It's no secret that the thrill of riding a motorcycle comes with more risk. Motorcycle accidents often involve more serious injuries than car accidents. These serious injuries can lead to financial ruin, especially if you are the main provider for your family. A lawsuit can help ensure you get the financial compensation you are entitled to as a result of your injury. However, it’s important to know what steps to take in order to get that compensation.
Who can you sue after you are involved in an accident?
If you’re not at fault, there are essentially three groups you can sue if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident.
Whether your accident involves another motorcyclist or a person driving a car, you can sue them for the damages you sustained.
This only applies to a handful of cases, but you can sue your local government if a failure to upkeep the roadway causes your accident. This type of lawsuit is complicated and requires you (the plaintiff) to shoulder the burden of proving that the road’s condition goes beyond ordinary wear and tear (e.g. your average pothole). You must show that the government knew of a serious roadway issue and failed to resolve it in a timely fashion.
This is another rare type of case where a defect in the motorcycle itself causes the accident, allowing you to sue the motorcycle manufacturer. For example, if your brakes fail due to an improper installation, the motorcycle manufacturer could be at fault.
What can you recover after you are involved in a motorcycle accident?
After an accident, you can recover two different types of financial damages from the other party.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate, or reimburse, you for the amount of money you spent as a result of the accident. These damages are designed to “make you whole again” and can include: medical bills, motorcycle repair bills, lost wages, etc. This is often what you are awarded if you win a lawsuit. This can include other damages, such pain and suffering, which can be more difficult to quantify, but are still provided as a way to make you whole after the incident.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the other individual for particularly egregious behavior. These damages are less common, and are calculated based on an amount that will most affect the other party, rather than on your out-of-pocket loss. More specifically, you will likely be awarded a large amount of money if the other party is affluent, but only a small amount if they don’t have means.
Punitive damages are unlikely to be awarded in your everyday accident, such as when a person didn’t hit their breaks in time and ran into you. They are only involved in cases where an individual’s unreasonable and reckless behavior causes damages. This can occasionally be paired with criminal behavior, such as an aggravated DUI or road rage incident where the person intentionally hit you.
What do I do after a motorcycle accident?
After you are involved in an accident, you must take immediate action to preserve your rights.
Immediately after the accident
It is important to take pictures of the scene, document your injuries and damages to your property, and seek medical attention.
Taking pictures of the scene helps provide context for the factors that may have contributed to the accident. Was it raining? Was there traffic? Where did the collision occur exactly? Plus, immediately documenting your injuries and damages prevents the other party from claiming that you sustained additional injuries and damages after the accident. This is also why it is important to seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel fine.
One week after the accident
After you have collected this information and settled down from the traumatic experience of being involved in an accident, you need to hire an attorney. It is important that you do this before you talk to any insurance adjusters. Insurance adjusters are hired to settle your case for the lowest amount possible.
They will often tell you that you aren’t entitled to any money, or that you are entitled to far less than you would expect. Don’t negotiate this on your own behalf. You want an experienced attorney to guide you through the process, and give you an idea of whether you have a significant claim.
The Bottom Line
Getting into an accident of any kind is scary, but being on a motorcycle makes it even scarier because you may receive more serious injuries. If you have been in an accident, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced attorney to guide you through your next steps.
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