One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is driving under the influence of alcohol by both motorcyclists and other drivers. Most motorcycle accidents often result in severe injuries and deaths. Motor Vehicle drivers under the influence of alcohol cause countless motorcycle accidents. However, most bikers who get into crashes have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. Of all motorcyclists who get into accidents, the majority of them usually have some content of alcohol in their blood. 

In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vehicle or motorcycle under the influence of alcohol. If you suffer injuries in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, Clay County Personal Injury Attorney can help you seek compensation. 

Overview of Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accidents

The majority of  motorcyclists who died in motorcycle accidents usually have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% and above. It is surprising to learn that most accidents resulting from impaired motorcyclists involve riders of 40 years and above. Riders between the ages of 40 and 44 years have the highest percentage of alcohol-related motorcycle accidents.  Most vehicle drivers and motorcyclists who suffer fatal injuries in alcohol-related motorcycle accidents have prior driving under the influence convictions.

A motorcycle accident is usually a complicated occurrence that involves the interaction of human, vehicle, and surrounding environmental factors. Typically, motorcycle crashes are violent events, and the victims often die or suffer extensive injuries. Studies reveal that more than 80% of all reported motorcycle accidents lead to the death of the motorcyclist. Unlike a vehicle that shields the passengers, a motorcycle does not have any safety features. In case of an accident, the rider gets into direct contact with other motorcycles or vehicles, leading to a more significant impact.

In most cases, when an accident occurs, the rider is ejected from the motorcycle, often falling far from it. Most riders in Florida do not wear helmets. When accidents happen, their heads have no protection.  When a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop, the rider is often ejected and directly collides with objects in his/her path and strikes the ground. 

When an accident involving a motorcycle and a vehicle occurs, the motorcyclist suffers the most. A car has more weight and bulk than a bike.  A car also has more safety features, including seatbelts, airbags, a roof, and door beams. A car has four wheels and is more stable than a motorcycle. On the other hand, a motorcycle has a high level of maneuverability and can stop fast in case of an accident. If necessary, a bike can swerve quickly. However, in case of a crash, motorcyclists are always at a higher risk.

Operating a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol makes riders less careful on the road. Riders fail to appreciate the inherent characteristics and limitations of a bike. If a motorcyclist is sober, he/she will understand that compared to a vehicle, a bike is limited, and therefore, he/she should be more careful on the road.  By understanding his/her limitations, a motorcyclist takes special precautions and emphasizes on defensive driving.  Most motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. Therefore, a sober motorcyclist is more alert at intersections.  Typically the majority of motorcycle accidents happen when other motorists turn into the path of the motorcycle. While sober, a motorcyclist understands all the inherent risks and can be on the lookout. However, under the influence of alcohol, both drivers and motorcyclists are less alert and careful. 

A sober motorcyclist can fully understand that when drivers are making left turns, they may not see motorcyclists. The motorcyclist is, therefore, prepared to make defensive maneuvers if need be.  Sober motorcyclists are also more careful when operating their motorcycles on slippery surfaces, when encountering obstacles on the highway, and when riding in inclement weather.  To reduce the likelihood of severe head injuries in case of an accident, a motorcyclist should emphasize on using a helmet and other protective clothing.

While under the influence of alcohol, a motorcyclist is more likely to cause an accident than an intoxicated vehicle driver. Operating a motorcycle calls for more skills and coordination than operating a vehicle.  Being under the influence dramatically decreases the motorcyclist's ability to operate a bike safely. 

A helmet is the single thing that offers protection to motorcyclists in case of an accident. Helmets usually have a hard outer shell, and in case of a crash, a helmet helps to distribute the forces of an impact and also helps to shield the skull.  A helmet limits the impact and power that would reach the scalp. If a motorcyclist wears a helmet, he or she suffers less severe head injuries in case of an accident. It is important to note that a helmet only works if it has a proper design.

A helmet should meet the Federal safety standards regarding the amount of force a helmet can absorb. The federal safety standards also emphasize the peripheral vision that a helmet can allow. A rider should only wear a helmet that meets or exceeds the federal safety standards.  The sad part is that in the state of Florida, helmets are not compulsory according to the law. On the other hand, Florida is a sunny state, and most motorcyclists do not wear helmets and instead choose to ride free to enjoy the sunshine. Therefore, if an accident occurs, the cyclists suffer fatal head injuries, often leading to death. 

Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Impaired Drivers

In the state of Florida, driving under the influence is a common offense. The law enforcement officers arrest many drivers for operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. Most motorcycle accidents involving drunk vehicle drivers occur when impaired drivers hit motorcycles.  According to Florida law, a driver owes a duty of care to other road users, including other drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and passengers. If an impaired driver causes an accident by striking a motorcyclist, for instance, the driver is liable for the injuries suffered by the motorcyclist. The drunk driver may be liable for any injuries and fatalities that the victims suffer. For instance, in case an accident occurs, the intoxicated vehicle driver may face personal injury charges or wrongful death charges if a victim dies. 

If you are a motorcyclist in Florida and you suffer injuries in an accident caused by an intoxicated vehicle driver, you may seek compensation for your injuries. You have to prove several elements to show that the driver is liable. First, you must prove that the driver owed you a duty of care. This element is easy to prove because a driver owes a duty of care to all other road users, including motorcyclists. You also have to prove that the driver breached his/her duty of care by acting negligently. This element is also not hard to prove because if it is evident that the driver was operating a vehicle while impaired, that is a breach of duty of care.  It must be apparent that the negligence of the driver or failure to exercise the due duty of care led to the accident. Finally, you must prove that you suffered injuries due to the crash.

When is the Motorcyclist at Fault?

A motorcyclist may also be at fault in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident if he/she is under the influence of alcohol.  NHTSA outlines that a high blood alcohol concentration affects the coordination, balance, and judgment skills that a motorcyclist needs to operate a motorcycle.  Motorcyclists often need to operate dual brakes, steer, balance, and shift their motorcycles on the highway. At the same time, motorcyclists have to take care and look out for conditions that are dangerous to them, including uneven or damaged pavement, potholes, and changing wind conditions. Motorcyclists also have to look out for the tendency of other driver's failure to look out the presence of motorcyclists.  The skills and the level of coordination required to operate a motorcycle are challenging even when a motorcyclist is not impaired. Therefore, if a motorcyclist makes a mistake of consuming alcohol and then running a motorcycle, the results can be detrimental.  Therefore, a motorcyclist will be at fault if he/she operates a motorcycle under the influence and lead to accidents.

The motorcyclists may be responsible for the injuries suffered by other road users due to his/her negligence. For instance, if a motorcyclist is at fault, he/she would have to take responsibility for vehicle damages in case of a collision with a vehicle. If the accident leads to injuries on other people, the motorcyclist may be responsible for the injuries. The cyclist may also be liable for injuries suffered by motorcycle passengers. Just like vehicle drivers, motorcyclists also have a duty of care under Florida law and have to exercise that duty of care whenever they are using the road.  Operating a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol is, in itself, a breach of the duty of care. 

Common Injuries in an Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Accident

Most motorcycle accidents result in serious injuries. It is common for victims to suffer catastrophic injuries, and some suffer disabilities that last for a lifetime. Immediately after a motorcycle accident, you may not realize that you have suffered an injury. The body gets a rush of adrenaline, making it hard to realize aches and discomforts.  Therefore, it is essential to seek medical attention, no matter how minor your injuries may seem.  What are the common injuries in a motorcycle accident?

  1. Road Rash

This injury occurs when a motorcyclist slides sideways or flies over the handlebars after an impact. The rider may slide against the pavement at high speed and concrete rubs against the exposed skin. A rider may have some clothing on, but if the clothing is thin, the roadway may tear the clothes and reach the underneath skin.  Victims should not overlook a road rash because a road rash is more than a simple bruise or a cut. If left untreated, a road rash may have far-reaching effects like skin infections and irritations. A road rash may also lead to surface nerve damage. It is crucial to have a road rash injury inspected by a qualified doctor to avoid possible infections.

Protective clothing helps to protect motorcyclists from road rash injuries in case of an accident.  It is advisable to have your entire body covered whenever you are riding a motorcycle. The perfect material for protective clothing is heavy denim or leather. Boots and riding shoes should be high enough to cover the knees. It is also advisable for riders to wear gloves because they help to improve the grip, and in case of an accident, gloves help to prevent the hands from road rash.

  1. Head Injuries

Victims of an alcohol-related motorcycle accident may also suffer minor or severe head injuries depending on the facts of the accident.  Head injuries may range from minor to significant concussions. A severe motorcycle accident may lead to a cracked skull or brain damage, and this may be fatal.  The best way for riders to minimize head injuries in case of an accident is to wear helmets. However, the state of Florida is sunny; most riders operate motorcycles without helmets. The ideal helmets have to meet the U.S Department of Transportation standards. 

  1. Muscle Damage

Muscle damage is a common injury in case of an alcohol-related motorcycle accident. The muscle damage may occur at any part of your body. Preventive clothing may help prevent muscle damage in case of a motorcycle accident. The use of elbow and knee pads is also essential. Seeking medical attention immediately after a motorcycle accident may help to reduce the extent of muscle damage.  One of the underestimated muscles that often suffer injury in case of an accident is the eardrum.  It is essential to wear a helmet as it helps to protect your ears and lower the chances of suffering hearing loss in case of an accident. 

  1. Bikers Arm

Motor vehicle drivers and other occupants are under the protection of the structure of the car. Vehicle occupants also enjoy other safety features like safety belts and airbags. The same safety is not available for motorcycles. In case of an accident, the rider does not have a protective steel layer between him/her and the pavement. In the event of a crash, the rider may be thrown off his/her bike. Human instincts often make people stretch their arms forward while falling to help reduce their impact. However, the impact may cause nerve damage in the biker's arms. The best way to help prevent biker's arm is by wearing protective clothing.

  1. Leg Injuries

In alcohol-related motorcycle accidents, it is common for riders to suffer injuries on the feet and knees. Injuries on the feet and knees may not have a fatal outcome at first.  However, if not taken care of, the injury may grow into something more serious. At times, injuries may also lead to permanent disability. Some of the common injuries on the feet include fractured bones in the legs and knees. Protective attire may help to prevent injuries in the lower extremities in case an accident occurs. 

What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

If you get involved in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, you are likely to be in a state of panic and confusion. However, it is essential to be alert and to take some actions. How you react to a motorcycle accident may determine the chances of getting the compensation you deserve for injuries suffered. 

If you have suffered injuries, it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention.  If there are other injured victims, and you can help them, you can help them access medical treatment. You may consider dialing 911 for emergencies. It is important to note that even if you do not feel the impact of the accident, it is still essential to seek medical attention. 

Ensure that you collect and document many facts about the accident. For instance, you should gather information about other persons involved in the accident irrespective of who is at fault. Other parties in a crash may include other bikers, drivers, and passengers.  Ensure that you record the registration information of the vehicles, and the motorbikes included, including the registration number, make, color, and the year of manufacture.  If witnesses are present, ensure that you collect the contact details of the witnesses.  If you are capable of taking photos, take several photos to help you have visual documentation of the accident.  The pictures will be particularly useful to your injury attorney and also to the reconstruction experts to recreate the scene of the crash. 

Even if you feel that you are partly at fault for the accident, you should avoid admitting guilt.  Avoid apologizing to the other parties involved in the crash because they may interpret the apology as a way of acknowledging that you are at fault for the accident.  Ensure that you contact your insurance company and inform them about the accident. When notifying your insurance company, refrain from admitting guilt or blaming the other person.  Ensure that you also get in touch with a personal injury attorney. The attorney will examine your situation and determine if you have a case and if you should seek compensation for damages suffered. 

Compensation for Damages

When an alcohol-related motorcycle accident occurs, the party at fault is responsible for the damages suffered by the victims.  The negligent party should compensate the victim for the economic and non-economic damages resulting from the accident:

Economic Damages

Economic damages reimburse the victims for financial losses incurred in an accident. It is easy to determine the economic costs due because the damages have a monetary value.  The damages may include lost wages.  When you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may be temporarily or permanently unable to work.  The party at fault is responsible for your damages and should compensate you for the lost wages. Lost wages would comprise of the income you would have earned if you did not suffer injuries in the accident.  To prove that you deserve compensation for lost wages, you may have to present your employment details, including your salary, overtime, and commission details.

The court will consider several factors when determining your lost wages. The court will consider your age and the years remaining to retirement. The court will also consider how long your injuries are likely to last. The court will also consider your health before the accident and your life expectancy. The court will also consider other factors, including your past earnings, bonuses, and salary increments. 

Under economic damages, the court will also consider medical expenses. This is the amount of money you spend to seek treatment for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.  In some instances, you may require medical care for life.  When seeking medical expenses compensation, you should consider the cost of life-long treatment like counseling, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy.  

You should also get compensation for property damages. You might obtain compensation for damages on your vehicle or motorcycle if the accident was not your fault.  This will help you to repair, restore, or replace the damaged car or motorcycle.  

Non-Economic Damages

You are also entitled to non-economic damages after an alcohol-related motorcycle accident.  Some of the general non-economic costs include emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.  Non-economic injuries are subjective because they do not have a definite monetary value. 

If the defendant was grossly negligent, victims might be entitled to punitive damages.  Punitive damages aim at punishing the gross negligence of the defendant. Punitive damages aim at discouraging motorists from involvement in reckless driving, including driving or riding under the influence of alcohol.  When assigning punitive damages, the court may determine the nature of the offense and the financial capability of the defendant.  The court may also consider the criminal history of the defendant, among other factors. 

Contact a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you have suffered injuries in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation to help make you whole again. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney can help you seek compensation. Contact us at 904-494-8242 and speak to one of our attorneys today.