Many people have questions after they get into a motorcycle accident. Lots of those questions have to do with the legal process. Clients frequently ask our legal team about lawsuit timelines. Accident victims want to know: How long does a motorcycle accident lawsuit take? What factors impact the length of a motorcycle lawsuit? Do you have to bring a motorcycle lawsuit to receive compensation after a motorcycle accident?
We’ve decided to compile answers to the most frequently asked questions we get here. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, this post covers some of the most important things you should know about a potential lawsuit.
People on motorcycles are at greater risk than people in cars. When someone is riding a motorcycle, they’re at more risk on the road than someone riding in a car. This is true for several reasons. Motorcycles are small and not highly visible in general; if conditions make visibility even worse, motorcyclists face even more danger.
Motorcyclists also don’t have the same protections afforded to them as car passengers do. No walls surround you when you’re on a motorcycle. No seatbelts or airbags protect you, either.
Just because motorcycles aren’t as safe as cars, doesn’t mean you’re at fault for your accident. The fact that motorcycles present more risk than cars doesn’t mean that motorcycle accident survivors are automatically at fault for the crash. Other vehicle drivers still have a responsibility to never behave recklessly or negligently. If someone else’s careless actions cause a motorcycle accident, the motorcycle driver is not at fault.
Common Injuries After Motorcycle Accidents
One of the most common driving forces behind motorcycle accident lawsuits is the serious injuries that many riders sustain. It’s impossible to ignore a major injury, especially if it’s one that causes severe pain and suffering, makes you miss time from work, or leaves you disabled.
The kinds of injuries a victim sustains in a motorcycle accident influence how long a motorcycle accident lawsuit takes. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the longer the case takes. This is because people who are more severely injured often incur higher damages (like medical bills) and take longer to recover enough to know what to ask for in an accident injury claim.
Some of the most common injuries riders sustain in severe accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury: A traumatic brain injury (also known as a TBI) can be very dangerous. This type of injury has the potential to cause lifelong complications. If someone may have received a TBI during a motorcycle accident, they must seek medical attention immediately.
- Spinal cord injury: Most injuries to the spine occur because of compression or pulling during a collision. A spinal cord injury victim may experience spasms, exaggerated reflexes, pain, numbness, paralysis, and other serious symptoms if their spinal cord is injured.
- Road rash: Road rash injuries generally occur when a rider’s skin scrapes across the road surface during an accident. Even people in cars can get road rash—some people are flung from their vehicles and skid along the road during an accident. Road rash is common amongst motorcyclists because people on motorcycles naturally lack the protection that cars’ structures offer.
- Broken bones: Some broken bones “aren’t a big deal,” even though they certainly feel like it. You can pursue justice after any bone break in a motorcycle accident, but some broken bones are very severe and can even leave a victim disabled. It’s important to understand the nature of your fracture (or fractures) if you’ve broken a bone in a motorcycle accident.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries are especially dangerous because they are impossible to detect with the naked eye. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to seek medical attention right away after a motorcycle accident, even if you think you aren’t hurt. These injuries have the potential to cause tremendous damage to your body.
Recoverable Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
The types of damages you pursue may affect how long your motorcycle accident lawsuit takes. Every motorcycle accident is unique. Every motorcycle accident lawsuit is unique, too. We’ve already said it a thousand times, but we really think it’s important. Many people approach the legal process after their accident with expectations about what will happen. The only way to get an idea about how your case may play out is to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
The types of damages you choose to pursue after a motorcycle accident can change your case’s timeline. Usually, cases with higher damage demands take longer to settle. This isn’t always the case, but higher claim values do often necessitate a more thorough investigation.
Here are some of the damages that a motorcycle accident victim might choose to pursue compensation for in a motorcycle accident lawsuit:
- Medical bills: You may be eligible to recover the costs of past, present, and even projected future medical bills incurred due to your motorcycle accident. Higher medical bills are generally associated with more severe or long-term injuries; when these are involved, a motorcycle accident lawsuit may take longer than one that involves “minor” injuries.
- Pain and suffering: Many motorcycle accidents cause survivors to experience pain and suffering; these damages depend on how you have been emotionally and physically impacted by your accident.
- Lost wages: Unfortunately, it’s common to miss work after a motorcycle accident. You can pursue compensation to account for lost wages in court.
- Diminished earning capacity: Lost wages are one thing, but diminished earning capacity is a whole other issue. Sometimes, an injured person’s ability to earn money is permanently diminished after their motorcycle accident. If this is you, an attorney may help you pursue damages for diminished earning capacity.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: No one deserves to feel that their enjoyment of life has been taken from them; there are specific damages available to motorcycle accident survivors who experience a loss of enjoyment of life.
- Disfigurement: Some motorcycle accidents (and the resulting injuries) lead to disfigurement and scarring. Additional compensation may be available for accident survivors in this position.
- Disability: If your motorcycle accident caused a disability, you can pursue damages to account for this impact on your life. No monetary sum could ever make up for a disability, but the American justice system works to provide accident survivors impacted by disability with some financial relief.
Certain Injuries Can Make a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Take Longer
When people are hurt in motorcycle accidents, their resulting injuries are often much worse than they would have been if they had been in a traditional car accident. This is because motorcycles do not provide riders with the same protections as most passenger vehicles. They are not enclosed, they don’t have safety features like seatbelts and airbags, and they can easily tip over on the road.
Often, more severe injuries lead to a longer lawsuit. This isn’t some sort of punishment for severe accident survivors. It’s true for two reasons:
- It’s best to begin legal proceedings once accident survivors have made something close to a full physical recovery as they can, given their injuries. This helps their own physical health and makes it easier to total costs and predict future medical bills.
- The more catastrophic someone’s injuries, the more expensive it generally is to treat them. And the higher the monetary damages in a case, the longer the case is likely to take.
The types of injuries that a person sustains during a motorcycle accident can impact how long their case takes to move through the court.
Some injuries are traditionally associated with expensive recoveries or long rehabilitation periods, such as:
- Certain bone fractures: Some bone fractures are not considered severe (although they certainly feel severe when they happen to you and impact your life). Others, like those that break the skin or occur in numerous places, are very medically serious. These types of breaks may take quite some time to heal and can require expensive surgeries and extensive rehabilitative therapy.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries are serious—they have the potential to change the victim’s life forever. Depending on the brain injury, the victim may need long-term or even life-long care after the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are extremely painful and can be very expensive to treat; they often require repeat and extensive treatments and victims often do not make a full recovery.
- Injuries causing scarring, disfigurement, or disability: If an injury is severe enough to cause disfigurement or scarring, there’s a high potential that it will take a long time to heal. Injuries that cause disability may require months (or years’) worth of rehabilitation before legal proceedings are possible.
The Steps in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Finding Legal Representation.
It takes legal professionals years (sometimes even decades) to thoroughly learn about specific areas of law. There’s a reason most people head into insurance settlements or court negotiations with a lawyer: they’re a big help.
You can make appointments with several local motorcycle accident attorneys to find the one that’s best for your case. They’ll all ask you questions about what happened, how you were impacted by your accident, and how you think you may want to proceed with the legal process. Then, you can ask questions about your case’s potential value and how that lawyer would approach it.
How do I know if I don’t need a lawyer after my motorcycle accident? You probably do, but these factors make it clear a victim really should work with an attorney:
- People who have had to miss more than a handful of days of work because of an accident.
- People who have sustained broken bones, head or spinal injuries, and other similarly serious injuries.
- People with bills of more than a few thousand dollars accruing due to their accident.
Working With a Lawyer During the Investigation and Negotiation Stages.
The attorney you decide to work with will review your case and investigate what happened. This is one of the primary benefits of working with a lawyer: they use every tool at their disposal to help determine and prove what happened to cause you harm. Motorcycle accident attorneys need to gather evidence concerning everything about an accident, from the fact that it caused your injury to the fact that the guilty party caused it.
During this stage of the legal process…
- Your lawyer will ask you about what happened during the accident.
- You will share documentation and evidence that you have with your lawyer.
- Your lawyer will determine your potential lawsuit’s validity.
Negotiation allows you to make demands. Once you enter the negotiation phase, you can actually demand the damages you deserve. Many motorcycle accident survivors and their lawyers see success with cases during the negotiation phase. Most cases settle outside of court.
If you have hired an attorney, they can be in communication with the other party’s insurance company (or their attorney) to negotiate and make demands.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit.
If negotiations don’t result in a fair settlement and you need to move forward in the legal process and begin a motorcycle accident lawsuit, your lawyer will help. Motorcycle accident lawsuits involve several steps. At the beginning of the process is the discovery stage of your lawsuit.
The trial discovery stage allows both sides in a lawsuit to question each other and collect documentation and evidence. Both your attorney and the defendant’s attorney may speak to witnesses, bring in experts, and more. Some legal teams come to an agreement at this point; in other cases, a mediator is required to try to help settle the case out of court.
Mediation is not always successful. If mediation doesn’t solve the issues in your case, it may be time to go to trial. This involves your attorney making your case in front of a judge or jury, and the trial can last anywhere from a day to months.
Every Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Is Unique
Remember, when it comes to your motorcycle accident lawsuit, every case is unique. If you have questions about how long your case may take, bring up your concerns with your attorney. It’s your lawyer’s job to offer you legal support and answer your questions.
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765