If you recently suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may wonder how much you can receive for your injuries and damages. Unfortunately, many variables influence the value of your claim, such as the severity of your injuries, the at-fault party, their insurance coverage, and how your injuries affect your life now and for years to come. This makes predicting the value of your claim difficult to accurately predict.
The good news is that when you hire an experienced Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer, they can look at all the facts and details in your case. This information, combined with recent case results in your area, can give them a good idea of what your case might recover.
However, this isn't the only reason to work with a seasoned attorney. In addition to explaining the potential value of your case, they can coordinate and manage your claim and, if necessary, litigation from start to finish—allowing you the space and time you need to heal and recover from your motorcycle accident injuries.
The Financial Impact of Motorcycle Accidents
Accurately estimating the monetary toll of motorcycle accidents is a complex task, significantly impacted by the extent of the rider's injuries. Predominantly, the primary economic burden of a motorcycle crash lies in the expenses related to medical care.
Naturally, more severe injuries demand extensive treatment, often leading to long-term health complications and disabilities, involving substantial ongoing costs.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) data indicates that the average costs for emergency and ICU treatment in cases of fatal motorcycle injuries can be over $1 million. Even if you did not require hospitalization, your medical expenses can quickly pile up and become overwhelming, especially as healthcare costs increase generally in the U.S.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycles constitute merely three percent of all registered vehicles in the United States. Nevertheless, the fatality rate among motorcyclists surpasses that of passenger car occupants by a factor of 5.5.
Moreover, the injury rate for motorcyclists is 1.2 times higher than that of passenger car occupants. Motorcyclists represent 13 percent of total traffic-related fatalities, 14 percent of occupant fatalities, and 4 percent of all injured occupants.
The GAO's comprehensive analysis revealed that the total direct costs of motorcycle crashes are approximately $16 billion. Around three-quarters of the measurable expenses resulting from all motor vehicle crashes are shouldered by society.
The average financial toll for a fatal motorcycle crash tallies at $1.2 million, while injury costs can range from $2,500 to several million dollars.
You may receive compensation for your medical bills and expenses related to your accident, including:
- Emergency services
- Urgent care
- Inpatient hospital stays
- Doctor appointments
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Assistive medical devices
What Happens to Your Motorcycle After a Crash?
After a motorcycle accident, the fate of the damaged bike often rests in the hands of the insurance carrier rather than the owner. The insurer ultimately decides whether to pay to repair the motorcycle or reimbursing the owner for its fair market value.
This process can leave motorcyclists feeling like they're not receiving adequate compensation for their losses and extremely frustrated.
Should the insurance company ascertain that the cost of repairs exceeds the motorcycle's actual cash value, they may reimburse you for the damaged bike.
In essence, the insurer will buy the motorcycle, leaving the owner with the option to retain it by obtaining a salvage title and paying the insurer for its salvage value.
Depending on your state, if the appraised motorcycle damages reach 80 percent of the motorcycle's actual cash value, certain insurance companies have an automatic total loss threshold, deeming the motorcycle as totaled.
As repair work commences, unforeseen hidden damages may emerge, potentially driving the repair costs beyond the actual cash value.
While the costs to repair or replace your motorcycle might not equal your medical bills, you should include these expenses when evaluating the value of your claim. When you hire a motorcycle accident attorney to represent you, they can ensure these costs are part of your demand for damages.
Other Property Damage
Your damages can also include the repair and replacement of other damaged property besides your motorcycle. For instance, if you lost or damaged your wedding ring in an accident, your damages should cover the cost of repairing or replacing your ring.
Other property that might become damaged in a motorcycle accident include:
- Cell phones
- Other electronic devices
Payouts for motorcycle accident victims should also include reimbursement for lost income. Suppose you missed time at work due to hospitalization, going to doctor appointments, or recovering from your injuries. In that case, you deserve to receive the money you would have otherwise earned.
Your motorcycle accident attorney can prove what the at-fault party owes for your lost income and other compensation with a letter from your employer.
It should detail:
- Your normal pay rate
- How many hours you missed
- Your total amount of lost income resulting from your injury
If applicable, your employer should discuss lost opportunities for overtime, as well as any paid vacation time or sick leave, sometimes known as PTO (paid time off), you used because of your injury.
Even if you're self-employed, you still have a claim for lost income. To demonstrate your financial losses, you might need tax returns, profit and loss statements, and evidence of lost assignments after your injury. Any documentation showing lost income after your motorcycle accident injury can help support your claim.
General, also known as non-economic damages, are the direct results of the at-fault party's negligent actions. Even though these types of damages don't have a bill or a receipt attached to them, you can't deny a connection between what the at-fault party did or didn't do and the injured person's general damages.
Depending on the specifics of a motorcycle accident claim, general damages might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Physical impairment or disability
- Mental anguish, such as feelings of distress, fear, anxiety, depression, trauma, or grief
- Loss of consortium, also sometimes known as loss of affection or loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The Challenge of Proving General Damages
General damages are certainly harder to prove than special damages (medical bills, lost income, and property damage) as concrete evidence might not substantiate them. Insurance companies typically suspect general damages since they don't have any concrete method to measure someone's distress or suffering.
However, general damages are just as vital to a motorcycle accident injury claim as special damages. The impacts of general damages may never fade. Victims may find them even harder to deal with than special damages.
Evidence in support of your general damages might include testimony from:
- Your treating physician
- A mental healthcare provider
- Friends or family who knew you before the accident
Depending on the types of general damages you need to prove, your medical records might also serve as evidence. Your attorney can also use other cases similar to yours as examples, which sometimes helps receiving fair compensation for general damages.
Showing what victims of similar accidents and injuries receive for their general damages can establish a starting point for negotiating a settlement with an insurance adjuster.
Other Factors Affecting Motorcycle Accident Settlements
Every state except two mandate specific insurance coverage, often $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Some states like Pennsylvania have lower mandatory minimums at $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
Moreover, many states require uninsured motorist coverage in case of accidents involving an uninsured driver. The choice of insurance policies and providers significantly impacts the motorcycle accident settlement process and the ultimate settlement amount.
In some states like Missouri, the at-fault motorist's insurance company is responsible for paying for any damages arising from the accident, including medical expenses, property damage, and resulting injuries.
The claim may progress to court or trial if the insurance company disputes fault.
The magnitude of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident factors in settlement outcomes. For instance, accidents resulting in severe injuries like brain or spinal cord trauma typically lead to higher settlement amounts compared to cases involving recoverable injuries such as fractures or lacerations.
Serious, life-altering, or non-recoverable injuries warrant more significant payouts due to pain and suffering claims and substantial medical expenses.
Other Ways to Maximize Injury Compensation
In addition to hiring a skilled motorcycle accident attorney, you maximize your injury compensation after suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident in other ways.
- Seek medical care right away. This improves your health and legal claim to. This way, the insurance company is less likely to purport that your injuries result from something else.
- Don't talk to the insurance company. If they call you, refer them to your attorney. Even so, answering "fine" if an insurance adjuster asks how you are can work against you to devalue your claim. As such, never speak with them. Let your attorney protect you from their tactics.
- Continue recommended medical care and treatments. Keep following your doctor's advice for continued medical care to help recover from your injury. If you stop going to necessary appointments or don't follow your treating physician's advice about not going back to work, the insurance company can use this against you in your claim.
- Stay away from social media. More and more injury claimants are learning this the hard way. The insurance company will use anything you post or say on social media to devalue or deny your claim. If you post pictures of the vacation you took, the insurance company might assume you went on vacation while you were still recovering from your injuries.
If you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, follow these tips and reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to receive the most compensation possible for your injuries and damages.
There is no average motorcycle crash, and payouts can vary widely. Never trust the insurance company’s assessment of your losses. Allow a motorcycle accident lawyer to calculate how much you deserve.