Each year, thousands of motorcyclists in California are hurt in injury accidents... and hundreds more die in collisions with cars, trucks, or SUVs. Despite the stereotype of the reckless, thrill-addicted motorcyclist, the reality is that many times, these crashes are the result of a car/truck/SUV driver who didn't pay close enough attention or was impaired, resulting in that driver improperly failing to yield the right of way or otherwise crossing into the path of the motorcyclist.
If you've been hurt in a crash like this (or have lost a loved one this way,) make sure you are getting knowledgeable answers from an experienced Santa Barbara motorcycle accident lawyer about your legal rights and options.
A fatal accident from May is yet another reminder of the challenges motorcycles face. The motorcyclist was a 77-year-old man from Santa Barbara who was traveling northbound on Highway 33 west of Ojai. A 50-year-old woman driving westbound on an intersecting street "entered the intersection as the motorcyclist was riding by... and the two vehicles collided," according to a California Highway Patrol report.
The motorcyclist died a short time later at Ventura County Medical Center.
A previous fatal crash illustrates a different danger to motorcyclists: impaired drivers. In that incident, a 31-year-old man behind the wheel of a Honda sedan headed eastbound on an Oxnard street attempted to execute a left turn. That turn placed the sedan in the path of an oncoming westbound motorcycle. The two vehicles collided and the 19-year-old motorcyclist died from his injuries.
Police at the scene evaluated the sedan driver and "determined he was allegedly driving impaired," according to the Ventura County Star.
Statistical research has shown that car/truck/SUV drivers making left turns represent one of the biggest dangers motorcyclists face on the roads. Whether impaired, distracted driving, or simply insufficiently attentive, they too often fail to spot the oncoming motorcycle in front of them and proceed with their left turn, crossing right into the path of that motorcyclist. Because of the relative difference between the sizes and weights of the vehicles, as well as the motorcyclist's exposure, these accidents often result in catastrophic or fatal injuries for the motorcyclist.
Drug/Alcohol Impairment and Punitive Damages
In certain motorcycle accident cases where the at-fault driver was impaired, proof of that alcohol or drug impairment may entitle you to recover an additional form of compensation beyond just economic damages (which includes things like lost income and medical expenses) and non-economic damages (which includes things like pain, suffering, and mental anguish.)
That additional form is punitive damages. Seeking punitive damages in California requires weighing multiple considerations. For one thing, the at-fault driver's auto insurer is not responsible for paying punitive damages; you can only recover this compensation from the driver himself.
In some cases, the possibility of punitive damages may help you during settlement negotiations. In other circumstances, though, punitive damages may not be available or it may make sense to bypass pursuing an award of punitive damages.
If you were hurt because a driver was driving in a negligent or reckless manner, the knowledgeable Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP are here to help you fight for justice.
Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today, and get us started working to get you the compensation you deserve.
GALINE, FRYE, FITTING & FRANGOS, LLP - SANTA BARBARA OFFICE
Thank you so much for all of your legal help on my case. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and your professional team including Lisa and Mavis. I also appreciate your efforts in reaching a settlement on my behalf. I will definitely refer my clients and friends to your firm they are in need of legal representation in the future. Regards.- ADRIAN C.