When you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, knowing how to obtain fair compensation can give you peace of mind. Because motorcyclists have so little protection from the impact of a crash, they can suffer from devastating injuries and may require expensive medical treatment that lasts for years. In the wake of a crash, many accident victims feel overwhelmed by physical, emotional, and financial stress. To get proper compensation, you need a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer to fight for you.
In this blog post, we provide an overview of everything you need to know about winning motorcycle accident compensation for your injuries.
Insurance companies determine the value of injuries in a motorcycle accident by calculating two types of financial damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damage refers to the actual, measurable monetary losses you’ve sustained because of the motorcycle accident. Such losses may include past and recent medical bills, lost wages, future earning capacity, property damage, and the estimated cost of future medical treatment.
Non-economic damage is the subjective, personal losses you’ve had to endure because of the motorcycle accident. These losses may include pain and suffering, inconvenience or physical impairment, or even the emotional loss of familial, social, or educational experiences. Although non-economic damages are not easily quantifiable, insurance companies use a formula to determine how to assign a dollar value to these losses.
Insurance companies begin their calculation of the value of a personal injury claim by adding all the quantifiable medical expenditures and costs related to the accident. These expenses are known as “medical special damages.”
To determine non-economic damages (known as “general damages”), Many insurance companies used to multiply the amount of medical special damages by a number that ranged from 1.5 to 10, depending on the severity of your injuries, your background and your credibility. Today, most Insurance companies use very complex computer programs to calculate the value of your motorcycle accident compensation claim. They will not tell you the formula or figures that their computer programs use to arrive at general damages.
Finally, the company adds the amount of lost wages you’ve sustained because of your injuries. This resulting figure is the value of your injuries–however, it is not necessarily the amount of your compensation. Rather, insurance companies use this figure to begin settlement negotiations.
Insurance companies will also calculate the percentage of your fault in the motorcycle accident. For example, if the accident occurred partly because you sped up at a yellow light, they may argue that they’re entitled to reduce your final compensation by a certain amount.
The amount of compensation you receive depends upon how skillfully you present your arguments and evidence. For this reason, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer fighting on your behalf.
Many people wonder how much compensation, in real numbers, that they’re likely to get after a motorcycle accident. The truth is because every accident is different, it’s hard to pinpoint an “average” settlement for a motorcycle crash. Furthermore, even if there were such a number, it wouldn’t be useful for determining how much you might receive. A Biker who suffered a broken arm and was able to continue working is more likely to have a smaller settlement that one who suffered a traumatic brain injury and had to stop working for months. It all depends on the circumstances.
That said, we do have an inkling of an idea about the amounts that juries have awarded as compensation following a lawsuit. According to a report for the organization Jury Verdict Research, the median motorcycle injury verdict between 1999 and 2006 was $73,700. The average award for the same period was $561,065. These figures do little more than indicate the wide range of awards.
If you’re trying to calculate a ballpark amount, it’s best to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. A skilled lawyer will calculate the economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered and give you their best estimate of what your motorcycle accident compensation payout could be.
The decisions and actions you take after a motorcycle accident can affect both your health and future legal actions or compensation claims. Following a motorcycle accident, consider these four essential steps to protect yourself and preserve your motorcycle accident compensation claim.
Make sure that neither you nor anyone involved in the accident is seriously injured, then move your motorcycle to the side of the road. If there are serious injuries call 911 for an ambulance immediately.
Reporting the accident to the police is essential to building your case. The police will interview the drivers involved in the crash, speak to witnesses, take photographs of the scene, and document their findings in a report. You can use the information collected in the police report in court.
In addition to calling the police, you should try to collect as much information about the accident as possible on your own. Take photographs and videos of the scene, including the condition of the road and all vehicles involved. Also, write down or record the names, addresses, phone numbers, or email of any eye-witnesses. Some important witnesses may leave before the police arrive, or they might overlook some.
Give your personal information and statement to the police, but never admit fault to anyone. Don’t even say anything like: “I’m sorry” or “I should have seen you,” to the other driver. Insurance companies or other parties involved may use these statements against you in a claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer will help determine who was at fault later. You might not be as responsible for the crash as you think.
It’s important to let your insurance provider know about the crash. Again, never admit fault. Only provide basic information so that the accident is in their records. You should also refrain from providing information regarding the extent and nature of your injuries, the amount of property damage that occurred, how fast you were going, or any other information that may turn out to be incorrect. Remember that the insurance company–even your own–is not on your side. Their goal is to give you the lowest settlement possible to save their company money.
Some people hesitate to hire a personal injury attorney after a motorcycle accident because they believe they don’t need one or are afraid that it would be too costly. But having an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer on your side can come with several significant benefits. In particular, lawyers can:
Not every person who has been in a motorcycle accident has a viable claim for compensation. For example, if the accident was entirely your fault or you did not suffer any injuries, you may not be entitled to compensation. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, however, can help assess the strength of a compensation claim or a potential lawsuit, and advise as to how to proceed.
A motorcycle accident attorney will take the time to investigate the facts of your case and gather supporting evidence. They can review police reports, speak to witnesses, and even examine the accident scene. An experienced attorney will know what details and evidence to look for to build a strong claim. A good attorney will also help you collect the critical medical documentation to prove your injuries and treatment as well as help estimate the bills and costs you’ll have going forward.
It’s important to know who contributed to or caused the motorcycle accident to determine who is responsible for the compensation of your injuries. You might think that either you or the other driver was responsible, but multiple people or factors can cause an accident. For example, it may turn out that a design problem with your motorcycle, the other driver’s vehicle, the roadway, or a traffic light gave rise to the crash. The actions of a third party, such as a jay-walker, might have also contributed to the accident. Your lawyer will investigate your case from every angle to ensure that the right party is held responsible and will compensate you.
After a motorcycle accident, one of the attorney’s most important roles is negotiating with insurance providers. Insurance adjusters may sound friendly and helpful, but their goal is to reduce your claim. Some try to trick you into an admission or will twist your words to blame you for the accident. Bikers often get an especially bad rap when dealing with insurance companies because many companies are predisposed to believe that motorcyclists are irresponsible risk-takers.
A lawyer experienced with motorcycle accidents will not fall insurance company’s tricks and will push back against stereotypes of motorcyclists. Moreover, they’ll know how to speak to insurance representatives, present the facts in a light the most advantageous to you, and push for a fair settlement.
You may need to file a lawsuit against the insurance company or the person responsible for your injuries to receive the full and fair amount of compensation you deserve. An attorney can help you decide whether taking this step is worthwhile, can file the lawsuit on your behalf, and argue your case before the judge and jury. It will be difficult for you to be fully compensated for the injuries that you received during your motorcycle crash without a lawyer.
When you’re still reeling from the motorcycle accident, trying to heal from injuries, and generally looking to get your life back in order, it can be hard to focus on all that you need to know to fight for fair compensation. Your lawyer can take that worry off your shoulders. If you have an experienced lawyer you trust, leave the legal matters to them and focus on your real life.
If you have been hurt in a Texas motorcycle accident, call the McKinney, TX lawyers at Underwood Law office at 972.535.6377.