How Motorcycle Accident Settlements Are Determined

If you suffered injuries in an accident, you probably want to know the likelihood of a fair settlement for your case and how long it will take to settle. The fact of the matter is that motorcycle accident settlements vary greatly from case to case for several reasons. Your claim could settle in a matter of months, or it could require a few years in court to reach a judgment.

Motorcycle accident settlements depend on the evidence available, the severity of your injuries, and the negligence of the at-fault driver who caused the accident and your injuries.

Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accident victims often suffer severe injuries since motorcycles don’t offer much protection for riders compared to drivers and passengers inside a car. Even riders in full leathers and wearing a DOT-approved helmet can suffer serious injuries in a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle accidents often lead to a wide range of injuries, including:

  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Road rash
  • Eye injuries
  • Concussions
  • Facial trauma
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Limb amputation
  • Death

Minimum Insurance Coverage in California

You can see how the costs from the above injuries might quickly add up between medical bills and time off from work. California is an at-fault insurance claim state, meaning you would file your claim with the liable driver’s insurance company. What kind of insurance coverage can you expect another driver to have?

The minimum required insurance in California includes the following:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability per person in an accident
  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 in property damage liability per accident

If the other driver carries the state minimum in insurance, you must file a lawsuit to recover more than their policy limits. There is also California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program that has even lower limits. Statistics demonstrate that approximately 14-16% of California drivers have no car insurance.

Evidence in Your Motorcycle Accident Claim

Because California is an at-fault insurance claim state, you must prove the other driver was negligent in their actions to cause the accident and your injuries. You will need appropriate evidence to support your claim, including:

  • The police report for the accident
  • Medical bills and records
  • Repair estimates for your bike
  • Pay stubs to determine lost wages and diminished earnings
  • Photos from the accident scene
  • Footage from nearby security cameras
  • Witness statements

Because your injuries are likely to be more severe in a motorcycle accident than in other motor vehicle collisions, you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can after your accident. Your attorney can begin locating witnesses, secure video evidence from nearby businesses, and speak to the insurance adjuster on your behalf.

Types of Damages You Can Pursue for a Motorcycle Accident

If you hope to settle your insurance claim instead of going to court, know that the insurance company will only compensate you for direct economic damages as a result of the accident. These may include the costs of:

  • Property damage to your bike, motorcycle gear, and any other personal belongings damaged in the accident
  • Past and future medical bills due to your injuries
  • Transportation costs to and from your appointments
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages from time off of work
  • Lost or diminished earning capacity due to your injuries

Insurance companies don’t like paying claims and often try to deny or devalue legitimate injury claims. Your motorcycle accident attorney can speak with the insurance adjuster on your behalf to reduce the likelihood of incriminating yourself by accident with a representative from the insurance company.

If you and your attorney can’t reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, you can file your claim in court and pursue additional damages. Many victims reach motorcycle accident settlements before a lawsuit ever goes to court. Additionally, motorcycle accident settlement amounts can be higher in a lawsuit because you can also pursue non-economic damages in court.

Non-economic damages include intangible losses that still have value. Your attorney can help you determine the value of these losses, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium

If the defendant’s actions were reckless or intentional, the court might also award punitive damages meant to punish the wrongdoing and prevent similar behavior. Unlike other states, California does not cap punitive damages.

Determining Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident

You must prove the defendant’s negligence for your motorcycle accident claim in court. Proving negligence requires the following four factors:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant breached said duty
  • You suffered injuries and losses
  • Your losses were a direct result of the defendant’s actions

Drivers owe each other a duty of care to behave responsibly when behind the wheel. A driver who fails to act responsibly breaches that duty. You must be able to link your injuries and losses to the accident and demonstrate that the defendant caused the accident by breaching their duty of care.

California Is a Pure Comparative Negligence State

California follows pure comparative negligence when awarding damages to victims. This means that if you are partly responsible for causing the accident, the court will reduce your award by the amount you contributed to your injuries.

For example, if a driver cut you off merging from another lane and caused you to collide with them, they’re at fault for failing to ensure they had room to merge safely. However, if you were speeding, you would have needed more stopping distance to react, making it unsafe for other drivers around you. The court could say you contributed 40% of the fault to your accident.

If the total award for your accident was $100,000, you would then receive $60,000 based on California’s pure comparative negligence laws.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Law Firm in Orange County

Our firm at Khalil Law Group has years of experience helping victims seeking motorcycle accident settlements. Call us today at (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney in Newport Beach, CA.

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