For motorcycle enthusiasts, California is a great place to ride. The scenic highways and warm weather offer an excellent experience for the nearly one million Californians who own a cycle and enjoy traveling with an exhilarating sense of freedom. However, these riders are at an increased risk of tragic and fatal accidents, with California seeing over 10,000 motorcycle accidents in 2022. One major reason for these accidents is drunk drivers.
If you were injured by a drunk driver in a California motorcycle crash, you must take decisive steps soon after your accident to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Speaking with the experienced motorcycle accident lawyer team at Case Barnett Law right away is the best way to improve your chances of obtaining compensation.
How Drunk Drivers Cause Catastrophic Injuries to California Motorcyclists
Without the protective features of a metal frame, airbags, and other safety features of passenger vehicles, a motorcycle leaves the rider much more vulnerable if the rider is involved in a crash. They can be thrown off the cycle, hit the ground or other hard objects, or slide along pavement and gravel. All of these can cause catastrophic injuries.
A drunk driver who hits a motorcyclist can cause especially severe injuries for several reasons, including:
- The drunk vehicle driver may be traveling at a high rate of speed. When they hit a motorcyclist riding with limited safety features, the impact can do greater damage than to a passenger inside a car.
- The drunk vehicle driver’s judgment is impaired so that they may engage in risky and hazardous behavior. Along with speeding, the vehicle driver may tailgate a motorcyclist, run a red light, T-bone the motorcyclist, and fail to pass a motorcyclist safely.
- The drunk vehicle driver has delayed reaction time, slower hand, eye, and foot coordination, and reduced concentration. Some research shows that coordination can be impaired at least 20 percent with a BAC as low as 0.015 percent.
All of these can make it difficult for a drunk driver to process and avoid a dangerous situation.
Types of California Motorcycle Injuries
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, the injuries you suffer may be life-changing. It could take years for you to recover, and you may suffer emotional trauma, anxiety, and depression due to the severity and ongoing nature of your injuries.
There are many types of injuries you can suffer in a drunk-driving motorcycle accident, including the following:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is a common injury suffered in a motorcycle crash. If a drunk driver hits you, even if you’re wearing a helmet, the force of the impact can jerk your brain forward and back against the skull and result in a concussion or TBI.
- Road rash. When a drunk driver hits you, you may skid or slide along the pavement, gravel, or dirt, driving debris into your skin. The road rash may be very severe if you don’t have protective gear and get dragged during the accident.
- Broken bones. Suffering broken bones is quite common in a motorcycle accident. Wrists, arms, and legs are frequently broken.
- Spinal cord injuries. If a drunk driver hits you head-on, you may suffer a spinal cord injury. This is especially true if you and the driver are traveling at a high rate of speed. This will exert catastrophic physical force on the body.
- Hand and arm injuries. When motorcyclists are about to crash, they often put out their hands to break their fall. Thus, the arms and hands take the impact force and are at an increased risk of injury. You may suffer a torn rotator cuff, shattered bones, or nerve damage.
Potential Recoverable Damages After a California Drunk Driving Motorcycle Crash
If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident that was the fault of a negligent driver under the influence of alcohol, you may be eligible for compensation for economic damages—those that can be quantified—and non-economic, which are of a subjective nature. Here are some of the types of damages you might recover:
- Ambulance ride to the hospital
- Emergency room visit
- Medical expenses
- In-home care
- Lost wages—past and future
- Lost earning potential
- Property loss
- Loss of work benefits, including promotions or bonuses
- Follow-up appointments with all physicians
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How to Determine Fault in a CA Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver
Every driver on the road has a duty to obey traffic laws and ensure the safety of other drivers. However, drunk drivers disregard that duty of care when they get behind the wheel of their car after drinking alcohol. Driving while intoxicated is negligent driving. If you were injured in a California motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver and are seeking compensation, you need to prove the following:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. The law requires that a driver show reasonable care when behind the wheel. If the driver was drunk, it’s often easy to prove they did not show reasonable care.
- The driver breached their duty of care. The driver violated traffic laws, was distracted, or was driving recklessly. Driving drunk is reckless driving.
- The driver’s breach of care caused your injuries. The driver’s speed, distraction, or recklessness caused them to hit you. A drunk driver’s reckless driving caused the accident and also caused your injuries.
- You were injured and suffered losses. You must show you suffered damages as a result of the accident.
It’s important to remember that California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can collect compensation for damages even if you’re 99% at fault for the motorcycle accident.
How a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Your best chance of obtaining compensation after a drunk driver injures you is to hire the experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer, Case C. Barnett, at Case Barnett Law. There are many benefits to legal representation, including:
- Your lawyer will determine who’s responsible for the crash. In motorcycle crashes, it’s often (but not always) the other driver. In cases involving alcohol, your attorney can help prove the driver was drunk.
- Your lawyer will ensure all the paperwork is turned in on time—within the statute of limitations for motorcycle crash injury cases.
- Your lawyer will investigate the accident and what caused it. You may need reconstruction experts, and your lawyer can hire them.
- Your lawyer will gather the evidence necessary to help you receive a full and fair settlement from insurance or pursue a lawsuit.
- Your lawyer will communicate with insurance adjusters during negotiations to prevent them from using underhanded tactics to deny or reduce your motorcycle accident claim payout.
- Your lawyer will evaluate all aspects of your crash and calculate the maximum compensation you deserve.