A motorcycle accident can have a big impact on a rider's life. Dealing with the damage to your motorcycle is bad enough, but serious injuries are all too common. If you're recovering from a motorcycle accident, you're probably wondering what sort of injury settlement you can expect. The answer depends on several key factors:
If a vehicle driver was clearly at fault for your motorcycle accident, and there's no fight over liability, that's the best case scenario in terms of your chances for a fair settlement. (Get the basics on common causes of motorcycle accidents.)
But if the rider is found partially at fault for a motorcycle accident, in can have a big effect on a motorcycle accident injury claim. The rules in your state will determine how fault gets apportioned between you and anyone else involved in the accident. These fault rules dictate how things might play out if your case makes it to court, but insurance adjusters rely on these rules too, at the settlement stage.
For instance, if you're in a comparative negligence state, your share of fault for the accident will reduce your potential damages award. So let's say you win $100,000 at trial, but you're found to be 10% at fault for the accident. Your damage award would be 10% less, or $90,000.
There are also other variations of comparative negligence, like pure and modified comparative negligence. These can make a big difference in how much you might recover.
For example, if your negligence exceeds a certain amount, such as 50% or 51%, you can't recover anything from a driver or others who might be at fault. But if the amount of your fault does not go past the applicable threshold, any recovery will get reduced by your percentage of fault.
If you're in a contributory negligence state, you can only recover from the defendant in court if you have zero responsibility in causing the accident. So if a jury finds you to be 1% at fault for the motorcycle collision and the other driver is 99% at fault, you get nothing. Luckily, this harsh rule only applies in a small number of states.
As you might expect, the more severe your injuries, the bigger your settlement offer will probably be. Serious injuries are those that:
One thing to keep in mind about injuries is the extent to which they were preventable, especially if wearing a motorcycle helmet could have prevented (or minimized) your injuries, but you chose not to wear one. You can expect a lower settlement offer in this situation, even if you weren't legally required to wear a helmet. Learn more about how helmet laws and helmet use affect motorcycle accident claims.
Most people who drive don't have enough money to pay for damages that stem from an accident they're responsible for causing. That's why the vast majority of drivers must carry a minimum level of liability insurance coverage.
It's not uncommon for motorcycle accidents to result in damages that exceed an at-fault driver's car insurance policy limits. Remember that the largest settlement offer you can expect to receive will be equal to the at-fault driver's policy limits.
And if you find yourself involved in a motorcycle accident with someone that has no insurance coverage, you could get no settlement offer at all. Hopefully, you'll have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage through your motorcycle insurance policy that can help pay for your damages.
The days immediately following your motorcycle accident are crucial when it comes to gathering evidence and protecting any injury claim you might decide to make. Especially if you're seriously injured or the other side is claiming you were at fault for the accident, hiring the right attorney might be your best move when it comes to getting the best settlement outcome.