Among the most devastating occurrences that can happen is a motorcycle accident – especially if it involves you (if you happen to be a motorcyclist). It often leads to serious injuries, and even brings chaos to your finances and personal life as well.
Other hidden costs include loss of future earning power or employment, high hospital bills, in addition to severe suffering and pain for all those involved. It is your right as a victim to claim compensation for negligent action of unsafe road users and drivers. This is where motorcycle accident lawyers come in – they do their best to ensure you get your legal rights to a recovery.
Who is the injury attorney?
These lawyers give their clients legal representation when they have gone through injury. This can be physical or mental – mostly due to the neglect of another individual, entity, company or government agency. This is a common field for motorcycle accident lawyers.
Why do you need a motorcycle accident lawyer?
In 2012, more than 4,500 deaths were due to motorcycle accidents, while the injury toll was 93,000, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Transport safety sheet. Half of these deaths were from collisions with different vehicle types.
One aspect to understand is that the ‘cage free’ feature of riding motorcycles – there tends to be little to no protection and the result is harmful injuries and fatalities.
Motorcyclists need to know the legal results of accidents, because this will help in protecting their legal rights. They can face certain issues on the road:
- Less visual outlines – due to the height and size of motorcycles, it is harder to see them on the road. It is particularly dangerous when it comes to intersections and corners because of blind spots as well as multiple cars on the road.
- Balancing issues – when a motorcycle is going at high speed, it may become unstable and this is very dangerous since it can cause accidents. This may be due to problems with alignment (many people know this as “speed wobbles”) and can easily lead to legal action. However, this could also be an issue with the manufacturing quality of the motorcycle, and you can hold the manufacturer liable for the liability.
- Riding skills – what many people do not now is that operating a motorcycle is different from operating a car – they require different skill sets. You can acquire the skill through experience, but the consequences of mistakes are more severe on newer riders. Many accidents occur involving new motorcycle drivers because of their lack of experience.
- Obstacles such as potholes – many vehicles can navigate oil slicks, potholes and debris because of their balance and size. However, this is not the same case for motorcycles, and they may face challenges when trying to navigate them.
Cases arising from motorcycle accidents
Because motorcyclists are under different dangers and rules than commercial truck and automobile drivers, they will tend to encounter more cases resulting from the danger they undergo or put others through on the road. In the case of accidents occurring, it is important for the motorcyclist to know the process of a lawsuit and hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer so they can undergo compensation or know what to do.
When a person gets injuries because of the error of another party, this results in personal injury lawsuits. Lawsuits are to give the injured party the compensation they require for the injuries they undergo resulting from the accident.
The problem is that many individuals are not aware or lack enough knowledge of the legal system so that they can receive compensation for damages or losses. In addition, due to all the factors that are within the motorcycle accident lawsuit as well as the medical bills in the case, the logical thing is to ensure you access a lawyer as soon as possible.
If both parties are at fault, the negligence in this case is comparative; therefore, the parties need to decide the extent of damages on each of them. An interesting aspect however, is that product liability is more common in motorcycle accidents than other causes. Issues with performance or vehicle design are likely reasons to take it to a shop, but in the case of motorcycles, the consequences are more severe.
Seeking legal help
Motorcycle laws as well as insurance laws are different in each state of the U.S., such that even within the automobile laws of your state, it is likely that motorcycle laws are a different entity. This makes it wise to consult a motorcycle accident attorney well versed in the subject to explain the regulations applying to your case.
Among the things that put many motorcyclists off is the steps that are necessary to put a product liability case together, because it is very complex. However, if it is your belief that the accident was a result of malfunctions in your motorcycle, then it is in your best interest to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer near you to help in making claims against the manufacturer.
Other cases that may arise from motorcycle accidents include:
- Property rights
- Negligence – this can preclude damages that the motorcycle operator receives
- Failing to adhere to safety standards such as wearing a helmet
Response to motorcycle accidents
Regardless of whether you are around or involved in a motorcycle accident, the first consideration should be medical help. For potential accident cases, it is also helpful to note the documentation, witness numbers or names and pictures. It is also good to keep your own documentation safe, and this ensures that you have sufficient evidence to try a case when possible.
The second thing you should do is contacting a motorcycle accident attorney that will help you to discuss the legal consequences of the accident. Getting the service early will spare you the heartache of mistakes that will lead to consequences financially. Another reason to get a lawyer is that motorcycle laws are different in each state, so the motorcycle accident lawyer should advise you accordingly. They will also assist you in informing you of possible insurance action, and if you can accept settlements that insurance companies are offering you.
Settlements from the cases can take anytime from a few months (most likely three months) to a year, and this is dependent on the circumstances. Different parties in the case also have their own goals to achieve, such as attorneys from both sides, insurance companies and manufacturers, and this may delay the time taken to reach a conclusive end. Statutes in different cases differ because of the different state laws as well, and the time for the statute normally begins from the time of the accident.
Trial value vs. Settlement value
There are two types of valuations – settlement and trial values. The settlement value is the educated guess for the settlement you are aiming to receive, while the trial value is the actual payment you get.
The settlement value is lower than the trial value usually, because you decide the likely case outcomes to avoid the risk of losses at trials.
Valuation of the case by the parties involved
Valuing a case involves the motorcycle accident attorney taking a best guess that the jury can award to the plaintiff (the person who is suing), as well as estimating what the defendant (the party that the plaintiff sues) is willing to pay. That amount also involves the amount the plaintiff is willing to accept to settle the case before it goes to trial.
This may sound complex, but the largest factors in determining the case are the significance of the injuries that the plaintiff suffers and the damage that the accident causes, and the extent of the jury finding the defendant liable for the accident.
The damages to the plaintiff
The likely outcome of a case involving accidents (including motorcycle ones) is difficult to determine because of one cause – the likely outcome is that the jury will ultimately decide the money that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff.
Certain damages like lost wages and medical bills are easy to quantify because the ‘concrete’ cost will use the amount the plaintiff shows that they have lost and will continue losing due to the accident. Subjective damages such as suffering and pain are harder to determine, and are most likely using educated guesses as their conclusion, or using outcomes of similar cases to know what amounts to decide on. However, since each case is unique, the final figure of damages will be within a broad range.
A key aspect in valuing damages is the level that the accident affects the plaintiff. For instance, broken limbs in a formerly active person who enjoyed participating in various activities will result in the ‘loss of quality of life’ argument. This will be higher in the eyes of the jury; compared to if the person in question was physically inactive. In addition, the loss of income because of the accident will make the compensation higher than if there is no significant loss in income.
Possibility of the jury finding the defendant guilty
This is another major factor in case valuations during trial for the traffic accident. When the plaintiff has none or little evidence showing the defendant was the cause of the injuries, then the value of the case reduces considerably.
Note that even when the chance of paying damages is high, the defendant is less willing to settle and more prone to taking chances during trial even when the fault is clear. In a similar way, the plaintiff will tend to accept lower settlements because the possibility of getting nothing at trial is also there.
Another factor involves the possibility of the jury finding the defendant liable due to the poor reputation of motorcycle drivers. This does not mean however, that if the plaintiff or defendant was riding a motorcycle that the case will be in the opposite party’s favour, but it tends to lower the odds of the plaintiff or defendant if the evidence of liabilities goes in either way.
Availability and amount of insurance
When the defendant has few assets, settlements do not go beyond the liability limit of the defendant’s auto insurance.
Sometimes the verdicts from the jury will exceed liability limits of insurance, though this does not imply that the plaintiff can collect the total amount of the verdict. In this case, the best choice for the plaintiff is accepting a settlement amount that equals the insurance cover limits, even though the actual damages are higher and easier to show.
Verdicts and settlements involving motorcyclists
There is data regarding the average verdicts due to injuries involving motorcycles, as well as related court verdicts and settlements.
- The injury verdicts (mean) after personal injury trials was $73,000 between 1999 and 2006, according to data from Jury Verdict research.
- Settlement of $355,000 after the plaintiff died from injuries sustained from defendant’s truck turning left in front of the motorcycle at high speeds
- Settlement of $1,600,000 after a plaintiff slipped on loose gravel, suffering brain and nerve damage
- $300,000 settlement for a plaintiff after a truck turned in front of a motorcycle. The injuries sustained were soft tissue injuries, in addition to aggravation of the pre-existent herniated disc and torn knee ligament.
All these figures can act as a basis for your motorcycle lawyer to formulate a possible claim and secure your compensation or negotiation of payments in damages.
Among the aspects that may mess up your financial situation is the possibility of a lawsuit resulting from damages in accidents – the last thing you want as a motorcyclist is going through these periods. This is the reason it is important to find a good motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Many motorcycle accident lawyers near you have extensive knowledge on the subject, and you can find one that sorts your case quickly.