Catastrophic injuries are characterized by direct consequences that prevent the victim from executing gainful activities. If you or somebody close to you is a bike accident victim on Nevada’s roads, Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm is here to fight for your maximum compensation. Because we understand bike accidents can be fatal, we’ll handle the legal processes of your claim as you focus on getting better. The settlement will cover medical costs, emotional trauma, and lost wages arising from your inability to work because of the crash.
Understanding Catastrophic Injuries
Here are the catastrophic injuries you’re likely to sustain during a bike crash:
Spinal Cord Injuries
They occur when a blow squeezes the spine or causes it to dislocate. Because it transmits impulses from the brain to other body parts, spinal cord injuries may cause immobility and loss of sensation. Such injuries damage the spinal discs, ligaments, and vertebrae. Although they may not be detected immediately, spinal cord injuries have the following symptoms:
- Impaired breathing
- Tingly fingers and toes
- Lumps on the spine and head
- Neck and back pains or stiffness
- Walking difficulties
- Bowel and urinary incontinence
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Arising from a blunt-force impact on the head, these injuries may cause inflammation, bleeding, and bruising of the brain. While you may experience nausea and drowsiness at the beginning, you can suffer long-term effects such as memory loss, hearing problems, personality changes, lack of balance, concentration difficulties, and blindness. They also expose you to Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
While you can lose somebody parts during the accident, the doctor may recommend amputation to prevent an infection from spreading. It involves loss of arms, fingers, toes, and legs. Although the severed part can be reattached, you can receive a prosthetic body part instead. The physical pain aside, amputation makes you unable to perform daily tasks. You can also be depressed about how the injury will affect your dependents.
Internal Organ Damage
It can occur when body parts crash against each other or foreign objects penetrate the body. As a result, your organs may leak urine, stomach fluids, and blood, causing internal bleeding, swelling, and infection. Internal injuries often require surgery that may see you lose a part of or the whole organ. Even so, organ damage is undetectable in some cases resulting in surgical errors. Common organ injuries include:
- Broken ribs
- Splenic rupture
- Liver damage
- Ruptured bowel
- Kidney damage
- Ruptured aorta
You can sustain the following burns during a motorcycle crash:
It occurs when a rider falls off a bike and is pulled on the road. While some may dispute road rash as minor, the wound may go past the fat layer of your skin and reach the bone and other organs. Severe road burns may require surgery to correct the skin.
Engine and Exhaust Burns:
The biker may make contact with hot engine components during an accident. The burns can worsen because riding pants don’t offer enough protection for your body. Aside from swelling and blistering, the burns can destroy skin nerve endings.
A biker is at risk of severe burn in the event a leaking gas tank catches fire. Unlike motorists who are protected inside their vehicles, riders are exposed to toxins like battery acid that may eat into the skin or cause blindness when it enters the eyes. A burn victim can also suffer chronic pain, disfigurement, and scarring.
Soft Tissue Injuries
They affect soft tissues like tendons as opposed to bones and joints. Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury. It occurs when a rear-end impact thrusts your head back and forth straining your neck. The injury may be worse if the collision isn’t in accord with the spine. For example, crashes that occur when the biker is looking sideways may be fatal because twisted muscles are weaker. If you sustain other injuries during the accident, whiplash is likely to go unnoticed. Even worse, such injuries are difficult to see through X-rays, CT, and MRI scans. Although some injuries are minor, other conditions result in chronic pain that goes on long after the accident. Here are common whiplash symptoms:
- Neck pains and stiffness
- Concentration difficulties
- Pain when swallowing
- Back pains
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Blurred vision
Causes of Bike Accidents
Motorcycle fatalities in Las Vegas may arise from:
An accident may occur when a biker or motorist is impaired by booze or other intoxicating substances when on the road. Because of their open frames, riders are more exposed to injury than vehicle occupants. Unlike cars, motorcycles lack airbags, safety belts, and side panels which prevent passengers from being thrown off a vehicle during a crash.
Because they’re less steady than cars, bikes are likely to crash when they lose grip of the road. Gravel is a common road hazard. It’s even harder to navigate if you’re going fast on a winding road. Slippery surfaces are equally harmful. Oil slicks, water, and mud may destabilize the bike especially when turning. Not forgetting foreign materials such as rocks, branches, and tire fragments. Aside from causing a crash, these objects can hit and injure the rider.
They arise when two vehicles going in opposite directions smash into each other’s front ends. This could occur when you pass the center line and meet oncoming traffic. A driver can swerve into another lane when they’re fatigued. They can also be distracted by phone calls, text messages, or instrument controls on their vehicle. Speeding, trying to run a light, missing signs, and curving too fast could also lead a driver to the wrong lane. Highway ramps and road work zones are also hotspots for head-on crashes.
Extreme wind sways the bike and makes it difficult to steer. Though some bikers ride near vehicles to prevent crosswinds, this can cause a crash if they’re in a blind spot. Rain also hinders visibility and covers hazards like potholes and manhole covers that are clear on a dry day. First rains, in particular, expose accumulated oil making the road slippery.
Vehicle Left Turns
Left-turn collisions happen when vehicles turning left hit bikes passing intersections or traffic signals. Because bikes are small and less visible, a motorist may not see a motorcycle at an intersection. In an attempt to run a light, a driver may turn left and hit a motorcyclist entering an intersection legally. Similarly, a motorist may miscalculate the time it takes to pass another vehicle and hit an oncoming motorbike.
This is when a rider switches lanes in traffic to pass stationary or slow-moving vehicles. The closeness between vehicles makes it hard to maneuver, increasing the likelihood of ramming into a car. Though the practice is prohibited in Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole, there’s an exception if two bikers agree to travel side by side or when the rider is a police officer.
Abrupt stops by motorists increase the possibility of rear-end collisions. Even at slower speeds, a biker can land face-first on a stalled car. Though they can swerve to avoid the impact, they may lose control and sustain injuries when they fall on the pavement. A car can also rear-end a bike. Apart from being thrown off the motorcycle, bikers risk being run over.
A biker can fall off their motorbike when they run into an open car door. This can result in a collision with ongoing traffic causing multiple-vehicle fatalities. Even if they miss other cars, the rider may hit stationary objects like trees, guardrails, and lampposts. One cause of car door accidents is poor visibility. Though bad weather can hinder visibility, the driver is also to blame if their headlights are off. Likewise, such accidents can occur if a vehicle is illegally parked. Because they’re in a rush to leave the car, the driver may ignore the side-view mirror when opening the door.
Road damage can be caused by construction machinery as well as soil and atmospheric conditions. Though the damage is minor at first, it worsens with increased traffic flow. Because it’s harder to balance on two wheels, riders are at risk of flipping over or swerving into oncoming vehicles when they hit a pothole. Other road defects include:
- Lack of guardrails
- Narrow lanes
- Faulty traffic signals
- Insufficient lighting on the road
- Road signs blocked by overgrown vegetation
- Deteriorating road shoulder
Collecting Evidence for Your Case
Your Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney will advise you on the types of evidence that build a solid case. They include:
They’re necessary for claiming compensation from the reckless motorist’s insurer. Although such statements may not do much for your trial, the officer can refer to it when testifying in court. In Las Vegas, you’re required to inform the Nevada Highway Patrol or law enforcement officers if you’re part of an accident with casualties. Even so, you don’t have to call the police if you’re critically injured or they’re already at the scene. The report includes details such as:
- Statements and contacts of the driver, witnesses, and passengers
- Relevant traffic citations
- Description of how the crash happened
- Officer’s interpretation of who caused the accident
Photos capture skid marks, license plates, traffic signs, atmospheric conditions, injuries and damaged objects at the crash scene. In addition to winning the jury’s support, photographs also help crash reconstruction experts determine who was at fault. If you’re too injured to take the photos, ask an onlooker to help you. In case you’re evacuated from the scene immediately for medical attention, find out whether there are any witnesses or police officers who took pictures. If other people have sustained injuries in the accident, respect their privacy by keeping the photos off social media.
Check whether buildings near the scene recorded the incident on their surveillance cameras. Videos can prove liability when there are different accounts of the incident or when there were no witnesses on-site. Because CCTV footage disappears after a while, be fast in acquiring the surveillance videos. Helmet cameras are equally useful. In addition to documenting hit-and-run crashes, they also come in handy if the injuries you suffered affected your memory.
Narrate the accident as you remember it describing the weather, the motorist’s behavior prior to and after the incident, and road defects. Likewise, describe your physical and emotional pain. This not only proves the extent of your suffering but also acts as therapy. Though the doctors have their records, document your medical appointments detailing your test results and diagnosis. Don’t forget to include how the crash affected your life. Mention missed family gatherings, your reliance on other people, and the inability to go to work or participate in leisure activities. You can use a notebook, smartphone, or computer to write this journal.
Because the insurer may dismiss your claim as self-interest, witness statements can help clear factual disputes. In most cases, witnesses are unbiased parties without personal agendas in the case. They can be bystanders or motorists who saw the crash happen. However, your Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm lawyer can help you get expert witnesses. These are specialists in particular fields who give their opinion of the accident despite being absent when it occurred. They include doctors, engineers, and crash reconstruction experts.
Proof of Financial Damages
To determine the compensation amount, retain receipts and invoices proving you made the following payments:
- Emergency ward charges
- X-rays, lab examinations, and CT scans
- Ambulance costs
- Repair and replacement estimates for your bike and riding gear
- Proof of lost wages
- Physical therapy charges
- Parking fees and fuel when going for medical checkups
- Car rental payments
- Supplies like bandages, wheelchairs, slings and crutches
- Chiropractic treatment
- Medicine costs
Gear You Wore During the Crash
Without altering it, keep the helmet you wore during the incident. This proves your injuries did not arise from the lack of a helmet. What’s more, it helps crash specialists establish how the accident happened and how bodily harm was caused. Similarly, retain riding clothes such as armor, gloves, suits, boots, and jackets. Don’t fix the motorcycle until your lawyer looks at it. The bike is a crucial piece of evidence if the accident was caused by mechanical defects.
Dealing with the Insurer
Las Vegas falls under the fault-based liability system. As such, the motorist who is at fault should pay for the damage. A driver should have a minimum coverage of:
- $15,000 for one person’s bodily harm
- $30,000 for several people’s bodily harm
- $10,000 for property destruction
In case the driver at fault lacks insurance or is underinsured, having an uninsured motorist policy in your cover helps meet your medical expenses. Because an underinsured policyholder may not be able to pay the total damages, the victim should inform their personal insurer of this deficit. This could involve the biker getting a letter describing the driver’s policy restrictions and a report acknowledging payment from the driver’s insurer.
It’s not uncommon for insurance adjusters to contact you for a statement. Even so, you’re not obligated to give them any explanations. Because talking to them may jeopardize your claim, it’s wise to withhold your response. Likewise, refuse to be recorded during your first meeting with the other party’s insurance representative. Though you may have similar meetings in the future, your lawyer will guide you on what to say. Because every encounter is a chance to reject or devalue your settlement, mind your words even when talking to your personal insurer. Therefore, the following details should be correct:
- Description of the crash (don’t say anything if you don’t remember the details)
- Day, time, and place of the crash
- Any ongoing treatments or plans to seek medical attention
Refrain from sharing the specifics of your injuries. These details should be given by a medical professional or found in your medical records. Also, leave out your opinions, including the role of your actions in the accident. Such information should remain in the police report.
State Limitations on Compensation
The law doesn’t restrict economic and non-economic claims after bike accidents. The amount you receive depends on the attorney’s ability to argue out your case and the available evidence. However, there is a limit on punitive damages.
These payments go beyond normal compensation to punish the respondent. You can only claim punitive damages if you prove the respondent was oppressive, malicious, or fraudulent. The case is determined by the defendant’s actions as opposed to the magnitude of your injuries. The compensation cannot exceed:
- $300,000 if you get below $100,000 as settlement
- Thrice the settlement amount if you get $100,000 or more
Even so, these limits don’t apply to defective goods or parties accused of disposing of hazardous substances. Therefore, there would be exceptions if the crash was caused by a spill or faulty bike parts.
A jury decides punitive damage cases. After determining the respondent’s liability, the jury chooses whether to grant the damages. A different proceeding follows to decide the sum to award. The jury isn’t conscious of the damage caps when declaring a particular sum. It’s up to the court to slash the amount where necessary.
Determining Who Is at Fault
Las Vegas adheres to the doctrine of contributory negligence. And so, liability is shared proportionately between the parties at fault. However, if your negligence is more than the respondent’s you cannot claim compensation. You may take the city, county, or state to court if the accident is caused by bad roads.
Your personal injury attorney will help you identify the right authority to sue. This is because several entities may be involved in road maintenance. While the county may be responsible for fixing wear arising from weather conditions, for instance, the city’s duty may be filling potholes.
You can then collect evidence showing the agency’s negligence caused by the bad road conditions that led to your injuries. This could involve collaborating with an expert to analyze the events of the crash. The first step is notifying the relevant agency of your intention to sue. The Nevada State Board of Examiners will receive a notification when suing the state.
The statement should be in writing and should include the sum you’re seeking as well as reasons why you believe the government is to blame. The agency can either compensate you immediately or deny the charges and await trial. The government’s rejection of your case doesn’t mean the jury will treat your claim the same way. The law allows a maximum of two years after the injury to submit a claim.
Nevada Motorbike Laws
Like other vehicles, motorcycles must follow highway regulations.
The motorcycle should have:
- Rear reflector that can be seen in a low beam from 300 feet
- One or two headlights
- Rear-view mirrors
- Red tail light seen from 500 feet
- Adjustable footrests
- Functional forward and back brakes
- Forward and back wheel fenders
- Electric forward and back turn signals for bikes produced after 1973
- A brake light that can be seen from 300 feet
- Handlebars below the rider’s shoulders
Bike passenger should:
- Wear a helmet
- Wear face shields or safety goggles if the bike lacks a windshield
- Ride in a connected sidecar or behind the driver placing their legs on the footrests if the motorbike has space for a passenger
Motorbike driver should:
- Wear a helmet unless the bike is below 50cc and cannot go beyond 30 mph
- Wear face shields or safety goggles if the bike lacks a windshield
- Be no less than 16 years
- Include Class M in their current driver’s license to handle a bike of any size
- Not share lanes with bikes or other cars
- Not move through lanes when stuck in traffic
Find a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
At Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we understand even bikers who obey traffic rules can suffer catastrophic injuries from motorcycle accidents. The aftermath is multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and countless hospital visits that drain your finances. Luckily, casualties of a motorcycle crash in Las Vegas can claim compensation for their damages. Despite the complexity of our case, reach us at 702-996-1224 for a consultation.