You should get a lawyer for your motorcycle accident case. Having an attorney on your side can make the process of securing compensation much easier.
If another party caused your accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation known as damages. You may not be sure who is at fault or how to seek compensation from them, especially if you are recovering from the accident. A motorcycle accident lawyer can assist you with this and other aspects of your case.
A Lawyer Can Help in Many Ways After a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accident cases are complex. Unless you have legal experience, you may not know the best path forward. You can seek damages directly from the responsible party as well as their insurance provider, but you may not know how to do that or how much compensation you should seek. If you make a mistake, you could lose out on some of the money that you deserve.
A lawyer can guide you during the legal process. They can listen to your story, present you with options, and help you decide how to proceed. They can take over all the bureaucratic elements of your case from tracking down your medical records to handling all the phone calls, emails, and paperwork.
Investigate Your Motorcycle Accident
The police and the insurance company will conduct their own investigations into your accident, but neither has a personal interest in you. If you secure a lawyer, they can start while the evidence is fresh, gathering evidence to benefit your case with the aim of improving your future.
A lawyer can collect evidence such as traffic, dash cam, or security camera footage, police reports, interviews with eyewitnesses, toxicology reports, cell phone records, and pictures of the scene. They will use this evidence to figure out how your accident transpired and who was at fault—both critical components in determining which party is financially responsible for the accident.
Identify the Which Party Caused the Accident
Identifying the party that caused your motorcycle accident is a critical element in your case. If another party caused your accident through their negligence, then they are legally responsible for your accident-related losses.
Motorcycle and vehicle drivers owe a duty of care to everyone on the road, meaning that they must drive in a way that does not put passengers, other drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians at risk of harm. Drivers who breach this duty of care are negligent, and if an accident results, they are financially responsible. Many accidents occur because drivers fail to yield, run red lights or stop signs, tailgate, or speed.
In other cases, a negligent municipality is at fault. The state, county, city, and town in charge of road maintenance have an obligation to provide safe roadways. If overgrown bushes or trees, a poorly maintained road, ill-designed intersection, obscured traffic sign or signal, or debris caused your accident, the municipality may be responsible for it.
Estimate the Value of Your Losses
You need a good estimate of your losses so that you can seek fair compensation from the at-fault party. If you do not know how much your case is worth, you will have a hard time evaluating any settlement offers and may accept less than you deserve.
Insurance companies want to settle cases as quickly and cheaply as possible, a goal directly at odds with your optimal financial recovery. A lawyer will help you understand the total value of your losses so that you do not agree to an unfair settlement.
To do so, a lawyer will gather evidence to demonstrate how much your case is worth to the insurer, judge, or jury. Your medical bills and records, past wage statements, past tax documents, and vehicle repair or replacement receipts show your financial losses. Expert medical testimony and interviews with you, your family, and your friends will show the impact of your personal losses, including your pain and suffering, caused by the motorcycle accident.
Deal with the Insurance Company
Insurance companies are known for more than just lowball offers. They are also infamous for manipulating you into accepting some degree of fault. Their agents are trained to sound friendly and caring on the phone, asking you questions that sound compassionate, when really they are trying to twist your words. Never apologize or admit fault in any way when speaking to an insurance agent.
Better still, let a lawyer talk to the insurance company for you. A lawyer knows what to say and what not to say. They can take over verbal and written communication with the insurance provider for you so you can focus on recovering from your motorcycle accident. They can also file an insurance claim and submit supporting documents on your behalf.
Negotiate an Out-of-Court Settlement
Settling out of court is preferable for both parties in most cases. Lawsuits take a lot of time and resources for everyone involved while a settlement is usually faster and less stressful. A lawyer can negotiate a settlement that provides you with fair compensation for your losses.
File a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party
In some cases, your best legal option is to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. A lawyer can help you weigh your options for the best possible outcome.
How Much Is My Motorcycle Case Worth?
According to recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5,000 motorcyclists die annually in traffic accidents, and another 84,000 sustain injuries. Motorcyclists and their passengers may face traumatic brain injuries, permanent disabilities, and the debilitating cost of medical treatment.
Every case is different. The value of your case depends on many factors, including how severely you were injured, what your long-term prognosis looks like, how much your medical care cost so far, whether you will require future medical care, and more. A lawyer can figure out how much your case is worth and seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Here are some of the damages you may recover:
Economic Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Economic damages cover financial losses, such as the unpaid bills and lost earnings you experienced because of the accident.
Specific kinds of economic damages often include:
- Medical expenses: The at-fault party should compensate you for care you received after the accident, including short-term and long-term medical treatment. Short-term expenses might include ambulance bills, emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging, surgeries, hospital stays, and follow-up visits. Long-term care might include speech, occupational, or physical therapy, anticipated future surgeries, and assistance with daily living.
- Medical equipment: You may need braces, crutches, a wheelchair, walker, motorized scooter, hospital bed, patient lifts, commode and shower chairs, or other accommodations after certain injuries.
- Home modifications: You may need to make major changes to your home, such as adding a ramp, widening hallways, or putting in an accessible bathroom. The responsible party should pay for these modifications.
- Loss of earnings: You may be out of work temporarily while you recover, or your injuries may prevent you from returning to work at all. You may be able to recover past and future loss of earnings such as tips, wages, and salary.
- Property damage: The responsible party should compensate you for the repair or replacement of your vehicle.
Noneconomic Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Noneconomic damages compensate you for personal losses like your emotional trauma and physical pain. These losses can be harder to estimate than economic damages. After all, you get a bill from the doctor, but no one puts a price tag on how much you suffer. A lawyer who has experience handling cases like yours can estimate how much compensation can realistically minimize your suffering.
You may recover damages for:
- Chronic pain
- Long recovery period
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
- Mental health conditions, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, or insomnia
- Loss of ability to participate in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed
- Reduced quality of life
Wrongful Death Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to recover wrongful death damages. Every state has different laws about exactly who can seek damages for wrongful death. For example, under Georgia law, the surviving spouse can seek damages. If there is none, then any surviving children can seek damages. A lawyer familiar with the laws in your state can help you determine who is eligible to file.
State laws also vary as to the types of compensation available after a wrongful death.
You may recover damages for:
- Medical expenses for the treatment your loved one received before they passed away
- Funeral and burial expenses such as cremation or embalming, an urn or casket, flowers, memorial service, transportation, and other expenses
- Pain and suffering your loved one experienced before they passed away
- Pain and suffering experienced by surviving relatives
- Loss of financial support for the income, benefits, and retirement your loved one would have provided
- Loss of household support, such as childcare, chores, and home maintenance that your loved one would have provided
- Loss of consortium, which encompasses the benefits, such as caregiving and companionship, of a familial relationship
- Loss of parental guidance if your family member left behind children
Can I Afford a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Motorcycle accidents fall under personal injury law. Typically, in this area of civil practice, attorneys don’t charge upfront costs or fees. Instead, they will represent you on a contingency.
The contingency-fee arrangement constitutes an agreement between you and your attorney as to the fee they will deduct from your final financial award. After they win your case, they will deduct their fees, pay your debts, and forward the rest to you.
The benefit of this payment arrangement is that those who are under financial strain are not limited in their legal options. You don’t have to worry about whether you can afford an attorney because you won’t owe anything until your case is resolved.
File Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Before Time Runs Out
Every state sets a limit for how much time you have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party after a motorcycle accident. For example, Georgia’s statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death is two years, meaning that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit or two years from your loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some states set a different statute of limitations when the responsible party is a municipality. For example, you only have one year under Georgia law to sue the county if negligent road maintenance led to your accident. A lawyer can help you determine who is at fault and which laws apply to your case.
You should get a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your area to determine how much time you have to file a lawsuit after your motorcycle accident. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free case consultation and can quickly answer this question, and many others, for you. They can make sure that you sue the responsible party before time runs out.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
When your attorney investigates your accident, they will look into what caused your collision. Often, this information will point to the at-fault party. The evidence they gather will demonstrate that the responsible party is financially liable.
Motorcycle accidents are caused by the same reckless or negligent driving behaviors that cause typical car accidents, but a few are more likely to lead to injuries for motorcycle riders:
- Lack of turn signals
- Not checking blind spots
- Improper following distance
- Poor driving for the weather
- Improper lane changes
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
Whatever the cause of your collision, your personal injury attorney will gather evidence to demonstrate the fault of the responsible party. With this information, they will negotiate for a financial award that is appropriate for the extent of your losses.