Personal Injury

Motorcycle Crashes: Legal Strategies for Recovering Compensation After a Wreck

March 20, 2024

Discover effective legal strategies for recovering compensation after a motorcycle wreck. From understanding common crash causes to navigating insurance claims, third-party liability claims, and personal injury lawsuits, learn how to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.

Motorcycle crashes are more common than we'd like to admit. Despite motorcycles making up a small percentage of vehicles on the road, statistics show that motorcyclists are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that per mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely to die in a crash compared to occupants of cars.

Knowing your rights and options can make all the difference in the aftermath of a motorcycle crash. From navigating insurance claims to pursuing personal injury lawsuits, there are legal avenues available to help injured riders seek the compensation they deserve. By arming yourself with knowledge and understanding the legal process, you can take proactive steps to protect your rights and secure the financial support needed to recover and move forward.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

Common Road hazard: Pothole, loose gravel & crumbling curb

Driver Negligence: One of the leading causes of motorcycle crashes is driver negligence. This can include behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, failure to yield, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When drivers fail to exercise caution and share the road safely with motorcyclists, the results can be catastrophic.

Road Hazards: Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to road hazards such as potholes, debris, uneven pavement, and slippery surfaces. These hazards can cause riders to lose control of their motorcycles or suffer serious injuries in a crash. Additionally, road construction zones and poorly maintained roads can pose significant risks for motorcyclists.

Vehicle Defects: Defective motorcycle parts or equipment can also contribute to crashes. Common defects may include brake failures, tire blowouts, and faulty steering mechanisms. When a motorcycle's components fail unexpectedly, riders may lose control of their bikes and be unable to avoid collisions with other vehicles or obstacles.

Potential Injuries and Toll on Riders: The potential injuries sustained by motorcyclists in crashes can be severe and life-altering. These injuries may include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, road rash, and internal organ damage. In addition to the physical pain and suffering, motorcycle crash victims often experience emotional trauma and psychological distress. Furthermore, the financial burden of medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and motorcycle repairs can take a significant toll on riders and their families.

Seeking Compensation Through Insurance Claims

Filing Insurance Claims

Report the Accident: As soon as possible after the crash, report the accident to your insurance company. Provide them with essential details, such as the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as the names and contact information of any other parties involved.

Gather Evidence: Collect evidence to support your claim, including photographs of the accident scene, damage to your motorcycle, and your injuries. Obtain copies of the police report and any medical records related to your treatment.

Document Expenses: Keep detailed records of all expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages due to time off work.

Communicate with Insurers: Communicate openly and honestly with both your own insurance company and the at-fault driver's insurer. Provide them with accurate information about the accident and your injuries, but avoid making any statements that could be used against you later.

Maximizing Compensation

Know Your Coverage: Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy and understand the types of coverage available to you, including liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage.

Document Damages: Provide documentation of all damages, including medical bills, repair estimates for your motorcycle, and estimates of future medical expenses or lost earning capacity.

Be Prepared to Negotiate: Insurance adjusters may try to minimize the value of your claim in order to protect their company's interests. Be prepared to negotiate for fair compensation, and consider seeking assistance from a skilled attorney if necessary.

Consider Legal Assistance: If you encounter difficulties with the insurance claims process or believe you are not being offered fair compensation, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney experienced in motorcycle crash cases. An attorney can advocate for your rights, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

Third-Party Liability Claims

Third-party liability claims arise when parties other than the at-fault driver are responsible for a motorcyclist's injuries. These parties may include:

Government Entities: If poor road conditions or inadequate maintenance contributed to the accident, injured motorcyclists may pursue claims against government entities responsible for road construction and maintenance.

Vehicle Manufacturers: In cases where a defective motorcycle part or equipment malfunction contributed to the accident, injured motorcyclists may pursue claims against vehicle manufacturers or other parties responsible for designing, manufacturing, or distributing the defective product.

Other Negligent Parties: Depending on the circumstances of the accident, injured motorcyclists may have grounds to pursue claims against other negligent parties, such as property owners, contractors, or subcontractors whose actions or failures contributed to the crash.

Advantages of Third-Party Claims

Potential for Higher Compensation: Third-party liability claims often allow injured motorcyclists to pursue higher compensation than insurance settlements alone. By holding additional parties accountable for their negligence, riders may be able to recover damages for a wider range of losses, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages.

Additional Damages: In addition to economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, third-party liability claims may allow injured motorcyclists to pursue non-economic damages that are not typically covered by insurance, such as compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.

Multiple Avenues for Recovery: Pursuing a third-party liability claim alongside an insurance claim provides injured motorcyclists with multiple avenues for recovery. This can increase the likelihood of securing fair compensation for their injuries and losses and ensure that negligent parties are held accountable for their actions.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Injured motorcyclists may file personal injury lawsuits against parties whose negligence or wrongful actions contributed to their accidents and injuries. These parties may include:

Reckless Drivers: Motorcyclists injured in accidents caused by reckless or negligent drivers may have grounds to file personal injury lawsuits against those drivers. Examples of reckless driving behaviors include speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, and aggressive maneuvers.

Entities Responsible for Dangerous Road Conditions: If hazardous road conditions such as potholes, uneven pavement, or inadequate signage contributed to a motorcycle crash, injured motorcyclists may pursue personal injury lawsuits against government entities or other parties responsible for maintaining safe roadways.

Burden of Proof and Potential Compensation

In a personal injury lawsuit, injured motorcyclists (plaintiffs) must establish the following elements to prove their case:

Duty of Care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to act reasonably and avoid causing harm.  

Breach of Duty: The defendant breached this duty of care through negligent actions or omissions.

Causation: The defendant's breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff's injuries and damages.

Damages: The plaintiff suffered compensable damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident.

If successful in proving negligence, injured motorcyclists may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

- Medical Expenses: Compensation for past and future medical treatment related to the injuries sustained in the accident.

- Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to time off work during recovery.

- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the injuries.

- Punitive Damages: In cases of egregious misconduct or willful negligence, courts may award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.

Legal Assistance and Advocacy

Importance of Skilled Legal Representation

Specialized Knowledge: Personal injury attorneys with experience in motorcycle crash cases possess specialized knowledge of the laws and regulations governing motor vehicle accidents. They understand the unique challenges faced by injured motorcyclists and can leverage this knowledge to build strong cases on their behalf.

Advocacy for Rights: A skilled attorney will serve as a fierce advocate for the rights of injured motorcyclists, fighting tirelessly to ensure that their voices are heard and their interests are represented. They will work to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions and pursue maximum compensation for their clients' injuries and losses.

Navigating the Legal Process: The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming, with insurance claims, legal proceedings, and negotiations with insurance companies all vying for attention. A personal injury attorney can navigate the complexities of the legal process on behalf of injured motorcyclists, guiding them through each step and providing invaluable support and guidance along the way.

How an Attorney Can Help

Case Evaluation: An attorney will conduct a thorough evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the motorcycle accident, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and assessing the extent of the injuries and damages suffered by the motorcyclist.

Legal Strategy: Based on their evaluation, an attorney will develop a strategic legal plan tailored to the unique circumstances of the case. This may involve pursuing insurance claims, negotiating settlements, or filing personal injury lawsuits against negligent parties.

Advocacy and Negotiation: Throughout the legal process, an attorney will serve as a strong advocate for the rights of injured motorcyclists, negotiating with insurance companies and opposing parties to secure fair compensation for their clients. They will fight to ensure that injured motorcyclists are treated fairly and receive the compensation they deserve.

Maximizing Compensation: An attorney will work diligently to maximize compensation for injured motorcyclists, taking into account all relevant factors such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future rehabilitation needs. They will pursue every available avenue for compensation to ensure that their clients receive full and fair restitution for their injuries and losses.