Motorcycles are more common on California roads than ever before. A motorcycle accident could be a trying experience for anybody who is involved. These accidents often occur when the motorcycle collides with another vehicle or hits a barrier on the road. Unlike other cars, motorcycles do not have a protective body or other safety features like seat belts or airbags. Accidents involving motor vehicles are often catastrophic, and the rider is likely to suffer severe bodily injury. Fortunately, if you or your loved one gets injured in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation. After involvement in the accident, you will require a competent attorney to understand and navigate the next step. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we will provide you with proper legal guidance to recover compensation for your injuries.
Overview of Motorcycle Accidents in California
The number of motorcycles on the roads of California has increased in the last decade. Since motorcycles are not visible compared to other vehicles, they are more likely to get into a collision. Motorcycles are not protected by airbags, seatbelts, or steel cages. Therefore, even at a low speed, motorcycle accidents could be catastrophic. After a motorcycle accident in California, bikers find a difficult time to collect compensation for their injuries.
The steps you take after the accident will significantly affect your claim and ability to recover maximum compensation. For you to create a strong claim, it would be wise to enlist a personal injury attorney's guidance.
What to do After a Motorcycle Accident
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you will bear the burden of ensuring you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. The following are things you can do after an accident to help you maximize your recovery:
Move to a Safe Location
Motorcycle accidents are often very catastrophic. Immediately after an accident, ensure that you move to a safer place. Also, if you are not severely injured, you can help other parties involved be safer from further injuries. Also, you should contact emergency medical responders.
Contact the Police
Immediately after an accident, contact the police, and when they arrive at the scene, assist them in offering concise details for their report. The police will assess the accident and note down their account of the happenings. The police report is a valuable piece of evidence that could help establish liability for your accident. When you answer questions from the police, you should give facts and avoid speculations. Also, do not apologize or admit fault for the crash since the information you use could be used to deny your claim. Before the officers leave the scene, ensure you obtain a copy of the report. This can be used as evidence for your lawsuit.
Seek Medical Care
Whether or not you think you are injured, you should seek immediate medical attention after the accident. Some individuals may think that going back to work after an accident is a sign of strength. However, this could be detrimental to your health and could hurt your chances of getting compensation. If you fail to receive treatment after an accident, insurance companies assume that you are not injured. Some injuries, such as brain damage and internal bleeding, could only get detected when you seek medical attention.
While you are getting treatment, avoid discussing all the details of the accident with the doctors. Doctors write down all the information you give, and in case they misrepresent a fact, your chances of receiving compensation may be derailed. Also, do not notify the doctors of your intention to file a lawsuit. After treatment, ensure all your injuries and the treatment you receive is documented. These records should be kept safe since they provide substantial evidence for your claim.
Contact Your Attorney
The legal processes involved in recovering compensation could be complicated, especially for a person who is injured. Your lawyer will help you in putting together information that is necessary for your claim. Also, competent legal guidance enables you to understand what you need to do to increase your fair compensation chances. Without proper legal guidance, insurance companies may try to give you compensation less than what you deserve.
Collect Evidence Relevant to Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
When you are involved in a negligent motorcycle accident, you are most likely to seek compensation for your injuries. As part of preparing to present your claim, you need to understand the steps to take. Also, you should collect the relevant evidence required for your claim. Accident evidence involves anything that documents the details surrounding the accident. Collecting this type of evidence allows for confusing details surrounding the accident to be cleared up and determine liability.
There are two types of evidence in a personal injury claim in California. Accident evidence is any information that indicates the nature of how the accident occurred. On the other hand, there is evidence of damages that indicate the losses you suffered due to the accident injuries. Some of the evidence you need to collect after a motorcycle accident includes:
Most motor vehicle accidents result from the negligence of the rider or other road users. When an accident occurs, the parties involved or some other individuals likely witnessed the accident. Before leaving the accident scene, it would be wise to get the contact information of the witness. Also, ensure that the information concerning witnesses should be included in the police report. You could request the witnesses to testify in your criminal case.
Insurance and Vehicle Information
A motorcycle accident may involve one or multiple vehicles. If you are involved in such an accident and wish to seek compensation for your injuries, it would be wise to collect information about other involved parties. This will include their names, model of their vehicles, driver's license number, and insurance details. This information will help you identify the individuals who you sue for compensation.
Any damaged property from a motorcycle accident could help determine the severity of the accident. If you have a damaged motorcycle or helmet, you should not get it fixed before your claim. These materials will be able to indicate the possible injuries and allow you to get your compensation benefits.
Photographs and Videos
When giving an account of the accident in your claim, the defendants may dispute the information you provide. However, photos or a video of the accident can be difficult to dispute. If you are in a good position to do so, it would be wise to take a video of the accident before leaving the scene. Some of the pictures that could help your claim include:
Photos of the accident scene
Your physical injuries
Any evidence that could indicate the road and weather conditions at the time of the motorcycle accident should be on a video.
Further, it is crucial to determine if any surveillance cameras in the area captured the accident. If there were cameras, you could request the owners to provide you with the footage.
A Written Description of the Accident
After a motorcycle accident, you will likely be in shock and dealing with physical pain from the injuries. The information you must deal with after the accident could be overwhelming. If you cannot clearly explain to your attorney, it could be difficult to evaluate your case. Therefore, documenting any details as soon as you remember them would be wise to keep all the information.
The Police Report
Police reports provide important pieces of evidence from an official third party on the accident. When the police arrive at your accident scene, you should not hold back. Provide all details of the crash. Any information concerning the accident will feature in their report. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the police will provide the report for you immediately. However, if it is not given to you, your injury attorney can request the document.
Your medical report is a significant piece of evidence in a motorcycle accident compensation lawsuit. The medical report often indicates the extent of your injuries, the dates you sought treatment, and the medical expenses you incurred. Before you receive compensation, these records must be clear. Therefore, when you get treatment, ensure all your injuries get documented, and the records should be safely kept.
If you had an injury that got worse after the accident, you might be required to provide your medical records dating five years before the accident.
Proof of Lost Wages
If you have lost some income due to the motorcycle accident injuries, you may file for compensation. However, before you do this, ensure that you put together all information needed to prove your lost wages. Some of this information is the pay stubs and tax returns from previous months.
Collecting evidence for your motorcycle accident claim could be complicated if you have suffered severe injuries. Therefore, guidance from a personal injury attorney could go a long way for you.
Negotiate With Insurance Providers
When you get injured in a motorcycle accident, you may want assistance from your insurance provider to cover your medical bills. Also, insurance companies representing the fault parties are likely to contact you. It is always crucial to keep in mind that the insurance companies are not on your side. These companies try their best to incur less cost by offering you compensation lower than what you deserve. Before you speak to them, ensure that your attorney is present. Also, you should keep the following tips in mind when dealing with these individuals:
Avoid accepting fault for the accident — When you describe the motorcycle accident, do not say that you were at fault for the accident. The insurance companies should figure out who was at fault. There are many factors about the accident that you may not know. Therefore, ensure you only state the facts without adding personal opinions.
Do not discuss your injuries — Several injuries cannot be detected after a motorcycle accident. Therefore, avoid saying that you are not injured or discussing the nature of your injuries with insurance companies. Also, you should not sign a medical release until you have received guidance from your attorney.
Avoid giving an official statement — When insurance companies contact you, they will find ways to minimize your compensation benefits. After the accident, you may be in shock. And haven't gotten your facts right. Therefore, avoid giving a recorded statement since the statement can be used to deny your claim.
File a Compensation Claim for Your Injuries
Most insurance companies offer you the compensation that cannot cater to the losses you incurred from the motorcycle accident. If you are not content with the offer you get outside of court, you can file a lawsuit against the parties liable for the motorcycle accident. This allows you to present your evidence to the jury and possibly recover compensation for the injuries. When you file a claim, you may be required to prove liability for the accident. Most motor vehicle accidents result from negligence.
In a California personal injury lawsuit, negligence is based on the following elements:
Duty of care — When you prove that a person is liable for your motorcycle accident, it should be clear that they owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is the responsibility that each road user has to ensure the safety of others.
Breach of duty — It is not always enough that a person owed you a duty of care. For a defendant to be held liable for your injuries, you must prove that they breached their duty of care towards you.
Causation — For you to hold an individual liable for your injuries, their actions must have been a significant contributing factor to your injuries. Also, you need to have proof of the damages you suffered from the accident.
Compensation Benefits Available for Motorcycle Accident Victims
Motorcycle accidents are often very fatal, and the injuries resulting from such accidents are catastrophic. The injuries will not only cost you your health and wellbeing but may strain your financial life. This will occur as you try to cover expenses for treatment, and you may not be able to return to work to earn a living. If you take the right steps and guidance from a personal injury attorney, you can be successful in your lawsuit and recover the following benefits:
Immediately after involvement in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to contact emergency responders and seek medical treatment. If you survive a motorcycle accident, the injuries you suffer will likely be severe. Medical bills will start to accumulate as soon as the emergency responders take you to the hospital. Some of the injuries you suffer, such as broken bones, bad damage to internal organs, will take a long time to heal. This will cause a pile-up of medical bills. When you get injured in a negligent motorcycle accident, the party liable for your accident will be responsible for your medical bills.
In California, most defendants are reluctant to accept fault for an accident. Therefore, you will shoulder the burden of covering the medical bills until your claim is determined. You can either cover the medical expenses using a medical insurance cover or pay on a lien basis. Doctors who operate on a lien basis are often paid from the claim proceeds. Unfortunately, if your medical bills exceed your compensation, the balance is covered from your pocket. For individuals who lack insurance coverage, the government allows you to receive a medical bills discount.
Before you receive compensation for your medical bills after a motorcycle accident, you will show proof of your injuries and your expenses. The most significant evidence you can use when claiming compensation for your medical bills is your medical records. This will show the type and extent of your injuries and the amount you spent on treatment. Sometimes, the defendant's insurance company may want to get a look at your medical record dating five years before the accident. This is to ensure that the injuries for which you are claiming compensation resulted from the motorcycle accident.
Lost wages are the amount of income you lose when you fail to return to work due to motorcycle accident injuries. Most injuries resulting from such an accident take quite some time to resolve, and you may not return to your job. Fortunately, you can recover compensation for lost income by filing a personal injury claim. In California, lost wages can be in monthly salary, bonuses, commissions, and income from self-employment.
However, before you get lost wages benefits from a personal injury lawsuit, you need to prove the lost wages through:
A lost wages letter - For individuals with a regular job, the easiest way to prove lost wages is by obtaining a lost wages letter from your employer. This letter confirms that you are employed, show your employment nature, and the amount you earn.
Past pay stubs and tax returns - Sometimes, it is difficult to obtain a lost wage letter. You can use your past pay stubs and tax return documents to show the amount of income you lost due to the injuries.
Proving self-employment income - If you are self-employed and could not return to your business after a motorcycle accident, you can still file for compensation. To prove lost self-employment income, you can produce. To prove lost self-employment income, you can provide tax returns of the months preceding the accident. If your income is seasonal, you can use the same records as that of the accident period.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost future earning capacity is the loss of your ability to earn money from the future due to your injuries. Most injuries that result from motorcycle accidents are likely to leave you with severe injuries. Unlike lost wages, lost earning capacity can be difficult to establish since it has not happened. When you file a personal injury claim against parties liable for your motorcycle accident, you can compensate for lost future earnings.
There is no specific way of calculating lost future earnings. However, the evidence you collect and present to the jury may significantly affect the outcome. When deciding on the amount to award you as compensation, the court may consider the following factors:
The severity of your injuries
The expected time of injury recovery
The nature of your employment before the accident
Your health status before the accident
Number of working years you have left before retirement.
Pain and Suffering
Involvement in a motorcycle accident can be devastating. This is the case, especially when you collide with a large vehicle. The injuries you are likely to suffer from this type of accident will cause immense physical and psychological pain. Spending time in hospital and undergoing painful procedures to correct damages caused by accidents can drain you emotionally.
No amount of money can compensate for the pain and suffering you undergo after a motorcycle accident. However, with guidance from a competent personal injury attorney, you can benefit from compensation paid out or your emotional suffering.
Due to the lack of safety measures for a motorcycle rider, getting into a serious motorcycle accident may lead to your loved ones' death. If you have lost someone in such an accident, you can seek compensation for the wrongful death. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you will have an opportunity to compensate for the lost consortium and get some burial and funeral expenses covered.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Involvement in a motorcycle accident can be quite devastating for you and your family. This is because of the severe injuries that are likely to result from such an accident. Unfortunately, the accident is just the beginning of the stressful journey of filing a personal injury claim and getting compensation for your injuries. The steps you take immediately after an accident will significantly affect the outcome of your lawsuit. Therefore, before making any move after a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to have some legal guidance from Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. Schedule a consultation with our top-notch lawyers today by calling us at 714-876-1959 anywhere in Orange County, CA.