Riding a motorcycle on the open road or on the streets of Kansas City can feel like a dream come true, but one motorcycle accident can change the course of your life in an instant. Motorcycles weigh much less than cars and other vehicles that you encounter on the road, so even if you wear a helmet, your risk of being seriously injured is substantial even if you were not going very fast at the time of the accident. The financial effects of a motorcycle crash can be just as bad as the physical ones. The motorcycle accident lawyers at Foster Wallace can help you recover damages for your injuries and losses after a serious motorcycle accident.
What Must You Prove to be Awarded Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
Recovering damages in a motorcycle accident lawsuit takes effort and expertise, so you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney soon after the accident. In a motorcycle accident lawsuit, as in most kinds of personal injury lawsuits, you (the plaintiff) must prove the following things in both Kansas and Missouri:
- The defendant (the driver who hit your motorcycle or the company that owns that driver’s vehicle) had a duty of care to prevent the accident. This is not hard to prove, because all drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely and to avoid unnecessary risks.
- The defendant breached the standard of care by making a driving mistake.
- The defendant’s driving mistake was the direct cause of your injuries.
- Your injuries caused by the defendant’s mistake were the direct cause of the financial losses for which you are seeking compensation.
In order to do this, you must show evidence of the cause of the accident, your accident-related injuries, and the expenses and other financial losses you have incurred because of your injuries. Your evidence must be strong enough that the court is convinced that there is at least a 51% chance that what you are claiming is true. This standard of evidence is called “a preponderance of the evidence.” It is not as hard to show a preponderance of the evidence as it is to make your case “without a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard of evidence required to convict a defendant in criminal cases.
Economic Damages for Medical Expenses
Medical bills are a major source of financial instability, even for people who quickly regain their health and can return to work. A single visit to the emergency room can cost you thousands of dollars, when you include the cost of physician services and diagnostic tests. Injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident can keep you out of work for a long time, meaning that the more your medical bills pile up, the less money you can earn to pay them. In a motorcycle accident lawsuit, you can get compensation for all the medical expenses you have incurred because of your injury, including the following:
- Emergency Room Visits
- Hospital stays
- Physicians’ services while you were hospitalized
- X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic imaging
- Prescription drugs
- Medical devices, such as crutches or mobility scooters
- Physical therapy
- Outpatient doctor visits
You need to look at your own insurance policy to see if you have Med-Pay or PIP benefits. These benefits can help pay for your medical bills after an accident even if you have health insurance. After those benefits are exhausted, you will need your health insurance to pay for the medical bills even if the accident was not your fault. If you still need additional treatment after the settlement or court decision in your case, you can also be awarded damages (or agree to a settlement) that take into account future medical expenses. You will likely need an expert witness to testify about your future damages.
Economic Damages for Lost Income and Other Financial Losses
Perhaps the most pressing reason to contact a Kansas City motorcycle accident injury lawyer is to recover the money you have lost due to not being able to work because of your injuries. If your children or any other family members depend on you financially, that is even an even bigger reason to hire a lawyer. If you win your case, the court will order the defendant to pay you damages for the income you missed out on because the accident rendered you not healthy enough to work. If you still have not been able to go back to work by the time your case finishes, you can also receive damages for future lost income. When you read about plaintiffs getting multimillion dollar settlements in personal injury cases, it is because the plaintiffs are permanently disabled because of the accident, and the damages award includes all the money they would have earned if they had kept working until retirement age, plus all the money they would have been able to save for retirement.
Getting the medical treatment you need certainly improves your quality of life, but if your injuries are serious enough, then no amount of money can bring you the health you once enjoyed. It is hard to put a price tag on being able-bodied enough to ride your motorcycle again like you used to do before the accident, but that is the principle behind non-economic damages in motorcycle accident lawsuits. Non-economic damages are sometimes called “pain and suffering” or “loss of enjoyment.” They are compensation for the non-financial things you lost because of the accident. Most of the time, the more serious your injuries, the higher the amount of non-economic damages. We at Foster Wallace make a big deal of non-economic damages as we believe the pain and suffering that someone has to deal with after a wreck should fairly compensate them and argue accordingly to a jury.
Things That Can Disqualify You from Being Awarded Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
It may seem obvious to you that you deserve compensation for your injuries, but there are a few technicalities that can get in the way of your ability to collect those damages. The first one is the statute of limitations. According to Missouri law, the statute of limitations is five years. That means that, if you file your lawsuit more than five years after the accident, the court will not award you damages, no matter how much you deserve them. In Kansas, the statute of limitations is a mere two years. There are a few exceptions to this rule in both Kansas and Missouri (for instance, a minor would be injured).
Another issue is comparative negligence. Missouri’s comparative negligence laws mean that you can still recover damages if the accident was partially your fault, but the amount you receive will be reduced based on how much you contributed to causing the accident. For example, if the court would have awarded you $100,000, but the accident was 40% your fault, the court will only award you $60,000. In Kansas, the other party must be 51% or more at-fault for the wreck for you to recover. If a Kansas jury decides you were both 50% at fault then no one would recover any damages whatsoever.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City motorcycle accident you should speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.