Motorcycle Accident Injuries
If you are a motorcycle rider, you know how exhilarating it is to just get on your bike and “go.” But you also know that riding motorcycles can be dangerous. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supports this conclusion. For example:
- There are approximately 5,000 motorcycle fatalities every year, and this number has steadily increased since 2008
- Approximately 14% of all traffic deaths in 2017 were motorcyclists (94 percent were riders and 6 percent were passengers)
- Relative to car passengers, motorcyclists suffer more fatalities and more serious injuries when involved in traffic accidents
- Similar to the increase in motorcycle fatalities, motorcycle injuries have steadily increased as well, with total annual injuries reaching approximately 88,000
Because of statistics like these, some people—and some jurors—may have a negative perception of motorcycle riders as unreasonable risk-takers who brought their injuries on themselves simply by riding on a motorcycle. Well, the data simply does not support this. However, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident because of the negligence of another driver, the insurance industry will take advantage of that misperception when negotiating a settlement.
To level the playing field, you need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who understands the settlement process, the damages you may recover, and the advantages and disadvantages of settling your case or going to trial. The attorneys at Foster Wallace will help you make an informed decision about how to proceed to maximize your compensation when you have been injured in a motorcycle accident.
What Damages Can You Recover?
Before you are able to reach a settlement in your case, you must understand what damages you are able to recover and the factors that may affect whether you are more likely to recover those damages by settling with the insurance company or going to trial.
The damages that you may be able to recover for a motorcycle accident in Missouri are:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
However, there are a host of questions that must be answered before you are able to determine whether you will recover for these damages. Here are some relevant questions that you will want to consider before settling your claim with an insurance company. Your answers will depend on a variety of factors that will affect your recovery, such as:
- The details of your accident
- The nature and extent of your injuries
- Your condition and capacities after you recover from your injuries.
If you are not able to answer these questions confidently, then you will want to talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney before settling your case. At Foster Wallace, we know what questions to ask and what factors to consider to help you decide whether to settle your case or go to trial, and which approach will maximize your recovery.
- Does the other party to the accident agree that they were at fault?
- Will the other party assert that somehow was at fault?
- How can I prove that the accident was entirely the fault of the other party?
- What if we were both at fault?—Does that affect my ability to recover?
- Did the police issue the other party a citation at the time of the accident?
- Was the other driver intoxicated? Speeding? Distracted?
- How did the accident happen? Were there any witnesses?
- Does the other party even have insurance? If so, how much?
- Should I expect my motorcycle to be repaired or replaced?
- What was the condition and value of my motorcycle before my accident?
- Should I accept an offer from the insurance company that is less than what I think my motorcycle was worth?
- Are my damages for lost property restricted by the limits on my insurance policy?
- What will the insurance adjuster look for, and how will it affect my ability to recover?
- What if they claim that my motorcycle was already damaged? Must I prove that it wasn’t?
- Will my damages include all of my hospital bills?
- Can I recover for medical expenses I incur after I leave the hospital?
- What about all the medicine I have to take for pain?
- Do medical expenses include my fee for the ambulance at my accident?
- What if I need a wheelchair or crutches?
- Will insurance cover the cost of any necessary rehabilitative therapy?
- Who will pay for all my follow-up visits with doctors?
- Will I need in-home care until I am able to fully recover?
Lost Wages & Future Earnings
- Are my lost wages during my hospital stay and recovery considered in calculating damages?
- What if I do not know when I can return to work, or if I can return at all?
- What if my injuries prevent me from returning to my old job?
- What if I am permanently disabled and cannot work at all?
Pain & Suffering
- Should I include my pain and suffering in my settlement?
- What value do I put on my pain and suffering?
- Must I release my medical records to the insurance company or to the attorney for the party who struck me with the car?
- May I ask for a higher damage award to teach the other party a lesson and deter others from driving negligently?
These are only some of the questions that must be answered before you can even know what to expect from a settlement or how much it will cost to go to trial. If the cost and time spent on trial is more than what you are likely to be awarded in damages, then it may be wise to settle—even if it is less than what you deserve. But if the other party denies liability or is unwilling to negotiate, and if the insurance company is not properly valuing your injuries and expenses, then it may be prudent to go to trial. But if you go to trial, you risk a jury misinterpreting the cause of the accident or applying unsupported bias against motorcycles and motorcycle riders, and you risk recovering nothing.
Should You Settle Your Motorcycle Crash Case? And If So . . . When?
As you can see, identifying and calculating damages from motorcycle accidents is complex, and knowing whether to accept a settlement offer is difficult. And although a very high percentage of motorcycle accident cases will settle and not go to trial, sometimes settling with the insurance company can be a mistake. Sometimes, the question is not even “whether” you should settle your case, but “When?”