Victims of motorcycle crashes can suffer extremely serious injuries that leave them hospitalized and needing long-term care – if they are fortunate enough to survive. These injuries can alter victims’ lives instantly and lead to costly bills, financial losses, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Most motorcycle accidents happen when other drivers are negligent in some way. However, motorcycle crashes also happen when municipalities fail to maintain roadways and when motorcycle parts are defective.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you should speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer near you as soon as possible. Your lawyer can investigate the accident circumstances and determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages. If so, your lawyer can prepare the claim on your behalf and submit it to the insurance company. If the insurance company will not compensate you favorably for your injuries, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit for damages in the court system.
Common Injuries That Cyclists Suffer
In motorcycle accidents, cyclists are at an extreme disadvantage. Unlike the occupants of cars and trucks, cyclists do not have an outer covering surrounding them. Therefore, they suffer direct exposure to their surrounding environment in a crash. If they fall off their bikes in an accident or onto another vehicle, they can suffer very serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
Common examples of motorcycle crash injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
- Face, jaw, or dental injuries
- Soft tissue sprains, strains, or tears
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Lacerations and contusions
- Crush injuries
If you suffer any of these injuries in a motorcycle accident, you must seek same-day medical treatment at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room in your area. Symptoms of many injuries, including traumatic head injuries, do not immediately appear. In fact, serious symptoms might not appear until days or weeks after your accident. Therefore, you must immediately undergo a medical evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider.
Your medical provider can examine you thoroughly and order the necessary imaging studies, including MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays, to determine your medical condition. If you need to undergo surgery or other hospital procedure, the provider can schedule you promptly. Finally, a medical provider can recommend future care, such as with an orthopedic doctor, neurologist, or another healthcare provider.
When treating your injuries, you must do so regularly and without skipping appointments. If the insurance company learns that you did not seek initial medical treatment following your accident—or that there are long gaps in your treatment—they will likely become suspicious of your injuries.
For instance, the adjuster handling your claim may assume that your injuries were not all that serious or that you did not make your medical treatment a priority after your motorcycle accident. The best way to avoid this issue is to treat early and often for your accident-related injuries. Doing so increases the chances that you will receive full and fair compensation for all of your injuries.
While you focus your attention on recovering from your injuries, your motorcycle accident lawyer can begin advocating for you. Specifically, your lawyer can gather up your medical treatment records to date, along with photographs of your injuries, property damage photos, lost wage documents from your employer, and a victim impact statement. Your lawyer can then assemble these documents into a settlement demand package.
After you complete your medical treatment (or have a good idea of the future treatment you will need), your lawyer can send this demand to the insurance company, request that they accept fault for the accident, and begin settlement negotiations in your case.
How do Motorcycle Crashes Typically Happen?
Motorcycle crashes usually occur when other drivers are negligent in some way.
Driver negligence can take many forms, but it usually occurs under one of the following circumstances:
- The driver violates a road rule – Drivers who violate the rules of the road are more likely to cause serious accidents. Common road rule violations that lead to motorcycle crashes include tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, failing to use turn signals, speeding, and aggressive driving—including road rage.
- The at-fault driver is distracted – Distracted driving usually means not paying attention to the road. A driver might be listening to loud music in their vehicle or roughhousing with a passenger when they should be watching the road. Alternatively, the responsible driver might be programming a GPS device or fiddling with a cell phone or tablet. If the driver turns their head away from the road, even for a couple of seconds, that can be sufficient time for them to miss an oncoming cyclist, resulting in a crash.
- The responsible driver is intoxicated – Alcohol can seriously affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. An intoxicated driver might have limited concentration and experience various physical symptoms, like blurred vision. Moreover, they may experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle before a crash occurs. An intoxicated driver might also drive erratically, striking a cyclist in the rear, on the side, or head-on, causing serious injuries.
Motorcycle crashes also occur when roadways are defective in some way. Cities, counties, townships, and other municipalities must maintain reasonably safe roads. They must keep their roads free of deep potholes and cracks.
If a defect exists, they must warn about it or remedy it in a reasonable time. If they don’t and a motorcycle accident happens, they are responsible. Deep potholes in the road, in particular, can dislodge a cyclist from their vehicle and cause them to strike the ground, suffering serious injuries—including bone fractures and traumatic head and brain injuries.
Finally, some accidents happen when motorcycle parts are defective in some way. For instance, a manufacturing or design defect might exist with the handlebars, steering mechanism, or brakes, resulting in a malfunction on the road. If your lawyer can trace your motorcycle crash to a defective part, you can bring a claim or file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer, or another entity in the product distribution chain. To prove this causal connection, though, expert testimony is usually necessary.
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident resulting from one of these types of negligence, you are not alone. A motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can explore your legal options and help you decide on the best course of action for your injury case. Your lawyer can also retain the necessary experts to help you prove the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Claim or Lawsuit
In a motorcycle accident claim, the accident victim has the legal burden of proof. The at-fault driver or other responsible party does not need to prove anything in the case. The accident victim must demonstrate that the negligent party acted unreasonably under the circumstances, such as by violating a traffic law, engaging in distracted driving, or operating their vehicle while intoxicated.
Moreover, the accident victim must show that this negligence caused their accident. Finally, the accident victim must prove that they suffered at least one injury in their motorcycle crash and that their injury directly resulted from the crash.
In some instances, motorcycle crashes lead to untimely deaths. When that occurs, the deceased accident victim’s surviving family members can open a wrongful death claim and pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. When a death occurs, the estate must typically prove that the at-fault party’s negligence directly resulted in the accident victim’s untimely death.
To prove the legal elements of a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit, the accident victim’s lawyer can retain one or more experts, including:
- An accident reconstructionist who can speak with the involved individuals, eyewitnesses to the accident, responding police officers, and others to piece together exactly how the accident occurred and who likely caused it.
- A medical expert who can causally relate an accident victim’s injuries to the subject accident and, in some instances, establish that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury that won’t improve over time.
When an accident victim suffers a permanent injury, they might experience pain and other symptoms for the remainder of their life.
A knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you prove the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit and retain the necessary experts to testify at a discovery deposition or jury trial in your case.
What are Recoverable Damages in Motorcycle Accident Claims?
When motorcycle accident victims can prove the legal elements of their claim or lawsuit, they are eligible to recover various damages. All motorcycle accident cases are different, and the damages that one accident victim recovers usually differ from those another accident victim recovers.
The types and amounts of these damages will typically depend upon the severity of the accident victim’s injuries, the length of their medical treatment, and the extent of their pain and suffering.
Motorcycle accident victims can recover compensation for:
- Related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
When a motorcycle accident causes an accident victim’s untimely death, the decedent’s survivors—or the personal representative of their estate—can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. The claimant can then pursue and recover monetary compensation for the deceased individual’s funeral and burial expenses, future lost wages, and loss of the decedent’s future care, comfort, and companionship.
A knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer will do everything in their power to help you maximize the compensation you recover.
Litigating a Motorcycle Accident Case in Court
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident and the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately, you may need to litigate your case. Litigation starts when your lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system. Even after filing a lawsuit, your lawyer may continue settlement negotiations with the insurance company. However, the court will establish various deadlines that the parties must meet going forward.
First, the court will establish a discovery deadline. During discovery, the parties can exchange documents and answers to written questions, called interrogatories. The court may also set a date for a pretrial or settlement conference, along with a jury trial date. If the case does not settle, it will go to a jury trial, and the jury will decide all disputed issues.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider mediation or binding arbitration. At mediation, a neutral mediator helps the parties facilitate settlement discussions, while at arbitration, a neutral arbitrator decides how much in damages to award the accident victim.
Victims of motorcycle crashes often suffer serious injuries and deserve to recover full and fair monetary compensation. A motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you determine whether a particular settlement offer is a ‘good’ offer, given the facts and circumstances of your case.
Your lawyer can also help you decide whether you should file a lawsuit, litigate your case, and take it to trial or binding arbitration. While your lawyer can offer you valuable advice, you are the ultimate decision maker when settling or litigating your case.
Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you or a person you care about suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash, time is of the essence. In all jurisdictions throughout the country, motorcycle accident victims have a limited time to file a claim or lawsuit. In some jurisdictions, this deadline is as short as one year. Therefore, you must contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can promptly investigate the circumstances of your accident and file a timely claim or lawsuit for damages on your behalf. Your lawyer can then help you negotiate with the insurance company and, if necessary, litigate your case to a conclusion in court.