Riding a motorcycle comes with a sense of freedom. The feeling of the wind in your hair, the engine's purr, and the proximity to the outside world is exhilarating. Unfortunately, you cannot control other road users' behavior, choices, and sobriety, irrespective of how cautious you are, making you prone to an accident and catastrophic injuries. Motorcycles are less visible and stable than cars and offer less protection. If a driver under the influence caused your accident, you are entitled to compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. The alcohol-related motorcycle accident is entirely preventable, and the defendant is responsible for ensuring all road users are safe. The legal team at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm is dedicated to assisting you in handling the legal aspect as you focus on your recovery. We can review the case, explain the available legal options, estimate your case worth, and fight to ensure you obtain your deserved compensation.
Effects of Alcohol in Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 5,268 individuals operating a motorcycle succumbed to traffic accidents in 2020 alone. Of these motorcycle riders, 27% (1,436) were drunk with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08%. Motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were found to have the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired motorists than other vehicle types. The age group between 45 and 49 had the highest rate (35%) of intoxicated motorcycle operators killed in 2020.
Alcohol reduces brain function and impairs thinking, muscle coordination, and reasoning. These abilities are fundamental to operating any vehicle safely.
As alcohol levels rise in your bloodstream, the negative effect on your central nervous system increases. Alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of your small intestines and stomach. Then it is accumulated in your bloodstream until the liver metabolizes it. It is called blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In Nevada, the legal BAC limit is 0.08%.
However, even small amounts of alcohol can affect your driving ability. In 2020, about 2,041 people died in alcohol-related accidents where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration between 0.01% to 0.07%. You can be intoxicated even with a lower BAC, depending on how long you have been drinking and your tolerance.
Alcohol increases the possibility that many people will be reckless on the road. Reckless conduct can include:
- Riding or driving in the wrong lane
- Weaving through traffic
- Ignoring traffic signals and lights
- Aggressiveness on the road
- Inattentiveness on the road
A drunk rider fails to appreciate a motorcycle's limitations and characteristics and cannot take precautions and emphasize defensive driving. For instance, a sober rider understands that a driver might not see them when making a left turn. Therefore, the motorcycle is prepared to make the necessary defensive maneuvers. A sober motorcyclist is also cautious when riding on a slippery surface, in inclement weather, and when encountering obstacles on the way. Finally, the lower the possibility of severe head injury, a rider should wear protective gear like a helmet.
Is an Intoxicated Driver Automatically at Fault?
In most cases, the fault is the main issue. Fault determines who or whose insurer is financially accountable for injuries and damages resulting from the collision.
To receive compensation, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty of care — Everyone must take reasonable measures to avoid causing injuries to other people and their property. And as far as motorcycle accidents are concerned, duty means the responsibility to operate the car or motorcycle with reasonable care.
- Breach of duty — An individual breaches their duty of care when they fail to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. In this case, you should prove the defendant was drunk.
- Causation — You should prove that the defendant’s breach of care is directly related to your injuries and damage.
It is inadequate for you to prove the defendant was intoxicated to win the lawsuit. However, in most cases, establishing the intoxication can verify the breach of duty. After all, it would help if you had a convincing argument that they breached their duty by operating their vehicle while drunk. Nevada follows negligence per se law, proving the at-fault party who broke the driving while under the influence automatically meets breach and duty.
Regarding causation, the driver’s intoxication is not necessarily a decisive factor. For example, when a drunk motorist hits a motorcycle while driving in the wrong lane, the defendant’s impairment is to blame. If the jury has challenges determining the at-fault party, the fact that the motorist was intoxicated could clinch it for the victim.
However, each case is unique. If you are involved in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, it is wise to retain a skilled attorney. Your personal injury lawyer can explain your options and rights, assisting you in deciding how to proceed with the case.
What Happens If You Are Partially Accountable for Your Accident
You are entitled to compensation in a motorcycle accident where the defendant is 100% responsible for your injuries and damages. However, if you are partially accountable for your accident, your right to receive 100% of the damages no longer applies. Instead, comparative negligence becomes effective.
According to Nevada Revised Statutes 41.141(1), you can only receive financial recovery provided you are not more than 51% liable for your damages. Your percentage of fault will reduce your award. Suppose the jury determines that the defendant is 60% responsible for your crash, and the total value of damages is $150,000. In this case, the defendant will pay you $90,000.
Since comparative negligence can lower the at-fault party’s percentage of responsibility, an insurance adjuster will attempt to place as much blame on you as possible. Even if you are not partially responsible, the adjuster can claim that you:
- Did not seek medical attention timely
- Failed to follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor
- Engaged in negligent conduct like texting, eating, or grooming while operating your motorcycle
It is essential to know that the insurance adjuster does not have your best interests at heart and will do everything in their power to reduce your compensation amount.
Common Body Parts Injured in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are less visible to other road users, less stable than motor vehicles, and lack the protection of an enclosed car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to succumb to an accident than vehicle occupants and five times more likely to be injured.
Generally, motorcycle accident injuries are catastrophic. While any body part can be injured, the most injured parts include the following:
In most accidents, riders are ejected from their bikes and thrown into the air. In most accidents, they often use their arms to break their fall. Consequently, you will likely suffer shoulder injuries, torn rotator cuffs, broken elbows, broken fingers, and broken arms if you land on a hard object. You are also prone to permanent nerve damage to your upper body.
A motorcycle crash victim also suffers injuries to the lower extremities due to the exposed nature of their legs. In an accident, a motorcycle weighing many pounds can fall on the rider and injure parts like the calves, ankles, feet, legs, and knees.
Although these injuries are not fatal, they are painful and can lead to long-term disabilities. Broken bones often require the placement of screws, pins, and rods, among other hardware. The patient can also require several surgeries and many months of physical therapy.
Another injury affecting the lower extremity is road rash. A cyclist who swerves to avoid debris on the road or oncoming vehicles often scrapes their body on hard surfaces. The seriousness of your injury depends on your speed and form of clothing. Even at a low speed, road rash can lead to severe abrasions that need a skin graft. Road rash injuries are painful and lead to permanent scarring, infections, and nerve damage.
The injuries are categorized into:
- First-degree injuries — The epidermis looks irritated and red.
- Second-degree injuries — This happens when your skin is injured, but your inner skin layers are intact.
- Third-degree injuries — occur when your skin is rubbed off and tissues and fats are exposed.
The body’s upper trunk, or thorax, houses internal organs like the lungs and heart and is protected by the ribs. Trauma to your heart can damage these organs and cause internal bleeding. Most motorcycle victims sustain broken ribs that can puncture their lungs, kidney, liver, or spleen.
In Nevada, all cyclists should put on helmets. While putting on a helmet that complies with the United States Department of Transportation’s safety regulations can mitigate or prevent head injuries, it does not prevent every head injury.
Head injuries can result in permanent emotional, mental, or physical disabilities or even death.
Typical head injuries experienced in alcohol-related motorcycle crashes include:
- Brain swelling
- Traumatic brain injury
These head injuries require expensive and lengthy treatment and rehabilitation.
Some of the head injury symptoms to watch out for include:
- Challenges in speech
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Memory loss
- Vision challenges
Injuries to your spinal cord and spine can be catastrophic. Your brain sends motor commands through your spinal cord nerves.
The injuries can lead to paralysis. It can also result in incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and respiratory challenges.
These injuries require prolonged hospital stays and appointments with physical therapists and doctors.
Do and Don’ts After Your Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident
Being involved in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident can be disorienting, especially if you have sustained injuries. Knowing what steps to take after your accident can significantly affect your case outcome. The section below discusses the dos and don’ts of a motorcycle accident.
Ensure Everyone Involved in the Crash is Okay
First, ensure all parties involved in your accident are safe. Ensure everyone is at a safe distance from the crash and do not disrupt the traffic pattern surrounding the accident scene until the police arrive.
If any person was injured or died, remain at the accident scene unless you require emergency medical attention. Otherwise, you risk facing hit-and-run charges, a felony carrying a twenty-year maximum prison term.
Call Law Enforcers
If you can, call 911 immediately. First responders like police officers, paramedics, and firefighters will come to the accident scene to help victims. While emergency medical technicians and paramedics offer medical assistance, the police will investigate the matter, take videos or photographs of the scene, collect evidence, and interview witnesses to draft a police report.
Collect Details about the Vehicle
After ensuring everyone is okay, take photographs or write down the license plate number and the color, model, and make of the vehicle(s) involved in your crash.
If you can, and it is safe to do so, capture images of your accident scene and the damage to your motorcycle.
Collect the Driver and Witnesses’ Contact Information
The most crucial information a victim can obtain is the name of the driver’s insurance provider, policy number, and driver’s license number.
Also, collect the contact information of every person involved in your accident and the witnesses. If a law enforcer came to your scene, take note of their name.
Also, take the vehicle identification number of the involved vehicle. You can find the VIN inside the motorist’s door or on the side dashboard. If the motorist is uncooperative, do not try to obtain their VIN. Instead, take a photograph of the license plate number.
Ensure you provide your contact details to all parties involved, irrespective of who is at fault.
Do Not Tell the Involved Parties that You Are Not Injured
Even when you believe you are not hurt, do not admit it to the involved parties.
Generally, a soft-tissue injury takes time before manifesting. Claiming you are okay allows the defendant’s lawyer and insurance firm to reduce the claim's worth or even deny it altogether.
However, do not lie and say you are hurt when you are not or do not know. Instead, keep your options open until you visit a medical doctor.
Record Your Impressions Immediately
Once you can, take note of every account you recall about your alcohol-related motorcycle collision, including:
- Your accident’s date and time
- Your estimate of every party’s speed
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
If you suffered lacerations, bruises, or cuts, take photos of them. The more proof you have of the injuries, the better the chances of obtaining your deserved compensation.
Do Not Admit Fault
Do not admit any mistake on your part, even when you think you are responsible for your accident. You could be wrong about the accident’s cause, or the other party could be partially at fault.
Apologizing or admitting a mistake can prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve.
You can inquire whether the other party is hurt and requires medical help. If they pressure you to admit fault, politely ask them to contact your insurer.
Retain a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney
Plaintiffs who hire legal representation following their accidents are more likely to recover compensation than self-representing victims. It is because the experienced lawyer will:
- Handle all communication with the insurer so you can pay attention to your emotional and physical recovery
- Uncover essential details and gaps about the accident that could otherwise be missing
- Negotiate with the insurance adjuster and ensure you receive fair compensation
- Prepare the case for trial
- Guide you on what to do following the crash
- Explain to you your rights and legal options
- File the required paperwork timely and correctly
You do not have to worry about attorney fees when you hire Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you do not pay anything unless we win your case. Our fees come from your financial award.
Seek Medical Attention
Motorcyclists do not have enough protective gear. Consequently, bikers often sustain severe injuries, especially when the accidents involve cars. While most motorcycle-related injuries are apparent immediately, that is not always the case. Injuries like spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and internal bleeding can manifest hours or even days after the accident.
Failure to seek medical attention can hurt your case later. The defendant’s insurance provider can allege that you were not injured badly enough to visit a doctor, denying compensation.
File Your Personal Injury Claim Straight Away
You have two years from the date of your alcohol-related motorcycle accident to bring a lawsuit against the defendant (statute of limitations).
However, some exceptions may apply. Your lawyer can analyze the case and advise you accordingly. Waiting too long to file your personal injury case could bar you from receiving compensation for your damages.
What is Your Personal Injury Claim Worth?
There is no standard answer to this question. Your case’s worth depends on various factors, including:
- The type of your sustained injuries
- Whether you can return to your work
- Your age at the time of the accident
- Whether the accident resulted in psychological trauma
- The steps you took to mitigate the injuries
- Your out-of-pocket costs (future and current)
The more severe the injuries, the more the case is worth. Nonetheless, each case is unique. Even a seemingly minor injury can be expensive in the long run. Therefore, consult a competent personal injury attorney to discuss your case facts.
Compensatory damages compensate the plaintiff for current and future losses in their case. The damages are grouped into:
- Economic damages — They are easy to attach a dollar value to. They include property damage, lost earning capacity, lost income, and medical expenses.
- Non-economic damages — The damages do not necessarily involve out-of-pocket expenses. They include emotional distress, physical impairment, loss of life enjoyment, disfigurement, inconvenience, and pain and suffering.
If your case proceeds to trial, you can recover punitive damages, provided the defendant acted recklessly and maliciously.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages refer to the compensation you will receive in your personal injury case for the mental anguish and physical pain you suffered due to the injury.
In Nevada, there is no cap to the amount you can recover for your pain and suffering damages, provided it is reasonable and fair.
Typically, the amount increases when:
- The recovery process is challenging and lengthy
- Medical tests like x-rays prove the physical injuries
- There is a loss of function or physical disfigurement
- Your medical expenses are huge
Pain and suffering damages are subjective, and establishing them involves persuading the jury and the insurance adjuster to award them. Common ways of proving them include:
- Previous emails, texts, and social media posts
- Testimonies of loved ones, colleagues, and therapists
- Psychological counseling
- Videos and photos
- Medical records
How the Damages are Determined
While the pain and suffering settlement amount is negotiable, most insurance providers use formulas to determine the acceptable amount in the lawsuit.
Multiplying the Compensatory Damages
The initial method involves multiplying your compensatory damages by a number between one and five, depending on the severity of your injuries.
The more life-altering and severe the injuries and the more painful your treatment, the higher the number you would use. Also, proven injuries merit a higher multiplier than subjective injuries like insomnia and depression.
Per Diem Approach
Under this method, you recover a specific amount of money for every day you experience pain and suffering. For example, if you sustained an injury that took 100 days to heal, you can ask for $100 per day ($10,000).
Ultimately, what you recover is a result of your attorney’s negotiations based on factors like:
- Your case’s strength
- Your possibility of proceeding to trial
- The severity of the at-fault party’s wrongdoing
- The severity of your injuries
Are the Damages Taxable?
Pain and suffering damages are not taxable under either federal or state laws. It is also true as to money for both economic and non-economic damages.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A motorcycle accident with a drunk motorist can instantly derail your life. Most injuries are life-altering and require years of expensive medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. As mounting medical costs and lost income create financial hardship, it can be challenging to know what to do or where to turn for assistance. At Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we understand the last thing you need after your accident is to be stuck with substantial attorney fees. We take claims on a contingency basis, and you will not pay anything unless we win the case. We can investigate the matter and analyze the available evidence to build a strong claim and hold the defendant accountable.
Call us today at 702-576-0010 to start the journey of being whole again. We offer free initial consultations.