Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other motorists to suffering severe injuries and death in a crash. Between 2011 and 2020, over 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in California due to motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (and 50,000+ were nationally). Tens of thousands are injured every year. A severe accident can leave you and dependents in need of financial support, but motorcycle accident lawsuits can be complex.
Here’s a look at how to file a lawsuit for an accident that may involve injuries such as road rash, damaged joints, broken bones, neck/spinal/head injuries, concussions, nerve damage, scarring, disfigurement, internal bleeding, and loss of limbs.
When Am I Able to Sue?
There are various factors that affect whether you can file a lawsuit. These include:
- Your Vehicle Is Classified as a Motorcycle: In California, any vehicle on which the rider sits on a seat/saddle, has no more than three wheels, and its motor displaces more than 150 cubic centimeters is classified as a motorcycle.
- You Were Injured as a Result of a Motorcycle Accident: Common causes include vehicles pulling in front of the motorcycle, merging into a cyclist’s lane, or a cyclist colliding with a stationary object. Motor vehicles that tailgate motorcyclists can cause accidents, as can uneven roads, loose gravel, hazardous weather, and faulty parts.
- Another Party Is at Fault: If another driver’s reckless or careless actions resulted in an accident that caused you to be injured, you should be able to file a lawsuit. Construction crews, bike/parts manufacturers, or city/state agencies may be liable depending on the circumstances.
Seek Medical Attention
Legal matters shouldn’t be your initial concern. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, call 911 and be evaluated by a medical professional right away. Serious trauma may not be obvious at first, and the injuries can get worse if not treated immediately. If you’re a driver who has struck a motorcyclist, check whether they are unharmed or potentially seriously injured.
Gather All Relevant Information
If another driver, motorcyclist, or pedestrian was involved in the accident, get their name and contact information. The same goes if multiple parties were involved. And take down contact details of any witnesses on the scene. Get the license number for any vehicle in the accident, the vehicle identification number, and driver insurance information.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s important to get in touch with a legal professional who has experience with motorcycle accident lawsuits. Don’t accept any waiver or check initially offered by the insurance company, and never admit fault to the accident. Your attorney will explain your rights. But most importantly, filing a lawsuit requires proving liability, causation, and damages. The stronger the case against the at-fault party, the greater the chances of your lawsuit succeeding.
To start your lawsuit, your attorney will file an initial complaint, using language and context for the court to understand your claim. The complaint is then served personally to the at-fault party who has 30 days to file a written response with the court. The case can then move on to the discovery phase, during which both sides gather information such as bills and medical records, live testimonies, and damages requested.
Various experts may be involved. For example, a physician hired by the defendant’s side will perform a physical examination to determine the nature of your injuries. Other accident experts may be hired and deposed to help prove the cause of the incident and the damages it contributed to.
Motorcycle Accident Settlement Process
If your claim goes to court, then the outcome will be decided by a judge or jury. However, most personal injury cases are settled at the insurance claim stage. But don’t expect the insurance company to give away money. Your lawyer will help prove your case and negotiate a fair settlement. The amount is likely to increase if you sustained serious injuries unless you were at all responsible for the accident.
A settlement demand can be made only when your lawyer fully evaluates your case. This requires knowing what all your medical bills, both past and future, will cost. Oftentimes, you need to wait until all medical treatment related to your accident injuries is completed. Both sides must then complete their investigation to understand what type of compensation they deserve to receive.
Contact a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
At The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, we’ve won many motorcycle accident lawsuits resulting in multi-million-dollar settlements. Your window to file a claim is limited by California’s statute of limitations. Insurance companies may also try to shift the blame on you. We’re equipped to gather evidence and investigate your claim to determine the true cause of your motorcycle accident and get the compensation you deserve. To get started, schedule your free case consultation by calling 888-952-2952 today.