The Process of Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

After a motorcycle accident, what happens next? Depending on the accident circumstances and who was at fault, you may be able to claim compensation beyond an insurance payout through a lawsuit. 

Having a general understanding of the motorcycle accident lawsuit process can help you feel more confident heading into this endeavor. Whether you’re familiar with lawsuits or have no legal knowledge whatsoever, you’ll want to work with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney throughout the process. Filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit can be complex, but with a lawyer on your side to explain each step, you can know what to expect.

Step 1: Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Representing yourself in a motorcycle accident case simply isn’t worth the risk. If you’re serious about seeking compensation, you’ll hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to guide you through the legal process and represent you in court.

If you’re considering suing after a motorcycle crash, you’ve likely experienced significant injuries. When you work with a reliable attorney, they will take the stress of your accident case off your shoulders. Your attorney can also help you understand whether you have enough evidence for a case to begin with. 

You’ll want to look for an attorney who has specific experience with motorcycle accident claims. A general “personal injury attorney” may not have the right skillset to guide your motorcycle case well. 

Step 2: File a Complaint Against the At-Fault Party

Once you’ve hired an attorney, they can help you start the ball rolling to sue the at-fault party. The first step is to file a complaint with the local court. Your lawyer can help you fill out the necessary paperwork and submit the documentation. 

Then, you will need to select someone to “serve” the papers to the at-fault party. This is the legal process of notifying them of the lawsuit. In California, anyone over 18 who is not involved in the case can serve the papers. 

The defendant will then have 30 days to file their answer with the court. 

Step 3: Complete Discovery and Motion Filings

After filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit, your case will enter the discovery phase, in which the attorneys on both sides collect evidence to support their cases. You and your motorcycle accident attorney will work together to gather as much supporting evidence as possible to show that the other party was responsible for your damages. Evidence may include:

  • Medical records that show the extent of your injuries and prove that they were not present before the accident
  • Police reports detailing the accident circumstances
  • Witness testimonies explaining that the accident was the defendant’s fault
  • Damage analyses showing the extent of the physical damage to your motorcycle
  • Dash cam footage or other camera footage of the accident
  • Photos of the vehicle damage and your injuries

Both attorneys may file pre-trial motions during this stage as well. These are written requests for the judge to make a ruling. Common pre-trial motions include motions to dismiss the case altogether and motions to gain information from the opposing party. 

If the other party files any motions against your case, your attorney can provide documentation opposing these motions. This process can become complicated, so having a competent attorney on your side is crucial to navigate it. 

Step 4: Set the Trial Date

After you have completed the discovery phase and both sides have filed any motions they wish to, the court will set your trial date. In California, trials usually hit the docket anywhere from 12 to 18 months in advance.

Don’t despair if your trial date feels a long way off — this is a normal part of the legal process. You and your attorney will have plenty of time to prepare for the trial, which could improve your outcomes. 

Also, understand that your trial date is not set in stone. The date could change with only a few days’ notice. Try to maintain a flexible attitude while being prepared for any new dates on the docket. 

Step 5: Attend a Pre-Trial Settlement

Many motorcycle accident lawsuits settle out of court. As such, the judge assigned to your case will likely encourage, or even require, you and the defendant to attend a pre-trial settlement meeting. 

In a settlement, you and your attorney will meet with the defendant and their attorney to negotiate a settlement offer. If you’re suing the defendant’s insurance company, a representative from the insurance company will come prepared with the details of your accident and present you with an offer based on your expenses. This offer will likely be higher than any previous offers. 

Your attorney can speak with the other party on your behalf during the settlement process to make sure you approach it strategically. If the settlement offer would cover most or all of your expenses, accepting it may be a good idea, as you can avoid the stress of the actual trial. You can also present a counteroffer if desired. 

Step 6: Attend the Trial

If you do not accept the settlement offer and you have sufficient evidence to support your case, it will go to trial. In California, you have the right to a trial by jury if you choose. Otherwise, a sole judge will determine whether the defendant is negligent and how much to award you. 

You won’t need to testify during the trial unless you want to. The trial will take at least several days, during which time both attorneys will present evidence, call witnesses to testify, and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.

Either party can appeal the judge’s or jury’s decision.

Is Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit a Good Idea?

If your motorcycle accident left you with severe injuries, a lawsuit may provide you with sufficient funds to cover all your expenses and account for pain, suffering, and emotional damage. But if your injuries are minor, filing a claim with the defendant’s insurance company may suffice.

For legal guidance about filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit in Orange County, CA, contact Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 and schedule your free consultation.

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