Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience. However, motorcycle riders are significantly more vulnerable on the road compared to passengers in enclosed vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely to die in a crash per mile traveled compared to people in passenger cars.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contacting an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options. This article provides an overview of how a motorcycle accident lawyer can assist after a crash, factors that contribute to motorcycle accidents, steps to take after an accident, compensation you may be entitled to, and frequently asked questions about these specialized attorneys.
How a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
After a motorcycle crash, the injuries are often severe or fatal due to the lack of protection on a bike. The recovery process can be long and difficult. An attorney who focuses specifically on motorcycle accidents can provide invaluable help by:
- Conducting a detailed investigation into the cause of the crash, including obtaining police reports, gathering witness statements, visiting the scene, and consulting with accident reconstruction experts. This can help establish negligence or liability.
- Dealing with insurance companies on your behalf and negotiating for a fair settlement. Motorcycle accident cases often involve complex insurance claims and policies.
- Filing a lawsuit against any negligent parties if a settlement cannot be reached. An attorney can build a strong legal case to prove liability and damages.
- Advocating for full and fair compensation for economic and non-economic damages. This can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses.
- Helping you access appropriate medical care and rehabilitation services to support your recovery.
- Answering your legal questions and advising you throughout the claims process.
Having an experienced lawyer allows you to focus on healing while they handle the legal complexities.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Many factors can contribute to motorcycle crashes. Some of the most common causes include:
Reckless, negligent, or inattentive drivers of other vehicles are a leading cause of motorcycle collisions. Common dangerous behaviors include:
- Distracted driving from mobile devices or other activities
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to a motorcycle
- Unsafe lane changes or turns in front of a motorcycle
- Speeding or aggressive driving around motorcycles
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Hazardous Road Conditions
Dangerous road hazards that can cause motorcyclists to lose control include:
- Slippery surfaces from oil, gravel, wet leaves, or other debris
- Potholes, cracks, uneven pavements, or uneven shoulders
- Poorly designed curves, ramps, or intersections
Speeding and Reckless Riding
A motorcyclist’s own actions can contribute to crashes as well, such as:
- Excessive speeding, weaving, or stunt riding
- Failure to account for road conditions or visibility
- Riding without proper training or licensing
- Impaired riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Poor Visibility Issues
Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, making them harder to see. Accidents can occur when other motorists fail to detect a motorcycle due to:
- A motorcycle’s small profile
- A driver’s blind spots
- Glare or poor lighting conditions
- A lack of reflective gear on the motorcycle
Understanding these common accident factors allows riders and drivers to take preventative safety measures. However, if a crash still occurs, a motorcycle accident attorney can help determine causes and liability.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
If you or someone you care about has been involved in a motorcycle crash, try to remain calm and take these steps:
- Move to a safe location if possible and call 911 for medical assistance. Seek treatment for any injuries immediately.
- Notify law enforcement so they can document the scene, take statements, prepare a report, and conduct an investigation. Cooperate fully but avoid discussing fault.
- If possible, take photos of property damage, skid marks, injuries, and anything else relevant. Videos can also help capture important details.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other involved parties. Obtain names and contact info of any witnesses.
- Write down as many details as you can recall about how the accident occurred while it’s still fresh.
- Seek medical treatment and follow up care as prescribed. Keep records of all bills, expenses, and documents related to the accident.
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim. Review policies and information carefully before signing anything.
- Consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney about your legal rights and options. They can handle communications and negotiations.
Following these tips helps ensure vital evidence is preserved so your attorney can build the strongest possible case or settlement demand on your behalf.
Compensation in Motorcycle Accident Claims
If another party was at fault for the motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to various forms of monetary compensation for your losses and damages. This can include:
These are tangible, documented losses with specific dollar amounts attached. Examples include:
- Medical bills from injury treatment, such as emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, medication, devices, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
- Lost income due to missing work during recovery
- Loss of future earning capacity if disabilities prevent you from working the same job
- Property damage to the motorcycle, clothing, safety gear or other personal items
- Household expenses related to the crash, such as hire help or transportation costs during recovery
These losses do not have definitive dollar amounts and are more subjective in nature. However, they can still profoundly impact your life. Types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering from physical injuries
- Emotional trauma, stress, or depression
- Loss of enjoyment of life if disabilities prevent participation in favored activities
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship or consortium for the death of a loved one
Experienced attorneys will fight to account for all categories of damages so clients can work toward rebuilding their lives after an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I hire a motorcycle accident lawyer?
It’s advisable to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible after seeking medical care. An attorney can immediately launch an investigation while facts are still fresh. This helps build leverage for obtaining full compensation down the road.
2. How much does a motorcycle accident lawyer cost?
Most attorneys offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing upfront, and the attorney only collects a percentage fee if they succeed in getting compensation for your claim. The fee percentage will vary based on the specifics of your case.
3. What can a lawyer do that I can’t do on my own?
Experienced motorcycle accident lawyers have in-depth knowledge of relevant state and federal laws, legal strategies, and the claims process. They can compile evidence, negotiate aggressively with insurance companies, file a lawsuit if needed, and represent your best interests at every stage. Most individuals lack the expertise and leverage to achieve fair compensation alone.
4. How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim?
Each state sets legal time limits called statutes of limitations for filing accident injury claims. These can range from 1-6 years depending on the jurisdiction. An attorney can advise you of exact timelines and ensure your claim is filed on time.
5. How are motorcycle accident cases different from car accidents?
Motorcycle cases face some unique challenges. Contributory negligence laws prevent recovery if the rider was even 1% at fault in some states. Helmet laws, licensing issues, and evidence from the motorcycle itself can also come into play. An attorney experienced in these nuances is critical.
6. What key information should I gather after an accident?
Try to document the scene with photos and video, get contact/insurance info from involved parties, take down witness accounts, keep records of injuries and medical treatment, save related receipts and bills, and write down recollections of how the crash happened. This helps recreate key events.
7. Can I still get compensation if I was partially at fault?
Your actions as a rider will be evaluated along with the other party’s negligence. In states with comparative negligence laws, you may recover diminished compensation based on percentage of fault. An attorney can advise if you have a viable case.
8. How are motorcycle accident settlements calculated?
There is no standard settlement formula – each case depends on the specific injuries, losses, liability facts, applicable laws, and insurance coverage amounts. Experienced lawyers use past case evidence and negotiation tactics to maximize compensation.
Motorcycle accidents often result in severe or fatal injuries due to the lack of protection for exposed riders. If you or someone you love has been harmed in a motorcycle crash caused by another party, consulting with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you pursue maximum compensation through aggressive representation. Be sure to act quickly to preserve evidence while also focusing on healing from any injuries sustained. With compassionate legal guidance, many crash victims can obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.