Motorcycle collisions are among the most dangerous of all accidents that occur on U.S. roads and highways. The National Safety Council states that motorcyclists make up 14% of all traffic fatalities despite motorcycles making up only 3% of registered vehicles. The reality is that a motorcyclist is at a great disadvantage in any collision and will likely suffer severe injuries.
If you were in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit and seek fair compensation. However, many victims are unsure of what constitutes “fair compensation” and what they should expect for their settlement. The information below can help injured bikers learn more about the factors that will influence their motorcycle injury settlement.
Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Hiring legal representation is a big decision. Many motorcycle accident victims wonder if taking this step is the right choice for them. If you are on the fence about hiring an attorney for your motorcycle accident lawsuit, consider the following:
Personal injury attorneys are experts in accident law and understand the legal rights of motorcycle accident victims like you.
Many personal injury attorneys have years of experience representing accident victims. In some cases, you can read former clients’ testimonies regarding their experience with the attorney in question.
Because attorneys have the necessary expertise and prior experience, accident victims represented by a personal injury attorney are statistically more likely to receive a higher settlement.
One reason many hesitate to hire an attorney is the question of compensation. In most cases, your attorneys’ payment will come from your final settlement amount. You must plan to incorporate legal fees when budgeting your settlement. While many victims fear losing their well-deserved settlement, you may not win compensation without an attorney to protect your best interests.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Settlements: What to Expect
Every motorcycle accident claim is different. Depending on the extent of your injuries, the circumstances of the collision, the quality of your attorney, and local injury laws, your settlement could look very different from the compensation received by other motorcycle accident victims. However, the following categories of damages are consistent across various injury claims and can help you decide what to claim in your lawsuit.
Proving Defendant’s Liability for Your Accident
Before you can receive compensation, your attorney will need to prove that the defendant was responsible for causing your accident. Your attorney may draw on photographic evidence, witness testimonies, and medical records to prove the degree of the driver’s liability. If a driver’s negligence caused a motorcycle collision, they are considered liable for your injuries and will be required to pay for your damages.
The first thing your attorney will consider when calculating the worth of your claim is the extent of your physical injuries. Motorcycle collisions are incredibly dangerous and often result in severe injuries. The more serious your injuries, the more compensation you are owed. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
Broken or fractured bones
Head and spinal trauma
In addition to your physical injuries, your attorney will consider your financial losses related to your accident. Serious injuries are often accompanied by expensive medical bills and short or long-term absences from work. Injuries that result in disability may end up costing millions of dollars throughout the victim’s lifetime. Whatever financial strife you have suffered after your motorcycle injury should be incorporated into your final settlement.
Most states allow accident victims to claim pain and suffering damages to account for the invisible, incalculable suffering victims face and the physical and financial losses caused by their accidents. Serious injuries can cause chronic pain, disfigurement, disability, paralysis, or even death. Both victims and their families deserve compensation for their suffering after a motorcycle collision.
In addition to your physical injuries and the countless financial and emotional effects, you may also be eligible to receive compensation for damage to your property (i.e., your motorcycle). Motorcycles are expensive investments that are often irreversibly damaged in a collision. If your motorcycle is damaged or totaled during the crash, you can add the value of your motorcycle to your total motorcycle accident claim.
In some cases, motorcycle accident victims may be eligible to seek further punitive damage. Regarding settlements, “punitive” means damages the defendant will be required to pay as a form of punishment for wrongful actions. Punitive damages only apply when the defendant acted with particular negligence or irresponsibility. You could claim thousands of dollars in punitive damages depending on the degree of negligence.
Average Settlements for Motorcycle Accidents
Every day, motorcycle accident victims file injury claims and receive financial settlements. While it is important to realize that your claim may not have the same results as the following examples, looking at recent motorcycle accident settlements can help victims anticipate what to expect for their own claims.
Shoulder Injuries: Approximately $20,000
Injuries of the shoulder often require multiple surgeries and rehabilitation in order to regain mobility. Therefore, shoulder injuries are among the most expensive damages in motorcycle injury claims.
Joint Damage: Approximately $15,000
Injuries to ankles, wrists, and other joints are also very common in motorcycle accidents. You could end up with broken or sprained wrists or ankles or impact damage to knees, hips, or elbows. Depending on the location and the severity of this damage, the estimated worth of these injuries is around $15,000.
Whiplash: Approximately $10,000
Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the rapid back-and-forth movement generally sustained in collisions. Whiplash causes painful neck strain and may impact the victim's mobility. In many cases, victims will require bed rest until their whiplash is healed.
Spinal Disc Injuries: $100,000+
Spinal damage can cause permanent disability, reduced mobility, and chronic pain. Spinal injuries will require the attention of specialists and highly trained surgeons. Surgeries for herniated discs often have a lengthy recovery time and require extended hospitalization. Because of the high costs associated with these injuries, claims for spinal disc injuries generally start around $100,000 but can reach much higher.
Legal Resources for Motorcycle Accident Victims
Motorcycle accident victims deserve quality legal representation regardless of their ability to pay. Many organizations were created to connect victims with pro bono or low-cost motorcycle injury attorneys to help financially impacted victims and their families. If you are struggling to find quality and low-cost legal representation for your motorcycle injury claim, the following resources can help connect you with personal injury lawyers in your area.
The nonprofit organization LawHelp was founded to connect accident victims with nearby quality representation to ensure fair representation is available to all. Operated by practicing attorneys and other legal professionals, LawHelp has helped thousands of Americans get the legal advice they need. The free-to-use Legal Help Finder tool on their website shows where you can find free or low-cost motorcycle injury attorneys near you.
C.A.R.E. (Care for Accident Victims)
C.A.R.E. (Center for Accident Resources and Empowerment) is a nonprofit organization that helps accident victims find appropriate support services after an accident. While this organization helps connect motorcycle accident victims with various financial and support resources, one of the most important resources offered by C.A.R.E. is getting accident victims in contact with reputable accident attorneys. To contact C.A.R.E., fill out their contact form, and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.
Local Pro Bono Organizations
While the above resources are a great place to start, there are too many pro bono attorneys and organizations nationwide for a truly comprehensive list. In every state, various organizations provide pro bono or low-cost legal services to local accident victims. Try searching “pro bono legal representation” followed by your state to find attorneys willing to take on pro bono motorcycle injury claims.
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