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How Much Is My Motorcycle Accident Claim Worth?

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Jeff Sevey

The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, and you’ve got nothing but time and an open road ahead of you. That’s the freedom that motorcyclists all over the world have come to treasure. In California, there are over 800,000 registered motorcycles - more than any other state - and it’s no surprise! We’ve got one of the best places on earth to ride with great weather, gorgeous scenery, and hundreds of thousands of miles of road. There’s truly nothing that can compare to the feeling of being on your motorcycle.

It'd be great if every ride were carefree and safe, but unfortunately, that's not the case. All that roadway combined with cars, trucks, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles means that there are going to be accidents. There were over 11,000 motorcycle riders injured in accidents in 2013 alone.

At The Sevey Law Firm, we know how catastrophic a motorcycle accident can be. One minute, you’re enjoying the open road, the next, you’re in pain, and worrying about your future. We understand, and we want to help you obtain relief and get your life back to normal.

You deserve to be compensated for your injuries, and filing a lawsuit against the party at fault for your accident is one way to obtain financial relief. There are several factors involved that will influence your motorcycle accident claim, and we’ll be discussing them below.

Liability vs. Damages

Any injury that occurs due to a motorcycle accident is governed by personal injury law. There are two essential pieces to any personal injury claim: liability and damages.

Liability is the responsibility carried for causing someone’s injuries. In any personal injury case, before you obtain compensation you must prove that another person’s negligence resulted in your injuries. The burden of showing proof falls on the injured party who is filing the lawsuit.

When you have proven who was liable for causing the accident, the next step is to prove that there were damages that were caused by the accident. These damages are the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident.

Without both liability and damages, there can be no recovery in your motorcycle accident. This can seem a bit confusing, so let’s look at some fictitious examples.

You're out on your motorcycle, and you slow down in anticipation of making a left-hand turn. The car behind you runs into your motorcycle because they didn't see your brake lights because he was distracted by changing the music station. You are thrown off your bike and suffer a broken arm, a broken ankle, and lower back injuries. In this example, you can establish the other driver's liability because he was distracted and not paying attention to the road. You can prove damages because your injuries would not have happened if it hadn't been for the other driver's negligence.

Now, still using the above example, let’s say that you go to make your left-hand turn, and the driver looks up just in time to slam on his brakes. He still bumps your fender, but there are no injuries and no damage to your bike. You’d still be able to establish liability, but in this case, there are no damages to be proven, because you have suffered no injuries and no property damage to your motorcycle.

Settlement vs. Judgment

When a lawsuit is filed, there are two possible ways you can receive compensation for the damages you suffer. These are settlement and judgment.

A settlement is an agreement between you and the liable party that no one will pursue a lawsuit. A monetary figure is agreed upon and given to the injured party in exchange for not filing a lawsuit. You will then give the liable party a release of liability in exchange for the lump-sum payment.

If an adequate settlement between the parties can not be reached, the lawsuit will proceed and go to trial. If the jury finds that the liable party was responsible for the accident, the court will enter an order stating the damages awarded, and the defendant will be required to pay the damages.

In a settlement situation, the monetary amount you receive will be less than in a lawsuit, because a settlement is a compromise. You are saved the complexity of a lawsuit, and what you receive will be less, but you are guaranteed a certain amount of money. In the case of a lawsuit, you are not guaranteed anything. It all depends on the jury and what they decide. This is why it's often smarter to accept a smaller, but guaranteed, settlement as opposed to risking getting even less money, or none at all, with a lawsuit and trial.

The attorneys at The Sevey Law Firm can help you explore whether a settlement or a lawsuit is in your best interest. After we know the details of your case, we can offer you an educated opinion on how strong your case is, and then we can move forward as your legal representation to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Specific vs. Non-Specific Damages

After liability has been established in a case, there are two categories of damages that you might be entitled to - measurable damages and those damages that can not be specifically measured.

Specific damages are those damages that can be quantified, such as medical bills, or time off of work due to injuries. These damages have a specific monetary value attached to them that is easily calculable. Other specific damages might include future medical treatments and rehabilitation to allow you to go back to the job you had prior to your injuries, as well as non-injury-related damages caused by the accident such as property damage to your motorcycle.

Non-specific damages are damages that can’t be easily measured. Pain and suffering that you’ve experienced due to your injuries are a great example of non-specific damages. These types of damages are worth being compensated for, but they’re much harder to quantify because there are no receipts, invoices, or bills. The amount of compensation awarded for non-specific damages must be reasonable within the facts of the case. The jury will award the damages, but the defendant is allowed to raise an objection. If this happens, the court will decide if the damages are fair and reasonable, given the situation.

If you’ve suffered injuries due to a motorcycle accident, and you need legal representation that is going to produce positive results, we encourage you to contact us to set up a consultation. Your initial consultation is always free of charge, and we can assess your case based on years of experience in personal injury law.

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