There are mutual incentives for all parties involved to avoid the time and financial obligations that trials demand, which is why almost all motorcycle accident cases result in settlement.
Getting the most out of your motorcycle accident settlement begins by learning what to expect and how to navigate the process and what you can do to improve the settlement you get.
What Is a Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
It is rare for someone suffering physical injuries or property damage in a motorcycle accident to file a claim for compensation and have the insurance company in total agreement with how the accident occurred and the extent of the damages suffered. This is the reason many claims result in lawsuits where the parties ask a judge or a panel of jurors to resolve the dispute.
Motorcycle accident settlements can occur at any time during the lawsuit process if the parties agree to resolve the dispute on terms that are acceptable to each of them. Settlements take time to negotiate, but when a settlement is reached, it represents an end to the dispute.
The Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement
The average settlement value of a motorcycle accident is impossible to define in a productive way. It’s akin to asking “What is the average cost of a motorcycle?.” That depends on what kind of motorcycle, the condition of the motorcycle, the time of year, etc.
Don’t waste your time with people claiming to have useful settlement “averages”. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident and are interested in determining what potential settlement values you may be entitled to, contact us here and we’ll do the work for you.
How Do I Get Started With My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Motorcycle accidents can result in a claim for personal injuries to the rider and passenger. There is also a claim for property damage if necessary.
Both personal injury and property damage claims begin by contacting the insurer of the party whose vehicle collided with your motorcycle.
If you carry collision coverage on your motorcycle and there was only property damage, the claim is made to your insurer.
Motorcycle Claims Adjustment
Claims adjusters will always try to limit the amount they pay claimants. It’s always better to speak to a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer as soon after the accident as possible. In addition to obtaining valuable advice, a consultation could help you decide if the amount of damages, particularly in cases involving only property damage, makes it worthwhile to retain the services of a lawyer.
Here’s a separate article on How to File a Motorcycle Accident Insurance Claim in case you’d like to learn more.
Will an Insurance Company Settle If I Was at Fault?
Generally speaking, yes.
Even if you believe you were at fault in causing or contributing to an accident, you might still be able to make a claim for compensation against the other party. A lawyer can advise you about the role of contributory negligence under the laws in your state.
Contributory negligence means the party, known as the “plaintiff,” who is seeking compensation contributed in some way to causing the accident or to his or her own serious injuries.
For example, a motorcycle operator who fails to comply with a local helmet law and suffers a head injury in a collision caused by the driver of another vehicle could have the compensation awarded by a jury or by a judge reduced by the percentage of fault jurors or a judge place on the lack of a helmet.
Visit our Motorcycle Accident Causes hub for detailed information on common accident causes.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Claim?
Agreeing on a motorcycle accident settlement depends upon how long it takes for all parties in the case to complete their investigations and other preliminary work to achieve a clear understanding of the evidence supporting fault and damages.
Having a clear understanding of the damages and the evidence available to prove their existence is equally as important for the plaintiff as it is for the defense. The last thing an injured plaintiff wants to do is settle a claim for personal injuries without knowing what, if any, medical care will be needed in the future.
Once a case is settled, any future medical bills or other expenses, such as physical therapy, become the responsibility of the plaintiff. This makes it essential for the injured party to anticipate future medical needs before agreeing to settle the claim.
Motorcycle Accident Settlements With Property Damage Claims
Once fault is established, the only issue in a claim for damage to a motorcycle is the cost of repairs or replacement. Most insurers want you to provide an estimate from a third-party professional before they schedule an inspection of the vehicle by an adjuster.
If the market value of your motorcycle is less than the estimated cost of repairs, a decision might be made to offer you the motorcycle’s value instead of paying to have it repaired.
If you are not certain of the value of your motorcycle, there are guides available on the internet to help you. NADA and Kelley Blue Book are two of the guides frequently used by owners and insurance adjusters for cars and motorcycles.
Assessing Potential Unrelated Property Damages
A common dispute arising in motorcycle property damage claims has to do with damage unrelated to the accident. There could be rust or other evidence spotted by an insurance adjuster leading to the conclusion that it was there before the most recent accident, so the insurance company refuses to pay for it.
Recent photographs of your motorcycle can give you a decided edge in negotiating a settlement for property damage.
Motorcycle accident settlement discussions in property damage claims usually occur soon after the motorcycle is inspected by a claims adjuster. If your claim is filed under your collision coverage, fault in causing the accident is not an issue. This is not the case when you are seeking payment from the insurer for the other party. Even if the evidence shows their insured was at fault in causing the accident, adjusters will look for any excuse to pass as much of the responsibility on to you.
For example, collisions between cars and motorcycles frequently occur when the motorcycle is making a left turn across the lane in which the car is traveling or making a right turn to enter the flow of traffic. Adjusters routinely attempt to place some of the responsibility upon the motorcyclist. This can lead to protracted negotiations and could force a motorcyclist to accept less than the full cost of repairs unless the person is willing to go to court.
What Factors Help You Decide Whether or Not to Settle a Claim?
Two key questions personal injury attorneys need to be answered before advising clients whether or not to settle are: What is the likelihood of prevailing at trial, and how much might the jury award in damages?
Advantages of Motorcycle Accident Settlements
Here are some of the many advantages of settling your motorcycle accident claim:
- Guaranteed Compensation: The money from a settlement is guaranteed once it is agreed to by the parties. Depending upon the amount of insurance coverage the defendant has, a verdict in excess of the policy limits results in a judgment for the balance that you must collect through various collection procedures. Nothing guarantees recovery beyond what the insurance company pays. Perhaps the defendant has few or no assets or the assets are protected from collection, so the amount actually received by the plaintiff would be dramatically less than the actual jury award.
- Financial Resources: There’s a significant financial burden for all parties involved when it comes to paying for a trial.
- Time: It can take a while before a case advances far enough on a calendar to be assigned to a judge for trial. Aside from the time, trials cost you more in expenses for expert witnesses and other costs you probably would avoid with a settlement.
- Convenience: Another advantage that a settlement might offer is the opportunity for both the insurance company and the plaintiff to structure it in a way that works best for each of them. For example, instead of receiving the entire settlement amount at one time, a plaintiff might opt for a structured settlement if it’s offered by the insurance carrier.
- Avoiding an Unfavorable Verdict
How Much Is a Good Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident?
A successful settlement will include funds to pay for the following:
- Current and past medical bills related to your treatment
- Expenses related to future medical treatment predicted by your physicians
- Compensation for the wages you lost from being unable to work
- Anticipated lost or diminished earnings due to disability related to the accident
- Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical and emotional pain and discomfort resulting from the accident
There could be other elements of a settlement, such as the availability of punitive damages under the laws of your state, that you should discuss with your attorney. For more information, visit our guide on The Best Questions to Ask When Choosing a Motorcycle Personal Injury Lawyer
Note: Depending upon the circumstances, a settlement might offer options beyond a lump-sum payment. A structured settlement allows the insurance company to purchase an annuity that makes payments to the plaintiff according to an agreed-upon schedule. The total amount received by a plaintiff over the course of the payout period is more than what would have been offered by the insurer through a traditional settlement. This is because the payments to the plaintiff are paid over time allowing the money invested in the annuity to grow. The initial investment in the annuity is less than the total amount of the payments, so the insurer benefits by saving money.
Contact an Attorney About Your Motorcycle Accident Settlement Options
Keep in mind that insurance companies are not on your side, so you need an advocate whose only commitment is to you and your wellbeing. Motorcycle accident attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and insight to help you achieve the best possible settlement of your claim. Visit our motorcycle accident lawyers network to see the top-rated attorneys in your area, or reach out and let us personally find you the best suitable representation for your claim.