The timing of your settlement or award after a motorcycle accident is extremely important. Any dollar you receive in compensation represents something you lost in the accident, whether because you suffered an injury or a loved one died in the crash. Your compensation is paying you back for something that you already lost. Therefore, you are understandably interested in how long it will take to get your money.
There are many things you must do and potential hurdles you must cross before you can potentially receive compensation for a motorcycle accident. The timeline of each case differs depending on the circumstances of the accident, the severity of your injuries, and the willingness of insurance companies to acknowledge what you deserve.
An experienced attorney can review your situation and advise you of possible timelines and the milestones of a motorcycle accident case. Reach out to an motorcycle accident lawyer.
You Can Begin the Process by Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Your first step in the legal process is to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer. You should not attempt to be your own lawyer for numerous reasons. The most significant reason is that you usually cannot accomplish nearly as much financially alone as when you hire an attorney.
Although you do not control many aspects of the timing of a motorcycle accident case, you are the one who determines when to hire an attorney. You should do it as soon as possible after your injury. If you are not in the physical or mental shape to contact and speak with an attorney, your family members should do it for you. If you fail to contact a lawyer altogether, you risk complicating your case and harming your chances at financial compensation.
Your lawyer will speak with you at your initial consultation. If you hire them following that meeting, they can begin working on your case immediately. They can begin gathering evidence of what happened in the accident and estimating the value of your claim.
Then, your attorney will explain your legal options in the case. How quickly you can move depends on numerous factors. The overarching rule is not to take legal action before you are absolutely ready. You can harm your legal position when you file a claim or lawsuit that is weak or missing key information.
You Need to Decide the Best Way to Seek Compensation
First, with your lawyer’s advice, you will need to decide how to pursue financial compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries. Your attorney should explain all options, such as filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
Chances are that you will at least begin the legal process by trying to deal with the driver’s insurance company. You may not even begin the process of filing a lawsuit until you realize that an insurance settlement is unlikely or the insurance company is not serious about settling your case anytime soon.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits Will Take Time to Resolve
You should prepare for a motorcycle accident lawsuit to take considerable time if it goes to court. The court system has heavy legal dockets, and it takes time to even get a trial date.
Before the case can even go to trial, your attorney must follow extensive procedures. All told, you can expect a motorcycle accident lawsuit to take up to a year from start to finish. Sometimes, your case can take less or more time to conclude satisfactorily.
You may not be ready to file a legal complaint for some time. When you hire a motorcycle accident attorney, they need to investigate what happened in your accident and begin to gather proof. They will spend time drafting the legal complaint, which lays out the facts of the case and why you are entitled to financial compensation. Your attorney must draft a strong complaint to withstand a motion to dismiss the case, even if they might fill in additional evidence at a later date.
How Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Begins in Court
Your lawsuit begins when your attorney files a complaint with the court and serves it on the defendant. At that point, the court opens the case, and court-mandated deadlines take effect.
The first deadline is when the defendant has to file an answer to your complaint. They will admit or deny the facts you have alleged and may lay out their own version of the facts. The defendant usually has 30 days to file the answer, and they may seek a time extension from the court.
The defendant will not be defending your lawsuit on their own. When the other driver has car insurance, the insurance company has a duty to defend its policyholder under the law. The insurance company will have its own defense lawyer to handle the case. Unlike you, they must pay their own attorney no matter what, regardless of whether they win or lose the case.
Motions Will Add Time to a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
When they file an answer, the defendant may also seek to have the court dismiss your case. The defendant may try to find a reason why the court does not have jurisdiction over the case. Alternatively, the defendant will argue that your legal complaint fails to state a ground for relief. Usually, the court will deny a motion to dismiss, especially when you have an experienced attorney drafting your complaint.
Discovery Is the Most Time-Consuming Part of the Lawsuit Process
Many people think of a motorcycle accident lawsuit being won or lost in a climactic trial. While there is a chance that your case might go all the way to a jury, much of the real battle in the case happens in the discovery process. Discovery is when each party has the legal right to obtain evidence in the other party’s possession.
Your attorney may use these forms of discovery:
- Interrogatories. Your lawyer will ask a set of questions for the other side to answer
- Requests for admission. Your lawyer will seek to have the defendant admit to or deny certain facts regarding your accident
- Requests for documents. Your lawyer can seek physical documents and evidence the other party possesses
- Depositions. Your attorney might examine potential witnesses (including the driver) under oath to learn more about what they know and get their story on the record. You may have your own deposition by the insurance company’s lawyer if you are physically capable. Your attorney will be present to defend you and object to wrongful questions.
The discovery process takes up the bulk of the time for your lawsuit. Depending on the amount of possible evidence, discovery can take many months to complete. You may have to navigate numerous disputes during the discovery process when the defendant does not want to produce certain evidence that you request or when they go overboard in seeking information from you.
There Are More Motions After Discovery Is Completed
After discovery concludes, there may be additional time spent on further motions. Both you and the defendant may ask the judge to rule on the case based on the evidence you established during discovery.
If there are no factual disputes, the judge can rule on the law right then and there after considering the motions. However, motorcycle accident lawsuits are usually about different versions of the facts, so it will be difficult for the judge to find that there are no material facts in dispute.
Cases Often End with Settlements After Discovery
Your case may not go all the way to trial. Chances are that you can reach a settlement with the insurance company at some point during the process. The most common time for parties to successfully negotiate a settlement is between discovery and the actual trial date.
At that point, the insurance company (acting on behalf of their policyholder) knows the strength of your case and its own risks. This time is when they will get more serious about a trial. Even if you have spent months battling with the insurance company in discovery, it does not mean you will complete that battle at a trial.
The Actual Motorcycle Accident Trial Does Not Take Much Time
If you do have a trial, it is often the quickest phase of your case. The court will give both you and the defense a certain amount of time to present your cases to the jury. Usually, the months and years of negotiating and building your case can lead to a trial that only lasts a day or two.
After the conclusion of the trial, the jury will issue a verdict in your case based on the facts you have demonstrated. If the jury rules in your favor, they will also award you money for damages. The insurance company may appeal the verdict if it goes against them, potentially adding even more time to your case.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits Usually Take More Than a Year
The timeframe from start to finish in a lawsuit is usually more than a year if the case goes to trial. Courts simply do not handle most cases quicker than that. Not only is the court system overburdened, but it also wants to give both parties adequate time to present their cases. As much as you want and need the money you can get from an immediate award, it is often against your interests to have an express trial.
Do Not Rush the Legal Process Just to Get Money
One thing that you should not do is take a settlement that does not fairly pay you what you deserve. You have a legal right to full and fair financial compensation when you have suffered an injury because of someone else’s actions.
Some people who try to handle their own claims may be tempted to take a check for less money, both because they do not know that they can get more and because they want to end the case with a check in their hands. This approach will cost you money that you and your family will come to need in very short order.
Although it may be difficult to remain patient and disciplined when your financial situation is worsening, it is what you might have to do in a motorcycle accident claim. Although you are the ultimate decision-maker in your case, your attorney will give you professional advice and judgment about whether you should accept or reject a settlement offer.
If you are responding to the initial settlement offers, chances are that the advice will be to reject the offer because it is too low. When you work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, you will have the confidence to hold firm for what you deserve.
The keys to a successful resolution of your motorcycle accident case include:
- Knowing how much your motorcycle case is worth, removing the insurance company’s ability to catch you unaware of the value of your claim and trick you into a low settlement
- Having the evidence to prove both liability in the accident and your damages, gives you confidence in your legal position to take the case as far as it needs to go for the best possible result
- Knowing when to pull the plug on the claims process and take your case to court
Most of all, you must get the legal help that you need. While the legal process is always stressful, hiring an attorney gives you both peace of mind and the experience necessary to take on the insurance company. Your attorney knows how far you will need to take the case to get a successful resolution.
The best thing is that it does not cost you money out of your own pocket to hire an attorney. You do not have any risk because your attorney does not receive fees unless you receive a settlement or an award from the jury.
You should not allow concerns over time to prevent you from hiring an attorney. In most cases, the right legal help can result in an effective and efficient conclusion to your claim.