On Monday, February 26, 2016, a motorcyclist survived a head-on collision with a car driving in the wrong direction on the 91 Freeway in Orange County, California near the 55 freeway. The accident occurred at 2:45 a.m. After hitting the motorcyclist the negligent driver drove out of control into a concrete barrier on the freeway. Despite his motorcycle being totaled, the driver of the motorcycle suffered what police called moderate injuries explaining that the motorcycle rider was lucky to be alive. (See https://www.google.com/amp/abc7.com/amp/miracle-on-the-91-motorcyclist-survives-head-on-crash/3142733/ ) In over 20 years of practicing personal injury law, I often have clients who believe that they are entitled to a significant amount of monetary compensation not based upon their injuries but simply for the fact that the other driver was clearly negligent and could have seriously harmed or killed the client. However, under California Law, just because a party is clearly negligent and at fault does not mean an injured party is entitled to significant compensation. The injured party must prove that they incurred damages whether they be economic or non-economic as explained below.
- Medical Expenses
Perhaps, the most apparent item an injured can recover against a negligent driver are the medical bills or expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Even if an injured party has medical insurance that covers the bills they still would be entitled to the amount the medical insurance carrier paid for the bills. Moreover, they may be entitled out of pocket medical expenses including co-pays, monies spent for prescription medications and for any type of cost for any medical device such as a brace or boot for any injured arm, leg, foot or ankle. Often times persons may seek medical treatment on a lien and insurance carriers will try and compensate an injured party less for the bills presented from doctors on lien claiming the bills are excessive. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can fight such tactics from an insurance company both by hiring experts and providing evidence of reasonable billing for the services provided.
Moreover, persons who have suffered traumatic or serious injuries and need future or lifetime medical care are entitled to such compensation as well. The cost and amount of future care on a serious accident case again is often times a subject of dispute and insurance carriers will make low offers until they are challenged by an experienced injury attorney. Further, a personal injury attorney may employ an economist to determine the present dollar value for the cost of future care which is needed in cases involving expected years of future care.
2. Lost Income
Persons injured in motorcycle or other vehicle accidents are also entitled to lost past and future wages as a result of being injured in an accident. Even if an injured party did not lose wages but had to use sick or personal leave time from their job they are entitled to be compensated for the time lost. If a person will miss future work or income as a result of an accident, they will be entitled to future lost wages. To prove that a person will lose future lost wages the injured party must present evidence showing that it is reasonably certain that there will be a loss of future wages.
In addition, injured accident victims can also obtain compensation for lost earning capacity which often occurs in cases where there is a permanent and/or traumatic injury. To prove lost earning capacity an injury lawyer must present evidence showing the reasonable value of the loss. To prove such a loss it is not necessary that the injured party show a work history which may be the case when children and/or students are seriously injured in an accident.
3. Non -Economic Damages
When there is no serious injury which appears to be the case in the 91 Freeway accident in California, parties may still be entitled to damages for emotional distress and other non-economic damages. Specifically, injured parties are entitled to non-economic damages for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, inconvenience, anxiety, humiliation, grief, emotional and physical impairment and emotional distress. There is no fixed standard in valuing non-economic damages but juries are instructed to award non-economic damages based on the evidence and common sense. To obtain compensation for future non-economic damages the injured party must prove it to be reasonably certain that they will experience future harm. Such future damages can often be proved through medical experts including treating physicians and medical experts retained by an injured persons’ attorney.
If injured in a motorcycle accident or other vehicle accident such as a car, truck or bicycle accident in California whether it be in Burbank, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Lancaster, West Covina or any other city in California it is always best to hire an experienced accident attorney so that you may obtain the compensation you are entitled to under California Law.