Motorcycle Accident Settlement
If you are a motorcycle owner, you may at some point be involved in motorcycle accident lawsuit or insurance claim. Many motorcycle accidents involve serious injuries, which mean that you could be highly dependent upon a high dollar settlement or verdict to get the medical treatment you need. What is the average motorcycle accident settlement you might expect?
All motorcycle accident cases are different, so arriving at a precise figure is a guessing game. However, there has been research conducted by Thomson Reuters that showed between 1999 and 2006, the average motorcycle accident settlement was $73,700. This data is more than a decade old, however, and should be taken with a large grain of salt. Your motorcycle accident settlement could be much less or much more.
This article sheds light on some of the key factors that go into the final dollar figure for a typical motorcycle accident settlement.
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Major Factors That Affect Motorcycle Accident Compensation
As with any accident, the damages that you have suffered are a determining factor in the size of the accident settlement or verdict. Before your motorcycle accident claim goes to court, you and your personal injury attorney will carefully calculate your losses. These may include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
Your accident injuries will be included in any calculation your attorney makes. Remember that some damages, such as medical costs and lost wages, are simpler to calculate. You can easily show how much your medical bills were, and how much you made last month or last year in your job.
But for less concrete damages such as pain and suffering, your attorney will be making educated guesses about what you are entitled to. Typically, your defense attorney will review the awards made in similar motorcycle accidents in the area in the recent past.
If you have suffered injuries that will affect you for a long period of time or permanently, the value of the settlement will rise. For example, if you are a waitress and you lost your leg in a motorcycle accident, you will often be entitled to additional compensation. This is an especially disabling injury, and you might be entitled to compensation for:
- Cost of medical treatment and physical therapy in the future
- Expense of drugs that you need to deal with pain
- Vocational rehabilitation costs so you can get a new job
- Home health aide services to help you handle daily tasks
- Possible home remodeling required
- Vehicle that is modified for someone who lost a leg
You also may be entitled to punitive damages, which are intended to punish the driver for particularly reckless behavior. For example, if the driver who hit you was intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher, this can be considered especially reckless in many states. Note that punitive damages are capped in many states today. In Missouri for example, you cannot be awarded more than 5 times the damages or $500,000, whichever is higher.
As the plaintiff, you will usually need to prove that the defendant acted in a very wrong way with convincing and clear evidence, to receive punitive damages. Some states also have laws that require a part of the punitive damages awarded to go into a state fund. Utah is an example.
Whether you will be entitled to any or all of the above types of compensation depends upon the exact nature of your injuries. Also important is who was at fault in the motorcycle accident.
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What Is The Degree of Fault?
A significant factor in the value of any car accident claim or lawsuit is the matter of fault. As the plaintiff, it is your responsibility to show strong evidence that the defendant caused your accident injuries. If you lack this critical evidence, your case’s value drops.
Even if you have serious injuries, the defendant may decide to go to trial if fault for the accident is unclear. There are some states, such as Virginia, that have a contributory negligence rule. This means that if you are even 1% responsible for the accident, you cannot collect damages for your injuries. This is a much stricter standard than the comparative negligence rule that many states have. This rule means that if you are found to be 10% at fault for the accident, you are entitled to only 90% of whatever amount the jury awards you.
A related issue to fault is the fact that some juries carry a bias against motorcyclists. This by no means assures the defendant that he or she will win the case. However, statistically it has been shown that a plaintiff in a motorcycle accident has a harder time winning a fair settlement or verdict.
How Much Insurance Is Available?
If the person who caused your accident injuries has few material assets, the settlement will not be more than the liability limit of the person’s motor vehicle insurance policy. It is possible that the jury verdict could be above the liability limits of the insurance policy. But if the defendant has no assets to liquidate and no cash or retirement savings, you may not be able to collect the full verdict amount.
When the defendant has no significant assets, your attorney may advise the best path forward is to accept a settlement equal to the coverage limits of the insurance policy.
Waiting to Receive Compensation
This issue does not relate directly to the actual average dollar amount of the motorcycle accident settlement, but it is important. If you have serious injuries, waiting for weeks or months for compensation can be problematic. Some cases will settle more quickly than others. Some accidents will not settle at all. These have to go to court to be decided by a jury. Naturally, such cases can take months or even years to resolve; many courts have crowded calendars and cases can take a long while to get to the trial phase.
If fault in your motorcycle accident case is clear, the insurance company may pay the claim relatively quickly. But be prepared for the insurance adjuster that uses a delay on purpose to negotiate the settlement down.
The average motorcycle compensation amounts will be affected by how long the case takes. As the injured party, you and your attorney need to determine if you are better off settling faster for a smaller amount, or waiting for a larger amount that may only come via a lengthy trial by jury.
Permanent Motorcycle Accident Injuries
It is important to remember that you should never settle the case until the full extent of your accident injuries is clear. All motorcycle accident settlement amounts are final. It is impossible to go back to the insurance company a month later if your motorcycle accident injuries are worse than first thought.
An experienced personal injury attorney will not recommend that you settle the case until your injuries are healed, or until medical professional states that further improvement is unlikely. At that time, you may have a permanent injury. If the injury is permanent, this is a major factor you need to know before settling the claim. So, never rush through negotiations when there are serious injuries.
Should You Settle or Go To Court?
This is the big question that you and your attorney need to answer. Fortunately, experienced motorcycle accident attorneys are very effective at making this determination. It is true that most personal injury cases are settled before going to court, but this may or may not be best for you.
Your attorney will perform a cost analysis after considering all of your economic and noneconomic damages. As noted earlier, these include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. Your attorney will determine if it is likely that the cost of going to trial is not going to outweigh possible recovery of additional damages in the future. In this case, if the cost of going to trial is going to be high (and take too long), you may be better off with a settlement.
Some insurance companies may not want to pay the damages to which you are entitled, however. So, going to court may be the best option. But going to court means your fate is in the hands of a jury. There is no guarantee when going to trial, especially with a motorcycle case, given the frequent jury bias against motorcyclists.
There are some motorcycle accident cases where the insurance company makes an absurdly low offer. If you have serious accident injuries and the insurance company makes an offer that does not even cover your medical costs, going to court is the way to go.
Examples of Motorcycle Accident Compensation Amounts
The exact amount of your motorcycle accident settlement will vary based upon the many factors noted above. But below are some real motorcycle accident settlements in recent years from around the US:
- $3.5 million: Client was riding in Connecticut when he crashed on a poorly maintained road. Settlement was reached with the defendant milling company.
- $1.9 million: Client was riding when a truck turned left in front of her. Major injuries required several surgeries.
- $1.7 million: Client was riding as a passenger. Suffered serious personal injuries when a car turned left in front of the motorcycle. The plaintiff’s husband died.
- $530,000: Defendant drove car into motorcycle’s path. Client died in the crash.
- $515,000: Defendant made a left turn in front of client. Serious injuries sustained that needed many surgeries.
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Summary of Motorcycle Accident Settlements
All motorcycle accidents are unique events. Many accidents involve serious personal injuries, but it usually takes the expertise of a motorcycle accident personal injury attorney to determine whether you are better off settling or going to court.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s considered fair compensation for a motorcycle accident?
As if getting in a motorcycle accident isn’t scary enough, they can be emotionally overwhelming when you are hit with hefty bills such as medical expenses and insurance costs. How much is considered a reasonable settlement value? You must first determine who the liable party is for the collision. Although, there is no straight answer as to much how compensation you may receive due to many different variables regarding the accident, first you must understand what factors go into determining how much compensation is fair. Factors to consider include:
- Medical expenses- this includes current medical costs and future medical expenses.
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages
Some real life examples of motorcycle settlement case results include:
- $250,000- after suffering several fractures and broken bones
- $200,000- head trauma and concussion
- $500,000- suffered broken ribs, fractured pelvis and concussion
- $850,000- suffered knee and wrist injuries, broken pelvis and cracked ribs
I was injured in a motorcycle accident, do I need a lawyer?
Motorcycle accidents are tumultuous and often leave victims with extremely serious injuries. In the event that you become involved in a motorcycle accident, you might question weather or not you should contact a personal injury attorney. It is always a wise decision to contact an experienced attorney especially if you have been injured. There are numerous ways that a lawyer can benefit you and help the process of filing a personal injury claim go smoothly to ensure you receive a fair compensation settlement. Without the help of an attorney, it is possible you may receive a substantial less amount due to insurance adjusters attempting to settle for a minimum amount. With the end goal to get a reasonable shot at a sensible settlement, you will need an experienced attorney who practices personal injury law and knows what a fair settlement value will be for your claim.
Who is considered at fault in a motorcycle accident?
Motorcycles are small and fast and often go unnoticed by distracted drivers. When it comes to determining the fault of a motorcycle vs. car accident, more often than not the responsible party of the collision is the driver of the car. In order to determine fault for a motorcycle accident, you must first call the police to file an accurate police report with witness statements. Insurance companies depend on the police to file accurate reports to allow them to have the details they need to determine who the at-fault party may be. Officers on the scene have abilities for figuring out who is to blame by examining the vehicles damages, injuries and gathering other evidence to determine whom the negligent driver is. Unfortunately, motorcycles accidents are fairly common particularly on the grounds that drivers do not generally see them. In the event that the motorcycle was splitting lanes aggressively and weaving in and out of traffic, it will most likely be the fault of the motorcycle rider.
How long does it take to heal from a motorcycle accident?
Unfortunately, if you are the rider of a motorcycle and you become involved in an accident, you will likely sustain some pretty nasty injuries. The amount of, or lack thereof, protection you have on while riding a motorcycle is very minor. In the event you are injured in motorcycle accident, the odds are that your wounds are serious and take a long time to recover. Depending on the severity of the injuries you sustain will depend on the length of time it will take to heal. First thing to do after getting in a motorcycle accident is to call the police and seek out medical treatment immediately. It’s possible you may think you have minor to no injuries, but some injuries go unnoticed right away due to adrenaline and shock. Be sure not to delay medical treatment as it may make the road recovery quicker. It is possible that healing from a motorcycle crash injury can take as little as a few months to several years and ongoing therapy. Once again, it will all depend on the type of injury you sustain. For example, broken bones generally take 2-3 months to heal however, if you have suffered from a traumatic brain injury caused by the accident, it is possible that recovery will take years and at times it’s not possible to fully recover.
What should I expect after a motorcycle accident?
The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be chaotic and often leave you injured and in a debilitating state. After such a traumatic event, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed but it’s important to take proper steps to help the process move along quickly and get your life back on the right track. Important steps to follow after a motorcycle accident are:
- Check for injuries- If you are experiencing pain or discomfort it is most likely you have been injured. Often injuries can go unnoticed due to shock so it would be wise to seek medical treatment right away.
- Call the police- Call the police to file a report so you may be able to recover damages from the accident.
- Pursue medical treatment right away- The longer you delay medical treatment, the tougher it may be to make a full recovery.
- Contact insurance/collect other involved parties information- Don’t forget to exchange information with all parties involved in the accident. Take photos if possible, gather witness statements and file accurate police report.
- Contact an attorney- To ensure you are compensated for your injuries, property damage, medical bills and more, be sure to contact an attorney so you are able to recover fair compensation.
What type of attorney handles motorcycle accident cases?
If you become injured from a motorcycle accident, be sure to contact an attorney who handles cases involving car accidents, motorcycle accidents and personal injury. They are all generalized as a personal injury lawyer so while doing research for an attorney, be sure to look under the “Practice Area” section to see exactly what they specialize in. Motorcycle accidents tend to cause extreme wounds and due to the severity of the wounds will often lead to a higher settlement value. Be sure to the personal injury attorney you decide to hire is not only experienced in car accidents, but has also dealt with motorcycle victims as well.
What are some common motorcycle accident injuries?
Motorcycle accidents are not to be taken lightly when it comes to injuries. Due to the lack of protection a 2-wheeled vehicle has to offer, injuries tend to be severe and often life threatening. Some of the more common injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident include:
- Road rash– If you have ever had a rug burn, picture that but MUCH worse. Road rash occurs after the motorcyclist has been sliding across pavement leaving the skin badly cut, burned and bruised.
- Head trauma– Head injuries such as concussions are common in motorcycle accidents. All the motorcyclist has protecting their head is a helmet. If you are experiencing dizziness or feeling nauseous it is possible you have sustained a brain injury.
- Neck injuries– Neck and spine injuries can be life threatening or can leave you disabled for the rest of your life. Paralysis is common so be sure to wear your helmet every time you ride a motorcycle!
- Broken bones– Broken bones caused by a motorcycle accident are commonly the arms and shoulders from landing sideways on the bike. These injuries can leave the rider with permanent nerve damage.
- Facial fractures– Facial injures are especially common when the rider is not wearing a helmet.
- Muscle damage– Muscle damage can leave riders with an extremely lengthy recovery and at times can leave the victim paralyzed.
- Leg, knee and feet injuries– Lower limb wounds can be extremely agonizing and take months to recover from. Unfortunately, when legs, knees and feet are smashed and extended unnaturally from a motorcycle accident these injuries can leave you immobile for quite some time and lead to an expensive recovery.
How often do motorcycle accidents happen?
Although many of us think of motorcycles as fast, dangerous and extremely accident-prone, it is not necessarily true that motorcycles accidents are more common than regular car accidents. They are however, more inclined to result in fatality or serious injuries. If you are going to ride a motorcycle, be sure to take all the safety courses and never forget to ride without protection! There has been a steady increase bike-related accidents over the years with 35 times more deaths from motorcycles accidents than a passenger vehicle. About 75% of motorcycle accidents collide with passenger vehicles and 25% are single vehicle mishaps caused by weather or road inference. The best way to dodge a collision is to driver cautiously and be able to have the capacity to foresee the surrounding drivers’ next course of action.
Does a motorcycle insurance policy cover more or less than a regular auto insurance policy?
As a driver of any vehicle, you are required by law to have insurance coverage. The cost will fluctuate depending on many different variables such as your driving record, what type of coverage policy you choose and the State’s policy. Motorcycle insurance ensures protection from any damages including property damage or medical expenses you, or the other party may cause. However, there are some significant differences between auto insurance and motorcycle insurance coverage. One major difference in particular is the possibility of collision and the amount in which the vehicle is worth. Unfortunately, motorcycles tend to cost less than passenger vehicles however; a motorcycle collision tends to have a considerably higher amount in damages. This means that you will most likely receive less for property damages. This may also mean that the personal injury protection section of the policy may cost you more than regular auto insurance.
Does motorcycle accident insurance cost more or less than car insurance?
It is common to see motorcycle insurance cost less than passenger vehicle insurance due to smaller amounts of property damages owed. Motorcycles generally do not cost as much therefore, motorcycle insurance typically costs around 30% less than passenger vehicles. There are other factors that go into how much you may be paying for motorcycle insurance such as driving records and age. Studies show that riders between the ages of 17-25 are viewed as the most hazardous age group on the road and will typically have a higher rate on insurance. Motorcycles are also smaller than passenger vehicles and can easily be stolen therefore will result in a higher insurance rate. One thing to remember is the more secure the bike is, and the more secure the driver is, the more affordable the insurance policy will be.
What’s the best way to stay safe in a motorcycle accident?
Motorcycles are appealing in the sense you can cruise the roads completely open with unobstructed views however, this means in the unfortunate event of an accident you may be left with some severe injuries and damages to your bike due to lack of protection. How do you stay safe in the event of an accident? Here are some tips on surviving a motorcycle crash:
- Prepare for collision- Apply breaks with an even distribution rather than slamming on the bikes front breaks.
- Crash lying down- If you see that you are about to crash, it’s best to avoid any oncoming traffic and slide with the bike.
- Rolling- Once you’ve crashed, your body will likely roll. It’s important to roll in a tucked position protecting your head and neck.
To ensure you remain as safe and protected as possible it’s important to keep these safety tips in mind:
- Wear protective safety gear- Always wear your helmet! It would be wise to invest in some body armor as well such as jackets, pants, gloves and boots. These are generally made out of thick padded materials such as leather or even Kevlar.
- Be sure the obey speed laws- Watch your speed when on the road. Cars often make sudden stops so if you are speeding, it will reduce your reaction time and you might not be quick enough to avoid an accident. This also includes following at a safe distance. Tailgating is dangerous and often ends in collision.
- Avoid distractions- Keep a sharp eye on all drivers around you, don’t text and ride and most importantly, don’t drink and ride. Riding a motorcycle takes a great amount of balance and strategy. If you are intoxicated, this decreases your ability to perform important maneuvers while riding putting yourself and others in danger.
- Acknowledge other vehicles- Expect that other drivers might not see you. Motorcycles are small and fast and often weave in and out of traffic. Try and think of the next move that other drivers on the road may make.
- Take all the necessary courses- Be sure you know what you are doing before you get on a bike.
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