The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcycles are more likely to be involved in crashes than cars. As many as two-thirds of these accidents happen due to negligent drivers. They might drive while distracted by a cell phone or audio system; they might fail to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, they could drive while under the influence, disobey traffic laws by speeding, run red lights, or fail to maintain their vehicles.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how they were negligent. The fact of the matter is that they were negligent, and their negligence caused the accident. The accident caused your injuries and your damages. Now you are left to live with the consequences of their negligent actions.
You do, however, have options for seeking compensation. For most injured motorcyclists, the best option involves hiring a seasoned attorney to help them receive full and fair compensation, whether through settlement negotiations or going to trial and receiving a jury award.
The Costs of a Motorcycle Accident
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that medical costs are the highest than any other motorcycle accident-related expenses. For motorcyclists who wore a helmet and still succumbed to their wounds, expenses are about $14,000. If the motorcyclist did not wear a helmet, that figure changes to $16,000.
If the victim suffers a head injury, medical expenses will be around $43,000; without a head injury, they are approximately $15,000. Keep in mind that these figures can depend on many factors, such as geographic location and severity.
In addition to medical costs, there are social costs such as lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. Lost wages alone account for billions of dollars in losses each year for accident victims. Social costs for each motorcycle accident in which the victims have endured fatal injuries are an average of $211,000.
Who Pays for a Motorcycle Accident Victim’s Losses?
Should motorcycle accident victims absorb these costs themselves? Thankfully, most have insurance, or the at-fault party to the accident has liability coverage. However, insurance companies make it difficult for injured individuals to receive the full value of their claim’s worth. While an insurance claim should be all that they need to receive fair compensation for their injuries and other losses, most of the time, it isn’t.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. If they provide all claimants with the full and fair settlement that they deserve, they won’t make nearly the profit that they do. To avoid this, they go to many extremes to pay claimants as little as possible.
Their tactics and strategies often include:
- Calling as soon as possible after your accident
- Attempting to get you to settle before you can speak to an attorney
- Telling you that you do not need an attorney or that you will be better off without one
- Requesting a recorded statement to lock you into what you have said
- Asking you to sign a medical authorization
- Twisting what you say or trying to get you to say things to hurt your claim
- Investigating your social media accounts
- Entirely or partially denying liability
- Delaying the processing of your claim
- Telling you your medical treatment isn’t necessary or that you shouldn’t seek more treatment
- Misrepresenting the law
- Misrepresenting the amount of insurance coverage available for your claim
As you can see, when it comes to saving money, insurance companies are ruthless. It’s quite common for motorcycle accident victims to face many hurdles trying to get a fair settlement.
Challenging Insurance Company Tactics
If you are like most people, you haven’t been in many motor vehicle accidents. Not only are you unfamiliar with the games insurers play, but you also don’t know how to handle them. What if you could have someone on your side who has the experience and a track record of success dealing with insurance companies and getting motorcycle accident victims what they need during such a difficult time? You have that option. You can hire a skilled motorcycle accident attorney to represent you in your claim.
Legal representation offers many benefits. If you don’t know why you should hire a motorcycle accident lawyer, consider the advantages you will have with an attorney on your side.
Time and Space to Heal
After a motorcycle accident, you may have severe injuries that will take some time to heal. You don’t need the stress of handling your own claim. Those who decide to do so might find themselves overwhelmed with tracking down evidence, speaking to insurance adjusters, getting statements from witnesses, juggling medical bills, filing legal claims, negotiating with big insurance companies and their attorneys, and worrying about how they will pay their bills, all.
At the same time, they try to heal for significant injuries. Most people heal from injuries faster when they can rest and take care of themselves, not while trying to work a second job in a field they likely have little experience in.
A motorcycle accident lawyer can walk you through the legal process. They know the necessary steps, strategies that work. They can shoulder much of the burden of completing and filing the legal paperwork for you, providing you with enough free time to focus on your recovery.
The Timely Filing of Your Lawsuit
Sometimes injured individuals are unaware that there are legal deadlines for filing an injury lawsuit. This mistake can be fatal to your claim. Every state has what is known as a statute of limitations, which mandates the deadline that injury victims can file a lawsuit. Each state is different, but generally, the statute of limitations is around two to three years after the date of the accident, and sometimes only a year if the claim is against a government entity.
Being unaware of the statute of limitations is not an excuse that the court will accept for filing your claim past the deadline. In almost every case where the plaintiff files their claim after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant moves the court to dismiss the case, and the court grants their request. If this happens, there isn’t much a plaintiff can do to pursue compensation within the court system.
When a lawyer is in charge of your legal claim, they are aware of the statute of limitations and the deadline for filing your particular claim. They will budget their time accordingly so that you can be certain that your lawsuit will begin on time.
Attorneys can take many steps to maximize your compensation, which is their ultimate objective. Studies, such as one from the Insurance Research Council (IRC), show that, on average, personal injury victims, including those in motorcycle accidents, receive as much as three times the amount of compensation than victims who do not have legal representation.
Part of maximizing your compensation is accounting for all of your damages in your claim. Damages are the losses you suffer as a result of your injuries.
They can vary from one accident to the next but generally include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Medically necessary home modifications
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
Once your lawyer identifies all of your damages, they will have the job of proving that each one exists and what their values are. Without experience, this task is nearly impossible for motorcycle accident victims to complete independently.
If the insurance company presented you with a settlement offer, would you know for sure if it was fair and reasonable? Most motorcycle accident victims would not. With an attorney on your side, you will know if you receive a lowball offer, and they will work to negotiate a better settlement. Far too often, injured motorcyclists without legal representation settle their claims for too little too soon.
Most motorcycle accident attorneys are skilled negotiators. This is an essential aspect of legal representation. If your claim settles and doesn’t have to go to court, it can save you time and money. You can receive your settlement sooner, decrease your risk of having the jury determine a lesser award, and avoid the hassle and anxiety of going to court.
Generally, most laypeople don’t have the negotiation skills to negotiate a fair settlement; they either accept an unfair settlement or decide to represent themselves in court, which will also likely led to them getting less than they deserve for their claim.
Experienced attorneys know what their client’s claim is worth. They also know the strengths and weaknesses of their case and the defendant’s case. They use this knowledge to negotiate a reasonable settlement on behalf of their clients.
If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful at garnering a fair settlement, a motorcycle accident attorney has the experience and confidence to go to trial. Most people hurt in a motorcycle accident are in no position physically, financially, or emotionally to go to trial to fight for fair compensation.
The Insurance Company Won’t Take Advantage of You
Motorcycle accident claimants without a lawyer are the favorite type of claimant for insurance carriers. They will take advantage of our lack of knowledge and experience every chance they get. They know that you lack the experience, knowledge, time, and confidence to hurt their objective of settling your claim for as little as possible.
However, when a reputable attorney represents an injured individual, they immediately know that that individual means business and that they will have to fight to meet their objective. They approach claims with attorney representation much differently than they do the claims of individuals without.
Help Mitigating Damages
As a motorcycle accident victim, you must do everything you can to mitigate your damages. This means that you do everything in your power to keep your injuries and property damage to a minimum. The insurance company can fight your claim if you fail to take these actions.
- Don’t ride your motorcycle until it is repaired and deemed safe to ride again
- (and don’t repair your bike until your motorcycle accident lawyer inspects it)
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident
- Follow your doctor’s orders such as adhering to activity limitations, taking prescribed medications, attending therapy sessions, or even having surgery
- Don’t continue medical care or treatments that you know are not necessary any longer
- Don’t rely on alternative medicine if your doctor advises against it
Sometimes injured individuals mistakenly and inadvertently fail to mitigate their damages, which can significantly impact the recovery of their damages. If you hire an attorney, they can help ensure that you are doing all that you can to mitigate your damages and receive the compensation you deserve for them.
You Pay Nothing Unless You Win
Another benefit of working with a motorcycle accident attorney is that most of them will provide free case consultations. You pay nothing to speak with a reputable attorney who will assess your case. At the end of this meeting, the attorney can tell you if you have a valid legal claim, how much it might be worth, and what your next steps might be.
If you decide to hire the attorney, you might be surprised to learn that you won’t need to pull out your checkbook. Motorcycle accident lawyers commonly work only on a contingency fee basis. They don’t get paid unless you get paid. If they can’t negotiate a reasonable settlement or win a court award on your behalf, you won’t owe them anything. If they are successful, they will receive a predetermined percentage of your recovery.
Contingency fees make it, so people who are already hurting financially from their accident don’t have to find a large sum of money to pay for legal representation. They also motivate attorneys to work their hardest to maximize your compensation. The more you get paid, the more they get paid. Contact Brauns Law, PC today for a free consultation.