Everything changes when you suffer serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. You must find new ways to manage nearly every aspect of your life. Treatment and recovery monopolize your time and energy. Medical bills, medication, healthcare costs, and lost income challenge your financial wellbeing. When you’re least prepared to deal with outside interference, insurance claim representatives, vehicle appraisers, and other people disrupt your remaining peace of mind.
Even if you are not the type to go running to a lawyer when life takes a wrong turn, hiring an attorney can begin to make sense when you face these mounting challenges. You need someone to fight for you, someone on your side who knows how to work out a settlement if possible, and to win a case at trial if necessary.
How do you choose a motorcycle accident lawyer? Here are a few things to consider.
Not Just Any Attorney. You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Lots of personal injury lawyers vie for your attention in TV ads and on billboards. They might be great lawyers, but that does not necessarily mean they are great motorcycle accident lawyers.
In searching for legal representation after suffering an injury in a motorcycle crash, limit your search to attorneys who have a track record of successful representation of motorcycle accident clients. Those are the lawyers who truly understand why you ride, the hazards you encounter on the road, the kinds of injuries that you face, and the best strategies for proving a case against anyone who owes you damages.
You Must Choose Wisely
A Google search will probably turn up plenty of law firms that advertise handling motorcycle accident cases. You might even find a few websites with pictures of attorneys with perfect hair, wearing black leather jackets, and straddling Harleys. Those lawyers might look the part (sort of), but when dealing with life-altering injuries, you want a lawyer who knows all about the slide, not just the ride.
Start by Asking Rider Friends for a Referral
If a friend who rides has worked with a motorcycle accident injury attorney, talk to them about their experience.
You want to know:
- Did the attorney “get it” when it came to the risks and injuries riders face?
- Did the attorney communicate well, in language your friend could understand?
- How did the case turn out?
- Would your friend work with that attorney again?
Attorneys who understand their clients’ challenges, communicate well, and deliver results, have loyal clients. Attorneys who don’t…don’t. A strong recommendation from a friend you trust says a lot more about a motorcycle accident injury attorney than just about any other information you will find. Don’t make a friend’s recommendation the end of your search, but do put a star next to that attorney’s name.
Fill out Your List With Lawyers Who Talk the Talk, and Walk the Walk
To give yourself enough options to make an informed choice, try to come up with a list of three or four names of attorneys who you think might have the skill and experience to represent you in your motorcycle accident case. Chances are you’ll gather, at most, one or two recommendations from friends.
To complete the list, do a Google search but, look past the pretty pictures and, instead, focus on experience and results. Any attorney who can advertise real representations of real clients in motorcycle accident cases that had favorable outcomes through settlement or jury verdicts is worth adding to your list of candidates. But don’t overwhelm yourself. Once you have three or four names of attorneys with those basic qualifications, stop searching and start reaching out for free case consultations.
Use Consultations to Find Your Lawyer by Asking the Right Questions
All reputable motorcycle accident lawyers offer free case consultations to potential clients. A consultation serves as a job interview, where you are the boss who gets to choose who to hire.
Like any job candidates, attorneys differ from one another. They have different personalities, working styles, communication skills, levels of experience, and track records. Two different attorneys handling the same case could end up with widely varying results.
To choose the right lawyer, make sure to ask questions that matter the most to you. Here are a few suggestions.
How long have you been handling motorcycle injury claims?
The attorney you work with needs to understand how motorcycle crashes differ from other motor vehicle accidents. For starters, motorcyclists face far greater risks than others on the road. Based on vehicle miles driven, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident, compared to car or truck occupants. In a collision, they go down hard onto sidewalks, pavement, stationary objects, and other vehicles.
For that reason, accident cases involving injured motorcyclists often involve seeking damages for fatalities or catastrophic injuries that come with a lifetime of healthcare expenses and other costs. Lawyers must have the skill and experience to tackle those high-complexity, high-dollar claims.
Attorneys for motorcycle accident victims also need to understand common circumstances of motorcycle accidents, such as those in which drivers may fail to see motorcycles in plain sight, or the significant loss of control that can happen for a motorcyclist on pavement that turns without warning from smooth to grooved, or paved to gravel. Look for a lawyer who understands the challenges bikers face, and how to prove liability when a biker ends up injured because of them.
What are some of your best results in motorcycle accident cases?
Lawyers cannot always talk about the details of cases they have handled in the past, but they usually talk in generalities. Ask any lawyer you interview to give you an idea of some of that lawyer’s top results in motorcycle accident cases: the amount of money recovered, whether it was through settlement or a jury verdict, and anything that made those cases particularly challenging.
A lawyer who regularly represents motorcycle accident clients should know the answers without having to look them up, and should have multiple examples.
How does my case stack up?
Motorcycle accident injury lawyers can never guarantee results. They can, however, often give you a preliminary assessment of whether you might have a viable legal claim for damages against the parties who caused your crash. Any lawyer you meet with will likely want to hear your story—how the accident happened, who was involved, what kind of injuries you suffered, and so on.
The lawyer will probably also ask you a few questions, some of which might not seem obvious. You should feel free to answer fully and honestly; anything you tell a lawyer, even in an initial consultation (before the lawyer is technically even your lawyer), stays confidential.
By the end of an initial consultation, the lawyer should tell you two basic things: (1) whether you have a case for damages that’s worth pursuing; and (2) whether the lawyer is interested in handling it.
How many motorcycle accident cases have you taken to trial?
Most motorcycle accident injury matters settle out-of-court, before trial. That is just how the system works. However, we said most, not all, and lawyers can rarely know in advance which case will have to end up in front of a judge and jury to get the results you deserve.
To give yourself the best chance of success in your motorcycle accident injury case, make sure the lawyer you choose has the skill and experience to take a case to trial and to argue a winning case. Having an attorney on your side who has a reputation as a top trial lawyer gives you the peace of mind of knowing you can always walk away from settlement negotiations if that’s what it takes to achieve a favorable outcome.
Has your law firm received any local or national recognition?
If the law firm you’re researching has received awards or recognition, it’s a sign that they’ve achieved some noteworthy professional accomplishments. If a law firm or attorney has received an award or a national designation, you’ll usually see a logo at the bottom of their web page. When you visit an attorney’s office, you might also see awards and plaques displayed on the wall.
A firm might also have community awards and recognition received but not on public display. Ask the attorney to talk about their awards. The response might give you great insight into the firm you might not get otherwise.
What is your communication style?
The most highly-recommended attorney in the region won’t do you much good if the two of you talk past each other, or if you can never get in touch.
Lawyers and clients need to have an open line of communication, and they share enough trust to ask each other tough questions and to get prompt, clear, accurate answers. When interviewing attorneys to represent you in a motorcycle accident injury case, it is important to assess whether the attorney seems like someone you can trust to have those sorts of frank, open, understandable conversations with you.
To do that, try to get a feel for how each lawyer you meet with handles interactions with clients. For example:
- Communication methods: Ask the attorney about preferred means of communicating, such as phone calls, text messages, email, or videoconference.
- Responsiveness: Find out what happens when you leave a message. How long will it take for the attorney to get back to you if you have questions?
- Attorney availability: What happens when the attorney cannot connect immediately? Does the attorney follow up at nights and on weekends (and, do you want the attorney to do that)?
People have different communication styles, and you will never be the only client vying for an attorney’s attention. The clearer you can be with each other about your expectations for when and how to communicate most effectively, the stronger the attorney-client relationship will be
How do you charge for your services?
Most motorcycle accident injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis. That means they work without charging clients per-hour or by the task, and clients pay no money up-front. Instead, the lawyer and client agree that the lawyer will keep a portion of the money recovered on the client’s behalf as a fee.
Lawyers and clients these days often agree on sliding-scale percentages depending on how long a case takes to resolve, how much work it takes, how much money the lawyer recovers.
In a contingency arrangement, the lawyer may also agree to cover the running costs of litigation, such as filing fees, service fees, deposition costs, exhibit preparation costs, and other expenses.
Lawyers and clients agree in writing on all of these arrangements at the beginning of representation so that there are no surprises, and both have a clear understanding of when and how the lawyer will get paid.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney to Represent You?
After suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, you need to focus your time and energy on recovering your health and rebuilding your life, while a skilled motorcycle accident injury attorney works to secure the maximum compensation available in your particular circumstances.
You also need an attorney to get started on working for you as soon as possible, to protect your legal rights and to give yourself and your attorney the best shot at building the strongest possible case against parties who hurt you. For that reason, we encourage you to start your search for a motorcycle accident lawyer as quickly as you can. If you wait too long, you may even lose your legal rights to receive compensation altogether.
Do not wait to learn about your legal rights after suffering injuries in a motorcycle crash. Contact a skilled, experienced motorcycle accident attorney who gets what it means to ride, and understands the dangers of what happens when you take a slide, for your free consultation.