After surviving an accident, the only thing you would want is to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. The accident may not even be your fault in the first place, so all the suffering you are going through can feel unfair.
But the road to recovery will not be easy, and peace of mind comes with a price—quite literally. With everything that you have been through, it only makes sense that the other party should compensate you for your losses. And knowing motorcycle accidents, the damages can be costly.
However, the other party may not see it that way. They may even deny accountability and blame you. Being the victim though, it is within your right to pursue a fair settlement. But if the worse comes to worst, you might have to engage in a tedious and exhausting legal battle.
Should you decide to take this course of action, you must be aware of what you are getting yourself into, and the first thing you should do is get expert legal counsel.
Why do I need a lawyer?
Getting a lawyer immediately is critical because of the statute of limitations. This is the law that sets the maximum amount of time that parties involved in a dispute have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense, whether civil or criminal.
In the case of motorcycle accidents, the clock will start ticking as soon as the road mishap occurs. Depending on the state in which your accident happened, you will have two to four years to seek legal action before you run out of time.
However, as a victim who sustained serious injuries and is recovering from them, be aware that time flies quickly. Two years may seem like enough time, but with your mind preoccupied with pain and suffering, it will be over before you know it.
What happens next after getting a lawyer?
Once you have a lawyer, the next step is to file a personal injury claim, especially if you believe that your injuries were directly caused by the recklessness of another person and want to be compensated for your losses.
After filing the claim, it is time to start gathering evidence and reach out to the other party and their insurance provider. This is to ensure that both sides have relevant information about the injuries you sustained and are aware of why you deserve just compensation.
Now that you have presented the facts and a demand letter elaborating the total compensation to the other party and their insurance provider, you should expect a settlement offer that will be resolved either by an injury settlement or an injury judgment.
Injury settlement vs. injury judgment
An injury settlement is the mutual agreement of all parties involved in a motorcycle accident lawsuit regarding the amount of compensation that will be paid to the victim.
This is the most common and most ideal course of action for people involved in motorcycle accidents because it does not involve the court system, therefore avoiding high court costs and trials that could take ages to finish.
Contrary to an injury settlement, an injury judgment will need the services of the court and includes a judge or a jury to resolve your personal injury claim.
There are instances when negotiations, mediators, and arbitrators are not enough to reach a final decision. In cases that lead to dead ends, settlement becomes impossible which can force you to turn negotiations into a full-blown legal battle.
There are two ways by which you can go about your case should you decide to take it to court. For smaller amounts of compensation, pursuing your case in small claims courts should be enough. But if you are going big time and plan to seek a more substantial payout, a civil court is your best option at resolution.
Once you are in court, a judge will hear both sides and issue a legally binding injury judgment. Whatever the judge decides, both parties should abide by that decision.
What happens in a motorcycle accident trial?
If you think the insurance company is not offering you a fair settlement for all your losses, you may not have any other option but to go to trial.
Should this become your last resort, your lawyer will present your case in court, establish the guilt of the other party, and show proof of the injuries you sustained and the damages you incurred from the accident.
The plaintiff’s claim
The plaintiff is the person who filed the lawsuit. In motorcycle accident cases, this is normally the injured party. During the trial, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to provide evidence that the other party caused the accident and that the accident caused severe injuries. This can be done through witness testimonies or the presentation of documents like police reports and hospital records.
The defendant’s rebuttal
Once the plaintiff is done presenting his case, the defendant will do the same by presenting evidence of their own. With their proof, the defendant may attempt to discredit the plaintiff’s witnesses and documentary evidence, shift the blame to the plaintiff, or insist on how they should not have to pay for any damages.
Now that both sides have been heard, the judge or jury will decide whether or not the defendant is at fault. If so, the judge or jury will determine the amount of compensation that the defendant should pay to the plaintiff based on the evidence presented at trial.
A motorcycle accident trial could take months or even years to finish, depending on the facts of the case. This is why you must get an expert personal injury lawyer who can assure you that you will get just compensation at the soonest time possible.
What factors affect the length of the trial?
One of the most common reasons why victims file motorcycle accident lawsuits is the severity of the injuries they sustained after their accidents. It is simply impossible to ignore a serious injury especially if it causes extreme pain and suffering, prevents you from being productive, and leaves you immobile for life.
The kind of injury a victim sustains in a motorcycle accident has a huge impact on how long a motorcycle accident lawsuit will take. In most cases, the more serious the injuries are, the longer the trial will take.
This is because victims who are severely injured often incur higher damages in terms of medical expenses and take longer in getting well enough to know how much to ask in a personal injury claim.
It is also the reason why the best time to proceed with any legal proceeding is only when the victim has made something close to a full recovery. Not only does this help the victim’s physical health, but it also makes computing total costs and predicting future medical expenses easier.
The damages you decide to pursue after a motorcycle accident can significantly affect your trial schedule. In most instances, lawsuits with higher damage demands take longer to resolve. While this is not always the case, it should come as no surprise because higher claim values do need more exhaustive inquiries.
What is included in the damages?
The victim may be eligible to recover the costs of past, present, and even expected future medical bills incurred as a result of the motorcycle accident. Severe and long-term injuries translate to greater hospitalization costs, so not surprisingly, a motorcycle accident lawsuit that involves these kinds of injuries tends to take more time.
Damage to property
If your body is not spared during the accident, more so is your vehicle. Depending on how bad the accident was, your motorcycle may either need extensive repairs or be completely replaced.
Grave injuries can render you useless for a long time after your accident. Even if you fully recover, there is a chance that you may not be able to work in the same capacity again. But the worst thing is not being able to do anything at all because the accident left you completely disabled.
Pain and suffering damages
When it comes to motorcycle accidents, damages are not only physical and financial. Mental and emotional suffering, while not quantifiable in bills and receipts, is just as heartbreaking as the deep cuts and hefty medical costs.
The trauma victims experience after being in a motorcycle accident can be as lasting as the injuries sustained, and since there is no way to determine how much a person’s pain and suffering costs, these so-called general damages will greatly vary for each victim.
If the motorcycle accident left you permanently disabled, you can pursue damages to account for its impact on your life. While no amount could ever make up for a life-long disability, the justice system can work to provide accident survivors some monetary respite.