycle and Fixed or Stationary Objects
About 25% of accidents involving motorcycle accidents and fixed objects result in death. The reason being motorcyclists have no metal box protection like in cars; hence, the impact from the collision throws the rider far and hard, leading to death or catastrophic injuries.
- High-performance motorcycles
Supersport and sport motorcycles are lightweight and have high horsepower, which makes them extremely fast. Motorcyclists using such bikes are likely to speed or ride less cautiously, increasing the risk of accidents.
Other causes of motorcycle accidents are:
- Cars pulling in front of motorcycles
- Loose gravel on the road
- Temporary metal plates on the ground
- Parts malfunctioning, and
- Hazardous weather conditions
Deaths and injuries in drug-related motorcycle accidents increase because of certain risks that are unique to motorcycles. These risks include:
Absence of a Barrier or Protective Metal Body between the Rider and the Road
Motorcycles do not have seat belts, a protective body, and airbags. The only protection they have is the helmet. When an accident occurs, especially without a helmet, bikers are likely to lose their lives or sustain life-changing injuries.
Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles making them less stable. When on a high speed, a motorcyclist can lose control of the bike when the front wheel starts to wobble. They, therefore, have to focus more on maintaining balance to avoid accidents. When under the influence of certain drugs, the body becomes weak, and balancing the bike when wheels begin to wobble becomes fierce, leading to a crash.
Sportbikes are light and have high horsepower, which might encourage riders to speed or accelerate fast, thus to result in accidents. Motorbikes like these encourage risky behaviors, thus increasing the risk of accidents in motorcycles. Drugs and alcohol encourage high-risk behaviors among riders especially during group rides thus increasing the probability of crashes
Motorcycles are Less Visible
It’s not easy to see a motorcycle approach because they are small, and cars might not spot them as they are hidden by objects when on and off the road. Remember, drugs reduce visibility as such; the risk of an accident occurring is high, especially in an intersection because motorists are not able to see the bike approaching due to its small size.
Although these unique risks make motorcycles seem like a bad idea, you can still ride safely and avoid accidents. Some of the safety measures that can be taken include:
- Receive training
- Know about road hazards and how to avoid them
- Avoid lane splitting and sharing
- Avoid drugs or alcohol
- Proper bike maintenance, and
- Wearing protective clothing and helmet
Injuries from Drug-Related Motorcycle Accidents
Some of the injuries that can be sustained after a motorcycle crash are:
- Hearing damage
- Broken bones in arms and legs
- Neck and spinal injuries
- Joint breakage
- Head injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Facial disfigurement, or
- Eye injuries
Compensatory Damages in Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
The damages available for motorcycle crashes cover financial loss and harm stemming from the accident. The type of damages you are awarded is dependent on whether the victim sustained injuries or not. Some of the compensatory damages you might be awarded include:
- Medical Costs
Any individual who wrongfully causes an injury or an accident to another person is liable for the medical bills of the victim. The individual at fault might pay the bills directly or through his or her insurer. The reason it’s essential for the person liable to pay for these expenses is because the victim and the family spend a lot of money footing hospital bills stemming for surgery, therapy, rehabilitation, and medication, which leads to financial shortages. These financial strains increase the suffering of these people hence the need for the party at fault to compensate for the losses.
- Loss of Income or Wages
It refers to the amount of income that the plaintiff would have earned in the past if it was not for the negligence or wrongful act that caused the accident. Therefore, if you have been involved in a motorcycle crash that leaves you with injuries that prevent you from working, the person liable should compensate you for the income you have lost. He or she should also pay you for loss of earning capacity in case the injuries sustained are permanent and will hinder you from working for the rest of your life. Also, an accident might limit the kind of work you do, thus reducing your total earnings. An excellent personal injury attorney should be able to negotiate and find an amount that you can recover for such a loss.
- Wrongful Death
If the intoxicated driver caused an accident that led to the death of a family member or loved one, you could file for a wrongful death claim. Although the damages you recover cannot bring back the deceased, compensation gives the family of the victim, a sense of justice. Wrongful death claims seek to compensate for medical bills, burial expenses, and lack of companionship.
- Pain and Suffering
It is possible to recover damages for pain and suffering caused by a motorcycle accident. Remember, pain and suffering are non-economic, thus tough to prove. To get these damages in full amounts, hire an experienced personal injury attorney. These attorneys will negotiate your case even better if you document or jot down a journal describing the pain and suffering endured during recovery. With written description, there will be enough evidence to present in court, thus leading to compensation.
- Property Damage
After a motorcycle accident, the bike can be partially or fully damaged. The liable party should pay for these damages. The insurer, through its adjuster, will assess the costs and then propose an amount for compensation. If the motorcycle wasn’t permanently destroyed, you could recover damages for repairs and parts replacement. If the bike was completely damaged after the crash, you should claim a new one.
What to do after a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
What you do after being in an accident is critical in recovering damages. For motorcycle accidents, the first thing is seeking medical attention. If the injuries are severe, you can ask someone to call 911 on your behalf. However, if you haven’t sustained injuries, you should check on the other parties involved and help the ones that are injured to seek medical attention. Be careful about motorbike accidents because a majority of the injuries have delayed symptoms. After the crash, you might feel okay, but days later, you start experiencing severe pain. Therefore, go for a checkup even if you feel all right to prevent further problems. Getting the medical report early is beneficial even when going to the insurer because they cannot deny your claim because the injuries are not related to the accident or are not severe.
The next step after medical attention is collecting information about the crash. Get the vehicle plates of the parties involved, make and model of the car, VIN, the name and contacts of other people involved in the crash and witness statements and contact information. But if you find the people at the scene hostile, flee the scene or call the police for help.
After leaving the scene of the accident, contact your insurance company within 24 hours and inform them of the accident and injuries sustained. Once they have evaluated your claim, the insurance adjuster will assess the damage and decide on the amount to pay as damages. Don’t take the first settlement offer because it will hardly cover the costs. Insurers are out to make profits, so they will rarely pay you the full amount. Hire an attorney to assist you with the negotiation so that if you don’t get the right offer, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the insurer of the person at fault.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
The passengers on a motorcycle and pedestrians have the right to sue a cyclist after sustaining injuries in a drug-related motorcycle accident. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove that the cyclist acted in negligence, thus leading to the crash. Below are some of the elements of negligence the plaintiff must show:
- That the rider or cyclist failed to exercise care when riding. The law requires riders and drivers to use reasonable care when on the road. Failure to do so depicts negligence.
- The act of negligence by the rider or defendant caused the injuries of the plaintiff.
- The complainant sustained injuries and suffered losses. In motorcycle accidents, where no injuries are sustained, the at-fault party cannot be sued for damages because there is no evidence to prove loss. Also, even if there were losses but can’t be shown, the costs will not be recovered despite the act of negligence.
If all elements of negligence above can be proved, the court is going to award you the appropriate compensation that will cover all your losses. A person is required to prove negligence in drug-related motorcycle accidents when intoxication levels of the negligent driver do not guarantee a claim for the plaintiff. When determining liability in this type of accident, the impairment level will help in showing why the at-fault driver acted in a manner that contributed to the accident.
Negligence Per Se
There will be no need to prove to the court that a driver acted negligently in cases where the defendant violated traffic laws intended to prevent accidents. It is known as negligence per se. Therefore, if a law, statute, or ordinance was violated in any way, negligence per se is presumed. Some of the traffic rules that can be infringed, causing motorcycle accidents in negligence per se include speeding, failure to yield, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, and texting while driving.
Issues that are Unique to Motorcycle Accidents
Many considerations that are made before and after an accident are the same as car crashes. However, there are specific issues that are particular to motorcycle accidents. These include:
Many states have laws regarding wearing of helmets by motorcyclists. However, not many people adhere to these laws despite their benefits. A helmet reduces the impact between the road or an object and head of the rider. If a biker is wearing a helmet, even when an accident occurs, no major head injuries are sustained. But without it, even a single crash can result in death.
A helmet isn’t going to help you with a case of a drug-related motorcycle accident. However, if you are the rider at fault and you are being sued, you can claim that the plaintiff sustained the injuries because he or she was negligent enough not to put on a helmet. The blame for the injuries can be shared in that case helping reduce the number of damages to be paid to the plaintiff. In other cases, the recovery of damages might even be barred. On the other hand, if you are the individual at fault, wearing a helmet or not will not interfere with the case in any way.
Recovering damages for drug-related motorcycle accident is not enough to take away the emotional and physical pain and suffering victims and the descendants of the deceased persons undergo. These accidents cause severe injuries and fatalities that the victims cannot recover. However, the money recovered helps give these people a sense of closure, justice, and helps them recover from financial losses. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm is here to help you with the process of damage recovery after a drug-related motorcycle accident. We invite you to contact us at 310-935-0089 for a free initial consultation.