In 2017, there were 5,172 fatalities and 89,000 injuries in the US associated with motorcycle accidents. Getting into a motorcycle accident often causes victims to suffer serious injuries, lose income due to missed time off work, and collect a pile of debt from medical bills and other accident-related costs. And as the above statistic shows, some motorcycle accidents lead to fatalities, which obviously creates its own grief, stress, and financial worries.
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, you are likely concerned about the amount of damages you’re going to recover so that you can cover the costs of all these bills and losses. An experienced Phoenix motorcycle accident attorney can help you to understand your rights and options, walk you through the claim process, and help you to get the most compensation possible.
What is a Personal Injury Case and Why can I get Compensation?
A personal injury claim is a legal way for injury victims to get compensation after they have been negligently or intentionally harmed by another person or party. Some of the most common personal injury claims are motor vehicle accident claims, like motorcycle collisions, as well as slip and falls, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and any other situation in which someone has a duty of care to not harm other people and breaches that duty.
In the case of a motorcycle accident, you must be able to determine that someone else caused your injuries because of negligence. Determining negligence is a four-step process that begins with duty of care.
- Motor vehicle drivers owe a certain duty of care to those around them. They are required to drive distraction-free and as safely as possible. Duty of care is the legal obligation that all individuals have to use a reasonable amount of care while performing any act that could cause other people harm. Duty of care is the first element that must be established to proceed with a motorcycle accident claim. If someone was driving a vehicle on a road, then they had a duty of care to reasonably keep others safe.
- The next step is proving that this duty of care has been breached. This can mean that the driver was texting, speeding, or doing something dangerous that could potentially affect those around them. When we partake in a task that involves other people, like driving on a public road, we have a duty to be careful. When someone breaches that duty, they can be held legally responsible.
- Next, your attorney will need to prove that the breach of the duty of care caused your injuries directly. This means that because someone breached their duty of care, they caused a collision which led to injuries. This would also mean proving that the injuries were not present before the collision, which is necessary in some cases.
- Finally, your attorney will need to prove that your injuries caused you specific damages. Without damages, there’s no reason to file a lawsuit. For example, if someone bumps into you while walking and that causes a bruise, technically they have met all the above criteria. However, the bruise did not cause you any significant damages. This is why the final part is so important. Damages in a motorcycle accident claim could include anything from medical bills and lost wages to pain and suffering and physical injury.
Damages in a motorcycle case can be categorized as economic and non-economic. This is because some damages are easily calculated, which are economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, ambulance transportation, etc.). However, others cannot be easily calculated, which are non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional trauma, etc.).
And finally, you should understand that when you pursue someone for these damages, 99% of the time you are pursuing the money from their insurance company. That is why Arizona law requires you to have insurance when you drive a vehicle. It is an inherently dangerous task. Some people mistakenly believe that if they pursue compensation for damages in a personal injury claim that they will be taking money directly from some family, and that is simply not the case.
How Does Insurance Affect my Motorcycle Accident Case Value?
Insurance amounts are incredibly important in determining the value of your motorcycle accident claim. The other party’s insurance coverage amount determines the limits that you can realistically receive for damages. Unfortunately, you cannot typically receive more than someone has in insurance coverage. If a person’s coverage caps at $150,000, your compensation amount won’t often go above that. The only exception would be if you had additionally coverage yourself, known as uninsured/underinsured coverage. This type of insurance covers your own expenses when the other party’s coverage is nonexistent or not sufficient.
How Does Injury Severity and Prognosis Affect my Case?
The more severe your injuries are, the higher your case’s value probably is. This is true simply because more severe injuries lead to more medical procedures, more time in the hospital, more time away from work, and more pain and suffering.
If you have experienced a traumatic injury, like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, that has left you disabled, disfigured, or permanently affected, your case will likely have a higher settlement value than someone who has injuries they can fully recover from. This is how prognosis also affects a claim.
Prognosis refers to the most likely course of treatment for injuries and the most likely outcome of those injuries. For example, the prognosis for a broken arm is that it will be set in a cast and the person will fully recover in 6 to 8 weeks. Not all injuries are that simple to treat however. Some injuries require ongoing treatment for the rest of a person’s life or for an extended period of time. If your prognosis requires extensive treatment for your injury or if complications are likely, your case may be valued higher.
Basically, the more severe your injuries are and the more unclear your prognosis is, the more it impacts your life. Therefore, your medical bills will be higher, you will miss more time from work, and you are more likely to have pain and suffering. All this leads to a higher case value.
What Damages can I Recover After a Motorcycle Accident?
There are two primary types of damages that can be recovered for injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident.
Economic damages refer to damages that are associated with a specific monetary value. This can include damages for medical bills (including surgery costs, ambulance transportation, physical therapy, doctor visits, and more). Economic damages also include any wages you have lost because of missing work. These damages are easily calculated and therefore easier to justify. To calculate economic damages, one simply needs to add together all of the bills and multiply any time missed off work by the amount the person makes. Not all economic damages are this clear cut, but that is the general concept.
Non-economic damages are more subjective, referring to things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. These damages are determined by looking at your quality of life before and after the accident. The greater change to your life, the greater your compensation will be. Some insurance companies use ideas like a per day method or a multiplier method, but these are just as subjective as any other method. An experienced attorney will know how much to claim in non-economic damages by reviewing past jury verdicts, looking at the severity of injuries, looking at the prognosis, and by using their experience in the industry..
Contact a Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, our experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes can help you understand the potential value of your claim. The simple fact of the matter is nobody can tell you how much compensation you will receive until they look at the facts of your case. As we have mentioned above, the value of your motorcycle accident claim depends on factors like the severity of your injuries, your prognosis, and how much insurance coverage is available. Having an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney on your side is the best way to maximize your claim.
Abels & Annes will fight for your right to receive compensation when another person negligently caused your injuries or the death of a loved one. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at 602-819-5191.