Being out on the road on your motorcycle offers an unrivaled sense of freedom. But while motorbike enthusiasts love their vehicles, they’re also aware of the risks involved. Some may tell you that motorbikes are no more dangerous than other vehicles, but the reality is that if you come off your bike, there’s not much to protect you from harm, even if you’re fully kitted out in safety gear.
If you’re in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, you could be entitled to compensation — but how much could you get? We look at motorcycle accident compensation payouts and the steps you need to take to get the most out of your claim.
How Dangerous Are Motorcycle Accidents?
Fatal motorcycle accidents are on the rise. In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation reported an alarming 17% increase in the number of motorcycle deaths compared to the previous year. Of the 7,481 documented motorcycle crashes in Texas in 2020, 482 people tragically lost their lives, and a further 1,856 motorcyclists were seriously injured.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
According to the state authorities, most motorcycle accidents in Texas happen between May and October, when the weather is best for outdoor activities.
The figures show that most motorcycle collisions happen because drivers of other vehicles — such as cars and trucks — don’t realize a motorcycle is on the road. This can occur in the following scenarios:
Unsafe Lane Changes
Because motorcycles are comparatively smaller than other vehicles, they can easily sit in a driver’s blind spot. If car or truck drivers fail to check their blind spots when changing lanes, a motorcyclist may not be seen and get hit.
Speeding is a contributing factor in many motorcycle accidents, whether on the part of the motorcyclist or another driver. If a vehicle is speeding, the driver or motorcyclist has less time to react to hazards and prevent an accident.
Left-turn accidents are common and a leading cause of motorcycle accidents. This type of collision often happens at an intersection, when a motorcyclist misjudges the distance or speed of an oncoming car.
While less common, motorcycle accidents can also happen due to vehicle error or environmental factors. These can include auto defects and dangerous road conditions, such as potholes, obscured signs, and inclement weather.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation: The Key Factors That Affect Your Claim
How much motorcycle accident compensation you’ll receive depends on multiple factors, including the nature and extent of your injuries and who’s at fault for your accident.
Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation Factor #1: Your Injuries
Whatever the cause of a motorcycle crash, the event can be devastating and life-altering. Unlike cars or other vehicles, motorcycles lack the same level of protection and can’t absorb the impact of the crash. It’s not uncommon for a motorcyclist to be thrown off their bike and sustain painful road rash or traumatic brain injuries — even if a rider is wearing a helmet.
In addition to the above, some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Limb amputations
- Facial fractures
Most of these injuries are extremely serious and may even be life-threatening. Medical treatment may include multiple surgeries, and the road to recovery may be long, challenging, and expensive.
The more extensive your injuries and the larger the impact they’ve had on your life, the more compensation you will be entitled to.
For example, if your accident leaves you with a permanent disability, your motorcycle accident compensation will be more significant than if you had broken your arm.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation Factor #2: Your Evidence
Motorcycle accident compensation claims rely on evidence, and the burden is on you to prove that your injuries resulted from an accident that wasn’t your fault.
The more evidence you have — and the stronger it is — the more likely you’ll be able to claim successfully.
Evidence comes in many forms, from eyewitness statements and medical records to official police reports. After your accident, it’s vital to seek medical attention. Some symptoms take time to appear — such as whiplash and concussion — but medical records can do a lot of heavy lifting in proving your case. If your symptoms don’t appear until days later, medical records and testimony from professionals can connect the dots and show that your injuries resulted from your accident. Otherwise, the other party may claim that your injuries happened in a separate event and they are not liable.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation Factor #3: Your Damages
Motorcycle accident compensation is made up of three parts:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive (or exemplary) damages
Economic damages are the hard costs of your accident, such as your medical expenses and lost income.
Economic damages are easier to calculate, as — for the most part — they can’t be disputed. Providing you keep receipts for medical treatment and previous payslips that prove your income, you are entitled to recover these as part of your motorcycle accident compensation.
You’re also entitled to future lost income and medical expenses. For example, if you need substantial rehabilitation or ongoing treatment for your injuries, you can’t do the same job responsibilities, or you can’t work at all, you can claim your future losses. Our motorcycle accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can help you work out your losses based on your injuries.
Non-economic damages compensate you for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment.
These are harder to quantify as they are subjective — how do you put a price on how much pain a person is in? Non-economic damages are determined on a case-by-case basis by applying a multiplier. The more significant the impact, the higher the multiplier.
For example, if you break a bone that has caused you pain and discomfort, the multiplier will likely be lower. However, if you are permanently left in a wheelchair that limits your independence and stops you from enjoying athletic activities — something you previously loved to do — you’ll receive a much higher motorcycle accident compensation payout.
Punitive damages comprise an additional sum that is not designed to compensate you for your injuries but to punish the defendant for egregious behavior, such as driving while intoxicated. Punitive damages won’t apply in every case and are at the discretion of a jury. If a jury determines you should receive punitive damages, the judge will determine how much.
Motorcycle Accident Compensation Factor #4: Who’s At Fault?
A major factor in determining your motorcycle accident compensation is who is at fault. You can only claim compensation if your accident was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party, such as another driver.
However, that’s not to say you can’t claim compensation if you were partially at fault. Negligence laws vary by state, but in Texas, you can claim if you were less than 51% at fault. This will impact your final compensation payout, so speak to a personal injury lawyer if you believe you were partly responsible for your accident.
Once again, proving fault comes down to the strength of your evidence. If both parties proclaim innocence, evidence will determine who is at fault. This makes it crucial to get a copy of the crash report created after the accident — your lawyer can request this. An investigating police officer will create this report at the accident scene, and it’ll include any potential factors that contributed to the collision, such as speeding, driving while distracted or cell phone use.
Getting the Maximum Motorcycle Accident Compensation
You have the best chance of winning your case and getting the maximum motorcycle accident compensation with the help of experienced lawyers. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t have to come up with the cash to pay a personal injury lawyer upfront because we’ll take your fee from your compensation payout — and only when we win.
Your motorcycle accident lawyer will start by discussing your case and assessing your chances of successfully recovering compensation.
Negotiating Your Motorcycle Accident Compensation Payout with Other Parties
Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company forms a substantial part of the claims process. Your lawyer will present your evidence and negotiate a financial settlement for your injuries. This is not always easy because insurance companies are typically reluctant to pay compensation if they can get away with it.
If the evidence is overwhelming that you didn’t cause the crash and the other party is at fault, the insurance company may make an initial offer. This will likely be well below what you’re entitled to, so you may want to reject it and continue with negotiations. If you can’t reach an agreement, it may be time to head to court.
Preparing for trial is often a lengthy, complex, and expensive undertaking. Your lawyer may want to arrange for experts to testify — whether about the accident, your injuries, or both — and it can be daunting for you to appear before a judge and jury. You need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to prepare for your day in court and convincingly present your case — leaving no doubt that the other party was at fault and that you are entitled to compensation.
As for how much you can expect in motorcycle accident compensation, this ultimately depends on the above factors. It could be in the tens of thousands of dollars or a lot more. However complex your claim, you can be sure your motorcycle accident lawyer will fight to get you the maximum compensation possible.
Wondering how much you could receive in a motorcycle accident compensation payout? Get in touch with our motorcycle accident lawyers in Texas for a free, no-obligation case review.