How Can a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help You?
It’s no secret that America has thousands of motorcyclists. The favorable weather and smooth roads make various states the perfect destination for motorcyclists.
Still, American roads remain relatively dangerous for motorcyclists, with hundreds of motorcycle accidents occurring annually. The damages can be painful, lifelong, and expensive if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident.
Having a motorcycle accident lawyer to help you from the start can increase your chances of recouping some of your losses. A lawyer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that may benefit your case. To be specific, here are some ways a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you after a motorcycle accident.
Evaluate Your Claim
During your first consultation, a motorcycle accident lawyer will ask you about the particulars of your case. This is your chance to share the details of your motorcycle accident, including the crash and injuries you sustained.
Your lawyer will go through all the details of your claim and determine their viability. They do this by determining whether your case meets the four elements of negligence required to mount a personal injury claim:
Duty of Care
All motorists must exercise a degree of care by following road safety rules, such as not drinking and driving or speeding. Similarly, companies that own vehicles and vehicle or part manufacturers have a duty of care to ensure vehicles driven by consumers are roadworthy.
Breach of Duty
Proof of a breach of duty by a driver, the company owning the vehicle, or the part manufacturer is necessary for a motorcycle accident victim to have a solid claim. For example, if your accident was due to a drunken motorist, they automatically breached the duty of care. The same applies to companies that own and operate unserviced vehicles and vehicle or part manufacturers selling vehicles with faulty parts.
While the duty of care and breach of duty are essential elements for a lawyer to establish, a claim won’t hold water if no harm or damage occurs after an accident. The most common signs of harm or damage are physical injuries and economic losses such as property damage and lost wages. Once your lawyer establishes these, they can pursue other damages, such as emotional trauma from an accident.
Direct Cause or Causation
Finally, a legitimate claim must show a direct relationship between the negligent party’s breach of duty and the damage or harm caused. In this case, the defendant’s actions, not those of other parties, must have harmed you to prove negligence.
Takeover All Communication Responsibilities
A motorcycle accident claim might seem straightforward to undertake alone, but a mountain of problems can quickly arise without an experienced lawyer. Your biggest nuisance will be insurance companies and lawyers who work around the clock to find ways to disqualify your claim or give you lowball settlement offers.
Two common notorious tactics many insurance firms use to hurt claims include obtaining recorded statements and evaluating medical histories. In the first instance, insurance companies try to trick you into saying something that will hurt your claim, possibly over the phone, so your conversation is under record.
If that fails, they might try to trick you into giving them full access to your medical history, where they will look for reasons to show no connection between your injuries and the motorcycle accident.
A motorcycle accident lawyer knows all the tricks insurance companies use on victims of accidents and can counter their approaches. Once you hire a lawyer, they assume all direct communication with the parties involved in your case and only give access to your information when it’s legally required. This way, you don’t expose yourself to anything that might hurt your claim or engage in underhanded games with insurance firms.
Investigate Your Motorcycle Accident
Your local law enforcement will likely arrive shortly after the accident. The officer present will note statements from all parties involved in the motorcycle accident and any witnesses to the accident in their official report. While this is enough in some cases, sometimes a more detailed investigation of a motorcycle accident is necessary to prove fault.
A motorcycle accident attorney can help you thoroughly investigate all facts relating to your accident.
They will set up an internal investigative team and hire a third-party investigator to look at any underlying details of your case to reveal:
- Liability by other motorists. Details of other drivers’ negligent actions that caused the accident
- Liability of employers. Third-party liability where an employer’s negligence was the cause of the accident
- Liability of manufacturers. Product liability where the manufacturer’s defective parts contributed to the motorcycle accident
A lawyer can also prove liability between two parties. For example, in cases where drivers are under contractual employment by companies, the driver and the employer can both be liable for negligence, leading to your motorcycle accident.
Obtain Evidence to Support Your Claim
After the accident, you may be unable to do the investigative work yourself due to severe injuries or other commitments. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you by doing all the investigative work needed to gather evidence to support your claim.
The following is a list of proof that your lawyer can help you obtain to prove your claim beyond doubt:
- Medical records: Your lawyer will help obtain all medical documents detailing the extent of your injury from when you arrive in the hospital, including the pictures of your recovery process during treatment.
- Eye witness statements: Your lawyer will help you look for witnesses from your witness contacts list or the police witness report. They may provide witness statements that shed more light to support your claim about what transpired during the accident.
- Driving history: Your lawyer will help you conduct background research on the driving record of the party or parties at fault, including any prior speeding tickets, DUI, or DWI convictions. This may help establish whether there is a pattern to the driver’s behavior.
- Video evidence: Your lawyer will help you to look at all video footage at the time of the accident from traffic footage and any video surveillance from cameras in nearby buildings. Actual footage may prove your claim and even strengthen the prevailing police narrative.
- Toxicology reports: Drivers undergo a toxicology test immediately after an accident to determine if they were under the influence or intoxicated at the time of the accident. A lawyer can help you obtain the other party’s toxicology results to prove whether they were drunk while driving.
- Cell phone records: Your motorcycle accident lawyer will try to help you obtain the other motorist’s cell phone records. This will help determine if the driver was distracted by their phone at the time of the accident, as is common in many road accidents today.
- Reconstructive evidence: If all the evidence gathered isn’t convincing enough to support your claim, your lawyer might seek to reconstruct the accident scene to determine what occurred. That may require the help of reconstruction specialists who help recreate various components, such as skid marks, transfer patterns, and other viable evidence, to help solve accident liability disputes.
Your lawyer can also help you conduct discovery. Discovery is a legal process of exchanging information with the other party in a claim or lawsuit.
Examples of discovery in a motorcycle accident might include:
- Written interrogations for the other party to answer
- Written and verbal witness testimony depositions
- Production of documents linked to you, the driver, or the accident
With all this evidence, it is easier to back your negligence claim and get the total value of damages caused by your accident.
Assign a Value to Your Claim
If your motorcycle accident results in damages, your motorcycle accident lawyer can help you calculate the total value of your claim. The whole valuation will include all expenses you’ve incurred and any potential long-term costs arising from the motorcycle accident, such as post-treatment therapy.
In many cases, the easy part is calculating the economic losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage value. The tricky area is adding up the non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering and other emotional losses incurred due to the accident.
A lawyer’s experience drawing other non-economic losses usually comes in handy at such times. However, the total amount you receive for your claim may vary based on the policy limit of the at-fault party. Remember, a claim amount can never exceed what insurance will pay.
Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Once you file a claim against a driver, their insurance company will contact you to try and settle an out-of-court deal. Usually, the first offers are lowball offers to undervalue your claim’s actual cost.
If you accept a lowball offer, you may waive any future rights to file for compensation from the motorcycle accident, which can leave you without money to cater for long-term costs that may arise later.
A motorcycle accident lawyer understands that insurance companies always start with the lowest offer, but such firms will only dare offer such low deals when legal counsel isn’t around. The presence of an experienced accident lawyer gives you an advantage when negotiating with insurance companies such that you get the best deal possible from the get-go.
File a Lawsuit in Court
Motorcycle accidents often end in settlements, as all sides have extra incentives to avoid court costs. Still, there are times when settlement negotiations break down due to different stances on the value of a motorcycle accident, leaving you no option but to go to court.
All states have deadlines for filing personal injury claims, known as the statute of limitations. You must file your motorcycle injury claim before your state’s deadline to avoid losing your chance for compensation.
A lawyer can help you file a formal claim in court as soon as settlement negotiations with an insurance firm bear no fruit. They will help ensure all your paperwork complies with the court’s procedural rules for filing a formal lawsuit. The lawyer will also prepare adequately for your trial by gathering all evidence obtained earlier from witnesses and the accident scene to present in court, giving you the best chance of getting a favorable ruling.
Represent You in Court
If the insurance firm still doesn’t reach out with a viable settlement offer weeks or months after filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will present your case to the court on the date assigned. A judge will then decide who is liable for the motorcycle accident.
In many cases, it may take a few days to weeks for the court to come up with a verdict, but that also depends on your unique situation.
Whatever period the proceeding lasts, your lawyer will be present throughout to fight for maximum compensation for:
- Medical expenses – This includes the cost of treatment, prescription drugs, and doctor appointments during the time of recovery.
- Lost wages – This covers all potential income lost during your time off work nursing your injury.
- Repair costs – This covers properties like cell phones and other gadgets or property damaged during the accident.
- Pain and suffering – This covers the emotional and physical anguish you underwent due to the injury caused by your accident.
On top of these, your lawyer can also choose to pursue punitive damages against the negligent party. A judge can only award punitive damages when the negligent party showed extreme recklessness leading to an accident. Talk to your lawyer about pursuing punitive damages in court as extra punishment for the defendant.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near You
Most motorcycle accident claims aren’t straightforward. The process can become lengthy and complicated, and insurance companies won’t give you breathing room. Fighting for yourself could be challenging, especially if you sustain severe injuries after the accident. As medical bills and other costs pile up, you may even need to settle for a lowball insurance offer.
Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you get total compensation for damages caused by a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle accident lawyers can help you prove your claim and get a reasonable settlement offer.
An experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney also has years of legal experience in court and can help present your case before a judge in such a way that could increase your chances of getting total compensation.