Why Are Motorcycle Accident Claims More Complicated?
It is an unfortunate fact that motorcycle accident claims can be more complicated than other crashes only involving passenger cars or trucks. This is because in motorcycle accidents, liability can be more hotly contested by the driver of the car or truck involved in the accident, and the rider of the motorcycle involved in the accident can suffer more severe injuries, complicating the calculation of damages.
In some motorcycle accident cases, the driver of the car or truck involved may attempt to avoid liability for the accident by claiming that the rider of the motorcycle was actually at fault. This may be due to a negative perception of motorcycle riders as people who are more likely to take risks and disregard the rules of the road.
A car or truck driver may assume that because they failed to notice the motorcycle, the rider must have been doing something wrong. However, that driver may fail to consider that they did not notice the motorcycle due to their own negligence.
Cases in which the driver of the other car or truck decides to contest liability can become more complicated due to the need to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident. The insurance companies and their lawyers may play on unfair prejudices and stereotypes about motorcyclists and try to shift the blame.
Motorcycle accident claims also can be more complicated because riders can suffer severe injuries that take a long time and a lot of money to recover from. Medical bills following a motorcycle accident can total hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, easily exhausting the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. This means underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and other potential sources of recovery may play an important role.
Compensation for Losses in a Motorcycle Accident
Following a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for multiple kinds of losses. In personal injury cases such as those arising from motorcycle accidents, injured parties usually can claim both economic and non-economic damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate the injured rider for easily calculated financial losses.
Economic damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses such as hospital bills, doctor bills, medicine, physical and occupational therapy, medical equipment, and home renovations to accommodate new disabilities
- Past and future lost wages such as income lost because of missed work and the difference in pre- and post-accident income if a rider is unable to earn the same level of income after the accident
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate a rider for losses that cannot be easily calculated monetarily.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, which compensates a rider for the emotional and mental anguish caused by their injuries
- Loss of quality of life, which compensates a rider for the loss of ability to perform daily tasks or activities they enjoyed prior to their accident
- Loss of companionship, which compensates a rider’s family for the loss of the rider’s companionship and service to their family
In rare cases a rider may be entitled to punitive damages against the at-fault party. However, punitive damages are awarded only in those cases where an at-fault party’s conduct rises to a level of recklessness or intentionality that “shocks the conscience” of a reasonable person.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Maryland or D.C.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights and put yourself in the best position to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident, even if you do not believe at first that your injuries are very serious. A doctor may be able to diagnose injuries through medical examination right after an accident that would not present symptoms until hours, days, or even weeks later. Identifying injuries as soon as possible after an accident can improve your prognosis for recovery, and also allow you to better prove that your injuries were caused by the accident.
If you are physically able, or there is someone you trust at the scene, you should take photographs of the accident and surrounding areas. These photos should include shots of the vehicles involved and the damage they sustained, skid marks on the road, the road’s condition, the weather and lighting, and the traffic controls at the scene of the accident.
You should also document your economic and non-economic damages. Keep copies of all expenses you incur to treat your injuries, and also keep track of the time you miss from work that results in lost wages. You should also keep a journal or diary of how your injuries impact your daily life. This evidence may be critical to supporting a claim for damages for pain and suffering and lost quality of life.
You should contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you are able. You have a limited time under the law to bring a claim for damages arising from a motorcycle accident. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible will give you the maximum amount of time to investigate your accident and work on building your claim.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, you may be contacted by your insurance company and the insurance companies that insure the other drivers involved.
When dealing with insurance companies, you should always remember that they are looking to pay out the least amount they possibly can. As a result, they will try to get you to settle for the least amount of money possible, potentially using the fact that you may be feeling financial pressures from mounting medical bills and lost income to get you to sign a release.
Before you sign any document from an insurance company, you should have it reviewed by an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can advise you as to whether the insurance company is offering you a fair and full settlement.
Insurance companies are looking for anything they can use to justify offering you a low settlement or, ideally from their perspective, nothing at all. Adjusters may seem friendly and concerned, but their main goal is to get you to say something that they can take out of context and twist in order to minimize what the insurance company has to pay.
The best advice for dealing with insurance companies after an accident is to avoid it altogether. You can do that by hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer. When you have an attorney, insurance adjusters must deal with the lawyer, not directly with you.
How Our Charles County Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Can Help
When you’ve been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, your focus is on your physical recovery and making sure that your family is still provided for. As a result, you may not have the time or capacity to also pursue a claim on your own to seek compensation.
Having an aggressive, experienced attorney by your side can help you go after the financial recovery you need and deserve. Charles County motorcycle attorney Matt Trollinger can help you pursue a claim for compensation by investigating your accident and collecting the evidence necessary to demonstrate how the accident occurred and who was responsible.
He can also collect documentation of your losses and calculate the full extent of your damages and try to negotiate a full and fair settlement with the responsible parties so that you have the funds to pay for your medical expenses and take care of yourself and your family. He is also prepared to take your claim to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Because motorcycle riders are exposed in any accident, they are far more likely to suffer severe, debilitating injuries following an accident. Some of the injuries motorcyclists often suffer in accidents include:
- Internal injuries – Riders can suffer damage to internal organs or internal bleeding caused by the blunt force trauma of an accident, or by penetration by a sharp or stiff object during the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries – A rider’s spine and spinal cord can be injured or even severed by the force of an accident, potentially leaving a rider with permanent paraplegia or quadriplegia.
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries – When a rider is knocked over or thrown from the motorcycle in an accident, they may strike their head on the ground or another solid object, causing injuries such as a skull fracture, concussion, or brain bleeding.
- Road rash – Also known as road burn, road rashes are skin abrasions caused when a rider’s skin comes in contact with the road surface when being knocked over or thrown from their motorcycle. Road rash can range from mild scratches to severe lacerations that can result in infections and permanent scarring.
- Bone fractures – Feet, legs, shoulders, arms, and wrists can easily be fractured by a fall from a motorcycle or a motorcycle falling on top of a rider during an accident.
- Soft tissue injuries – In addition to bone fractures, riders can also suffer muscle, tendon, and ligament tears in the joints and extremities due to the force of the impact, or hyperextensions.
Even a rider wearing the appropriate protections, such as full face-shield helmets and riding leathers, can suffer severe injuries in a motorcycle crash.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Maryland and D.C.
Since motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles on the road, they are not as easily spotted by inattentive or negligent drivers. Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Speeding – Speeding gives motorists less time to react to emergencies and increases the risk of serious injuries when a crash occurs.
- Driving under the influence – Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs have reduced reaction times and impaired judgment, greatly increasing the likelihood of an accident.
- Lane-crowding – Drivers may not be aware or may not care that a motorcycle is entitled to the full width of the lane, putting a motorcycle rider at risk of a collision as they attempt to pass the motorcycle in the same lane of travel.
- Rear-ending – Drivers may not appreciate that motorcycles can stop much more quickly than larger vehicles, causing them to follow a motorcycle too closely to safely stop behind them.
- Unsafe left turns – Drivers may fail to signal a left turn or misjudge whether it is safe to complete a left turn across the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
- Unsafe lane change – Drivers may make lane changes without checking their blind spots for motorcycle riders or without signaling.
- Open vehicle doors – Drivers or passengers of vehicles parked along the road may open doors without checking to see if there is oncoming traffic such as a motorcycle rider.
In addition to the negligence of other drivers on the road, motorcycle accidents can be caused by external factors, such as poor road conditions or design, manufacturing, or maintenance defects on the motorcycle that can cause a rider to lose control and get into an accident.
Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Charles County Now
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Charles County or elsewhere in Maryland or Washington D.C., you are likely facing enormous medical bills while also dealing with the financial pressure of missed work and lost income.
When you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you may deserve compensation. An experienced, knowledgeable attorney at Trollinger Law can help you pursue a claim and allow you to focus your time and energy on your recovery.
Talk to our Waldorf motorcycle accident lawyers Matt Trollinger today to learn about your rights and get started on building your claim.