If you have been in a motorcycle accident, you likely have many questions. What happened? Why did this happen? What do I do now? These are all understandable and valid questions.
But one question that may not be immediately on your mind is, "Do I need a lawyer?" The best way to determine if you need to hire a lawyer is to talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. If you have questions after an accident, don't wait. Protect your rights.
The Dangers Motorcycle Riders Face
A recent report from the Insurance Information Institute shared some startling facts. According to recent data for one year, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely than occupants of passenger vehicles to die in a motor vehicle crash.
There are many reasons for these numbers. While motorcycles do not feature the same safety features as larger vehicles, the actions of drivers who share the road are what primarily puts riders at risk. Some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents include:
Failure to yield
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 42 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents happen at intersections, with the motor vehicle turning left into the path of a motorcycle going straight. These accidents happen because drivers are in a rush, aren’t paying attention, or fail to clear their blind spots.
Drivers have a responsibility to exercise extreme caution, especially in instances where there is poor visibility. But too often, we hear from drivers of cars and trucks, “I just didn’t see the motorcycle.”
Yes, motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles. And yes, this makes them harder to see. But a motorcycle's smaller size is no excuse for an accident. Drivers have to be cautious of pedestrians, bicyclists, and smaller vehicles on the road. The same attention needs to go to motorcyclists.
Following too closely
The law requires drivers to allow an appropriate space between their vehicle and the vehicle they follow. But if you are an experienced driver, you know, this doesn't always happen.
Following too closely is one of the leading causes of rear-end accidents. While a collision is dangerous for any driver, a rear-end accident for a motorcyclist can be catastrophic. Because of the sheer size difference, even a low-speed bump can drag the bike under the larger vehicle causing serious injury. Drivers of larger vehicles need to do better and should always allow extra space between their vehicles and motorcycles on the road.
Nearly all states have restrictions when it comes to texting and driving. And over half have laws restricting the use of handheld devices. Yet distracted driving continues to be a serious problem across the United States.
When a driver takes their eyes off the road to check a text or make a call, they are not paying attention to the road around them. We’ve already noted motorcycles are harder to see. When a driver is simply not paying attention, it increases the probability that they won’t see an oncoming motorcycle or a rider in their blind spot until it is too late.
The #1 reason why you need a motorcycle accident lawyer
Every day, accidents happen across the United States. If the drivers are lucky, they can walk away unscathed, free to move on with their life. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, often it is a much different outcome. Riders who are not killed during a collision will likely suffer serious injuries. These injuries can result in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in hospital costs.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you recover some of these costs so you can focus on healing your body and mind after an accident.
Common injuries from a motorcycle accident include:
Traumatic brain injuries
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Even with a helmet, a collision with a larger vehicle can create enough force to injure the brain. While many TBIs resolve with little lasting effects, some result in permanent disability.
If you have been in an accident where you hit your head, it is important to seek medical attention. In some cases, prompt treatment can prevent permanent damage.
Michael Suk, MD, of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, writes, “Broken bikes cause broken bones.” The human skeleton is strong but typically not strong enough to withstand the force of being thrown from a bike.
Broken bones are painful. Treatment options may include surgery, splinting, or putting the limb in a cast. Even with treatment, some people may not regain full mobility of their injured area.
Road rash is an extremely painful yet all too common injury after a motorcycle accident. If a rider gets thrown from their bike or dragged under another vehicle, the skin may scrape against the road or other ground. When this happens, it can cause open, painful abrasions.
Beyond the pain, road rash can create serious complications. People who suffer from road rash may experience nerve damage, scarring, and mobility issues. There is also an increased risk of infection.
While physical injuries obviously hurt, you cannot discount the emotional trauma of a serious accident. Evidence shows that accidents can lead to emotional stress, particularly PTSD.
If you are suffering after an accident, reach out for help. Treatment is available, and your attorney can help you with the resources you need.
How a motorcycle attorney can help your case
Motorcycle accidents are traumatic in every sense of the word. They can cause physical, emotional, and financial harm. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can review your case and help your fight for the resources you need to begin to heal and move forward. Now is not a time when you should worry about a legal battle. What matters most is your recovery.
Here’s how an experienced attorney can help:
Insurance matters are seldom straightforward. Even if you and the other party agree on liability, the insurance company still has to have their say. In almost all cases, the insurance company will look for ways to reduce the amount they have to pay, even if this means trying to assign blame to the injured victim.
When you work with an experienced attorney, they will collect evidence and present it in a way that supports your case. Once again, now is a time when you need to relax and focus on getting better, not fighting the bullies from the other party’s insurance company.
A motorcycle accident claim attempts to recover damages incurred in your accident. The goal of any motorcycle case is that any financial recovery will help "make you whole." This means you shouldn't have to suffer a financial loss on top of your already painful physical and emotional stress.
After an accident, you may not understand what you actually lost. While you can add up your medical bills, this does not account for any lost time, physical or emotional stress, or future medical or financial needs.
The most important job of a motorcycle accident lawyer is to accurately calculate the total cost of your accident and help you obtain a fair and reasonable settlement.
Every case is different, but common costs your attorney will look at include:
- Medical bills, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and other necessary treatments. For more serious or disabling injuries, this may include future medical costs.
- Lost income for any time you miss from work. If you cannot return to work, you may receive future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional anguish, physical pain, and mental distress, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Unfortunately, thousands of riders die in motorcycle accidents every year. If someone you love suffered a fatal injury, you may have a wrongful death claim. While money won’t bring your loved one back, it can help you cover outstanding expenses and provide you with the resources and time you need to grieve. If you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, contact a motorcycle accident attorney.
Holding all responsible parties accountable
In most motor vehicle collisions, two parties may hold responsibility. The insurance party will place financial liability on one or both parties. However, a third party may hold responsibility in some cases. When a third party holds liability, it may increase your access to insurance coverage. Without a lawyer, often, these third-party defendants can get overlooked.
Additional parties who may hold responsibility include:
- The other driver’s employer (if they were on the job)
- Your employer (if you were on the job)
- Another driver, if their actions contributed to the accident
- The state or local government, if you can prove obvious and gross negligence
It doesn’t matter how straightforward a case may look from the outside; you can count on the insurance company to put up a fight. If they are open to a settlement, they will usually start low and slowly work their way up.
As the victim of an accident, this can be infuriating, not to mention time-consuming. If you are working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, they’ll know the tactics the insurance companies use and get to work combatting them right away.
Your recovery is your attorney’s number one priority. So they’ll fight for what you deserve. If the insurance company is unwilling to come to the table, your attorney can present your case in court.
Your resource when you have questions
Unfortunately, insurance cases can be complicated. And they can change from day to day. If you have questions about your case, your attorney will be your number one resource.
But beyond the basic questions, you should expect your attorney to provide you with guidance and assistance when finding and receiving care. In most cases, your attorney will have a network of care providers they work with and can provide referrals and set up delayed billing arrangements.
How long do you have to decide if you want to hire a motorcycle accident attorney?
After an accident, take time to process what has happened and get proper medical treatment. Make your health and safety your number one priority. However, you do need to understand that most states limit the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages against the negligent party. Depending on where you live, this can be anywhere from one to six years. While you should take time to focus on yourself, you should also not put off talking to an experienced attorney. It is always best to allow your attorney enough time to build a solid case.
Take control of your future. Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney
A motorcycle accident is one of the scariest things you can experience. If you have been in an accident, the law allows you certain rights. If the accident resulted from another person’s negligence, you may be eligible for financial damages. A monetary award can allow you the time and the resources to heal yourself and recover from your accident.
While the law does not require you to work with an attorney, your attorney will be your biggest ally and help you fight for what you deserve. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the insurance company. Take control over your outcome. Are you ready to take action after your motorcycle accident? Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to learn more.