In general, a motorcycle accident is much more serious than a car accident or commercial vehicle accident. For one thing, because motorcyclists operate on slightly different rules of the road, they tend to be vulnerable to different types of danger than another vehicle might face. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, the chances are high that you’ve been offered a settlement for compensation, and that means you should speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Ask a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer: When Should I Take a Settlement?
If you’ve been offered a settlement from an insurance company or the other driver involved in your motorcycle accident, what should you do? First and foremost, a settlement offer is just that – an offer, which means you should only review the offer. Before you accept any offer made to you, the smart thing to do is seek advice from a motorcycle accident lawyer.
Why talk to a lawyer first? Well, the fact of the matter is that many insurance companies like to give low-ball offers that don’t amount to your total damages. Many people involved in accidents accept settlements that don’t fully compensate for their economic and non-economic damages. Another reason to seek legal counsel before accepting an offer is the fact that accepting a settlement usually means you won’t be able to pursue legal justice later.
What a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Do
A lawyer is there for you to speak on your behalf by negotiating for a higher settlement based on the evidence related to your claim. This can be immensely helpful when dealing with reluctant insurance companies that habitually try to offer inadequate settlements to motorists who don’t know any better. A lawyer will have the knowledge and experience to assess whether or not a settlement offer is fair, and if it isn’t fair, can gather the evidence necessary to enforce a better offer.
Why Does the Settlement Matter?
It’s important to get a good settlement for your motorcycle accident. Motorcycle accidents are usually more dangerous for motorists because of how exposed drivers are to other cars, the road, and other elements involved in an accident. Without the protection of airbags like a car offers, motorcyclists are more likely to have serious injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones, crushed bones, and amputation
- Road rash and lacerations
Many motorcyclists involved in accidents often suffer extreme or even fatal injuries. The medical treatment and ongoing therapy for these injuries can be very expensive, particularly for drivers who have to cope with considerable life changes as a result of the injuries. On top of physical injuries, motorcyclists can also suffer from loss of wages, loss of earning potential if they become disabled, loss of life, and much more. A fair settlement is essential for you and your family’s survival.
Will You Need Evidence for Your Claim?
Yes. No matter how serious the motorcycle accident was, you will need evidence to support your claim. The evidence you collect can be crucial to securing a fair settlement offer from the insurance company. Evidence to support your claim can come in many forms, such as photographs of the accident or pictures of the damage to your motorcycle. Other evidence can include:
- Medical bills
- Medical records and reports
- Lost wages
- Repair estimates
- Eyewitness statements
- CCTV footage
Generally, your statement and the statement of the other motorist will be adequate to start the claims process. Insurance companies may ask for additional evidence to support a claim, particularly if a lawyer is negotiating your settlement on your behalf. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the more likely you will receive an adequate settlement offer.
How Long Will It Take to Receive a Settlement?
Most insurance companies will make an initial offer for a settlement about one to six months after the accident happens or the claim is filed. The insurance company will collect evidence and calculate a settlement amount that is adequate for your claim. If an insurance company sends a settlement offer very quickly after you file your claim, then it may be likely the offer is low or not tailored to your claim. In this case especially, seeking advice from a legal representative is essential.
What If Your Case Goes to Trial?
It’s not uncommon or unheard of that motorcycle accident claims go to trial or are settled through the legal processes outside of court. Typically, this happens when the insurance company is not open to negotiating your settlement. If this happens, your legal representative will recommend taking your case to court so you can relieve the compensation you deserve.
Another reason your case may go to trial is that the other motorist or their insurance company does not agree to claim liability for the accident. When this happens, your case will be moved to court so that each driver can show evidence for the case; the legal process, including a trial in front of a jury or a judge, will determine which driver was responsible for the accident, and by extension, which insurance company is responsible for the compensation.
In Texas, when a car or motorcycle accident case advances to court because it can’t be settled between insurance companies, this triggers a comparative negligence doctrine by which the case will be tried. Comparative negligence is a special rule that states each driver shares a specific percentage of liability for an accident, and is therefore responsible for a percentage of compensation; under this doctrine, even drivers who are mostly at fault for an accident are entitled to a certain amount of compensation.
If your motorcycle accident lawyer assists you with a comparative negligence case, then you will likely still receive some amount of compensation, even if it is not the full amount you feel you are owed. For this type of case, you and your legal team will need to prove that you are not at least 51% at fault for the accident; if you are more than 51% liable for the accident, then you will not be entitled to any compensation.
How Long Will a Court Case Take?
When a motor vehicle accident advances to the judicial system, it can take several months for the case to be resolved. It’s not uncommon for your court date to be set three or more months into the future; during this time, you will have to cope without any compensation for your claim. And while the trial portion of your case may only take a few days, it may still be several more weeks after your case has concluded before you will receive any compensation.
Ideally, working with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will ensure your case does not advance to trial so you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages. When a lawyer is there to negotiate on your behalf, insurance companies are generally more likely to play ball and make better offers.
The only time you should ever accept a settlement offer is after you have consulted with a legal representative who can examine your case and determine whether or not the offer is fair. Accepting a claim without legal advice could mean that you are missing out on the compensation you are rightfully owed. For more information about how to handle a motorcycle accident claim, please contact Gamez Law Firm in San Antonio, TX today.