If you are a victim of a motorcycle accident, you may be wondering how much should be the average motorcycle accident settlement in your lawsuit. When approaching your claim, there are some factors that you need to understand first to get what you deserve as a settlement.
In most cases, motorcycle accidents cause severe emotional and physical injuries that eventually lead to financial damage. However, regardless of whether you are at fault or not, you have to face the process of filing for settlement.
According to statistics, about 75% of motorcycle injury cases involve a collision with a car, while the other 25% results from external factors like bad weather. With the high percentage rates, it is obvious that motorcycle accidents are very common.
This article will discuss common issues that will prepare you for your motorcycle accident lawsuit and ensure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of your lack of knowledge in their settlement.
Table of Contents
What Are the Common Injuries that People Face in a Motorcycle Accident?
Riding a motorcycle exposes you to a high risk of a severe accident compared to driving a car since your body is more exposed to the impact. The following are some of the common injuries that motorcyclist face in case of a crash:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are extremely common in motorcycle accidents, and they can potentially lead to permanent damage or even death in severe cases. This exposes you to a high risk of paralysis since the helmets don’t offer protection against injuries. Fortunately, some spinal cord injuries or body paralysis can be treated through physical therapy.
Motorcycles come with helmets as one of the major protective gear, but some motorcyclists do not wear them. Therefore, head injuries are among the most common injuries that people involved in these accidents face.
For motorcycle accidents, brain injuries are among the most serious head injuries. Helmets help absorb the impact, but motorcyclists can still sustain injuries in case of a very severe crash. Severe brain injuries could lead to various complications such as loss of the ability to move, speak, and other important functions. Usually, brain injuries result in substantial rehabilitation costs and medical bills.
Apart from head injuries, leg injuries are the other common type of motorcycle injuries. According to a CDC report (Center for Disease Control), about 30% of injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents occur on the lower extremities. This is because the legs are closer to the impact area and the pavement.
In most motorcycle accidents, the bike might fall on the rider’s legs leading to a more severe injury. Leg injuries involve lacerations and fractures.
This type of injury happens when the victim’s skin slides across the surface of the road or pavement after the impact throws them off the bike. Road rash may cause damages that range from mild cuts or bruises, nerve damage, and deep muscle damage, depending on the victim’s clothing. The debris from the pavement may also lodge itself in your injury leading to prolonged infections, which is a very common issue with this type of injury.
The other part of the body that is exposed to too much danger during an accident is the chest area. This area can also experience a high degree of impact during a crash. Thorax injuries mainly affect the ribs, which houses sensitive organs.
If the ribs suffer severe damage, they can harm other nearby parts leading to internal bleeding. Collapsed or punctured lungs are among the most severe injuries sustained by motorcyclists. This condition may lead to an infection or severe cases of pneumonia.
What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
As much as it is important to know how much your motorcycle accident lawsuit worth is, it is also essential to understand the causes of these accidents. The accident’s cause is an important factor when calling the insurance company to file a settlement case. It helps the insurance company determine the level of fault in any of the parties involved.
The cause of the accident helps the insurance provider build their case and your personal injury lawyer to prepare a good defense in your lawsuit. Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Reckless Driving
This is among the leading causes of injuries and deaths resulting from car and motorcycle accidents. According to statistics, in 2017, about 33% of victims died from over-speeding, while 28% of the total deaths resulted from drunk driving.
Today, motorcyclists have many ways to protect themselves against accidents, especially with new bikes and modern safety gear. However, accidents are still inevitable even when the motorcyclist is fully protected.
- Weather Conditions
The other main cause of accidents is bad weather conditions such as wind, heavy rain, and fog. These conditions are dangerous to motorcyclists because a slight mistake leads to an accident. Bad weather conditions cause less visibility for drivers leading to accidents.
- Bad Traffic Conditions
In most cases, drivers tend to drive carelessly in certain traffic conditions like rush hours, which can be dangerous to motorcyclists. Therefore, even if you ride safely, you may still be exposed to dangers from bad drivers around.
- Fixed Objects on the Road
Most motorcyclists tend to ride at high speeds, which makes concentrating on the road critically important. If you fail to focus while on the road, you ram the bike into fixed objects such as a tree, building, or even a car leading to fatal injuries. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid distractions while on the road.
- Lane Splitting
In some cases, motorcyclists may try to change lanes to avoid traffic jams. Doing this requires certain maneuverability and great care. However, if this is not done carefully, the motorcyclist might ram into other motorists leading to severe accidents.
Factors Affecting Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Deciding on motorcycle accident settlement can be a daunting task even for the most experienced personal injury lawyers. This is because there are a number of uncontrollable factors that make settlement evaluation quite a challenge. These factors include:
Severity of injuries
Fortunately, some motorcycle accidents only lead to minor damages, but these accidents may result in severe injuries or even death in some cases.Severe injuries require a number of procedures, and medical bills and time to heal. In case of severe injuries, the parties involved have to see how the injuries manifest before coming with a proposal for a settlement.
In some cases, the victim is found to be at fault for violating traffic laws or negligence. In other cases, none of the parties is found to be at fault, but this does not mean that negligence can’t be established. It only means that the process of proving negligence becomes harder.
The impact of injury to the victim’s life
Some injuries affect the victim’s ability to continue with their day-to-day activities or their ability to care for those who depend on them. The more the injuries affect a person’s life, the more value their settlement will be.
In case of severe injuries that require rehabilitation or extensive treatment, it is important to have an expert report on the cost of what should be done to get the victim back to normal. Remember, expert reports on future care estimates can range from thousands to several millions.
The amount needed to repair or fix a personal property damaged in an accident determines the amount in the settlement. Basically, the more the cost, the larger the settlement.
Cases involving death
When an accident causes death, the options for compensation increase, which affects the settlement. For instance, when victims break their legs in the accident, their sons or daughters cannot file for damages against the defendant. However, the accidents result in deaths, the family can seek compensation for loss of support and companionship.
Jury verdict research
Motorcycle injuries are quite common, which means that it is highly likely that a jury in your location has heard and decided similar cases in the past. Previous cases play a key role in determining what is likely to happen if your case goes for trial.
The skills of the personal injury attorney that you will involve in your cases will affect your settlement. Consequently, you should hire a reliable and experienced attorney to ensure that you win a higher settlement.
In most cases, filing a claim will involve the victim negotiating with an insurance adjuster to agree on the settlement. However, adjusters are mainly motivated by ensuring that their employer pays as little as possible.
Some adjusters are even less willing to consider the case’s facts, but some listen and acknowledge the facts. Therefore, the willingness of the adjuster to listen affects the pretrial settlement talks.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle injuries can be overwhelming, depending on their severity. If you sustain injuries in a motorcycle accident, there are some important steps that you need to follow in order to help your case:
- Check for injuries
- File a case report with the police
- Gather evidence for your case
- Seek medical attention
- Look for an attorney and arrange for a consultation for your case
- Inform the insurance company
- Gather personal details of the party or parties involved in the case
What is the Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
According to most statistical models, the average motorcycle accident settlement differs from one case to another. Therefore, it is obvious that some settlements are lower or higher than others, depending on the factors mentioned above.
In motorcycle accidents, the settlement amount largely depends on the circumstances and facts surrounding a particular accident. When setting a value, three things should be considered: damages, sources or recovery, and liability. Therefore, each case in motorcycle settlements is unique.
Unfortunately, if the other party or parties involved in the accident were not at fault, proving that you are entitled to a large or any settlement at all will not be a walk in the park. There is a comparative liability state in Texas that says that you cannot recover anything from other parties if you are found to be 50% responsible for the accident.
What is a Good Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
Motorcycle accidents vary from one case to another since there are a number of factors that influence the decision that insurance company and jury make on the settlement. The assets that the person at fault for the accident has determines the amount of insurance available. For instance, if the person who caused the accident doesn’t have material assets, the final settlement might not surpass their insurance policy’s liability limit.
If the person at fault has few material assets, the personal injury attorney may guide them in accepting a settlement that matches the insurance policy’s coverage. According to statistics, the average settlement for motorcycles between 1999 and 2006 was $73,000. Nevertheless, about 90% of accidents are settled directly by the parties involved before getting into court, which means that the verdict doesn’t affect the victim’s final settlement.
Average Payout for Soft Tissue Injuries
The average settlement for a given case depends on the presented evidence and the type of damages sustained. However, the kind of injuries sustained can also help in determining the amount of payout that the victim will receive. Calculating the damages due to soft tissue injuries may be more complicated since they are usually minor injuries. The average payout for soft tissue injuries may range from:
From $100k to $350k for herniated disks
From $2,500 to $10,000 for whiplash injuries
About $20,000 for shoulder injuries
About $15,000 for ankle sprains
The above values give the approximate values, but the most effective to determine the average payout appropriately is involving an attorney. Usually, personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation that allows the victim to inquire about anything.
Average Payout for Other Severe Injuries
Usually, soft tissue injuries constitute the highest number of injury cases in this category, but they are not as serious as other injuries. Depending on the severity, injuries like a concussion may attract an average payout that ranges from $80,000 to $100,000. In contrast, traumatic brain injuries may get a payout of about $185,000 to $1,000,000 in severe cases.
Motorcycle accident settlement changes its value, often depending on the situation regardless of the king of injuries. Therefore, you need to consult an insurance provider or attorney about the current estimate.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Take?
The time taken to conclude a motorcycle accident case depends on various factors, basically the severity of your injury and the impact that it will have on your day-to-day life. Usually, motorcycle accidents lead to severe damages that require aggressive and ongoing treatments.
Cases involving motorcycle injuries take much longer to settle than other personal injuries as they require more time to determine how injuries respond to treatment or manifest. Besides, these injuries may also require more documentation. Here are additional factors that can affect the length of the settlement of your case.
- The amount in compensation
Usually, severe motorcycle injuries require extensive medical care, procedures, and treatments. The resulting damages can also include other financial burdens, such as missed work and additional household expenses. In severe cases, the victim may also be unable to return to work, which will qualify them to file a claim for damages resulting from loss of earning potential.
- The jury trial or litigation process
Cases that are negotiated among the parties involved in the accident before getting into court take a shorter time to settle than those brought to court. This is because once a case reaches the court, it involves more people and it attracts a lot of negotiation between the lawyers and the jury. Besides, the lawyers have to argue their cases to ensure that their client wins a fair settlement so that they can get a good share for representing them.
- The number of parties involved
The other factor that determines how long your settlement will take is the number of parties involved in your case. If more parties are involved, it means more cooperation and communication between all parties, attorneys, insurance companies, and other entities.
Examples of Motorcycle Accident Settlements
Michael Smith, Colorado
Michael was involved in a car-motorcycle accident while riding his bike along the l-70 interstate highway, a place known for its twisting turns, steep grades, and extreme weather conditions. The vehicle made a left-hand turn onto one of the streets, and Michael was not expecting the car to make the turn since the driver didn’t even indicate. Thus, he rammed into the SUV and sustained serious injuries, including a broken leg and severe bruises.
The crash report listed the property damage to be $4,000; the front tire was partially damaged while the front rotor’s metal was significantly bent. After the crash, the driver was given a ticket for careless driving. Michael involved a personal injury attorney and was able to win a $200k settlement in his motorcycle lawsuit.
Joe Wentworth, Texas
Joe was riding his motorbike in one of the streets in Texas. He didn’t know that the road was on construction and there was some debris on the road. The construction work was complete, but the company in-charge failed to clean up the road.
Joe hit the debris and crashed into the pavement. He fractured one of his ribs, which required surgery to fix. He contacted an experienced attorney that helped him file a claim and argued that the debris should not have been left on the road.
The attorney was able to win the case by proving the negligence of the construction company, and Joe received $100K worth of settlement for the case.
Determining the Level of Fault in Motorcycle Accident Settlement
When it comes to the settlement in motorcycle accident cases, the most important factor is proving who was at fault. Remember, it is your responsibility as the victim to collect enough evidence that would help prove that the other party or parties were responsible for the accident.You need to prove:
- The other party were negligent
- Driving recklessly
- The person at fault failed to follow traffic rules
How to Determine Fault in Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Before you think of pursuing compensation for your injuries, you should determine who is at fault for the motorcycle accident. You can consult a personal injury attorney to help you in deciding the parties that are legally liable. Some of the parties that may be at fault include:
• Driver of the vehicle involved in the accident
• The repair shop responsible for repairing , maintaining and inspecting the bike
• The government entity that has responsibility of maintaining the roadway if the accident resulted from roadway hazard
• The manufacturer of the safety equipment or the motorcycle
• Manufacturer of the motorcycle
Example: Determining the Level of Fault Motorcycle Accidents in Florida
Florida has no-fault laws for four-wheeled vehicles, which means that these vehicles should have a “PIP” (personal injury protection) coverage, but the no-fault laws don’t apply to motorcyclists.
Consequently, the insurance coverage from one motorcyclist to another can vary significantly, which may make it hard for you to get a settlement that you deserve. If an insurance claim cannot cover the damages involved in your motorcycle accident, it is advisable to file a claim through a lawsuit to seek damages.
The parties involved may reach a settlement at one point after a legal claim. Such settlement is a resolution that is valued according to an agreed-upon amount awarded to the victim to help end a dispute.
If you fail to show the other party or parties were at fault, the settlement value may be lower. In some cases, your attorney and the insurance provider may decide to proceed to court. Depending on the state where you experienced the crash, you might also lose your compensation or get a lower amount if you are found to be responsible for a specified degree.
How to Calculate Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Determining the motorcycle accident settlement value involves calculating various factors, which include:
- the severity of your injuries and the damage of the bike
- your insurance police
- the insurance police for the driver at fault
These factors vary significantly from one accident to another. Therefore, what you may hear from other motorcycle accidents are average settlement amounts that do not match the circumstances in your accident case and the resulting damages.
Damages resulting from motorcycle accidents are divided into:
- Special damages (capable of exact calculation)
- Pain and suffering (not capable of exact calculation)
Special damages are capable of exact calculation and include the victim’s lost earning capacity, past, present, and future earnings. Special damages include:
- Medical bills
- Employment benefits
- other financial losses.
How to Calculate Lost Earnings Capacity
Calculating lost earnings in motor accidents is easy. The process involves adding up the earnings and employment benefits that you have lost due to being out of work due to injuries.
How to Calculate future Lost Earnings Capacity
Calculating future lost earnings can be a daunting task as it involves the concept of present value. Therefore, it requires the personal injury lawyer to consult an economic expert to help present the future earning capacity during the case.
Let’s assume that before your accident, you used to earn $50,000 per year, but due to the injuries, you could only take a less demanding job that pays $30,000 per year. The lost future earning capacity, in this case, will be $20,000 ($50,000-$30,000) per year for the remaining time in your work life expectancy. Remember, work life expectancy refers to a statistical measure of the number of years that a person is expected to work based on the federal statistics on the person’s sex, age, and race.
Determining the lost earning capacity is relatively easy, but figuring out what this amount is worth into the future in the present can be a considerable challenge. Therefore, lawyers hire an economist to present this information to the jury during trial.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a legal term that is used to refer to how injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents have impacted your life. The term accounts for physical pain, emotional and mental suffering. Consequently, you should have sustained a physical injury from the accident that resulted in pain and suffering for you to be eligible for a pain and suffering damages claim.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Worry or fear
- Physical pain
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life
- Mental anguish
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Motorcycle Accidents
As mentioned above, calculating pain and suffering in motorcycle accidents is not easy. Therefore, it is important to work with a personal injury lawyer that can help you determine the value when filling your claim.
When it comes to figuring out pain and suffering value, the personal injury lawyer should think like an insurance adjuster. The lawyers might use any of the two common methods in calculating pain and suffering damages. These damages include:
- The “multiplier” method
- The “per diem” method
The Multiplier Method
This method requires you to add all your special damages and multiply the sum with a given number, which is usually between 1.5 and 5. The number may be higher or lower depending on the severity of the injuries sustained. Moreover, the number used would be the value of the damages.
For instance, if you were involved in a motorcycle accident that led to special damages and injuries amounting to $10,000, you will be assigned a multiplier of 3. Therefore, your pain and suffering damages, in this case, will be $30,000 (10,000 x 3).
The Per Diem Method
The Per Diem Method assigns a particular amount of money to each day after the accident to the day that you recover fully. In this case, the severity of the injuries will determine the amount that is assigned per day.
However, it is good to understand that insurance companies apply a computer program to calculate pain and suffering damages in motorcycle accident cases. The program might consider the type of treatment you received and the injuries sustained to calculate the damages rather than using any of the methods discussed above.
Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer When Filing My Claim?
Contacting an attorney to help in filing a claim is unnecessary, but it is important to bring an experienced person on board to help you gather the information required for the case. Involving an experienced person like the attorneys helps in sealing all the loopholes that the insurance provider might attempt to use to pay less in your settlement or avoid paying anything.
The best thing about contacting a personal injury lawyer is that they mainly provide a free consultation. They often ask for payment after helping win a fair settlement by relying on their experience and knowledge in handling these cases.
Motorcycle accident lawsuits often take more time to resolve, but the victim can receive fair settlement amounts with the right preparation and help. However, there is no fixed compensation or a direct answer to how much is my motorcycle accident lawsuit since each case is different.
You also need to avoid accidents by following the traffic rules and being on the lookout for bad motorists that might cause you to get into accidents. Moreover, you should also ensure you are in the recommended safety equipment to minimize the risks of sustaining severe injuries.