Statistically, motorcycle riders are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured in vehicle collisions than four-wheel vehicle occupants. One of the five types of driving impairment, which are outlined below, typically causes these crashes.
If the other driver was negligent, which means the driver either did not respect the duty of care or violated a safety statute, damages could be considerable. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A Brandon motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to obtain additional punitive damages as well, in some extreme cases.
Unintentional poisonings, mostly drug overdoses, recently became the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Additionally, in many jurisdictions, there are more “drugged” drivers than drunk drivers. The underlying substance could be:
- LSD, cocaine, and other illegal street drugs,
- Oxycontin, Fentanyl, and other prescription painkillers, or
- Sominex, Unisom, and other over-the-counter medicines.
The jury is still out (pardon the pun) with regard to marijuana. This drug may or may not impair drivers.
Since there is no Breathalyzer test for drugs, these driving impairment cases normally rest on circumstantial evidence, such as current pill prescriptions, medicine bottles in cars, and physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes. Blood, hair, urine, and other tests are available, but there is no way to administer these tests at the scene of a car crash. Furthermore, police officers must obtain search warrants before they can force people to provide these chemical samples.
This kind of impairment, however, normally involves the negligence per se shortcut. Tortfeasors (negligent driver) may be liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate a safety law, like the DUI law, and that violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s injury.
Alcohol is dangerous because it slows reaction time, which increases the risk of an accident. This substance also impairs judgement, so many drivers do not properly time everyday maneuvers, like passing another car, and they take more chances than they should.
Even if the tortfeasor was not arrested for DUI, civil liability for damages may still attach. Impairment begins with the first drink. So, if the tortfeasor consumed any alcohol, the tortfeasor may have violated the legal standard of care. Evidence of this violation includes things like the tortfeasor’s previous port of call and physical symptoms like an odor of alcohol.
Drowsiness and alcohol affect the brain in about the same way. They both slow reaction time and impair judgment ability. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.
Alcohol and drowsiness are alike in other ways as well. The cure for each one is a good illustration. Time is intoxication’s only cure. Tricks like black coffee only mask the symptoms for a few minutes. Similarly, sleep is fatigue’s only cure. At best, tricks like blasting the air conditioner only mask the symptoms for a few minutes.
Distractions like talking to passengers and adjusting the radio have been around for generations. But distracted driving is much worse in the smartphone era. These devices combine all three forms of distraction, which are:
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off the road),
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), and
- Manual (taking one’s hand off the wheel).
Hands-free cellphones may be more commonly used than the hand-held variety, and they may also be more dangerous. Hands-free cellphones are visually and cognitively distracting. Plus, since they give many drivers a false sense of security, these drivers may take more chances than they should.
Florida lawmakers recently approved a tougher cell phone law, but it still only has limited applicability. So, victim/plaintiffs in distracted driving cases often use circumstantial evidence as well, such as erratic driving or the tortfeasor’s statements (e.g. “I was talking to Paul and I didn’t see you pull into traffic”).
Millions of Floridians deal with epilepsy, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions which could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. This sudden unconsciousness often causes loss-of-control collisions. These crashes are extremely dangerous, because there is no telling what the tortfeasor’s vehicle will do next.
The state usually suspends the drivers’ licenses of people who have these dangerous conditions. In other cases, circumstantial evidence, like medical records, may be persuasive on this point.
Contact Hard-Hitting Attorneys
Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries to motorcycle riders. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).