In addition to the physical and emotional impacts of a motorcycle accident, victims also face financial difficulties. Money gets tight when you cannot work, yet the bills still come in. A settlement would provide relief, but how can you obtain one that will pay all of your bills?
It will not take long before the insurance company offers an initial settlement. But this payout is likely less than what you need to pay your bills—often much, much, less.
You’re probably not a lawyer and perhaps this is your first motorcycle accident, so you may not know how to recover the compensation you need to pay for the bills related to your crash.
Maximizing your compensation takes skill and effort from a motorcycle accident attorney.
Learn more about the motorcycle accident lawsuit process, factors that can affect the time line of your claim, and ways a motorcycle lawyer can speed up a settlement while securing the money you need to recover all of the damages a negligent party caused you.
An Overview of a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit: The Path to a Settlement
Many individuals are unfamiliar with the steps involved in a motorcycle accident lawsuit. This may be your first experience with the civil court system, which can be overwhelming. Understanding the process can help you know what to expect and have reasonable expectations. Below is a general overview of how most motorcycle accident claims play out.
Step 1: Your attorney may gather evidence to back your claim
A motorcycle crash during rush hour on a busy interstate will likely have multiple witnesses and sources of video footage. Conversely, a weekend accident on a rural county road may take some investigation.
Be aware that time is not on your side when collecting evidence. The sooner a motorcycle accident lawyer can evaluate the crash scene and your damaged motorcycle and speak to witnesses, the better. Memories fade, and harsh weather can deteriorate physical evidence at the crash scene.
Your attorney might not need to do much investigation for a clear-cut case. If the evidence proves the defendant was at fault, their wrongdoing caused your injuries, and the law can hold their insurer liable for damages, the investigative phase is brief.
However, if the evidence is unclear at first, your attorney may need to investigate the accident more thoroughly, as if you were going to trial. They can then build up the leverage they need to negotiate with the insurance company. On the bright side, if you cannot settle and have to proceed with litigation, your attorney will have already done much of the work needed to prepare to bring your case to court.
Step 2. Your attorney initiates settlement negotiations
Typically the quickest way to recover compensation after a motorcycle accident is by settling with the defendant and their insurer. They may be inclined to settle because it is faster and costs less than a trial. However, if an insurance company refuses to offer a fair and reasonable settlement, you may need to take your case to court to receive the amount you deserve.
There are several steps during the negotiation phase, all of which can affect how long your motorcycle accident lawsuit takes to settle.
- How long the insurance company takes to respond to your demand letter. You may file a demand letter with the defendant’s insurer as part of your claim. A demand letter usually includes a respond-by date, a deadline you give the insurance company to respond to your demands. The respond-by date can be any date you and your attorney agree upon, but it is often from 30 to 45 days.
- Whether the insurance company returns with a counter-offer or ignores the demand letter. It is unlikely that an insurance company will accept the terms of a demand letter. They will probably make a lower counteroffer, or they may ignore your demand letter altogether.
- How many rounds of negotiation you go through before reaching an agreement. Settlement negotiations often involve several rounds of counter-offers before the parties agree. How many rounds of negotiation occur depends on the complexity and value of the case. If you accept an insurance company’s offer, you will enter into a settlement agreement.
Insurance companies know that you are eager to receive compensation and use this knowledge to their advantage. They drag their feet and take any opportunity to stall, hoping you will accept their offer. Your attorney can advise you on the pros and cons of accepting a settlement or taking your claim to court.
Step 3: Litigation
If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, you and your attorney may decide to go to trial. You start by filing a complaint in civil court.
A court trial can have many stages, during which each side may present witness testimony, evidence, and arguments. After each side presents its case, the court will issue a final order, either in or against your favor.
The time frame for litigation can be hard to predict. There may be many potential procedural delays, which the defendant and their insurance company may take advantage of. Additionally, your attorney has more work to do if they need to litigate the case, including collecting more evidence to prove the defendant’s liability and your damages, taking depositions, preparing witnesses to testify, and more.
Note that a case can still settle even after you have filed a claim in court. And the insurance company may become more inclined to settle as the case approaches trial, depending on whether the case shapes up favorably for you.
Other Factors That Can Affect How Long a Motorcycle Accident Claim Takes
Within the framework of a motorcycle claim process, there are several moving parts. Multiple factors can affect how long it takes for you to receive a settlement.
Insurance company delays in processing claims
It is better to let your attorney discuss your case with the insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to make money, which means they will use every tool they can to deny or minimize your claim. The more ways an insurance company can find to fight your motorcycle accident claim, the longer it may take to recover compensation.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will be familiar with insurance company tactics in fighting motorcycle claims and can help you get past them.
Severe injuries may make a motorcycle accident claim take longer
You do not want to rush a settlement before your or your loved one’s prognosis is fully known. You have one chance to pursue compensation after a motorcycle crash. Your settlement should reflect your current and future accident-related damages.
Multiple negligent parties create a more complex case
Your motorcycle accident lawsuit may take longer to settle if more than one party is to blame for your injuries. For example, accidents involving a commercial truck are often complex. The trucking company may be at fault for not enforcing the required rest times. And the truck operator may have acted negligently by ignoring a red light or texting while driving.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Claim Take? Four Ways You Can Help Speed Up The Process
A lot can seem out of your control after a motorcycle accident. You do not have control over the court’s schedule or how quickly the insurance company will respond. However, you can take action to speed up the process on your end.
Contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible
One of the biggest mistakes you can make after an accident is to delay consulting an attorney. Many people put off that phone call because they do not think they are injured enough for legal representation or they want to see how much the insurance company voluntarily offers them. Both of these thoughts are misguided.
You might qualify for a settlement if you sought medical care after your injuries, no matter how “minor” they may seem. Most people are eager to get well and get on with their lives, so they may downplay how the accident impacts them now and in the future.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Their initial offer to you may not cover all of your accident-related expenses like time off work, reduced pay due to having to switch careers, your emotional and psychological state, and future medical costs.
Having an attorney on your side helps protect your legal rights and maximizes your compensation.
Notify your insurance company right away
You must notify your insurance company that you were in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. It is best to stick to a brief, factual account, such as the date and location of the accident. It is best not to go into much more detail than that. Do not speculate about what occurred, assume fault for the accident, or blame another party. Politely decline if the insurance company presses you for more information or wants you to make a recorded statement. Tell them your motorcycle accident lawyer will be in touch with them.
Obtain a copy of the police report
The police report is the document that kicks off the process for a motorcycle accident injury claim. The report lists the crash’s date and time and the parties involved. The police department that responded to the crash can provide you with a copy. Your attorney and the insurance company will need a copy, and you should keep a copy for your records.
Follow your medical treatment plan
Your injuries and how they affect you are at the heart of your legal claim. Delaying medical treatment or skipping appointments can impede your physical recovery and legal claim. The defense may question the severity and nature of your injuries if you wait too long to see a doctor or are not consistent with your treatment.
The Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement: How Much Could You Receive?
The “average” motorcycle accident settlement is difficult to determine. Many cases will settle out of court, so these amounts may not be public knowledge. Individual factors like the cost of medical care and lost wages are highly personal. Knowing how much someone else received may not be helpful to you because your settlement is about you and your injuries.
Your settlement provides financial compensation for the ways the accident affects you physically, emotionally, and financially. The law categorizes these damages as monetary and non-monetary.
Monetary damages following a motorcycle crash
A motorcycle accident can negatively impact your financial situation.
Objective expenses that have an associated cost are monetary damages.
- Emergency medical treatment
- Ambulance ride
- Assessment and treatment by an ER doctor
- Emergency surgery
- Diagnostic procedures: X-rays, CT scans, MRIs
- In-patient stays for observation and treatment
- Outpatient doctor visits
- Rehabilitative therapies
- Prescription medications
- Ambulatory aids: walkers, crutches, braces, wheelchair
- Follow-up visits
- Around-the-clock care for severe and catastrophic motorcycle accident injuries
- While you recover from your motorcycle accident injuries
- If you cannot return to your job
- If you can only return to work in a diminished capacity
- For permanent disability, if your injuries prevent you from working again
Compensation for professional services you did before the accident
- Child care
- Lawn care
- Home maintenance
Non-monetary damages following a motorcycle crash
Insurance companies may attempt to undervalue or even flat-out deny non-monetary damages.
These are the subjective consequences of your injuries, which are very real despite not having a set cost.
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship for your spouse
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological distress
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), accidents commonly cause PTSD.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
The only way to know if you qualify for a settlement is to speak with an attorney. During your free consultation, you will discuss the specifics of your case and learn how a personal injury lawyer can guide your claim to the best possible conclusion.