The first thing anyone should do after a motorcycle accident is to be checked out by a doctor or a hospital. Once they are determined to be okay physically, the second step should be to consult a lawyer just to find out their legal rights, and find out what the lawyer thinks about the case. They should do this even if they don't want to hire a lawyer because the lawyer can advise them as to what steps they need to take next.
Most of the time, after a motorcycle accident, the bike is totaled, and at the very least the person will have to deal with who was at fault and determine the value of the motorcycle.
With most motorcycle accidents, there is an injury; at least a severe road rash, which means they won't be able to go back to work for a period of time, which means they must deal with work issues, which may include some type of short term disability or an income withholding plan to get them over the hump. They will have to deal with the doctors and insurance companies if there is insurance available and make sure medical expenses are paid. If there is no insurance to cover medical expenses, they will have to try to work with the doctors and perhaps ask them to hold off until the case is resolved.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident, you should get an attorney. The first thing to look for is someone who handles these types of cases because motorcycle accidents bring with them a lot of baggage, and the attorney will have to be able to frame the case in the strongest way.
You will also want an attorney who understands the medicine and the injuries, so that they can be a strong advocate for the person, either in the pre-litigation stage with the insurance company or in front of a judge or jury.
The Most Difficult Aspects Of Motorcycle Accident Cases for an Attorney
The difficulty for the attorney it's the same as for the client. It's necessary to overcome the biases that follow motorcyclists, such as the one that says they are reckless just because they are riding a motorcycle. That makes it necessary to frame the case so that the injured motorcyclist is a responsible person.
No matter what, the key is in overcoming the biases of an 80-year old woman on your jury who believes that the bigger the car, the safer you are, and that motorcyclists who are injured deserve it because they shouldn't ride motorcycles.
It's also necessary and difficult to remove the emotional aspects of the case and get the client to focus. Sometimes it's necessary to explain to the client that the other side sees the case in a very non-emotional way.
To the insurance company, the case is a business decision to them, which is difficult for the injured person to understand because their injury is very personal, but they have to be able to see it that way. They have to be able to look at the pros and cons, as well as the risks and the benefits of going forward to trial or settlement.
The lawyer's job is never to force a client to resolve a case. The lawyer's job is to gather all the information, make the strongest case possible and counsel their client on what they believe is the best course of action. However, ultimately, the case is always the client's and what to do is always the client's decision.
Important Things to Remember About Motorcycle Accidents
Those who have been involved in a motorcycle accident should be checked out and treated by a doctor before anything else. After that, they should speak to a lawyer. They should also take plenty of photos of the accident scene, as well as the motorcycle, the other vehicles involved, and themselves, preferably within the first 72 hours of the accident.
By doing that, you've preserved the evidence that you might need to have a successful claim.
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Most personal injury lawyers will work on your case on a contingency basis. If you have plenty of money and can afford to pay between $250 and $400 per hour, you can always try to negotiate that with the attorney, but most people don't have that kind of money going into a motorcycle accident case.
The benefit of a contingency fee contract is that the attorney takes on some of the risks. The attorney will spend all of the money upfront to help you, and if you lose and there is no recovery, you pay nothing. On the other hand, in some contingency fee cases, the lawyer may get a higher fee than you would really like to pay, which is the nature of the contingency and risk assessment.
What Are the Main Concerns About An Initial Consultation?
The first thing everyone wants to know is, “Do I have a case?” Most of the time, if they have the accident report or if I'm familiar with the accident scene and they tell me the facts, I am able to say whether or not they have a case.
When it comes to determining how much the case is worth. I can't tell them that on the initial visit, because that hinges on a number of factors, including the amount of insurance the other side is carrying. A case may seem as if it's worth a million bucks, but if the other person only has a $25,000 insurance policy and no assets, you'll get $25,000.
We will also look at the nature and extent of the injuries, how much the medical bills are, what type of medical treatment will be needed, whether the injury will affect their work and whether they will lose their ability to earn money in the future, among other factors.
My advice is, if you meet with a lawyer initially and they tell you exactly how much your case is worth, hire that lawyer immediately and make them write that number on a piece of paper, make them sign it. Either that or get up and leave that attorney's office immediately.
Can An Attorney Help Negotiate Down Medical or Hospital Bills?
In Indiana, hospital bills related to accidents are covered under the Indiana Hospital Lien Statute, which gives hospitals what we call ‘super-priority.' We can negotiate the hospital lien, but we don't have as much wiggle room as we do with doctors.
It's much easier to negotiate the medical liens with doctors, which is why I prefer that my clients stay outside the hospital system for medical treatment after the initial emergency room visit.
Many hospitals have purchased clinics and they have big physicians' groups. When you go to a physician as part of the hospital group, they go ahead and do all of the diagnostic testings at the hospital which means you'll be charged full price, whereas if you go somewhere outside the hospital system, you'll be charged a lot less, perhaps even half as much. The same is true of physical therapy. If the hospital does it, it will be expensive, but outside of the hospital system, it'll be far less. That's why I try to keep clients out of the hospital system.
What If the Other Party is Uninsured or Under-Insured?
If you purchased uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage on your motorcycle insurance policy, you're protected. It's not required, though, so make sure you're covered. Many of those driving on the road with you don't have adequate insurance to pay for your injuries if something happens.
I can't tell you how many potential clients have been busted up on motorcycles, incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, but there was nothing I could have done for them because they had no insurance and the other party was judgment-proof.
What If a Loved One Dies from Injuries Incurred in a Motorcycle Accident?
If a loved one passed away because of a motorcycle accident and it was somebody else's fault, it's possible to make a wrongful death claim depending on the circumstances. For example, if there is a spouse or kids, those will be factors, as the will or the age of the decedent, or the relationship between the decedent and their siblings or parents.
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Sometimes, motorcyclists ride that centerline in between two lanes of traffic, or they weave in and out of traffic because they have a fast motorcycle, and they want to get where they're going quickly. Everyone has seen that, including the members of your jury.
What about the rider who does a wheelie as they go down the highway? Put simply, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you will have to demonstrate to the jury that you are not one of “those motorcycle riders,” and that you have done everything right, because that is the bias you have to overcome and why it's important to have a lawyer in motorcycle accident cases.
There is no way to predict how long it will take to settle a case because there's no rhyme or reason to the process. The two biggest factors are whether there is a dispute over the facts of the accident, in lawyer talk, a dispute over liability.
The second factor that can affect the length of time a case takes has to do with the nature and extent of the injuries and how long the injured person needs to be treated. If there's enough insurance available, you probably don't want to settle a case if the client is still treating or needs additional treatment, because once you settle the case, the opposing party's insurance company won't pay you additional money if you need more medical care.
The most common type of motorcycle accident happens when a motorcycle is driving down the road and another vehicle pulls out from a side street or a shopping center and simply doesn't see the motorcycle and just crashes into the motorcycle. Usually, it's because they weren't looking for the bike and looked right past the rider.
Once the person is done with medical treatment or has reached what is called maximum medical improvement, they have to put together all available information and make a claim against either the defendant's or the at-fault party's insurance company, whichever is appropriate.
If we can get fair value for the case and it's something that the client decides that they want to accept, then we can resolve the claim and try to negotiate some of the bills with the healthcare providers. If the insurance company is being unfair, the client must then decide if they want to take the next step and file a lawsuit.
If they choose to file a lawsuit, we have to go through the litigation process, including written discovery, answering questions under oath and depositions, which are oral statements. The client may have to be examined by a doctor chosen by and attend several court hearings. Before the client gets a trial date, the court will require them to go to mediation, which is an informal settlement conference with another lawyer who is a neutral third party. If the case does not resolve in mediation, then you move toward trial.
That's the process.
Once, a client on a motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver, was taken to a hospital, spent many days in the hospital and incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. The person who hit him was pretty much uninsured, and the motorcyclist had no health insurance, nor did he have uninsured motorist coverage on his bike. Basically, the motorcyclist was out of luck and stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and problems for the rest of his life.
In another case, a motorcyclist fractured his tibial plateau, which is the bottom part of the knee, needed surgery and developed arthritis in his knee, but the accident was a clear-cut accident and he ended up getting a fair amount.
Most motorcycle injuries are to the head or the lower extremities, including fractures of the femur, knee or ankle. They can often be severe orthopedic injuries or head injuries.
Once, an NYPD police office was riding his motorcycle in Daytona Beach when a lady turned left in front of him, causing an accident that caught his led between the bike and the car. The damage to his leg was so severe, he lost it in an above-the-knee amputation. Another client suffered a severe ankle injury when it became caught in the peg when the bike went down.
So, those are the types of injuries that we see most often.
On the personal injury side, the issue isn't what you were riding, but whether the driver of the other vehicle was negligent and whether that negligence caused the injuries.
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Not wearing a helmet is not against the. However, the other side will argue that not wearing a helmet contributed to your injuries, or made them more severe, so it is a hurdle that you have to overcome. If you weren't wearing a helmet and you're claiming a head injury, the jury could hold that against you, even if you would have been injured if you wore the helmet on.
Motorcycle accident cases have a tendency to be more of a battle than car accident cases because jurors tend to be biased against those who drive motorcycles and consider them reckless, especially if you were riding without a helmet, even though doing so is not illegal in Indiana.
Jurors tend to be more biased than judges because judges are professionals, and better able to remove their personal feelings from the equation. Insurance companies know you will have several hurdles to overcome when you get to court. You, as a motorcycle rider, will have to show that you are responsible, that you took motorcycle education courses, and that you were wearing good leather to protect yourself. If it was a summer day and you were wearing shorts, flip-flops and no helmet, even if the accident wasn't your fault, you have a lot of biases to overcome.
Typically, there are two types of clients; the type, usually an occasional motorcycle rider who is involved in an accident and never gets on one again, and the type who is a diehard motorcyclist who would never get off the motorcycle because they just love the freedom of riding. In most cases, clients are either in one camp or the other; very few fall in between.
That can happen whether you wear a helmet or not, but the rider who doesn't wear a helmet will always give the defense an opening, allowing them to claim that not wearing a helmet is why you have a skull fracture.
But even if there is no skull fracture, and you're wearing a helmet, many people will be injured by the concussive force of the helmet hitting the pavement. Sometimes, if first responders don't take the helmet off quickly enough after the accident, your brain could be damaged even more, due to pressure from hydrocephalus, which is a fluid buildup around the brain.
For more information on Aggravating Factors for Motorcycle Accident Cases, please call (219) 690-8897 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you're seeking.
Always see a doctor first, because your health is the most important thing. Besides, if your first stop is a lawyer's office, and the insurance company or jury finds out, it looks bad. People always cop an attitude when it can be inferred that the lawyer convinced you to file a claim.
Most people injured in a motorcycle accident need immediate treatment, whether it's for a road rash, broken bones, internal injuries or even a head injury, whether or not they were wearing a helmet. In any accident involving a motorcycle, there are many health concerns, because you don't have the protection of a 3,000 to 5,000-pound car or truck.
Journals are not usually a great idea, because the court can require that you give it to the defense, which gives the defense lawyer ammunition to go after the client. If you have 25 pages in which you say everything you did after the accident, the defense attorney can ask you 15 questions about every entry during a deposition, and they could possibly find something they can use that way. By keeping a journal, you're doing their job for them.
As far as I'm concerned, I prefer that the client reports everything to me and lets me keep that information because the information is then protected under attorney-client privilege. That's the case even if you don't hire the first attorney you speak with. Every lawyer you talk to is covered by attorney-client privilege and everything you say to the lawyer is protected.
As a general rule, it shouldn't matter whether or not you were licensed or not at the time of the accident, whether it's a motorcycle accident or a car accident, and such information is not admissible at trial. There are some exceptions to the general rule in some places, especially with regard to a young, inexperienced driver, where the lack of experience may be a cause of the accident.
However, if you've been driving for 10-15 years, whether or not you've had speeding tickets or your license was suspended or revoked for something will not come into evidence, because the prior tickets or suspended license has nothing to do with the facts of the specific accident. Whether or not you had a license is irrelevant to the fact that a guy crashed into you.
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Indiana is a fault state so no-fault is not a consideration. In a no-fault state like Florida, motorcycles are not covered under mandatory PIP or personal injury protection benefits. In a no-fault state like Florida, if a motorcyclist wants no-fault coverage, they would have to buy an additional rider on their motorcycle policy. If they own a standard vehicle and a motorcycle, the car's PIP or no-fault insurance will not apply to the motorcycle the same as it would if they were driving another car. For example, if you were to borrow a friend's car, your current insurance would follow you and provide coverage if something happened. However, that is not the case if you ride a motorcycle under some insurance policies.
That depends upon the facts. Their insurance company may be relying on the police report, and police reports can often be wrong.
If the injury is severe enough, you should really speak with a lawyer, so that he or she can thoroughly investigate the scene and speak to witnesses. No one should believe what the other party's insurance company tells you.
As for the police report, keep in mind that most of the time, the police officers were not at the scene and didn't see the accident; sometimes their investigation is not up to speed. In fact, in some instances, the police report has been completely wrong.
In one of my cases, the accident happened at night and my client was severely injured. When I went to the accident scene, I just stood there for 20 minutes and realized there was no possible way the accident happened the way the police report read. I hired an accident Reconstructionist, who agreed, and we ended up with a very good result.
Absolutely! In fact, you or someone else at the scene should take a lot of photos as soon as possible after the accident. The standard for evidence is that a photo fairly and accurately represents whatever is in the photo, so all you would have to do is to testify that the photos fairly and accurately represent what you saw at that moment.
In theory, your insurance company should handle everything, but hiring an attorney is your best protection. The other party's insurance company owes you no duty to make sure you are treated fairly; their only duty is to the person or people they insure and their company's bottom line, so they will want to settle the case as quickly as possible for as little money as possible. Quite often, insurance companies just don't play fair, and you may need to create a more level playing field. If you're involved in a motorcycle accident and just sprained your ankle and your medical bills are only a couple of grand, you might want to handle that case yourself. However, if the injuries are severe, which is common with a motorcycle accident, you need to hire a lawyer. Not only do you have to worry about insurance companies; you also have to worry about the jury. The general public believes that people who ride motorcycles are reckless, so you have to deal with a high level of bias against you when you're injured in a motorcycle accident.