If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to understand that you may have legal grounds to pursue compensation through a motorcycle accident injury claim.
This may lead you to wonder what compensation you may be entitled to receive if you pursue a claim. This article addresses common questions and issues related to the motorcycle accident claim process.
What is a Settlement?
A settlement is when the parties involved in a legal dispute agree to resolve the matter based on specific terms that are amicable to each party. It is worth noting that motorcycle accident injury settlements often take time to negotiate and a basic understanding of the legal elements and issues that would need to be addressed if the legal dispute escalated to litigation. However, when a settlement is reached, it represents an end to the legal dispute.
Average Compensation in California Motorcycle Accident Cases
Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide a specific average amount of compensation in a California motorcycle accident case. This is because each case is unique and the amount a motorcycle accident victim is compensated will depend on the unique factors of their particular case.
How Do I File a Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?
One of the first steps you need to take when pursuing financial restitution in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident is understanding the motorcycle accident claims process. For example, when filing a motorcycle personal injury claim, you need to take time to prepare and submit specific forms, along with supporting documentation, to the negligent driver’s insurer carrier.
Once you submit the requisite forms and documentation, a claims adjuster from the insurance company will likely contact you.
Do not expect an immediate resolution to your injury claim. Why? Because claims adjusters often dispute the number of damages pursued by a motorcycle rider or there may be issues related to liability that could cause the insurance adjuster to outright deny your claim.
If you find yourself in this situation, instead of haggling with an insurance adjuster yourself, it makes sense to retain the services of a skilled and knowledgeable California motorcycle accident injury attorney.
I was in a motorcycle accident—how is my settlement calculated?
The average motorcycle accident settlement will typically be influenced by the amount of calculable economic damages, which include your immediate medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages, any future lost earning capacity, etc. In addition, your average motorcycle accident settlement will be influenced by the extent of your non-economic damages, which are also known as pain and suffering damages.
Your settlement for a motorcycle accident will depend primarily on the number of damages you suffered as a result of the collision. It is important to highlight that each case is unique, and no one can pinpoint the exact amount you will be able to recover from your motorcycle accident and any injuries you may have suffered.
What Damages Can Be Claimed?
“Damages” are not the same as injuries. Common motorcycle accident injuries include traumatic brain injury, back injuries, laceration, paraplegia, and even death in fatal accidents. A major factor in motorcycle accident compensation amounts is the extent of your economic and non-economic harms and losses stemming from the motorcycle accident. These economic and non-economic harms are also referred to as “damages.”
The information below contains an overview of the common types of damages that are claimed in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident in California.
With some limited exceptions, an injured motorcyclist in California is allowed to pursue financial restitution for the “actual” damages caused by a negligent motorist, or motorists, including:
- Medical Expenses Incurred Because of the Motorcycle Accident – This type of economic harm includes an array of health-related expenses. For example, bills you incurred directly related to the California motorcycle accident generally fall into this category, including any on-scene medical treatment, transportation to an ER by an ambulance, emergency medical treatment, primary care physician bills, or any other related treatment.
- The Cost of Future, or Long-Term Medical Treatment – It is quite common for someone seriously injured in a motorcycle accident to require long-term treatment, including multiple surgeries, physical therapy, pain management, etc. The long-term cost of your care is a key element for motorcycle accident compensation amounts.
- Lost Earnings – Many people who suffer severe injuries in a motorcycle accident are forced to take a significant amount of time off work, or may even be forced to find a new type of employment. Whether you were forced to miss a few days, a few months, or you had to find a new job, the income you lost is a recoverable form of damages.
- Future Lost Earnings and Earning Capacity – If you suffered a debilitating bodily injury, you may not be able to return to work, or at least your chosen profession. For example, if you were a firefighter who suffered multiple broken bones, ligament and tendon damage, and nerve damage in a motorcycle accident, you could be forced to find a new career or work solely on administrative tasks.
As a result, your future earning capacity and career prospects could be negatively impacted. If you find yourself in this situation, you can include financial restitution for your future earnings and earning capacity as part of your motor accident claim.
- Pain and Suffering – Pursuing a motorcycle accident settlement for pain and suffering is worthwhile since there are many incalculable harms and losses associated with a serious injury suffered in a motorcycle accident. Pain and suffering damages include compensation for the long-term aches, pains, inconveniences, and anguish you will likely endure in the wake of the motorcycle crash. These are harms that could last for the rest of life, which is why they should be incorporated into motorcycle accident payouts via settlement or jury verdict.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are not available in every car accident personal injury case. In fact, most California courts limit the award of punitive damages to particularly heinous cases involving a negligent motorist, or motorists, who engaged reckless and wanton conduct and that conduct proximately caused the motorcycle wreck. A common example of where punitive damages potentially could be pursued includes a motorcycle accident caused by someone who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that intoxicated individual caused the collision with the motorcyclist.
It is important to note that, in most cases, in order to get a large settlement offer, there needs to be evidence that supports the valuation of your economic and non-economic damages. When you meet with an experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer, they can explain the types of reliable supporting evidence that will be needed to strengthen your case.
Can a Settlement be Negotiated?
In most instances, the answer is yes, a settlement can be negotiated. In fact, a level of negotiation is routinely required to reach an amicable settlement. It is important to understand that settlement negotiations can be an unpredictable and adversarial process since you want to obtain maximum compensation while the insurance company wants to limit its payout to the lowest possible number.
In California, many motorcycle accident claims involve large insurance companies that employ large teams of defense attorneys and claims adjusters who work day and night to limit or deny liability in these types of cases. That is why, in order to full and fair motorcycle accident settlement, you should retain the services of a motorcycle accident lawyer.
A reputable motorcycle accident attorney will thoroughly review the unique facts and circumstances impacting your particular case. These facts and circumstances often involve issues related to liability, damages, and scope of treatment.
These elements typically come into play when negotiating a potential motorcycle accident settlement in your case. It is important to note that each case is unique, so each motorcycle accident settlement is based on those unique elements. As a result, no lawyer or law firm should ever guarantee that they will obtain a specific dollar amount when negotiating motorcycle injury settlements.
How much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident?
Since each case is different, there is no single, correct answer to this question. As the client, you possess the ultimate authority on whether to accept or reject a settlement offer. Again, this is why it makes sense to hire a personal injury attorney experienced in negotiating motorcycle accident insurance settlements.
A qualified attorney can advise you on whether a particular settlement offer is reasonable or is an attempt to low-ball you. When you have an attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident, you put yourself in the best position possible to obtain the financial restitution you are owed for your harms and losses.