Motorcycle accidents can be life-threatening. In 2017, over 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in the United States. Even if a motorcycle accident doesn’t lead to a fatality, it can be life-changing. Motorcyclists are less protected than drivers, so injuries from accidents tend to be more severe.
Medical bills after an accident can be extremely high. They may even be long-term, where physical therapy or continued care is needed. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be wondering if you can receive compensation to help minimize these costs. Meeting with a trained motorcycle accident attorney can help you sort through the legal process and determine if you have a personal injury claim.
A Lawyer Can Help Determine If You Have a Claim
Not every accident will result in a legal claim. A motorcycle injury lawyer will go over the facts of the case with you and determine if you should go forward with your claim. They will figure out liability for the accident. Meaning, they will determine who is to blame for the crash and your injuries. It is important to note that there can be more than one responsible party.
A motorcycle accident lawyer will also determine if there was any negligence that led to the accident. This happens when a driver does not act responsibly or fails to act like other reasonable drivers would act. Your lawyer will also need to determine if there are any damages. Damages are money you could receive as a result of the accident. Generally, these include costs for:
- The damaged motorcycle
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, and
- Pain and suffering.
A motorcycle wreck attorney can also help you gather and sort through relevant evidence. This can include photographs from the accident, medical bills, police reports, or even clothing you were wearing or parts of the motorcycle that were involved in the accident. Evidence may also include gathering sworn witness statements, a personal narrative of the accident from you, or expert testimony to support your claim.
A Lawyer Will Look at Contributory Negligence
If you have suffered an injury from a motorcycle accident, you may be facing an uphill battle to recover the full amount of damages. California is a pure contributory negligence state. This means that if the injured person had any responsibility in the accident, they may be barred from recovering 100% of their damages. A motorcycle accident lawyer can walk you through the facts and discuss any possible liability in the crash that you may have.
The courts will make the final determination on what percentage each party was liable for the motorcycle accident. In California, you can recover damages as long as someone else is also to blame. Your motorcycle accident attorney will advocate for you so you have the lowest amount of liability. This total will then be the amount that they are barred from recovering. For example, if you were found to be 20% negligent in the accident, you would only be able to recover no more than 80% of your claim.
Driving a motorcycle without a valid license and drunk driving would be considered contributory negligence factors that would bar you from fully recovering your calculated damages. Both of these are frequent in motorcycle accidents and fatalities.
In 2017, 29% of motorcyclists driving in fatal accidents did not have valid motorcycle licenses. Motorcycle drivers were also found to be the highest percentage of alcohol impaired-drivers, at 27%. This is compared to drivers of cars in fatal accidents, who had a rate of 21% driving intoxicated.
A Lawyer Will Help You Deal With Insurance Companies
Regardless of whether you have a legal claim, a motorcycle accident lawyer can also help you deal with insurance companies. This includes both your insurance and the insurance carriers of any other parties involved in the accident. If any other parties do not have insurance, your lawyer can also help you find other ways of recovering compensation.
Insurance companies have large teams of lawyers and insurance adjusters representing them. Their goal is to get the claim settled quickly and for the lowest amount of money as possible. They are not on your side; they are on the side of the insurance company. If you are not familiar with the insurance process, it can be difficult to sort through the procedures and negotiate the best settlement. You need a skilled lawyer to represent you and advocate for your interests. This is what a motorcycle accident attorney is trained to do.