Motorists who drive while intoxicated endanger the lives of other road users, including motorcycle riders. Unlike motorists, motorcyclists face higher risks of sustaining severe injuries or dying because they are unprotected. Even at low speeds, if an intoxicated driver crashes into a motorcyclist, they could cause severe bodily harm.
A severely injured motorcyclist following a drunk-driving collision can experience physical, financial, and emotional challenges. When you face any of these problems, pursuing an injury claim against the drunken motorist may be the only means to return your life to normal. We at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm have seen the adverse consequences that the terrible injuries sustained by motorcycle crash victims can have on them or their families. After being involved in an alcohol-related crash, your top priority should be recovering from the injuries, and our lawyers are ready to take care of the rest. We boast the necessary experience and skills to make sure that justice prevails and that you’re fully compensated for your losses.
How Driving Under the Influence Causes Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Crashes
A truck, bus, or car driver that’s operating the vehicle while drunk may cause a motorcycle collision. On the other hand, a motorcyclist driving while intoxicated with alcohol can also cause an accident. Under Nevada law, a person shouldn’t drive with a blood alcohol content level of .08% or more. However, studies have proven that even a BAC level lower than .08% can lead to a crash. A motorist might not show any physical impairment signs at the time of the collision. However, this does not negate their liability for the accident since they had taken alcohol.
A driver or motorcyclist with an alcohol addiction problem will likely cause a motorcycle accident. These are people who drink substantial alcohol amounts within just a short time. This makes them more likely to be involved in crashes. Usually, alcohol is absorbed in a person’s bloodstream within half an hour to two hours. During this time, certain cognitive skills are lost. That’s why it isn’t safe to operate a vehicle or motorcycle after alcohol consumption.
Typically, alcohol affects the ability to operate an automobile. You should have good judgment and high concentration, to drive carefully and properly and have adequate time to react. Alcohol makes a person lose these capabilities. This increases the risk of a collision. Here’s a detailed explanation of how alcohol could impact a person’s driving skills.
Poor Coordination: Usually, heavy drinking affects a person’s motor skills, including eye, hand, and foot coordination. Without the coordination of these parts, motorists may have a difficult time avoiding roadside hazards. Poor coordination signs may include trouble walking, unable to stand straight, and swaying. You could mention these signs as proof of alcohol intoxication when proving negligence in court.
Decreased Vision: Drinking excessive alcohol can decrease a driver’s vision. After the motorist has consumed alcohol, their vision may become blurred. Additionally, the driver may have a hard time controlling their eye movement. If a motorist’s vision is impaired, they might fail to see you approaching and knock you over.
Inhibition of Judgment: Usually, an impaired driver will have poor judgment since alcohol usually affects the brain’s control processes. A driver’s judgment contributes significantly to how they make decisions. Drivers must be able to predict hazards and think quickly about how they can avoid them. A motorist should, for example, give way to motorcyclists when it is time to do so. If they have poor judgment, they may try to cut in front of the motorcycle rider. Additionally, alcohol may make them incapable of staying alert, making them completely uninformed of what’s in their surrounding environment, like gorge marks.
Insufficient Time to React: The alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream may reduce their reaction time. A driver operating a vehicle while drunk can’t respond quickly to different situations that could arise while behind the wheel. This can easily lead to an accident. For example, a motorist might find it challenging to brake when they see a motorcycle rider crossing the road. This is because their impairment may make them notice the motorcyclist late in that their brain won’t have enough time to react to the situation and prompt them to stop to prevent a collision.
Reduced Concentration: Drinking alcohol reduces a driver’s capacity to concentrate, despite the amount consumed. Generally, vehicle operation required undivided focus. A motorist needs concentration to remain in the right lane, observe traffic signs/signals, and avoid traveling above the stipulated speed limit. If a person’s concentration is poor, their attention capacity is reduced, and the risk of an accident increases.
Compensable Injuries in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Collisions
As per the National Highways Transport (NHTSA), motorcycle riders are more susceptible to injuries and even death compared to vehicle occupants. The fact that they do not have much protection around and on their bodies makes them vulnerable to motorcycle crash injuries. Injuries may range from minor to severe. Common injuries you can sustain include:
Road Rash/Abrasions: Abrasions occur when a motorcycle rider falls off their bike and skid against the road surface before coming to a rest. When this happens, it may cause skin damage, bruises, and cuts. Road rash injuries can cause permanent scarring and make the victim undergo expensive skin-graft processes.
Head Injuries: Head injury is one of the number one injuries in motorcycle crashes. Putting on a helmet may help prevent this kind of injury. You can still suffer head injuries even if you have a helmet on, although helmets reduce the risk and severity of these injuries to a given extent. Injuries to the head are common in alcohol-related motorcycle crashes with a higher-impact force. Severity may range from one bump, a small cut, concussions, to TBIs.
Additionally, your eardrum is likely to be injured during the accident. If a vehicle hits you on the side, you might fall on your ears, affecting your eardrum. This could lead to temporary or permanent hearing difficulties, or in unfortunate cases, a complete, permanent loss of your hearing ability.
Broken Bones: If a motorcyclist is thrown from their motorcycle during the accident, there’s a high possibility that they will sustain broken bone injuries. Limbs, feet, back, and hands are the common body parts that sustain broken bones during the collision. Much of the body isn’t protected, which leads to impact fractures when the motorcyclist collides with the road surface.
Spine Injuries: Spinal cord injuries are severe. In certain cases, they can be permanent. If a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, they are at a higher risk of twisting and damaging the spinal cord. Thousands of nerves exist in the spinal cord, making a spinal cord injury hard to treat.
Muscle Damage: The degree of muscle damage usually depends on the impact of the accident. A motorcycle rider may sustain a minor sprain or severely torn muscle tissues. Muscle damage injuries take a considerable amount of time to heal, based on how strong a person’s immune system is.
Facial Injuries: Apart from preventing head injuries, helmets, too, help prevent facial injuries. However, the face may still incur bruises or cuts if the collision was of a higher force. In other cases, you may suffer facial disfigurement, teeth damage, and scarring. This means you may need to undergo plastic surgery.
Leg Injuries: Injuries to the legs may include breaks, cuts, sprains, and bruises. When riding, your feet are usually close to the road surface. This means the feet are likely to be the first to touch the surface in case of an accident, not the other body parts. Most leg-related injuries are minor, and they don’t need extensive treatment. However, others may be severe if the leg or feet contact foreign items on the road, including asphalt and gravel. Severe injuries to the leg may need surgeries and skin grafts.
Burn Injuries: You can sustain severe burns after involvement in a motorcycle crash. The burns may arise if the vehicle or motorcycle bursts into flames. A burn injury may need you to do a skin graft to return to your usual life.
Steps to Take After Involvement in an Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Crash
There are critical steps you should follow if you are involved in this kind of accident. Taking these steps may help build a solid case against the negligent party. You ought to do the following:
Obtain Immediate Medical Treatment
Your top priority after being in an accident is ensuring your health is okay. If you are severely injured, an ambulance will carry you to the nearest hospital for treatment. If you aren’t severely hurt, you still need to take yourself to the doctor for a checkup, so that if there are any hidden injuries, they are treated as soon as possible. Obtaining medical attention helps to establish a link between the injuries and the accident.
Call Law Enforcement Officers
You should contact police officers and let them know that you’ve been in a crash. Tell them where you are for them to come and file the accident report. When the officers arrive, they can try identifying the responsible party. Usually, the police may subject a drunken motorist to a drunk-driving breath test or field sobriety test. Should the motorist fail any of these tests, they will be arrested. You could use your phone to record videos of how the motorist conducts themselves during the test administration. The videos may help you to show that the driver acted negligently by drunk-driving when proving your case to the insurance company or in court.
Additionally, you ought to request the officers a copy of their report. Once you’re given the report, ensure you go through it. Should you discover any mistakes, you should let the officer who investigated the scene know about it and request them to correct the errors right away. Do not postpone requesting the officers to correct any mistakes since their memory of the collision might be short and they may decline to correct them if you take long to reach out to them.
Also, write down the name and identity information of the investigation officer. Your injury lawyer may use this information to contact them to obtain any additional information concerning the crash.
Collect Contact Information
You should note down the contact details of any party present at the accident scene, including the motorist, eyewitnesses, and other hurt individuals. Ensure you write down their contact phone numbers, names, residential address, insurance details, and the vehicle’s license plate number. You should store this information safely since it can help ascertain your case against the at-fault party. Also, take pictures of the crash scene and your injuries. You should take the photos from different angles to capture most of the details. If you can’t do all this, assign someone else, like an eyewitness, to do it for you.
Don’t Admit Fault
Don’t admit fault or apologize for what happened, even when you believe you were partly or entirely to blame for it. Doing so could be self-incriminating. The defendant may use whatever you said against you to escape fault. This means you may not be compensated for your losses and injuries.
Interview Eyewitnesses and Take Their Statements
You’ll require testimonies from witnesses when substantiating driver’s negligence. Note that as the plaintiff, the burden of proof lies on you. So you will have to provide all the information that may help your case, including witnesses’ statements and testimonies. If possible, interview the persons present at the crash scene and write what they have to say. You should also take their contact details so it can be easy to track them down when filing your claim.
Don’t Talk to Insurance Companies without Your Attorney present
If the insurance adjuster tries to ask you questions about the accident in your attorney’s absence, tell them you aren’t saying anything until your lawyer comes. Additionally, do not agree to record a statement with the insurance company if your lawyer isn’t present. This is because insurance may use any information you give them against you to deny you fair compensation. They can also convince you to settle for a less compensation amount that doesn’t cover your losses. An attorney would know how to negotiate and obtain what you deserve.
Proving Negligence in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
To show that a motorist was intoxicated at the time of the collision and that they were negligent in causing the crash, you can introduce proof of the following during trial:
- Your testimony and that of the eyewitnesses describing how the driver operated their vehicle, for instance, swerving, changing lanes abruptly, and driving erratically.
- Your testimony and that of the eyewitnesses describing the defendant’s gait, expression, or speech after the crash occurred
- The police officer’s testimony concerning the at-fault party’s mannerisms and speech following the collision
- The driver’s admission of guilt
- Breathalyzer test results. The results have to be authenticated by the investigating law enforcement officer
- Proof that the at-fault party received a citation for drunk or reckless driving— or was found guilty of DUI (the evidence has to be authenticated as well)
- Police report that establishes that the driver is to blame (has to be authentic)
- Video-recording of the driver’s behavior while taking a breathalyzer or field sobriety test
You may introduce part or all of the above-referenced proof to substantiate that the motorist had the legal duty to operate their vehicles prudently and reasonably given the circumstances, but that they breached the duty by driving an auto while intoxicated with alcohol. You must prove that the intoxicated motorist’s violation of their required duty of care led to your injuries and losses.
Recoverable Damages in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Collisions
If your claim or lawsuit becomes successful, you will be compensated for your injuries and losses. There are two main kinds of damages you can be granted, which compensate for different losses. They include economic damages and non-economic damages. There is a third type of compensation that’s rarely awarded. It is referred to as punitive damages. Let us explain these damages in detail, including examples under each.
Economic damages are also called special damages. They’re primarily intended to compensate you for the losses that are easily quantified in a monetary form. These kinds of damages can be readily calculated in cents and dollars.
- Present and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Physical therapy
To show that you’re entitled to economic damages, you have to present proof indicating you suffered injuries that needed medical attention. You’ll have to present receipts of your treatment costs and medical reports. You will also have to prove how the accident-related injuries made it impossible for you to go to work or carry out your daily duties, and the amount of money you lost by missing work. This includes providing wage receipts or payslips to calculate how much you would have earned.
Also known as general damages, non-economic damages are more subjective and aren’t easily calculated into a monetary value. They compensate for the losses that can’t be expressed in financial terms like:
- Pain & suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
These kinds of damages are mostly awarded as per the judge/jury’s discretion.
As we mentioned earlier, courts in Nevada rarely grant punitive damages in cases of alcohol-related motorcycle crashes. They’re only awarded in the most egregious circumstances, like when the liable party acted extremely carelessly/recklessly, maliciously, or intentionally. To obtain these damages, you need to have enough evidence to show the driver acted maliciously, with disregard for road users’ lives. For example, you could be awarded punitive damages if the driver was a repeat felony drunk-driving offender. Punitive damages aren’t meant to compensate for your losses. Instead, they are intended to punish the at-fault party for their actions and discourage other parties from acting in the same manner as the defendant.
Wrongful Death Damages
Unfortunately, the person you love can succumb to injuries sustained in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident. They can die on the spot or when undergoing treatment. In a case like this, you can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim. If your case is successful, you will recover damages for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Medical bills for the victim’s treatment before their demise
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of love, affection, care, guidance, and support
In Nevada, the law allows only specific persons to bring wrongful death claims. They include:
- The surviving registered domestic partner, spouse, or children of the decedent
- The deceased’s parents if there’s no surviving child or spouse
- The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
Even though you are technically seeking to recover damages from the intoxicated driver, the motorist’s auto insurance policy ought to provide the necessary insurance coverage to compensate you. If the driver was underinsured or uninsured, your insurance provider might have to step in and compensate for your losses.
Nevada’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
Sometimes, an alcohol-related accident may be the fault of more than one person. For instance, you may also be blamed for contributing to the crash if you were riding while intoxicated. You may wonder whether or not you can recover compensation if you are partially at fault. Nevada has a statute that tries to make it fair for everyone after a crash. This law is known as the modified comparative negligence.
Under this law, being partly to blame won’t necessarily bar you from recovering compensation. You can still be compensated even if you caused the accident in part, provided you are not more than 50% to blame. If you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover damages.
If you are partly to blame, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear. For instance, if you are 30% guilty, you will recover 70% of your damages. This means if your total compensation amount is $100,000, you will receive $70,000.
Find Motorcycle Accident Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one sustains severe injuries in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident in Las Vegas, contact Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm at 702-996-1224 for a cost-free consultation and legal representation. We are available 24/7 to listen and help fight for the compensation you deserve. Our aggressive, tenacious, and hardworking injury attorneys can fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome for your claim.