Every day, motorcycle riders have to deal with aggressive drivers, large commercial trucks and drivers who are staring at their phones instead of the road. Another danger, and probably the greatest threat to motorcyclist safety are drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drunk driving continues to be the leading cause of death on our nation’s roads.
Overall, the number of people killed or injured in traffic crashes in the U.S. has been trending downward for several decades now. Improved vehicle safety features and public awareness about drinking and driving have certainly helped, but motorcycle riders are still disproportionately represented in accident injury and death statistics overall. In 2018 alone, 4,985 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents in the U.S. Some of those fatal accidents were caused by drunk drivers, making them completely avoidable.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash with a drunk or drugged driver, contact the DUI driver motorcycle accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation at 800-818-1818. Below we’ve answered some of the most common questions we get about DUI driver motorcycle accidents, your rights under the law and how we can help you obtain justice.
What is the legal definition of a DUI in California?
In 2020, California drivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or greater would be considered to be DUI or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI with a blood alcohol level of 0.01%, in other words, they can’t have alcohol in their system at all. And anyone with a commercial driver’s license is considered to be legally impaired with a blood alcohol level of 0.04%.
Police in California can now check for drugged driving also. The state has seen a sharp increase in the number of drugged drivers in recent years. Through the use of swabs, police can now take saliva samples to test for several drugs such as cocaine, crystal meth and prescription medications.
As a motorcycle rider, how can I spot impaired drivers that aren’t obvious?
If you see a car being driven in an erratic way, you know to stay away because the driver might be drunk or drugged. But you can also be close to a buzzed driver and not know it. To be clear, buzzed driving is still illegal drunk driving, it just isn’t as obvious.
Some of the telltale signs that someone is driving while impaired are:
- Delayed reactions to traffic lights and signs.
- Driving very close to the center divider.
- Signaling incorrectly, for example signaling to turn but continuing to go straight, or not signaling at all.
- Not maintaining a consistent speed limit, such as going too slow. The impaired driver may also slow down or speed up suddenly for no apparent reason.
Now, new drivers are known to drive their vehicles close to the center divider and a driver looking at a map on their phone might signal incorrectly because they’re not familiar with the area. They’re not impaired, but as a motorcycle rider, you don’t want to share the highway with them either.
Would this be a criminal case or a civil case?
This would be a civil case. Any criminal charges against the person who caused your accident would be handled by the state in criminal court. Only the government can move forward with a criminal case. If the defendant is found guilty in a criminal court, they face prison time. In a civil case, if the defendant is found to have caused your injury, they must reimburse you financially for your losses.
Also, the outcome of the criminal case does not impact your civil case. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but let’s say the person who caused your DUI driver motorcycle accident injury is not convicted in criminal court, you can still move forward with a civil lawsuit against them. The results of a criminal case don’t change that.
The other difference between a criminal case and a civil case is that the burden of proof is lower in civil court. Unlike criminal court, where the person must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (100%), in civil court, the plaintiff, which would be you, need to show a preponderance of the evidence, which is that your claim is probable by more than 50%.
A family member was killed by a drunk driver while riding their motorcycle. Legally, is there anything I can do?
Yes, you can file a wrongful death claim against the person responsible if you are the next of kin. The untimely death of a loved one is always upsetting but losing them because of the selfish actions of a drunk or drugged driver is even more emotionally devastating.
Not only would you be entitled to damages such as any lost future earnings, medical and hospital bills and funeral expenses for the deceased, you can also claim loss of consortium. That is the term used for the loss of the love and guidance of a parent or spouse.
In the immediate aftermath of your loss, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may not be the first thing on your mind. But if your loved one was killed by a drunk or drugged driver while riding their motorcycle, making them pay can help you and your family emotionally and financially. You’ll likely be left with a mortgage and other bills to pay on your own. Knowing that close family members of the deceased, especially any children are taken care of financially provides much some needed peace of mind at such an emotional time.
Call the experienced DUI driver motorcycle accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries. Being hit by a drunk or drugged driver, however, can leave victims with catastrophic injuries. In your search for an attorney, be aware that these types of cases can be complex. Attorneys from The Dominguez Firm have a long history of successfully handling DUI driver motorcycle accident cases. In that time, we have obtained settlements and verdicts of over $750 million* for our clients across several personal injury practice areas, including motorcycle accidents and wrongful death. And unlike other law firms, our office has an in-house team of award-winning attorneys, investigators and experts ready to fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled to. We will not refer your case out to another firm or settle for less. We have the resources to go to court if needed and opposing law firms know it.
We’re keenly aware that this is a very difficult time for you and your family. You may think the legal process is too intimidating or expensive. With The Dominguez Firm by your side, it doesn’t have to be. We have been serving the community in Los Angeles County and Southern California for over 30 years. During that time, we have always fought for the rights of our clients while not charging any hidden or upfront fees.
We work on a contingency basis. That means we only get paid if we obtain a settlement or verdict we obtain on your behalf. Our percentage of the final amount will be clearly stated in the client representation you sign with us. And if we are unable to recover anything for you, you owe us nothing. You win, or you don’t pay!
Don’t delay. Please call The Dominguez Firm DUI driver motorcycle accident attorneys today at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation.