Bagen Law Firm | May 20, 2023 | Motorcycle accident
While riding a motorcycle can provide freedom, recreation, and a greener, less expensive way to travel, it comes with many risks. Motorcyclists are at an increased risk of being involved in an accident as well as an increased risk of sustaining injuries in an accident. Injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident can be severe, debilitating, and even life-threatening.
When a motorcycle accident happens because of someone other than the rider, which happens frequently, the injured rider can seek compensation for their injuries from the responsible party. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help victims file a claim and pursue a full and fair financial recovery. This is not something an injury victim should attempt on their own.
Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Injuries, especially serious injuries, are common in motorcycle accidents. Riders and their passengers are more exposed to the open road. They don’t have the safety equipment and features afforded to those in passenger vehicles. Common motorcycle injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A TBI can lead to permanent and even fatal injuries. Even motorcyclists who are wearing helmets can suffer these types of injuries. Recovery from a TBI can take several months or years.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia.) This catastrophic injury typically results in permanent disability for the victim. The costs for this type of injury can be astronomical, which also takes a huge emotional toll on the injured party and their family.
Blunt-force trauma (an impact from something hard that doesn’t break the skin) or penetrative trauma (something sharp, such as broken glass or other debris, breaks through the skin) can cause damage to internal organs and life-threatening internal bleeding.
Motorcycle riders can get their leg caught under their bike when it falls in a crash, resulting in broken legs, ankles, or feet. Broken wrists and arms can happen when riders catch themselves to break their fall. They can also fracture their hips and pelvis in an accident.
While the term may not sound severe, road rash can sometimes be quite serious. These skin abrasions can occur when a motorcyclist makes contact with the road surface in an accident. Sometimes the injury is much more severe than just an external abrasion. Road rash requires prompt medical attention and is highly susceptible to infection and permanent scarring.
Other types of motorcycle accident injuries also include the following:
- Neck injuries. Strain, whiplash, fractures, cervical radiculopathy, and disc injury
- Back injuries. Sprain, strain, fracture, disc injury, spinal cord injury, and annular tear
- Chest injuries. Bruised and broken ribs may take weeks to heal and possibly puncture a lung or damage other internal organs resulting in life-threatening and sometimes fatal injuries.
- Shoulder, arm, and wrist injuries. Strain, sprain, fracture, dislocation, rotator cuff tear, carpal tunnel syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome
- Foot, knee, and leg injuries. Laceration, fracture, sprain, dislocation, hip injury
- Knee injury. ACL tear, PCL tear, meniscus tear, MCL tear
- Psychological injuries. Depression, fear of driving, nightmares, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Get Medical Attention After a Motorcycle Accident
After an injury accident, you or someone else who is able should call 911 immediately. This step might seem unnecessary to mention. However, many people leave the accident scene, assuming they are fine, only to find out hours or days later that they are not. Alternatively, they assume someone else has already called for help when in reality, no one has. Keep in mind that your body is much more important than your motorcycle.
Right after the accident, your body typically experiences a surge of adrenaline that causes you to be in fight or flight mode. This is a natural response to a traumatic event. However, it also can mask pain and other symptoms of an injury.
Too many motorcycle accident victims make the mistake of believing they are fine if they can get up and walk around. Serious injuries such as internal bleeding and organ damage may not reveal symptoms right after the accident. Therefore, a medical professional must diagnose them.
Not only is this hazardous to your health and well-being, but it also doesn’t help any potential legal injury claim you might have. It’s imperative to have your accident and injuries documented in your medical record as soon as possible after the accident. If you don’t take this step, the insurance company can argue that your injuries occurred from some other incident after your motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle Accident Injury Damages
Severe bodily injuries aren’t the only issue an injured motorcyclist will have to deal with after a motorcycle accident. More specifically, the above physical injuries can lead to physical pain, emotional anguish, and suffering. They might also cause disabilities and impairments that prevent the motorcyclist from returning to their everyday life, such as working and supporting themselves, participating in recreation and hobbies, or even keeping normal relationships.
The economic and non-economic losses of such an experience can be expansive. The good news is that skilled motorcycle accident lawyers can help you recover your damages.
Your damages will vary depending on the details of your accident and injuries.
Most injured motorcyclists have a legal right to seek financial recovery from the party liable for their accident for:
- Emergency transport or ambulance services
- Emergency department expenses
- Doctor, surgeon, and anesthesiologist bills
- Medical imaging, such as X-rays or MRIs and testing,
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Long and short-term hospital stays
- Assistive medical devices, including crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs
- Physical therapy (PT)
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Lost income
- Lost employment benefits such as earning PTO or retirement
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
Sometimes, injured individuals will have ongoing damages, even after their case settles.
If your injuries will require future treatment, or if you need continued care, your motorcycle accident lawyer can add these damages to your claim:
- Decreased quality of life, for example, you can’t participate in the activities or hobbies you used to enjoy before the motorcycle accident
- Estimated cost for future personal care, whether in your home or a residential facility
- Estimated cost for future medical treatment
- Estimated cost for physical therapy or rehabilitation services
In addition, anyone who sustains a permanent disability has the right to compensation for adaptive modifications needed for their home. For example, someone who is paralyzed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident might need a ramp, railings, and adjusted counter heights.
Some injured motorcyclists can’t resume their regular job duties, or they have to accept a lesser job role due to their accident injuries.
They might have the right to recover damages for:
- The projected value of their future lost income
- The projected value of their future lost benefits
- Their decreased earning capacity
How Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident
Negligence refers to the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person should have acted in the same or similar circumstances. Generally, a victim must establish the elements of negligence to have a successful personal injury claim.
If you or your attorney can’t prove all of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence, your claim will be unsuccessful. The elements of negligence include the following:
Duty: A legal obligation almost always exists for all drivers to exercise reasonable care toward bikers on the road.
Breach of duty: The driver or other liable party must have breached or violated their duty to exercise reasonable care. Suppose a driver disobeys a traffic law and hits a motorcyclist. In that case, the court might assume that the at-fault driver violated their duty of care under a legal theory known as negligence per se.
Cause-in-fact: The injured motorcyclist must establish that the driver caused their injuries and damages. Lawyers often refer to this as “but-for” causation; the injured motorcyclist must prove that, but for the driver’s actions, their injuries and damages shouldn’t have occurred.
Proximate cause: The at-fault party in a motorcycle crash will be legally and financially responsible, also called liable, for the injuries suffered by the victim that were foreseeable as a result of the accident. In most motorcycle accident lawsuits, serious injuries are categorized as the foreseeable consequences of negligent driving, thereby establishing proximate cause.
Damages: Injured bikers must prove that their accident caused them to suffer harm, such as bodily injury, economic losses, or damage to their motorcycle and other property.
Proving Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
You must support your motorcycle claim with documentation and evidence. These are critical components of a speedy and successful claim. When you hire a motorcycle accident lawyer, they will obtain evidence and research your accident to determine who is to blame and their liability for your injuries.
The evidence necessary to prove your claim and receive a full and fair recovery can include:
- Accident reports from law enforcement agencies
- Pictures and videos from the accident scene, either of the vehicles involved and the crash itself, and the surroundings
- Eyewitness statements
- Medical records
- Lost income statements
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses like prescriptions or medical equipment
- Accident scene reconstruction reports
For many reasons, you must reach out to a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. One of these reasons is that the sooner they can begin the investigation, the better the chances are for recovering crucial evidence that others might lose or conceal over time.
To support the value of any required future medical treatment, long-term care, diminished earning capacity, or disabilities, your attorney can rely on various subject matter experts to give their professional opinions, including:
- Medical experts can provide testimony about the nature and extent of treatment you will require in the future
- Economic experts are used to estimating the lost value of future opportunities, income, and benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation specialists give expert opinions about your decreased earning capacity and any special accommodations you need to do your job
- Lifecare planning experts can present information on the type and extent of future care you will require if you cannot care for yourself
Legal Options After a Motorcycle Crash Injury
After a motorcycle crash, you have two options for pursuing compensation for your damages. You can file a personal injury insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Injured individuals must understand the difference between filing an insurance claim and pursuing civil litigation.
If you decide to file an insurance injury claim, you file the claim with your insurance carrier or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Once filed, the insurance claims adjuster assigned to your case manages your claim.
You can negotiate with them until the insurance company offers you a financial settlement to compensate you for not just your physical injuries but also your financial losses. If you accept an insurance settlement, you must sign a legal release agreeing to relinquish your right to file a lawsuit against the liable driver.
An insurance claim is almost always the first course of action after a motorcycle crash. If the claims negotiation and settlement process isn’t successful, and you can’t negotiate a fair settlement for your injuries, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit.
A lawsuit is a civil action used by the injured party to make a demand for monetary damages that account for the extent and severity of their injuries and other losses from the accident. Many of these types of lawsuits reach a settlement agreement before going to trial. Still, some end up in a courtroom where a judge or jury will decide the compensation the injured party should receive.
Call an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today for Help
Motorcycle accident injuries are costly, both financially and in other ways. No matter what type of injuries you’ve suffered in a motorcycle accident, you deserve to receive full compensation for your damages. Getting full and fair compensation begins with a consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today for help with your financial recovery.