Motorcycle riding is an enjoyable activity throughout Alberta. However, when motor vehicle operators negligently cause crashes, a cyclist can suffer severe injuries. Unlike motor vehicle drivers and passengers, cyclists have very little protection. If they fall to the ground in a collision, they may need surgery or some other medical procedure. In a worst-case scenario, a motorcycle accident can produce a fatality. For more information, please reach out to a motorcycle accident lawyer.
If you or a person you love suffers injuries in a motorcycle crash, you should take several crucial steps right away—including retaining a lawyer to represent you. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can review your accident circumstances and help you decide on the best way to move forward. Your lawyer can also file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your behalf and work to recover the money damages you deserve.
How do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
Motorcycle crashes are not usually a cyclist’s fault. In most instances, these accidents happen when drivers behave recklessly and carelessly. Motor vehicle driver negligence takes many forms, including violating road rules, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving.
Violating the rules of the road – Road rules are in place to keep motor vehicle drivers safe. When drivers willfully violate these rules, they increase their chances of causing a crash.
Common road rule violations that lead to motorcycle accidents include:
- Tailgating a cyclist.
- Failing to use a turn signal when switching lanes.
- Aggressively weaving in and out of busy highway traffic.
Intoxicated driving – A driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater is legally intoxicated. However, a driver’s BAC does not need to be that high to experience the adverse effects of alcohol impairment.
Alcohol slows down the central nervous system’s ability to function and can significantly delay a driver’s reaction time. Therefore, if a motorcycle approaches, an intoxicated driver might be unable to stop in time to avoid a crash. In addition, alcohol intoxication can lead to physical impairment. The drunken driver might experience blurred vision, preventing them from seeing a motorcycle that is nearby—and causing a crash.
Distracted driving – Distracted driving is another common cause of motorcycle crashes. A driver engages in distracted vehicle operation when they ignore the road. Instead of watching the road, a driver might be looking at their cell phone, disciplining young children in the backseat, or listening to loud music. A one-or-two-second diversion can be enough time for a driver to cause a crash with a cyclist.
In a motor vehicle collision between a car and a motorcycle, the cyclist usually suffers more severe injuries. If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence, your lawyer can investigate the accident and file a claim or lawsuit with the right insurance company.
Obtaining Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
Victims of motorcycle accidents often need to undergo lengthy medical treatment. The medical treatment that a crash victim needs will depend upon the severity of their injuries. While some lucky motorcycle accident victims only suffer minor scratches and abrasions, others can suffer broken bones and soft tissue injuries, such as muscle sprains and contusions.
If a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet at the time of their crash, they can suffer a traumatic head or brain injury. Even when a cyclist is wearing their helmet, the helmet can crack in an accident—especially if the manufacturer uses poor-quality materials. Finally, motorcycle crash victims can suffer spinal cord injuries that may lead to full or partial paralysis.
As soon as possible after a motorcycle crash, the accident victim should seek emergency medical treatment for their injuries. In the emergency room, the doctor or nurse on duty will determine the full extent of the accident victim’s injuries after taking the necessary imaging tests, including brain scans, X-rays, and MRIs.
If the accident victim requires emergency treatment, such as surgery, they can undergo that treatment in the emergency room. Finally, the ER doctor can recommend future treatment, such as surgery, physical therapy, or a family doctor consultation.
Following a crash, it is imperative to obtain same-day medical treatment and follow through with all recommended treatments. You should also be sure to attend all of your medical appointments until a healthcare provider formally discharges you.
When an insurance company sees that you delayed medical treatment following a motorcycle crash or you did not treat continuously for your injuries, they will become skeptical. Specifically, the adjuster may believe your injuries were not all that serious or you did not take your medical treatment seriously.
While you treat your injuries, your lawyer can gather your medical reports, lost wage statements, police reports, and other vital documents to assemble into a demand package for the insurance company. In the meantime, you can focus all of your attention on getting better and fully recovering from your motorcycle accident injuries.
Filing a Claim With the At-fault Driver’s Insurer
After a motorcycle crash, you should call your own insurance company and open a claim. If an insurance company adjuster, especially one from the at-fault driver’s insurer, asks you to provide a recorded statement, you should decline. The purpose of a recorded statement is for the insurance company to see if they can find something damaging about your case—and use it against you.
For instance, the responsible driver’s insurance company might try and see if you were speeding or otherwise behaving recklessly while you operate your motorcycle. The insurance company can then use this as a basis to deny you coverage or compensation. You should never provide a recorded statement to an insurance company adjuster without having a lawyer present on the phone with you—or in person.
A motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you file a personal injury claim, usually with the at-fault driver’s insurer. The claims-filing process begins when your lawyer submits a settlement demand package on your behalf. The demand package will include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement within the applicable limits of insurance coverage. The demand package will also have copies of your medical records, lost wage statements, photographs of your injuries, photographs of property damage, and a victim impact statement.
The insurance company adjuster will use all of this information to evaluate your claim. After review, the adjuster might make an offer to settle your case. However, you should not be overly anxious to accept an initial settlement offer, as these offers are routinely low and far below the actual cash value. Instead, your lawyer will need to negotiate with the insurance company several times before settling.
In some instances, even when a motorcycle accident victim suffers serious injuries, insurance adjusters are unreasonable. When that happens, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf and litigate your case to a conclusion there. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a settlement offer that’s on the table, continue negotiating, or file a lawsuit in court.
Pursuing Litigation in Court
If you need to file a lawsuit and litigate your motorcycle accident claim in court, your lawyer can become an invaluable asset. In fact, if the insurance company finds out that you are unrepresented in your motorcycle accident case, they will attempt to take advantage of you. They will probably not offer you much in the way of settlement compensation. On the other hand, a lawyer can file your lawsuit in court and move it forward to a conclusion.
During litigation, the parties will usually engage in written and oral discovery. During the written discovery stage, the parties will exchange documents and answer written questions called interrogatories. The defense lawyer may take the motorcycle accident victim’s deposition during discovery.
At a deposition, the lawyer will ask questions about how the accident occurred, the injuries sustained, and the impact that the motorcycle accident had on their life. Once discovery is complete, the insurance company might offer more money to resolve the case.
If the case does not settle before trial, the parties have several options. First of all, they can take their case to a jury trial, at which time the jury will decide all disputed issues—including the damages to award the motorcycle accident victim.
Instead of a trial, the parties might consider alternative dispute resolution in their case. For instance, at a binding arbitration hearing, a neutral, third-party arbitrator will listen to all of the evidence that the parties present and render a damage award to the accident victim plaintiff.
Alternatively, at a mediation hearing, a neutral mediator who has no financial stake in the case will help facilitate settlement discussions between the parties. If the case reaches its conclusion through settlement, mediation, or binding arbitration, the case will not need to go to trial.
Your lawyer can explore all of these legal options with you and help you decide on the best course of action for your motorcycle accident case.
Recovering Damages for Your Accident-related Injuries
The damages that a motorcycle crash victim recovers will depend upon the severity of their injuries, the length of their medical treatment, and whether they suffered a permanent injury in their accident. First of all, motorcycle crash victims can pursue a claim for lost wages.
Many motorcycle accident victims suffer such severe injuries that they cannot work due to their pain. Other accident victims have to switch to lighter duty work, often for less pay, because their injuries prevent them from working at their former job. In those instances, the motorcycle crash victim can pursue a claim for loss of earning capacity.
Accident victims may also experience a tremendous amount of inconvenience, suffering, and pain due to their injuries and medical treatment. The lengthy treatment itself often causes great pain. This is especially true if the accident victim has to undergo a surgical procedure to treat their injuries. In addition, accident victims sometimes experience severe psychological consequences. A crash victim, for example, might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) well into the future.
Some accident victims cannot participate in the recreational and social activities they enjoyed before their crash. Due to their injuries and symptoms, they might also have difficulty completing daily living tasks, such as getting dressed. In that instance, the accident victim can pursue a claim for a loss of enjoyment of life.
If the accident victim suffered a permanent injury, such as full or partial paralysis, they might be unable to use one or more body parts following their accident. When that occurs, the accident victim can bring a loss of use claim for damages.
If the driver who caused the motorcycle accident behaved in a particularly egregious manner, such as if they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision, the accident victim can pursue punitive damages.
These damages punish the at-fault driver and discourage other drivers from acting in a similarly reckless manner. Finally, if the at-fault driver’s negligence killed the accident victim, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim for their deceased loved one.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer near you can determine which damages you can pursue as part of your motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer can then take the necessary legal actions to recover the damages you deserve.
Talk With a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near You to Develop a Plan of Action for Your Case
Having a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer on board in your case is one of the most critical steps that you can take after your accident. The sooner you have a lawyer representing you, the better for you and your case. A motorcycle attorney will take the reins so you no longer have to worry about doing or saying the right thing following your injuries. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.