If you have been injured in an accident involving your motorcycle, a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you recover money to pay for your medical bills and other costs that have resulted from your injury. For immediate help, text now at 949-973-6478.
If you would like us to contact you, click the Free Consultation button at the end of this article.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents are particularly dangerous because even if a rider is wearing protective gear, such as a helmet, gloves, and armored jacket, significant injuries are still quite possible if a rider falls or collides with another vehicle.
After becoming injured in an accident on your motorcycle, a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you when:
- you have sustained injuries from the accident
- you are having trouble paying medical bills
- you have been unable to work or have lost income due to your accident
- your insurance company is refusing to pay, or isn’t paying you what you deserve (see example below)
The stress and difficulty of trying to stay on top of bills and life as it was before your accident can feel overwhelming. A top motorcycle accident lawyer can support you through this difficult time, help you recover what you deserve, and fight for you when you don’t have the strength or knowledge to fight for yourself. To get help, text us at 949-973-6478.
Who is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?
In most motorcycle accidents involving collisions with other vehicles, the other vehicle is likely to be a car, truck, or other vehicle much larger than the motorcycle.
Assuming both the motorcycle rider and driver of the other vehicle were otherwise obeying all laws, such as speeding, signaling, and lane splitting laws (lane splitting is allowed for motorcycle riders in California), the question of fault normally comes down to other negligent behavior, such as failure to observe or to remain free of distractions.
Normally, the motorcycle rider is less at fault in a motorcycle accident, simply because motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles on the road. Even a proactive rider is at risk of colliding with another vehicle driven by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver.
In other cases, a motorcycle accident can be caused by Caltrans negligence in the maintenance or upkeep of freeways.
What is the Average Payout for a Motorcycle Accident?
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, the other driver’s insurance policy is required in California to have a minimum amount of “liability” insurance. Liability insurance will cover the death or injury of another when the accident is the insured’s fault.
The problem is, California’s minimum amount of liability coverage that an insured must carry is only $15,000 for the injury or death of one person (and $30,000 in an accident harming more than one person).
In many cases, $15,000 will be nowhere near enough to compensate you for motorcycle accident injuries, or to compensate a rider’s family for the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death claim. But if the at-fault motorist only carried the minimum amount of liability insurance required, this is all the insurance company is contractually obligated to pay.
In cases like this, a motorcycle accident lawyer can assist in helping you find and recover compensation from the defendant personally, additional defendants, additional insurance policies, or in the case when the insurance company acted in bad faith.
No two cases are the same – the extent of your damages will depend on your specific injuries, the available insurance coverage, the specific type of defendant involved, and other facts of your case. For a free consultation, text us at 949-973-6478.
How an Insurance Company May Try to Avoid Responsibility
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and the other driver was insured, that insurance company will usually attempt to contact their insured in order to get their side of the story. Most insurance contracts have a “cooperation clause,” which requires the insured to cooperate with the insurer’s investigation in order for the policy to cover the accident.
In an attempt to avoid paying you any money for your injuries, insurance companies may try to assert their insured failed to cooperate with an investigation and submit to their demands for an account of the accident, that their insured is therefore in breach of contract, and that they are therefore not obligated to pay under the policy.
This could be extremely harmful to your case, especially in cases where the defendant is insolvent and you have no other means of compensation outside of the defendant’s insurance policy. But even in cases like this, the law may be on your side.
In Campbell v. Allstate Ins. Co., 60 Cal. 2d 303, a driver was rear-ended by another vehicle. The injured party sued the insurance company to collect under the policy held by the driver who was at fault. Allstate claimed they were not obligated to pay under the insurance policy, because their insured did not cooperate with their investigation of the accident.
However, the Campbell court held that an insured’s failure to cooperate with an investigation will not necessarily bar recovery under the policy unless the insurance company can show they were actually prejudiced by the failure to cooperate.
In the Campbell case, the court determined that since evidence in the police report revealed the insured was following too closely. The court said All State was on notice of their insured’s negligence and was therefore not prejudiced by the insured’s failure to cooperate with the investigation. In California, the burden is on the insurer to show they were actually prejudiced.
The above example is one way slimy insurance companies will try to shirk responsibility. Fortunately, California courts have seen through the charade and have prevented this trick from preventing you from receiving compensation.
Use Caution if Settling Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
In most personal injury cases, including motorcycle accidents, a settlement is reached where the defendant (the party responsible for the injury) agrees to pay a specified amount to the plaintiff (the injured party who is bringing the lawsuit).
To finalize the settlement agreement, a contract is entered into whereby the plaintiff normally gives up the right to bring any future claims against the defendant which arise out of the same circumstances. However, your attorney must be careful to draft an airtight settlement agreement that is not overly expansive.
In one California case where a motorcycle driver was injured in an accident by a car driven by a teenage driver, a settlement agreement was reached where the motorcyclist agreed to release all claims against the named defendants, as well as against “any other person” responsible. The court concluded that the ambiguous “any other person” language was sufficient to include the grandmother of the teenager who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident. (Cline v. Homuth, 235 CA 4th 699.)
General liability release language is common in settlement agreements. The lesson in the Cline case is that settlement agreements should be not be entered into rashly or before evaluation of your claim has been sufficiently explored against all parties.
Failure to examine your claims against all potential parties may cause you to enter into an overly liberal settlement agreement, which will cause you to relinquish valid claims against potential defendants, such as the grandmother in the Cline case.
Get a Free Consultation from a Top Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Every factual scenario is different, and needs to be assessed through the lens of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. When we represent you, you don’t pay a dime unless we win your case.
If you would like a free consultation, text us at 949-973-6478. If you would like us to contact you, just click the Free Consultation button below.