Helping Motorcycle Accident Victims in Atlanta obtain Much-needed Monetary Compensation and Damages
Motorcycle accidents are one of the most serious types of accidents that a person can be involved in. A motorcycle accident can result in long-term and debilitating losses and damages that can impact a survivor for the rest of his or her lifetime. In the worst scenarios, a motorcycle accident can result in an operator or rider’s death.
If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another person or entity’s negligence or carelessness, you deserve compensation for your losses. The Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law understand the tactics that insurance companies oftentimes use to undermine the severity of an accident victim’s injuries. Our legal team is fully prepared to confront the insurance company and advocate for your right to recover money damages.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons and in a variety of different situations. If you are a motorcycle passenger, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the motorcycle operator for careless or reckless driving or for failing to obey the rules of the road. Similarly, as a passenger, you may also have a valid legal claim against a negligent driver who caused or contributed to the accident in a similar manner, such as by speeding, failing to use a turn signal, or by engaging in other types of careless or reckless driving.
Negligent drivers and motorcycle operators, however, are not the only potential causes of a serious motorcycle accident. Some motorcycle accidents occur because of poor road conditions or construction site defects. In those instances, the city, municipality, construction company, or other entity may be a defendant in any claim or lawsuit that the accident victim files. The accident victim may claim, for example, that the city failed to properly maintain the road to prevent against serious accidents. In the case of a construction company, grooved pavement may have led to the accident by dislodging the motorcyclist from his or her bike—even while operating the motorcycle at a normal rate of speed.
When it comes to suing a municipality, however, special notice rules often apply. The experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law are aware of these deadlines and can ensure that we file any claim or lawsuit within the appropriate time period.
Filing a Claim in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle accidents can be difficult to prove, and this is why you should have an experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney in your corner at all times. When you are filing a legal claim or lawsuit in a motorcycle accident case, you must first be able to demonstrate that the party at fault acted unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, you may be able to allege that another driver was speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, ultimately leading to the motorcycle accident.
When it comes to establishing fault for a motorcycle accident, eyewitness testimony can sometimes be very beneficial. It is also helpful to have a copy of the police report that an officer prepared after arriving on-scene. Assuming you are able to establish fault, you must also demonstrate that all of your injuries and damages are causally related to the motorcycle accident. In other words, the motorcycle accident must have caused or contributed to your injuries or exacerbated a pre-existing illness or medical condition.
Recoverable Damages in Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Cases
Motorcycle accidents can result in serious and often debilitating injuries. This is because motorcycle operators and their passengers, like pedestrians, have very limited protection around them at the time of their accident. Although many motorcycle operators and their passengers wear helmets, helmets can crack. Moreover, motorcycle helmets are not enough to protect the rest of the accident victim’s body in the event of a collision. This is especially true if the collision is forceful and causes the motorcycle operator or passenger to fall off the motorcycle onto the ground.
If you can demonstrate that the motorcycle accident led to your injuries and damages, you may be able to recover damages that will compensate you for your losses. Potential damages in an Atlanta motorcycle accident case can include the following:
- Compensation for past, present, and future medical bills
- Compensation for past and future lost wages
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish
- Compensation for inconvenience
- Compensation for the loss of use of a body part
- Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life
- Compensation for loss of spousal consortium.
The skilled Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys at Brauns Law can assist you with proving your damages and establishing the necessary causal relationships.
Atlanta Motorcycle Accident FAQ
Traffic accidents can be devastating events that can often leave victims with extremely serious injuries. The problem for motorcycle riders is that there are no minor accidents, and if they are involved in a fender-bender, it is the passenger car whose fender gets bent. For the motorcyclist, as often as not the result of such a “minor” accident is to be thrown from the bike and potentially suffering serious injuries.
More than 80 percent of motorcycle accidents end in death or injuries for the motorcyclist or motorcycle passenger. Motorcycle riders are about 28 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than are occupants of passenger cars. In the early 1980s, The Hurt Report conducted the most detailed research before or since regarding the leading causes of motorcycle accidents.
The multi-year study, which remains supported by annual federal traffic statistics to this day, found that three out of four motorcycle accidents involve a motorcycle colliding with another vehicle in traffic, most often a passenger vehicle. Only one-fourth of motorcycle accidents involved only the motorcycle.
Driver error was a factor in about two-thirds of those accidents. But with another vehicle involved in a large majority of motorcycle accidents, it is reasonable to infer that, given the reduced visibility of a motorcycle compared to other vehicles and the lesser attention other vehicle drivers seem to pay to motorcycles on the road, a significant portion of those collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles are the fault of the driver of the other vehicle.
Here answers to some of the most common questions we hear from motorcycle accident victims when they first come to us for help.
What should I do if a motorcycle accident injured me?
The first thing you should do, obviously, is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. While paramedics might treat you at the scene, you also should go to the emergency room to ensure your injuries are not more serious than they appear.
Further, you should undergo an exam by your regular doctor as soon as possible following your accident. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, and you want to ensure that you can establish a connection between your accident and your injuries. The best way to do that is medical attention as soon as possible after your accident. If the paramedics say you’re fine except for maybe some road rash, go to the emergency room. If their doctors there see nothing obviously wrong, go to your doctor.
Neither paramedics nor ER doctors have the time to deal with someone who appears to okay. However, symptoms for many injuries do not manifest for days or even weeks, particularly with brain or soft-tissue injuries. Such injuries can have long-lasting consequences.
How can I tell if my accident was someone else’s fault?
Fault in a traffic accident generally is decided by the police, insurance companies, and the courts should an accident case actually get to trial. The police will take statements from witnesses and gather other available evidence, including traffic or security camera footage.
They might or might not ultimately charge someone with a traffic violation in the accident. If they do, that doesn’t settle the issue of fault—for instance, the police rarely witness the accident—but it makes it more likely that insurance companies will agree with the police determination of who was at fault. In the absence of any driver being cited, the insurance companies investigate and then work out fault.
If fault remains disputed, such cases are much more likely to result in litigation, even if they eventually settle before actually reaching trial. Because of the way the process works, that just makes it all the more important to gather any information at the accident scene possible. This could include photos of the scene, contact information from witnesses, or even just observations from the scene, such as the location of any security or traffic cameras, that could provide information that investigators—for the police, insurance companies, or your lawyer—could use to help determine fault.
Never make any statement—to the police or one of the insurance companies involved—that the accident was somehow your fault. Stick to the facts when talking to the police. Refer all insurance company inquiries to your Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer.
Will my auto and/or health insurance policies pay for any treatment or physical therapy I need?
Regardless of fault in an accident, your auto/motorcycle insurance policy will pay for your medical expenses up to your policy limits. After that, you can collect against your health insurance, subject to your deductible. Your motorcycle insurance will pay all medical costs so long as they remain within your policy limits. If you exceed those limits, your health insurance will pay subject to any conditions of your policy.
Some health policies require copays or might pay only a percentage of some costs. Further, almost all health insurance policies have what is known as a subrogation clause. What that clause means is that if the other driver is at fault and you can recover compensation for your damages from that driver or his auto insurer, you must reimburse your health insurer for payouts they made for your medical expenses.
If your medical expenses will exceed your motorcycle policy coverage limits, you should put your two insurance companies in touch so that they can coordinate on payments and any subrogation issues. Your Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer can help you do this.
If I use paid sick leave from my job because of my accident injuries, will that affect any recovery for damages I might end up receiving?
The short answer is no, or at least not in any practical sense. Your employer provides you with paid sick leave as a benefit. If you use some or all of that paid leave while recovering from injuries from your motorcycle accident, those benefits are not available to you in the future to use if you catch the flu or something and have to miss a few days of work. Because of that, the value of any sick days you have to take as a result of your accident would be added to your damages and be part of any compensation recovery you receive.
If someone else is responsible for my injuries, can I get them to pay for my medical bills and further health care needs from the accident?
If another driver caused your accident, then you generally can recover damages from that driver (and his insurance company). The process might be contested, particularly if there is a dispute with the other insurer over fault or the amount of damages. This is part of why you must carefully document any expenses you incur, medical or otherwise, as a result of your accident.
That can include many things, including missed time at work or if you need someone to drive you to work because of your injuries, but also more intangible damages, such as pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment for activities you enjoy but can’t participate in for a while because of your injuries.
While your insurance company will represent your interests on fault and medical expenses, you should hire an attorney to fully represent your interests and ensure you receive compensation to fully cover all of your damages, whether through an insurance settlement or a judgment at trial.
How long can I wait to contact an Atlanta motorcycle injury attorney?
You can wait up to two years to contact an attorney and make a claim. Two years is the length of the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury in Georgia. If you wait more than two years after your accident, you cannot file a claim. The question really should be, “How long should I wait to contact an Atlanta motorcycle injury attorney?”
Waiting two years to file a claim would likely be a mistake on many levels. First, the law will bar you from filing a legal claim or an insurance claim if you waited more than two years. Even if you filed your insurance claims promptly, your claim almost undoubtedly would be settled after two years, and you likely would have had to sign an agreement stating that your settlement was final and included compensation for all claims.
The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult gathering evidence becomes, and the more likely it becomes that you might have made agreements with the responsible driver’s insurance company that limit your ability to recover full compensation for your damages.
Thus, in answering the question of how long should you wait to contact an Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. An experienced attorney is much more qualified than you to negotiate with the insurance adjuster, to evaluate the damages you can claim, to support those claims with evidence, and, if necessary, to take those claims to court. Waiting only makes all of those elements of the process more difficult. Quickly hiring an attorney enhances the likelihood that you will recover a settlement that will fully cover your medical costs and other damages.
If I was riding on the motorcycle, not driving it, can I recover compensation?
Yes. In fact, motorcycle passengers are actually more likely than motorcycle drivers to be severely injured in an accident, so you may have a better case than the motorcycle driver. Motorcycle passengers are less likely than drivers to wear a helmet and they suffer serious head injuries at a higher rate. However, even in instances when both the driver and passenger were wearing helmets, passengers still suffered serious head injuries at a higher rate than drivers. Your passenger has the same rights to compensation as you. If the other driver was at fault, the claims for the motorcycle passenger and driver will be extremely similar, possibly differing only in the amount of damages.
Should I file a claim if I don’t think my injuries are very serious?
Absolutely. Filing your initial claims against the at-fault driver (through the driver’s insurance company) sets down a marker for your claim. It doesn’t limit your ability to add to that claim.
Further medical care can bring to light additional injuries that were not immediately apparent. Many injuries are immediately obvious. Common motorcycle injuries include road rash, biker’s arm, broken bones—especially to the lower extremities—spinal cord injuries, and head injuries. Most of these are immediately apparent, but for some—primarily road rash and head injuries—the seriousness might not be known until as much as a week or more after the accident.
Road rash, which can be fairly mild or so serious as to require surgery and skin grafts—is highly susceptible to infection, which does not set in right away. Infections of road rash can have serious consequences and, if untreated, even cause death. Head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries or TBI, also can be difficult to diagnose immediately.
Federal statistics show that TBIs are common in motorcycle accidents, even when the cyclist is wearing a helmet. Symptoms of mild TBIs generally fade quickly. However, many mild TBIs—such as many concussions—might look normal in a brain scan, and yet lead to lasting symptoms that do not immediately appear. Studies indicate up to 15 percent of those suffering mild TBIs suffer continuing symptoms. Even if symptoms do not immediately appear, your doctor should thoroughly examine you. Paramedics and ER doctors may miss hidden head injuries and could miss mild TBI. Untreated mild TBIs can cause ongoing problems that you will have a hard time linking to the original accident.
Even if you think you aren’t hurt badly, you should file a claim and get thorough medical confirmation of your injuries. Hiring an attorney under such circumstances also might help protect your rights as you and your doctor confirm your injuries.
Motorcycle Accident Fatalities in Atlanta, GA
Talk to an Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
A serious Atlanta motorcycle accident can result in a lifetime of pain, suffering, and damages. No one asks to suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, if another person or entity’s negligence has injured you, you can pursue compensation.
Sometimes, however, pursuing monetary compensation for your injuries and damages is not that easy. The insurance company may even try and deny your claim, or an adjuster may try and limit your monetary recovery, alleging that your injuries were not as severe as you are claiming. The adjuster may also contend that you—the motorcycle operator—caused or contributed to the motorcycle accident yourself.
When these challenges arise, it is important for you to have an experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney representing you. At Brauns Law, our skilled legal team will undertake a thorough investigation of your case and pursue the damages to which you are legally entitled. We do this by challenging the insurance company and emphasizing the strengths of your accident case while downplaying any weaknesses.
If you have suffered unnecessary injuries in a motorcycle accident case, you need skilled representation today. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer, please call us at (404) 418-8244, or contact us online today.
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