When motorcycle accident victims suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence, they may lose significant time from work and experience painful and debilitating symptoms. When a motorcycle crash victim proves the legal elements of their claim or lawsuit, they become eligible to recover various damages. However, not all motorcycle accident cases are the same.
It is important to know how to get paid after a motorcycle accident. The way to receive payment after a motorcycle accident is to file a timely claim—usually with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company will not compensate you reasonably for your motorcycle accident injuries, you have the option to file a lawsuit in court.
One of the most important steps you can take after a motorcycle crash, in addition to seeking prompt medical treatment, is to retain an experienced lawyer to represent you. An Edmonton motorcycle accident lawyer can help you file the necessary claim or lawsuit to recover monetary compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer can handle your case from beginning to end and work to maximize the payment you receive in your motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit.
Motorcycle Accident Causes
Motorcycle accidents usually happen when drivers operate their vehicles carelessly and recklessly. In some cases, driver negligence amounts to distracted or intoxicated driving. At other times, drivers are negligent when they violate traffic laws and regulations or exhibit road rage.
Distracted driving occurs when a driver fails to observe the road. Instead of watching the road, the at-fault driver might roughhouse with vehicle passengers, listen to loud music, or focus on an electronic device, such as a cellular phone, tablet, or GPS navigation system. When a driver diverts their full attention away from the road, they cannot focus on other vehicles and pedestrians in the vicinity. As a result, they may cause a severe crash, leaving someone else severely injured.
Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is intoxicated driving. Passenger vehicle drivers are intoxicated if chemical testing or breathalyzer evidence reveals that they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. Lower limits apply to minor drivers who are under 21 years old, as well as commercial truck drivers. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher.
An intoxicated driver cannot focus their attention on the road. As a result of impairment or intoxication, they might experience limited concentration, blurred vision, and delayed reaction time. Consequently, they may not stop in time to avoid hitting another vehicle or a pedestrian.
Speeding and other road rule violations may also lead to serious traffic accidents. When drivers fail to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate times and use turn signals before making turns or switching lanes, they can cause a severe traffic accident or multi-vehicle collision.
Finally, some drivers cause accidents when they exhibit road rage and react inappropriately to roadway circumstances. A driver may display road rage when they aggressively tailgate other vehicles, weave in and out of traffic, and fail to use turn signals. When drivers operate their vehicles aggressively, they increase their chances of inadvertently causing a severe accident.
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash that resulted from another driver’s negligence, you are not alone. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you file the necessary claim or lawsuit to recover the monetary compensation you deserve.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
When drivers act carelessly and recklessly, they may cause serious traffic accidents, which leave other drivers and passengers severely injured. The type of accident that happens may depend upon the positions of the involved vehicles, their speeds, and environmental factors—including the surrounding geography and roadway conditions. Some of the most common motorcycle accidents that result from negligence include rear-end crashes, T-bone accidents, sideswipe collisions, and head-on crashes.
A rear-end accident happens when a negligent driver causes their vehicle to strike the back of another vehicle. These accidents sometimes happen near traffic intersections, where at-fault drivers fail to slow down quickly enough. They may also occur in heavy traffic when traffic slows down suddenly and the at-fault driver is driving too fast.
T-bone accidents, or broadside collisions, may occur at highway merge lanes when a merging driver fails to yield the right-of-way. These accidents can also happen at traffic intersections when the at-fault driver runs a red traffic light, yield sign, or stop sign.
A sideswipe accident, on the other hand, happens when two vehicles traveling in the same direction collide. These accidents usually result from distracted or intoxicated driving, when the at-fault driver negligently causes their vehicle to slide into another travel lane, frequently pushing the other motorcycle completely off the road.
Finally, head-on crashes happen when the fronts of two vehicles collide with one another. If the vehicles are travelling at high speeds, the head-on collision may cause permanent and sometimes fatal injuries for all involved drivers and passengers.
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from reckless or careless driving, a motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you maximize your monetary recovery and pursue the total damages you deserve. In addition to filing a claim or lawsuit, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and, if necessary, litigate your case in the court system.
Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycle crash victims often sustain serious injuries that leave them incapacitated for an extended period. They may require ongoing medical treatment, including surgical procedures and physical therapy. Moreover, they may need to miss time from work to attend medical appointments and fully recover from their injuries.
The injuries that a motorcycle accident victim suffers will depend upon the type of motorcycle accident, the force of the collision, and what their body struck if the crash threw them off their bike. The accident victim’s head may also strike the road or ground causing a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.
Other common injuries that motorcycle accident victims suffer include broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and death.
As soon as possible after your motorcycle crash, and preferably on the same day, you should seek treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. The medical provider on duty can order the necessary imaging studies, including CAT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, to determine the full extent of your injuries. The provider can also order an emergency medical procedure, if necessary, and make recommendations for future care if your symptoms worsen over time.
While you focus your attention on making a full recovery from your motorcycle accident injuries, your lawyer can begin handling the legal aspects of your claim. Specifically, your lawyer can obtain a copy of the police report, eyewitness statements, lost wage documents, medical treatment records, and other potential evidence to use in your case.
Once you finish your medical treatment, your lawyer can assemble these documents into a settlement demand package and begin the claims-filing process on your behalf.
Potential Damages Following a Motorcycle Accident
To recover monetary compensation for motorcycle accident injuries, the accident victim will first need to satisfy their legal burden of proof. As with any personal injury claim, the injured individual has the sole legal burden in the case. By contrast, the at-fault party does not need to prove anything.
To recover compensation for motorcycle accident injuries, the accident victim must establish that someone else violated their legal duty of care, such as by breaking a traffic law or engaging in distracted driving. Moreover, the accident victim must show that this negligence caused the subject accident, that they suffered at least one physical injury, and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
To prove these legal elements, a motorcycle crash victim may need to introduce expert testimony. For example, an expert accident reconstructionist can demonstrate that an accident resulted from another driver’s negligence. Moreover, a medical expert can state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that a particular accident caused the accident victim’s injury or injuries.
Accident victims who can establish these elements may be eligible for various damages. The damages that motorcycle accident victims recover often depend upon the force of the collision, the injuries they suffered, and the effects of those injuries.
Potential damages include compensation for:
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as from a permanent paralysis injury
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal consortium
- Past and future pain and suffering
When it comes to maximizing the compensation you receive after a motorcycle accident, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer may be an invaluable help. Your lawyer can assist during settlement negotiations by highlighting the strengths of your claim while downplaying any weaknesses. Moreover, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system and begin the litigation process for you.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Damages
The first step to recovering monetary compensation after a motorcycle accident is to file a personal injury claim. In most instances, the accident victim’s lawyer can file this claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver. At other times, however, the lawyer may need to involve the accident victim’s own insurance company.
This is especially true if the negligent driver left the accident scene in a so-called phantom vehicle scenario. The same is true if the at-fault driver did not have adequate insurance to fully compensate the accident victim for their injuries and other damages.
A personal injury claim begins when the accident victim’s lawyer submits a settlement demand letter—as part of a settlement demand package—to the appropriate settlement adjuster. A demand package may include copies of the accident victim’s earning statements, lost wage documents from an employer, medical treatment records, photographs of injuries, pictures of property damage, and a personal statement that the accident victim prepares. The adjuster will then review all of these documents and decide whether to accept fault for the motorcycle accident. If the adjuster does accept fault, settlement negotiations may begin.
Your lawyer will be your advocate during all negotiations with the settlement adjuster. Most initial settlement offers from insurance companies are far below the actual claim value. After all, adjusters are going to try and save their insurance companies as much money as possible.
Insurance companies only save money when they collect premiums from their insureds—and refrain from paying out large settlements, arbitration awards, and jury verdicts. Therefore, to obtain the maximum amount of compensation, your lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster—often on several occasions. If the adjuster refuses to make you a fair offer to settle your claim, then your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in the court system.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Damages
Another way to get paid after a motorcycle accident is to file a lawsuit and pursue litigation.
You may need to resort to litigation when:
- The insurance company disputes fault for your accident.
- The adjuster refuses to offer your fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Motorcycle accident victims only have two years from their accident date in which to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. This two-year statute of limitations deadline is a hard-and-fast rule. Therefore, if you file your lawsuit even one day after the deadline expires, you will no longer be eligible to recover any monetary damages for your injuries.
A personal injury lawsuit begins the litigation phase of a motorcycle accident case. However, the parties may still resolve their claim, and the accident victim may still recover monetary compensation via settlement. In fact, most motorcycle accident cases resolve at some point before the jury trial or scheduled arbitration hearing. Filing a lawsuit just puts the case on the court’s calendar, and the court will likely issue a scheduling order establishing various deadlines.
During litigation, the parties will answer written questions, known as interrogatories, and take depositions to learn more about the claims and allegations. Once discovery is complete, the insurance company may increase its most recent settlement offer. If the accident victim accepts this offer, then the case will end. However, if issues remain unresolved, the parties can take their case to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
At a civil jury trial, the jury decides the outcome of the motorcycle accident case, including the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. However, in some instances, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution, like binding arbitration.
During a binding arbitration hearing, a third-party arbitrator—whom the parties select in advance—will listen to the evidence and decide the total monetary damages to award the accident victim. Unlike a jury trial, binding arbitration awards are not appealable.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you decide whether a particular settlement offer fairly compensates you for your injuries. Your lawyer can also help you determine if you should file a lawsuit in your case, take your case to a jury trial, or pursue a favourable binding arbitration result.
Call a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Following a severe motorcycle crash, many accident victims don’t know what to do or how to maximize the monetary compensation they recover in their cases. Fortunately, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can assist you.
Your Edmonton personal injury lawyer can answer all of your legal questions and do everything possible to help you maximize your monetary recovery via a personal injury settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award.