What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

Published On: July 16, 2022
Categories: Motorcycle Accidents

After the chaos of the accident scene and the early days of recovery, many people injured in a motorcycle accident wonder what they should do next. Here is a look at how to protect your right to compensation after the accident.

Hire an Attorney

According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle accidents injure more than 80,000 people in the U.S. annually. These injuries are often serious, resulting in high medical costs due to necessary surgery, hospitalization, and extensive follow-up care. At the same time, the motorcyclist is usually facing wage loss due to being too injured to work or even loss of future earning capacity due to permanent injuries that will affect the claimant’s ability to earn an income.

One of the most important first steps in obtaining compensation for the injury you sustained in a motorcycle accident resulting from someone else’s negligence is to hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to help you with your claim.

Attending a Free Case Evaluation

When you have selected an attorney you would like to speak with about your case, you can usually have an initial case evaluation with this attorney for free. This allows you to obtain answers to legal questions.

Additionally, the lawyer can explain the personal injury claims process to you and the types of services they and their legal team can provide to assist you. If you and the attorney decide you want to work together on your claim at the end of this evaluation, you must enter a contingent fee agreement with them so that they can work on your claim.

Yes, You Can Afford a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

It is not unusual for a person injured in a motorcycle accident to hesitate about contacting an attorney about their case. The most common reason for the hesitations is the fear of how much it will cost to hire an attorney. Unlike other types of attorneys, personal injury lawyers ensure that their services are affordable for anyone who needs assistance through a contingent fee billing method.

The contingent fee arrangement allows personal injury claimants to wait to pay for their attorney’s services until after a successful resolution of the claim through either a negotiated settlement or a court award. Once the case concludes, the attorney will receive the proceeds of your settlement or award and take a percentage of the proceeds for their work. If the case fails to recover compensation, the claimant owes their attorney nothing.

Continuing With Medical Treatment of Your Injury

While your attorney is investigating your claim to determine all sources of liability, available insurance, and incurred expenses, it is important to continue following your doctor’s instructions regarding the medical treatment of your injury. Failing to do so will produce questions about the seriousness of your injury but, more importantly, can potentially impede your recovery progress.

Keep copies of all bills for medical services, as well as proof of other expenses from the accident, including information from your employer about income loss and bills for the repair or replacement of your motorcycle and gear.

Communicating With the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Provider

Often, when there has been a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another roadway user, such as a motorist or commercial truck driver, a claims adjuster from the insurance company that provides the at-fault party’s liability policy will contact the claimant early after the accident.

The insurance company hires the claims adjuster to determine the insured’s liability and whether it owes the claimant compensation. Their interests involve protecting the insurance company’s bottom line by reducing or eliminating the costs of payouts made on claims, not properly compensating the injuries their insured’s negligence caused.

Claims adjusters engage in several tactics to reduce the value of claims, such as:

  • Offering a low settlement to resolve the claim quickly. While a quick resolution may tempt those with mounting medical expenses and profound impacts on their quality of life after a motorcycle accident, don’t accept a settlement before you speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer about the value of your claim. If you accept the settlement and then discover that it did not provide enough money to cover your expenses, you can’t go back to the at-fault party’s insurance company to ask for more compensation.
  • Requesting the release of all the claimant’s medical records. While claims adjusters need to see a limited amount of medical documentation about the injury, there is never a reason for them to see your entire medical history. Authorizing this release allows the claims adjuster to go through the information with a fine-tooth comb to find pre-existing conditions they can blame for the pain you’re currently experiencing. Insurance companies are only required to compensate a claimant for the worsening of pre-existing conditions experienced as a result of the accident, but not the condition itself.
  • Giving the claimant misleading or incomplete information about the compensation available to them, such as saying that the offered settlement was their final offer, attaching an arbitrary deadline to a settlement offer, or even telling a claimant that there is no compensation available for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages involve compensation for the psychological impacts of the injury, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.

Motorcyclists often face additional pressure from a claims adjuster simply because of the common stereotypes about those who ride motorcycles being reckless. A motorcycle accident injury claimant has as much right to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury as any other roadway user, regardless of how someone else feels about their chosen mode of transportation.

The Types of Communication Your Attorney Can Have on Your Behalf

Most motorcycle accident lawyers prefer to wait until a client has reached maximum medical improvement before establishing a value to their claim. This is the best time to value the claim because the claimant has reached the highest amount of recovery for their case, and the attorney can have a better idea of the expenses of treating the injury, and the claimant’s expenses.

Once your lawyer evaluates the case, they will demand the claim’s full value from the at-fault party’s insurance provider.

The claims adjuster will evaluate the demand and the related documentation and can either:

  • Accept the liability of their insured and pay the value of the claim.
  • Deny the claim and notify the claimant through their attorney.
  • Offer to settle the claim out-of-court for less than its established value.

If the insurance provider offers a settlement, it will usually be far lower than the claim’s value. The attorney can negotiate with the claims adjuster to convince them to increase their offer. An attorney’s management of communication with the insurance provider can protect the claim’s value from common tactics used by claims adjusters.

Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

If the at-fault party’s insurance provider fails to compensate the claim, you can file a motorcycle accident lawsuit so a judge or jury can determine liability and compensation.

Filing the lawsuit does not end the insurance company’s opportunity to settle the claim. You can settle any time during the process, as long as the judge or jury has not decided on the matter.

Discovery

Once you file suit, the case will enter the discovery phase. During discovery, each party in the legal claim will have the opportunity to view evidence held by the other. Your attorney can gather out-of-court testimony by deposing witnesses.

Witness depositions often reveal additional evidence that can prove the claim. Attorneys for the at-fault party’s insurance provider can also depose you, and your attorney will prepare you for what to expect during the deposition.

Settlement

About 95 percent of personal injury lawsuits, including motorcycle accidents, are resolved through a pre-trial settlement. Settlements benefit all parties of the claim by avoiding the expense and time involved in litigation and having some control over the outcome.

While your attorney can negotiate a settlement on your behalf, only you can decide if the amount offered is enough. Your attorney will help you understand the value of your claim so you can make informed decisions about your case.

Litigation

While few motorcycle accident injury claims will see the inside of the courtroom, you must preserve the option for litigation if the insurance company fails to compensate the claim on its own. Once you file your motorcycle accident lawsuit, your attorney will likely continue to entertain settlement negotiations but will also be busy gathering the information needed to prove the claim in court.

Some of your attorney’s activities during this time can include:

  • Arranging for expert testimony for your case, including testimony provided by accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals.
  • Preparing evidence exhibits, opening and closing arguments, and other aspects involved in presenting your case in court.
  • Filing pre-trial motions in court, such as compelling the insurance company to provide certain documents during discovery, motions for default judgments, or even a motion to dismiss the case if you settle.

The Statute of Limitations and Why It Matters to Your Claim

The statute of limitations is a statutory deadline for filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit set by state lawmakers. Usually, this deadline is between 1-5 years, depending on the state where the accident occurred. Failing to file the deadline within the statute of limitations is extremely important. Missing this date will usually result in losing your right to file your claim in court.

Because litigation is the legal protection you have against insurance companies who refuse to pay a demand, losing the right to use the court process will generally cause you to lose the chance of obtaining a settlement. Your attorney will manage the timelines of your claim to ensure that all options for compensation are available to you.

Finalizing Your Case

John E. Napolitano
Motorcycle Accident Attorney, John E. Napolitano

If you enter a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance provider or obtained a court judgment in your favor, your attorney will receive your compensation. They will deposit the proceeds in a trust account, from which they will withdraw the percentage for their payment as outlined in the contingent fee agreement you entered at the start of the process.

Additionally, they will use some of the proceeds to satisfy medical liens on the settlement by your health care providers or the providers of group health insurance if you used your health insurance policy to pay for your injury while your injury case went on.

The attorney will then meet with you to finalize the case. You must sign certain documents and you will receive the remaining proceeds of your settlement or award.

If you or a loved one gets in a motorcycle accident, you may recover compensation. To discover the options available to you and determine whether you have a viable case, contact a motorcycle accident attorney today.