In the US, nearly 100,000 people are seriously injured in motorcycle accidents every year. In fact, motorcycles have a much higher fatality rate than cars. As such, personal injury cases involving motorcycle accidents are quite common.
Overall, the physical injuries sustained from a motorcycle accident can be more crippling than with car accidents. Victims can receive significant internal and external damage depending on the nature of the accident. The expenses of such injuries can necessitate monetary damages.
However, when dealing with a motorcycle accident case, one must consider all the factors affecting settlement. This article outlines the key legal components surrounding a motorcycle accident case:
Filing a Claim After a Motorcycle Accident
Like all personal injury claims, motorcycle accidents are subject to a prescriptive period or a statute of limitations. All US states have varying statutes for physical injury cases. For example, in Louisiana, the prescriptive period (statute of limitations) is one year for all personal injury claims.
To recover against a person who caused injury to a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist must prove that his damages were caused by the negligent or reckless driver. For example, if a motorcycle accident was caused by a drunk driver, the motorcyclist may have grounds for a lawsuit against the drunk driver. Because the driver chose to drink and drive, this counts as either reckless misconduct or gross negligence. Consequently, the motorcyclist should be able to recover against the drunk driver.
What Are the Settlement Factors in a Motorcycle Accident Case?
There are many variables affecting a motorcycle accident. These variables can affect the final settlement in the case.
When deciding who is responsible for a motorcycle accident, one must assess the following factors:
It is sometimes challenging to assign fault after a motorcycle accident. At times, the fault may be quite clear. The other driver may have caused the accident through either intentional, careless, or reckless behavior. However, in other cases, the situation may not be black and white.
For example, the motorcyclist may also be at fault. In some states, if both parties share fault, the settlement becomes comparative. The court will quantify and compare the extent to which both parties contributed to the accident.
If both the plaintiff and defendant violated traffic laws, the judge will ascertain who was more negligent. This is called the comparative fault analysis. States like Louisiana use the comparative fault system in personal injury claims.
Let’s say a motorcyclist was speeding while the car driver ran a red light. In this case, both the driver and the motorcyclist are said to be at fault. Thus, they may share the liability. When this occurs, the recovery by the motorcyclist may be reduced by his percentage of fault.
With the comparative fault analysis, the motoryclist is not barred from recovering. Because of his fault in causing the accident, he is simply prevented from recovering all of his damages. The percentage of fault will be determined by the judge or jury at a trial. For example, the motorcyclist could be determined to be 25% at fault and the other driver could be determined to be 75% at fault.
Severity of Damage
Secondly, it is also important to determine the severity of damage in a personal injury case. Injuries caused in motorcycle accidents can be quite serious. Since motorcyclists are not protected, they may experience the direct impact of the vehicle crash.
This impact can cause a series of injuries, ranging from limb fractures to neural damage. Many victims are forced to pay for both long-term and short-term medical care. They may also lose their means of income as a consequence of being injured.
All of these out-of-pocket damages are called economic damages. However, in some states, the law also considers the emotional impact of such events. If the victim has experienced severe trauma, they may ask for compensation for emotional distress as well.
Defendant’s Ability to Pay
In most cases, there is a limit to the defendant’s ability to pay a settlement. This factor is also important in determining a final settlement agreement. After all, even if the plaintiff manages a high settlement amount, they will eventually only receive what the defendant can pay.
Most vehicle owners have an insurance policy in case of accidents. The type of insurance policy impacts the settlement amount. If the driver has a small net worth, they will only pay the minimum insurance amount. As such, the coverage they receive will also be the bare minimum.
Alternatively, those with better financial means will often have better insurance coverage. They may have better insurance plans, investing more money to protect themselves and their assets. In this way, the defendant’s financial circumstances are important settlement factors.
Number of Defendants
Lastly, in motorcycle accident claims, the number of defendants may vary, which may also impact the settlement amount. For instance, if an accident occurs due to the negligence of a driver and local traffic authorities, the victim can sue both. However, the court will decide who pays more, depending on who shares the most fault.
In sum, it can be challenging to present a personal injury claim regarding a motorcycle accident. The case must be evaluated holistically. Otherwise, the motorcyclist may not receive all that is due to him. All plaintiffs need to have someone consider their situation objectively before deciding on the merits of their claim.
In this way, it is essential to contact a personal injury lawyer as they are removed from the emotion and trauma of the incident. Lawyers can offer invaluable insight into the case, helping plaintiffs prove their case.
At the Law Office of Gaynell Williams, L.L.C., we have the experience you need to fight for the compensation you deserve for not only the costs you’ve incurred, but for the pain and suffering you and your family may have suffered as a result of the negligence of someone else such as a driver of an automobile that caused you harm. We will search for every possible source of financial restitution, be it through insurance settlements, personal injury claims, arbitration, mediation, or litigation. Our goal is to work with you so that you receive compensation for the pain and suffering and financial costs you have been burdened with after a serious accident so that you can focus on what is most important – healing and getting on with the rest of your life.
Contact Us Today
Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.
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