Injured motorcycle accident victims and their families are understandably worried about money. While your physical health comes first, money worries come very close behind. Without money coming in from your job and with money going out quickly for financial bills, you can quickly find yourself in financial distress.
With that in mind, how much money a claim is worth is a very early question that motorcycle accident attorneys hear in an initial consultation. Clients will often ask how much your case is worth first. The other initial question that potential clients ask is how long a case will take.
Let’s explain to you how a lawyer values a case, as opposed to throwing out average numbers that may have little relevance to you. Explanation helps you more than giving you a number that does not have much context or does not consider your specific situation.
Think About Your Specific Case Instead of an Average
Lawyers do not like to give a specific average number regarding any personal injury case. An experienced lawyer knows it is not the best for clients to condition themselves to expect a certain number.
In some cases, having a number in mind can lead you to accept less than you legally deserve in damages. In other cases, clients may end up with a fair settlement offer after much negotiating and be disappointed because it was less than some arbitrary number that someone threw off the top of their head.
Motorcycle Accident Damages Tend to Be High
One thing that motorcycle accident attorneys can say with relative certainty is that the average settlement in a motorcycle accident case is more than the average payment in a car accident case.
This is not because of any difference between the two in how victims seek damages. Instead, the greater average payment is because injuries in a motorcycle accident case are usually more severe than those suffered in the average car accident.
Because motorcyclists have little to protect them from direct impact with the ground or another vehicle, they will usually suffer:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lacerations and cuts
- Road rash from falling on asphalt
Why Average Numbers Do Not Help You Much?
Personal injury payments should compensate you for all the damages you suffered. It makes logical sense that the greater the damage, the higher the payment. However, no ironclad rule says you should get more money for a motorcycle accident.
Regardless of specifics, a motorcycle accident settlement is what the insurance company offers that you are willing to accept. Even if you have suffered serious injuries, it does not mean that the insurance company will make their best settlement offer first.
In general, a lawyer should question the reliability of average payment figures. The figure that you see on the internet that people use as the “median” motorcycle accident settlement is just over $70,000. The number for the “average” payment is over $500,000.
A lawyer will ask you not to pay much attention to the numbers you see online regarding other cases.
- First, this study encompasses cases that are over two decades old.
- Second, the number for the average settlement can be skewed by some high-dollar value awards when there were serious injuries or death.
- Third, someone else’s previous motorcycle accident payment has nothing to do with your current circumstances and personal situation.
Finally, you do not know whether many motorcycle accident victims had an attorney representing them in their case. People who have personal injury lawyers do far better financially than people who try to represent themselves. Some claimants might skew the average down since they handled their case without a lawyer and settled for pennies on the dollar because they simply did not know any better.
Work with an Attorney to Maximize Your Motorcycle Accident Damages
Instead of focusing on what other people get, you should work with a motorcycle accident lawyer to focus on what you may get, given your situation. This amount can be more than the average or median if you have suffered serious injuries.
Worrying about an average can lead you to leave money on the table. You may get a settlement offer that is “above average,” but it is far under the value of your claim. Do not let your opinion sway due to some number that has no relevance to you.
The only two numbers that have relevance to your case are:
- How much your claim is worth
- How much does the insurance company offer
An attorney will work with you to place a value on your motorcycle accident injuries. They will then fight for you to receive the most possible for your claim. Before you even try to get money, you need to know how much your claim is worth.
An insurance company knows what your claim is worth shortly after receiving it. Do not expect them to make it easy for you to get your money.
Damages in Your Motorcycle Accident Case
To understand what you may get in a motorcycle accident case, you should know about the types of damages that you may be eligible to receive. The legal rule is that you are entitled to full payment for your injuries. In any personal injury case, the word injury refers to any damage you suffered.
Here are the available damages in a personal injury case:
- The complete costs of all your medical bills
- Lost wages for the time that you cannot work or because you cannot do the full amount of work that you did before the accident
- Pain and suffering for what you have gone through after the accident
- Damages for loss of enjoyment of life
- If a loved one has died, your family can file a wrongful death claim to get compensation for its damages.
Motorcycle accident payments cover both the past and the future. If you have more future, you may get more money, especially when you may need to live with the effects of the motorcycle accident for the rest of your life.
Your Case Value Depends on Your Specific Situation
The payment for each of these elements of damage is unique to you. For example, if you earned a higher income, your lost wages portion of the settlement will undoubtedly be higher. If you are younger, you will need more for medical bills because you will live a longer life. Similarly, your motorcycle accident injuries can lead to greater damages for loss of enjoyment of life when you led a very active life before the accident.
The insurance company will try to impose a one-size-fits-all calculation in the name of “objectivity.” What is objective is their compulsive desire for profits over everything else in their efforts to underpay you. While you are a human being with your unique life, the insurance company will not see it that way. They will just look at you as a check they have to write, not caring much about what you lost.
How Insurance Companies Try to Make Money at Your Expense?
An insurance company can try to underpay your claim by:
- Disputing the nature and extent of your injuries
- Claiming that you can work or do some work, notwithstanding your serious injuries
- Using an “objective multiplier” of your medical bills to calculate pain and suffering
- Trying to speak to you to catch you unaware and undermine your claim.
- Hiring someone to follow you or pulling up your social media posts to try to take things out of context to dispute your injuries
When the stakes are high, you should never underestimate what an insurance company is capable of to try to save itself money. Profits are the primary objective of an insurance company. Your severe injuries and life situation does not matter to them at all. What does matter is that they either avoid paying you at all or give you far less than you legally deserve for your injuries.
An Attorney Can Maximize Your Motorcycle Accident Damages
This is why you need a motorcycle accident lawyer to tell your story to either the insurance company or the jury. When you get a settlement offer that is not appropriate for your life and circumstances, your attorney will advise you to reject it and explain to the insurance company why you deserve what you demand. If your case goes to a jury, your lawyer will relay how the accident affected you and all you lost.
Another reason why “average” and “median” settlement numbers are misleading is you do not know how hard the claimant tried to negotiate with the insurance company before accepting a settlement offer. Different claimants handle things in different ways. Some may jump at an earlier settlement offer because they are scared and panic about money. While your lawyer may advise you that a settlement offer is low, some may still accept it out of desperation.
Others fight for every dollar that they deserve. While this may add time to your motorcycle accident case, there is less of a chance that you will leave money on the table. The choices you make depend on your situation, but never let desperation force you to take far less than you deserve.
An Attorney Reviews Settlement Offers and Negotiates for You
If you hire an attorney, they will certainly tell you whether the other side offered enough settlement money. The initial offer will likely fall far short of reaching this threshold, and your attorney may recommend that you hold out for more money.
Without hiring an attorney, you may never know that the insurance company is trying to shortchange you and compromise your legal rights. What may seem like a lot of money to you at the time can be far less than what you need to pay for your motorcycle accident injuries.
You always have the right to say no to a low offer. Nothing says you must accept an offer that does not pay you fairly because an insurance company offered it. The insurance company is not a dictator, nor are they a judge or jury. They are simply an intermediary that handles the claim on behalf of their policyholder.
If they are not reasonable, you can take your case to court. Unlike the insurance company, a court has binding power to order a specific payment for you.
See a Doctor and Get Legal Help
The important thing is that you take every step necessary to care for yourself. See a doctor and get your injuries fully diagnosed first thing. You must have a detailed picture of your medical condition before filing a claim. Usually, this means that you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, where you may not make further strides in your condition.
You must also see a doctor quickly because not doing so can allow the insurance company an opportunity to dispute some of your injuries from the motorcycle accident. As a claimant, you must mitigate your damages, and seeing a doctor is your way of doing so. Then, keep up with your recommended treatment plan for your health and demonstrate that you take your injuries seriously.
Once your health is stable following a motorcycle accident, you should protect your legal rights. Do this by consulting with a motorcycle accident lawyer. Once you tell your story, an attorney can better advise you what your payout might entail. They can do this by reviewing your medical bills and discussing the other losses you experienced.
Regardless of the “average” payout, your attorney can help you get the compensation to cover your losses.