Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries or death to the operator or passenger involved. Injuries range from a minimum of road rash, to fractured bones, amputations, head injuries and death. The law governing motorcycle accidents differs greatly from the law governing accidents involving only automobiles. If you, or someone you care about, has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact our law firm for an “instant” FREE and CONFIDENTIAL motorcycle accident case evaluation by completing our online consultation form or contact us to discuss any questions you may have.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Motorcycle Accident Cases
What can I do to protect my interests after a motorcycle accident?
Is motorcycle accident law the same as automobile accident law?
Motorcycle law and automobile law are greatly different. For example, when insuring a motorcycle, the owner cannot purchase first party benefits, such as medical benefits and income loss benefits. In California, this is referred to as Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. In addition, the requirement of sustaining a permanent injury is not required, thus, there is no restriction on recovery for pain and suffering. However, many areas of motorcycle law are in a state of flux. Our courts have yet to decide whether a motorcycle owner who is injured in an accident can stack uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits for the automobiles that are in the owner’s household. Our courts have also not decided whether private health insurers can claim subrogation against the motorcycle owner in the event of recovery.
What are the typical issues that I will face in making a claim for my injuries?
A claim made against another driver or vehicle owner is called a “tort claim.” It is usually based upon the concept of carelessness or negligence, although it can also be based upon an intentional or reckless act. The person who is at fault for causing the accident is referred to as the “tortfeasor” or “defendant.”
Lawyers and insurance adjusters know that the three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after a motorcycle accident are the following:
Liability refers to the question of who is at fault and to what degree. California is a comparative fault state, meaning that your recovery can be reduced by the percent of your own comparative fault. The insurance company representing the person who caused the accident obviously wants to minimize or eliminate the fault of its driver and maximize your degree of comparative fault.
Damages refers to the injuries or losses that were caused by the accident. Damages include past medical bills, future medical bills that you are reasonably certain to incur, past lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, and past and future amounts for the pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other elements of damages.
Insurance coverage is frequently not as simple a determination as might be expected. Often there are disputes over which of several insurance policies are responsible for paying your damages. There are also efforts by the insurance companies to deny or defeat coverage. And, where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM) is involved, there are multiple issues that must be resolved to assure maximum financial recovery. The entire area of insurance coverage is virtually a minefield that is best not entered without a competent and experienced attorney.
How long will my case take?
The answer to this question depends on the complexity of the case. In other words, the last thing we want to do is resolve a case while our client is still healing or does not have a good understanding on what their future medical condition and expenses or losses will be. With that being said, typically the average motorcycle accident claim is resolved within 6 to 12 months after an accident. Once your treating physician places you at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement), which is usually 4 to 6 months after the injuries occur, we then prepare and send out a demand letter for settlement, subject to your approval, to the insurance company, and negotiate the highest possible settlement you are entitled to. Naturally, the estimate of time is subject to fluctuation depending on the facts of the case.
What does MMI mean?
MMI means Maximum Medical Improvement. Simply stated, it is a term used by doctors to describe that your injuries and condition have improved as much as they ever will, or, in other words, you are as good as you are ever going to get.
How much is my case worth?
This is one of the most difficult questions we are often asked. The evaluation of your motorcycle accident case is based on many factors, which include, among other things, the following:
How is my lawyer paid? What if I can’t afford a lawyer?
The Spear Law Firm handles all cases on what is called a “contingency fee” basis. This means that no fees or costs are charged unless we collect money damages for you. All of the consultations with our office are absolutely free. When you receive compensation, meaning we have successfully concluded your case, either by settlement or litigation, our fees are a percentage of the gross settlement. This percentage is agreed upon before we begin work, is in writing, signed by you and the attorneys and is 33 1/3% prior to filing suit and 40% after the lawsuit is filed, up through trial.