After you or a loved one sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, there is a good chance you are also dealing with significant stress and upheaval. Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident than those in a passenger vehicle. In addition, they also stand a much greater chance of suffering serious injuries because of the nature of motorcycle crashes.
With little to protect them, they can sustain some of the following injuries:
- Road burn from skidding across the pavement
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Serious fractures
- Severe internal injuries
Motorcycle Accident Claims Usually Pay More
Because motorcycle accident injuries tend to be more severe than those caused by other types of accidents, hurt bikers and their families can often expect more compensation. In many cases, victims have significant medical expenses that include bills for surgeries and lengthy hospital stays. In addition, many motorcycle accident victims can’t work for a significant amount of time, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost income.
Where victims are dealing with permanent disabilities or other long-term problems, they can recover compensation for their future losses. All of these factors put together mean that motorcycle accident victims can often recover tens of thousands of dollars or more in compensation for their losses.
In Some Cases, You May File a Claim With Your Own Insurance Policy
One thing that you must do is learn about your own policy after you have had a motorcycle accident. It may be some time until you can receive a settlement, and you are not guaranteed to receive money for your claim. Therefore, you should know what your own insurance may or may not cover.
If you have a standard and basic motorcycle accident insurance policy, it may not cover everything that you think it covers. For example, there may not be “first party” benefits under your coverage. This means that if you have medical bills coming due, your motorcycle coverage will not cover them. Instead, you would need to rely on your health insurance policy for that.
Your own policy covers theft of your bike or damage to it if you have been in a crash. It would also cover damage that you would cause to someone else’s body or person if you were the cause of the accident. Your policy should cover you for injuries and collisions. However, many accidents are the fault of another driver who hit you or your loved ones. In this case, your own policy will not help you much as you cope with medical bills. Accordingly, you must wait until you have reached a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance to obtain compensation for your losses.
No-Fault Coverage May Not Help You Even if it Were Available
There is no such thing as “no-fault“ insurance coverage for motorcycle accidents. From a legal perspective, there are excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” in these policies in most states that offer “no-fault” coverage. In addition, the insurance laws in nearly all states are less favorable for motorcyclists than they are for passenger vehicle drivers. The result is that if you are counting on your own motorcycle insurance coverage to backstop you in an accident, you may find yourself out of luck. To receive anything in most states, you would need to show that the other driver is liable.
Some PIP Coverage Could Help You
If you have coverage beyond the basic policy, you will get some additional assistance from your own insurance company regardless of a settlement or how much coverage the motorist has. For example, medical payments and personal injury protection coverage can pay for your medical costs regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Even if you were involved in a crash on your own, you would still have coverage up to the policy limits for medical costs. However, you can’t recover compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering.
Further, the policies available to you will depend on where you live. Each state has different laws, so no uniform answer can say what motorcycle insurance covers in all 50 states. We would tell you to pay close attention to what add-ons your insurance company offers and make sure to buy all of those that make sense.
Even if you have confidence in your own abilities, you do not want to end up with medical bills piling up that you cannot pay. Always consider the worst-case scenario when you are purchasing motorcycle insurance, taking all possible catastrophes into account.
A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Is an Absolute Must
Of course, most people reading this article are reviewing it after a motorcycle accident and come to us in a position of wondering what their existing policy pays. This raises the stakes of your decision about which attorney to hire. Given how critical it is to prove liability, there should never even be a question of whether to hire a motorcycle accident attorney. If you pass up on an attorney, you could find yourself sacrificing hundreds of thousands of dollars of settlement money if the insurance company does not find the driver to be at fault.
It is crucial to have an attorney before you even file the claim. First, most people in motorcycle accidents have suffered serious injuries. Nobody should expect you could to speak with the insurance company and prepare your claim under those conditions. You may see advice to speak with witnesses, gather documentation, and do other things to ready your claim. This overlooks the fact that injured people are likely in no condition to do so.
Those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury certainly cannot handle their own claim matters. In any event, there is no reason to stress when someone is here to help you.
If the Accident Was Someone Else’s Fault, You Will Likely Make a Claim on Their Policy
If you were injured in an accident caused by another person, you may file a claim with their insurance policy. In these third-party claims, you need to retain an attorney to represent you as soon as possible. Insurance companies are notorious for minimizing the amount they pay victims, and a lawyer can protect your legal rights from the outset.
Your Attorney Will Handle the Details of the Insurance Claim
When it comes to motorcycle accident claims, the fact is that you should rely on an attorney to do most or all of the work for you. Not only do they have the professional knowledge, but they can also counsel and advise you regarding your expectations and likely outcomes. You do not have to worry about getting a large legal bill or having to write a sizable retainer payment to the attorney because they work on a contingency basis.
After you have been in an accident, you will file a claim with your motorcycle insurance company. This is the just start of the process that could result in financial compensation.
Your claim should include the following:
- The police report about the accident
- Photographs of the scene of the crash
- Witness statements
- Documentation of your medical injuries, treatment notes, and prognosis
- Evidence of the wages that you have lost
- Copies of all of your medical bills and health insurance explanation of benefits
The insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. They will be responsible for your claim, but they will have the full insurance company behind them.
Expect Frequent Contact from the Insurance Company
At the same time, you are likely to hear often from the insurance company. Your company will want you to give a statement and explanation of the events leading up to the accident. This interview will be critically important when it comes to deciding who was responsible for the motorcycle crash. If you say anything wrong, the other insurance company will try to pounce on it as a way of getting off the hook for writing you the check that you may otherwise deserve. This is why you need a lawyer at your side when you speak with the insurance company.
Be Careful When Dealing With the Defendant’s Insurance Company
You may hear from the driver’s insurance company, too. Here, their intentions are not pure at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The other insurance company will try to trick you into saying something that could undercut your case.
Since the average motorcycle accident settlement can go well into the six figures, they have every financial incentive to avoid paying you or to cut the size of your settlement. This is why you need to be very careful about whom you talk to when you have a claim pending. When you have a motorcycle accident attorney on your side, they can help protect you from the deception that some insurance companies will employ to get out of paying.
The truth is that very few motorcycle accident cases will eventually go to trial. Many cases are settled without even the need to go to trial. Of course, your case may need to go to court, but the negotiations with the insurance company are crucial. If they eventually yield a settlement, you can get the money that you need without the time or risk of a trial.
Once Liability Is Decided, the Negotiation Can Begin
After the insurance adjusters speak with both parties to the accident, they will determine among themselves who is liable for the crash. In many motorcycle accidents, the car driver is responsible, since they have driven carelessly and did not take the time to see the biker. Once the liability determination is made, it is time to begin the actual settlement negotiations.
If you are counting on these talks to yield a quick deal, you should temper your expectations. The only way that you would reach a fast settlement is if you accept the initial offer from the insurance company. Simply stated, this is not a very good idea. The insurance company always has a considerable amount of room to negotiate, even after they make the first offer.
Settling claims is what the insurance company does every single day, and you can rest assured that they know almost to the penny what your claim is worth based on the information that you provided. You can assume that they are building in some room for negotiation. This is especially true when you have a type of claim that routinely reaches into the six figures.
The Initial Settlement Offer Is Likely Not a Good One
Most claimants will reject at least the insurance company’s initial offer. While this takes the offer off the table, nearly everyone would benefit from making a counteroffer of their own. A motorcycle accident attorney also knows the value of your claim and will tell you how much more they think you can get in a settlement.
At the end of the day, the insurance company also has an incentive to make a deal since trials cost them money too. However, they are not in the same hurry as the victim who needs the money. They can afford to wait you out, so they do not need to make their best settlement offer first.
Settlement Is Likely, but Trials Sometimes Happen
IN most cases, you will reach a settlement offer after a few rounds of offers and counteroffers. Know that a settlement will mean that you do not always get top dollar for your claim. However, it will save you from having to go through a multi-year trial, especially as your bills begin to mount.
However, as rare as we told you that motorcycle accident trials are, they still happen now and then. You should not rule out the option of going to court because that may be the only way to get the compensation that you deserve if the defendant’s insurance company is unrealistic and unreasonable.
Your attorney can use the threat of a possible trial as leverage to get the insurance company to offer more. You may even need to file a lawsuit first to eventually get the compensation that you deserve in a settlement with the insurance company. Contact Brauns Law, PC today for a free consultation.