If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident involving another vehicle, hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer is a smart decision. If you plan to seek assistance negotiating a settlement, it’s important to make that hire as soon as you’re able after your accident. The statute of limitations for motorcycle accident claims varies by state, but is typically between two and three years following the date of the accident. An attorney can review your settlement offer, advise you on your rights, and protect you if an insurance company is using strong-arm tactics to push you into accepting a low-value settlement. These steps will guide you to an attorney who can handle insurance agencies, negotiate a settlement, represent you at trial if needed, and help get you compensation for your injuries and damages.
Understand how a lawyer can help, even if a jury trial is unlikely.
Start with a broad search, and if needed, let the attorney come to you.
Understand the contingency fee structure, and what you will be obligated to pay.
Take advantage of the initial consultation to get the information you need.
Have realistic expectations for your motorcycle accident settlement.
Understand how a lawyer can help, even if a jury trial is unlikely.The fact is that the majority of motorcycle accident cases are settled out of court. But that doesn’t mean you should represent yourself through the settlement negotiation process. In order to prevail in your case, you must document your past and future financial losses resulting from your accident, establish the other driver’s fault, and provide adequate proof of what occurred. It’s also important to have a firm grasp of your state’s negligence laws (for example, with regard to helmets), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and techniques for dealing with aggressive insurance companies.
Start with a broad search, and, if needed, let the attorney come to you.Once you’ve accessed a broad field of qualified, experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, a dive into their websites can yield case history, testimonials and a sense of their commitment to motorcycle riders and their unique needs. Most motorcycle accident attorneys offer free consultations, and many will meet with clients who are recovering, either at home or in a hospital. Free consultations give prospective clients the freedom to consult several professionals before making a hiring decision. During these consultations, you can ask plenty of questions, and get a feel for your rapport with different lawyers.
[resource-expertip content="Avoid engaging with ambulance chasers, or lawyers who reach out directly to you following your motorcycle accident. Attorneys sometimes use unscrupulous means to get motorcycle accident victims' contact information from hospitals or police, and pursue accident victims to push their legal services. This practice is not just a violation of the American Bar Association's rules of professional conduct, it is also illegal in most states."]
Understand the contingency fee structure, and what you will be obligated to pay your motorcycle accident lawyer.
Lawyers who handle motorcycle accident cases typically work on contingency, which means that they’re entitled to 30% to 40% of any recovery. The main advantage for clients is that there’s usually no out-of-pocket cost since the attorney typically covers any legal expenses up front, and only gets paid if the claim is successful. Hourly rates and flat-rate fees are uncommon for motorcycle accident attorneys, but contingency structures can vary. No matter what, make sure you understand how much you will be required to pay out of any settlement amount.
[resource-expertip content="Know how to calculate a contingency. As an example, consider an attorney who charges a 40% contingency fee, and agrees to pay expenses up front. If the plaintiff's case settles for $100,000 and the lawyer paid $10,000 in up-front expenses, the lawyer would be reimbursed for those expenses first, then take their 40% contingency (payment for services) of $36,000 out of the remaining $90,000, leaving the plaintiff with $54,000."]
Take advantage of the initial consultation to get the information you need.If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you want an attorney who is skillful and experienced, but also sensitive to your health, well-being and recovery. When choosing a motorcycle attorney, you should ask questions that establish the lawyer’s level of experience, past performance, and general approach to representing clients. These questions will give you a better sense of what you can expect from the attorney:
- Is motorcycle law your primary practice area?
- How many motorcycle cases have you handled?
- What types of settlements or verdicts has your firm recovered?
- How much is my case worth?
- How long will the process take?
- Who is available to answer my questions?
- Will the firm provide regular updates?
- Who will communicate with the insurance company?
- What can be done about my outstanding medical bills?
Have realistic expectations for your motorcycle accident settlement.A good motorcycle accident attorney can work with investigators and expert witnesses to establish fault. An experienced lawyer can provide legal advice and help you decipher rules regarding plaintiff negligence (as in cases where the rider was not wearing a helmet), and can file demand letters and court complaints. Your attorney can focus on negotiating a settlement while countering aggressive insurance companies and ensure that your medical bills don’t go into collection while your case is being heard.
What a motorcycle accident attorney can’t do is change the factors that existed prior to your accident, and these factors can affect the value of your claim. For example, if you were extremely active prior to your accident, and your physical activity has been halted or significantly curtailed as a result of your accident, your settlement will be worth more than if you were a couch potato before your crash.
It’s also important to recognize that, if your case goes to trial, you may be subject to bias. Evidence has shown that juries tend to be unfavorable to motorcyclists. And while this may seem unfair, it nevertheless remains true. This is one of the reasons why a pre-trial settlement is always preferable in a motorcycle accident case. And why having a qualified attorney help you negotiate that settlement is crucial.
Ready to speak to a lawyer? Here is our list of the best motorcycle accident lawyers near you.
At Expertise.com, we're passionate about guiding people to find the best in life, whether they're researching how to start a small business, planning a home remodeling project, or discovering a new hobby.