Signs You Need a Motorcycle Accident Injury AttorneyIf you ride your motorcycle on a regular basis, you already know the feeling of zipping down the road with nothing between you and the highway but your bike. Unfortunately, while that lack of protection adds to the thrill, it also adds to the potential for injury if you wreck. It happens a lot in Florida, too—the Sunshine State leads the nation in motorcycle accident deaths, and 19 percent of all of the state's traffic fatalities involved motorcycles. Did you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident? If so, you may need legal help to file, process, and fight for your claim. Don't wait to get the legal help you need. Many people find themselves waiting, wondering: “Do I really need to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer? When should I hire an attorney?” By better understanding the benefits of an attorney and when you should contact one, you can put yourself in a better position to handle your claim—and ensure that you get a lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
Why Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?Traditional car accident cases often provide straightforward resolutions. If you suffered damage in a car accident in the past, you may assume that the claims process after a motorcycle accident runs the same way: you provide evidence to the insurance company, they take your injuries and the damages to your vehicle into consideration, and you get a check. When it comes to serious injuries after a motorcycle accident, however, things may work differently. Most insurance adjusters want to save as much money for their company as possible. As a result, they may use several tactics to reduce the company's financial burden, including:
- Denying that your injuries resulted from your motorcycle accident. They may, for example, try to prove that you had a preexisting condition or that you caused your injuries at another time.
- Insisting that your injuries cause less difficulty in your daily life than you claim. The insurance company's representatives might, for example, try to catch you doing things your injuries should prevent you from doing.
- Offering a low settlement shortly after your accident, when you have no idea how much your injuries will cost and do not understand what your recovery will look like.
- Attempting to prove that you, and not the driver covered by that insurance company, caused the accident.
When Do You Need an Attorney?After a straightforward accident with only common damages to your vehicle, you may not need a motorcycle accident attorney to help handle your claim. If you only experienced property damage during the accident, you may settle the claim with the other driver's insurance company yourself. In some cases, however, things may turn out less straightforward. Then, you want an attorney on your side. Consider some of these scenarios:
- You suffered serious injuries in your motorcycle accident. Due to those serious injuries, you will spend a great deal of time in recovery and notice severe restrictions on your life as you heal from your accident. Any time you suffer serious injuries, you need an attorney to represent you as you handle your claim. With serious injuries, you may face more difficulty negotiating with the insurance company or struggle to understand exactly what compensation you should receive for those injuries, including your medical expenses, lost time at work, and pain and suffering.
- You suffered permanent injuries as a result of your motorcycle accident. Sometimes, injuries cause permanent damage that may lead to lifelong disability. If you suffered amputation, paralysis, or traumatic brain injury expected to have lifelong results, for example, you may face challenges related to your motorcycle accident for the rest of your life. These injuries often limit your enjoyment of daily activities or even prevent you from returning to work in your former capacity. You may struggle to move forward with your life or need additional financial assistance for permanent modifications to your home or your vehicle in order to get around in spite of your injuries. An attorney can help you seek the compensation you actually need and deserve, rather than missing out on potential elements of that compensation.
- The insurance company uses unfair tactics to help reduce the amount of compensation. This may include fighting with you over your medical costs or attempting to prove that something else, rather than the motorcycle accident, actually caused your injuries. If you need to fight or negotiate with the insurance company, you will want an attorney on your side. Using an attorney often makes the process easier and frequently increases the compensation amount awarded by the insurance company. You should also take note if the insurance company attempts to issue a low compensation offer immediately after the accident. Even if you think the offer fair, consider contacting a lawyer for a free consultation to better understand exactly how much you deserve for your injuries and what you should expect from the claims process.
- The insurance company denies your claim. In some cases, the insurance company may deny your claim for compensation, leaving you unsure of where to turn next. In some cases, you may have little recourse: the driver did not carry insurance or the insurance company did not cover that usage of the other driver's vehicle, for example. In other cases, however, you may receive a claim denial for illegitimate reasons. In those cases, an attorney can help you appeal that denial and seek the funds you actually deserve.
When Should You Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?After a motorcycle accident, you want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. In fact, contacting an attorney should go at the top of your list of things to do shortly after an accident, especially if you suffer serious injury. When in the process should you contact an attorney? Some people choose to make the initial phone call when they sit by the road immediately after the accident, waiting for emergency services to arrive. Others call from their hospital beds. Still, others wait until later in the process. You should contact an attorney when:
- You know that you have serious injuries requiring long-term medical care. Seeking medical care should represent your top priority immediately after the accident. Not only will medical care ensure that you do not accidentally worsen your injuries or cause problems with your recovery, but it will also help provide vital evidence that can help you with your claim. You may call your attorney at any point after you recognize the severity of your injuries; however, often, you may want a full assessment of your injuries from a physician before you proceed with your claim.
- You start to have problems with the insurance company. Sometimes, you may feel that you can handle your motorcycle accident insurance claim on your own. It seems relatively straightforward, and you think the insurance company will deal honestly with you. Unfortunately, a bad adjuster or a dishonest insurance company may quickly cause serious problems. If you struggle to deal with the paperwork, notice the insurance company issuing unnecessary delays, or struggle to provide the proof the adjuster asks for, you may need a lawyer to help you deal with the process.
- You realize more than one party could bear fault in your accident. Any time you struggle to determine fault for your accident, you may need an attorney to help cut through the red tape, identify fault, and fight on your behalf. A lawyer can help you more effectively identify which party you need to contact for compensation after your accident and how that may impact your settlement down the road.
- You have questions about your claim. If you have questions about your motorcycle accident claim, especially questions the insurance company cannot answer or will not answer to your satisfaction, you can contact an attorney to ask your questions. An attorney will provide solid legal advice about what to expect from the claims process, how much compensation you should expect, and even how much compensation you should expect to receive based on the conditions of your accident and the extent of your injuries. Often, attorneys will provide a free consultation to help you better understand the claims process and determine whether you need a lawyer to assist with your case.
Why Contact an Attorney as Soon as Possible?In Florida, you have four years after an accident to file a personal injury claim. It does not matter if you drove the motorcycle, rode on the motorcycle as a passenger, or suffered injuries as a pedestrian at the time of the accident: you have four years to begin the process of filing your claim. That means you have plenty of time to handle your legal claim, so do you really need to start the process immediately after your accident? In short: yes! The sooner you start the claims process, the better your odds of a successful resolution. Contacting a motorcycle accident attorney early makes it easier to accomplish a number of tasks.
- When you start early, you will better remember what happened. The sooner after an accident you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can walk you through your statement of what took place during the accident. Your statement can help determine fault and give a better idea of exactly what happened during your motorcycle accident. If you wait to schedule that appointment, however, you may struggle to issue an accurate statement, especially a statement not impacted by what others have said about the accident. Your memory may fade faster than you expect. Even if you plan to contact a lawyer quickly, consider writing down or otherwise recording a statement about the accident immediately after your accident.
- Witnesses have better memories immediately after the accident. Did you have witnesses to your motorcycle accident: other drivers or pedestrians in the area at the time of the accident who saw what happened and can provide a statement that could help prove fault? Unfortunately, the longer you wait to collect their statements, the more inaccurate they may become. Many times, witness statements that line up well immediately after the accident will look completely different within a few weeks, much less a few months. The sooner you identify witnesses and start working with an attorney to collect their statements, the more accurate you may find those statements.
- Your lawyer will find it easier to collect evidence immediately after the accident. Did you suffer an accident on a busy street? You may want to use traffic cameras or local businesses' security cameras to help show what happened during the accident. Did your accident involve the driver of a big truck? You may want to access the driver's logbook to determine whether they spent too many hours on the road or drove too fast. The sooner after the accident your lawyer starts seeking that evidence, the easier they will find it to collect it.
- Get your funds in your hands faster. After an accident, you may notice bills starting to mount quickly. Not only do you have medical expenses to deal with, but you may also have to miss time at work due to your injuries. You may also have a range of other expenses, including modifications to your home and vehicle. When you contact an attorney early in the process, you can start the process to collect those funds faster.
Call a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney for More InformationAfter a motorcycle accident, you need legal help fast. Contact a lawyer with experience in settling and litigating Florida motorcycle accidents today. Most motorcycle accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency fee bases, so you can learn more about how you can recover from a Florida motorcycle accident without the worry of racking up any additional expenses. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-personal-injury-lawyer/ Sources: https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2016-12/motorcycles_2015.pdf