Motorcycle accidents are no joke. They make up a whopping 15% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S., despite motorcycles themselves making up just 3% of all registered vehicles.
Given the inherent danger involved, motorcyclists are often at odds to defend themselves from the negligence of other drivers — let alone in court after an accident has occurred.
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident you may find yourself overwhelmed by hospital bills, insurance claims, and paperwork — not to mention physical and mental pain and confusion over what has happened to you.
After such an accident, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer. A qualified motorcycle accident attorney will be able to get you money to cover any bills or financial losses caused by the accident.
You can find lawyers just about anywhere, but not all of them specialize in motorcycle accidents and injuries. To get the settlement you deserve, you really need to find an attorney who understands your case and, more importantly, understands the legal terrain.
So, where to begin? Before you hire anyone, you should first answer the following questions:
1) What can a motorcycle attorney do for me?
Apart from having the experience and expertise needed to navigate the difficult world of lawsuits and legal settlements, a dedicated motorcycle lawyer will provide the space you need to deal with the fallout from a motorcycle accident. You or a loved one may be in pain, swamped with paperwork, behind at work, or distracted by any other situation life may throw at you.
A motorcycle lawyer can relieve some of that burden. They will focus on the details of your case, determine its eligibility, handle all the messy paperwork, and file the relevant claims. Their goal is always to win you a financial settlement.
Once a settlement is offered, a lawyer can advise you on your rights and review the terms on your behalf. Attorneys can even protect you from aggressive insurance companies that may be pushing you to accept a settlement that is less than what you deserve.
2) How are motorcycle attorneys different from other attorneys?
As the name implies, motorcycle attorneys specialize in cases involving motorcyclists who have been wrongfully injured while on the road — usually as a result of another driver’s negligence. These kinds of cases require legal specialization because of the nature of motorcycle riding.
When assessing a claim, insurance companies are quick to identify the dangerous aspects of motorcycle riding, often casting an accident as somehow inevitable or unavoidable. When this tactic is successful, it results in a lower settlement offer for you. When an insurance company is very successful, it may determine that in spite of your accident, you have no case at all.
Attorneys who have years of experience dealing with traffic law, liability, and motorcycle insurance companies know better than anyone how the process works, what tactics insurance companies may use, and what rights motorcyclists have both before and after the accident.
3) What is the process for filing a suit?
The legal specifics vary from state to state, as do the statute of limitations for filing a motorcycle accident claim (although it is usually between 2-3 years following the incident).
But the roadmap is more or less the same:
- Hire a lawyer, investigate the accident, determine the cause, and attempt to negotiate a settlement prior to filing suit.
- If no settlement is reached, the lawyer will file a lawsuit, triggering the discovery phase, during which both parties investigate the other’s claim or defense. Once discovery is complete, the lawyers for each side will negotiate to reach a settlement through third-party mediation.
- If no settlement is reached, the case may go to trial. At this stage, a jury has final say on who is at fault and whether you, the plaintiff, has a legal claim to financial compensation.
Keep in mind: All cases have their own set of variables, making individual cases well beyond the reach of prediction. That said, most successful cases involving a motorcycle accident are settled out-of-court.
4) What proof or information do I need to provide to win my case?
Your word only goes so far. It’s important to provide as much evidence as possible to win your claim. That includes proof that the other driver was at fault. Additionally, your lawyer will need to document all financial losses stemming from the accident or injury.
You and your lawyer should also be aware of your state’s traffic and negligence laws. For example, were you or the injured party wearing a helmet at the time of the accident? And what is the law regarding motorcycle helmets in your state?
It’s worth noting that evidence tends to disappear over time. For example, skid marks, security camera footage, and physical injuries themselves may fade or heal with time. The longer it has been since the accident, the harder it may be to prove fault. That’s why it’s so critical to act fast after an accident has occurred.
5) How much money should I expect to earn from a settlement?
Settlement amounts vary from case to case. The nature of the injury and the financial damages it causes have a huge impact on the value of the claim. That claim is then expanded or mediated by a host of other factors: the negligence of other driver(s), the degree of fault for the accident, the adherence to local traffic laws, and the amount of evidence provided, among others.
A settlement amount may also be based on:
- Cost of past, present, and future medical procedures and bills
- Cost of loss of ability to work
- Cost of vocational retraining, as necessary
- Cost to repair motorcycle
- Past, present, and future pain and suffering
This list is by no means exhaustive. Other factors can contribute to the settlement amount in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, which only underscores the importance of talking to an attorney before hiring one. You need to know if you have a case.
6) How do I hire a motorcycle attorney?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, your best course of action is to talk to a lawyer who can more accurately assess the details of your situation. There are simply too many variables at play to make this assessment on your own. Fighting against insurance companies is almost always an uphill battle.
Fortunately, Sokolove Law offers free legal consultations to anyone who has been in an auto accident and believes they may be entitled to compensation.
It’s easy: To get started, call us or fill out a consultation request, and one of our experts will get back to you as soon as possible. We’re always here to help.