Updated: Dec 27, 2019
You love riding your motorcycle, but you’re also probably aware that it has its risks. Getting into an accident, whether it was your fault or not, could mean sky-high hospital bills and expensive litigation. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer with motorcycle accident experience.
Motorcycle riders (and by the way attorney Chris Larson rides a classic Honda!) know that we have to ride defensively. The drivers in the automobiles, pickup trucks, and even 18 wheelers often don’t see us. People just don’t see what they aren’t looking for.
A motorcycle accident attorney can be an ally to help you navigate what is often a confusing insurance claim and court system. Aside from your injuries (which could be severe), you might have to deal with lawyers if other vehicles, individuals, or property are involved in the accident. Should you try to handle this yourself, you could wind up paying for lost work, medical bills, and other costs without the help of insurance. .
Of course there are times when the motorcycle rider is the driver at fault. But many times, the rider is the victim of bad decisions by other drivers or bad maintenance by municipalities. If your accident was caused by another person, then you could receive full compensation for your injuries in addition to lost future income and current wages, and for any suffering you may have endured. A good motorcycle injury lawyer can help prove to a jury that you weren’t at fault for the incident.
Did you know?
Sadly, Vermont motorcycle fatalities are on the rise. There has been a recent year over year increase:
18.2% increase from 2016 to 2017
-8.6% average decline nationwide during the same time period
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, it may well be worth hiring a good attorney. They’ll let you know if you have a case, then help you navigate the court system and then give you the best shot at receiving compensation.
Here are 5 ways an attorney can help you after a motorcycle accident:
Advise on local legal issues
Initiate a claim or suit
Provide representation in court
1. Gather information
Your attorney will organize all the information regarding your case immediately after the accident. They might gather police reports, visit the scene of the accident, have your motorcycle inspected, speak with insurance companies, and/or talk to doctors to get the full picture. They’ll be doing this to build the strongest case possible for you. Having to do these steps yourself can be time-consuming and exhausting, especially after a traumatic accident. Additionally, the insurance companies involved will probably be trying to undermine you.
TIP: Don’t give an interview, even on the telephone, to any insurance adjuster until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. If an adjuster calls you (and they will), tell them you are not prepared to give a statement until you have found legal counsel.
2. Advice on local legal issues
You need a local lawyer who understands the law in your jurisdiction, and you want a lawyer who knows something about motorcycle claims. It helps to have a lawyer who has ridden a bike, too!
If you’re looking for a motorcycle lawyer online, you are probably going to see some big outfits who claim to practice in all fifty states. This is a lie. No lawyers practice in all fifty states - and there aren’t any law firms that handle injury claims big enough to be in all parts of the country. Instead, this is a company targeting motorcycle riders who will take your information and sell it to an attorney in your state. That’s right - pretty sleazy. The really unfortunate part is that there’s no guaranty that the lawyer you get will know anything about motorcycle claims.
But a good, local lawyer with experience in motorcycle claims will understand your state’s laws and the necessary steps and procedures to follow when filing claims or going to court. They will also be familiar with your state’s motorcycle and automobile rules, such as your state’s helmet laws.
For example, Vermont’s motorcycle helmet law states that, "no person may operate or ride upon a motorcycle upon a highway unless he wears upon his head protective headgear reflectorized in part and of a type approved by the commissioner. The headgear shall be equipped with either a neck or chin strap."
Anyone riding must wear protective headgear, no matter what their age is. If you get in an accident and aren’t wearing a helmet, the helmet law violation could negatively affect your personal injury lawsuit, even if you weren’t at fault. Because Vermont follows comparative negligence, if a jury decides that your decision to not wear a helmet was an example of negligence, then any compensation that’s paid out to you will be reduced by the percentage you’re found at fault.
3. Initiate a claim or suit
If you are entitled to a settlement, an experienced attorney knows how to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. They’ll tell you the steps you need to take, and answer any questions you have along the way. Oftentimes, your lawyer will be able to negotiate with insurance and avoid having to go to court. But in the event that they aren’t able to settle, your attorney will guide you in the court process.
TIP: Has your lawyer actually handled a jury trial? You should ask. Most lawyers have not - it’s pretty rare. However, insurance companies know which lawyers are actually willing to go to a jury with you if that’s what your case needs. Don’t pay attention to how much the lawyer’s advertising costs - ask the lawyer if they’ve actually handled a jury trial recently.
4. Provide representation in court
Representing yourself in court, assuming you don’t have legal experience, is not a good idea. One study found that there are almost 200 tasks that self-represented individuals must do in civil cases. One misstep could cause the case to be dismissed. Having an experienced professional on your side can ensure that you have the best chance of winning possible.
5. Win compensation
Hiring a good attorney can help you win the compensation you deserve. Aside from the steps mentioned above, he or she can use their experience to advise you on the economic potential of your case and whether to accept specific settlement offers. Doing this on your own or trying to negotiate with an insurance company could cause you to settle for much less than your case is worth. Your lawyer will fight to win you the best settlement possible.
If you’ve been in an accident, don’t put off getting in touch with a motorcycle lawyer. Delaying the process can affect the quality of the evidence that is key in proving your case.
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