Accidents are something everyone wants to avoid; however, these things happen from time to time. Thankfully, insurance companies can cover part or the totality of the damages caused by an accident, right? Well, the problem is that car drivers, insurers, and even judges can be predisposed towards riders and they are likely to place the blame on the motorcyclists, even if they are not at fault. Therefore, it is important to know how to make an accident claim and what your rights are in case of an accident.
1. Special Laws That Apply To Motorcyclists
While motorcycle riders have the same rights and must abide by the same rules as car drivers, there are special laws that address specifically motorcyclists. These laws can vary from state to state; however, if you go with the motorcycle accident lawyer, they will know the laws specific to the state in which you live. Here are some general ones that apply to all riders:
- Wearing a helmet: Currently, 19 states require drivers to wear a helmet and other states have similar laws that apply only to children or younger drivers. There are only three states in which there are no laws applying to the use of helmets, which are New Hampshire, Illinois, and Iowa.
- Special license: Many people do not know this but motorcyclists should get a special license to be able to ride. Although some riders just use their regular driving license, this can be an issue worthy of citation and a fine. Furthermore, in case of an accident, the rider will have the odds against them, even if another vehicle was at fault.
- Safety gear: Depending on the state, different additional items can be required. These can range from protective glasses to adding extra lights to your motorcycle or reflecting features. This is done to ensure visibility.
- Lane-splitting: The only state in which riding between two lanes of traffic or lane-splitting is legal is the state of California. Therefore, this is the only state in which riders can successfully sue if they are involved in an accident while doing this. Utah also has flexible laws regarding this.
2. Damages You Can Include in Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
There are different types of damages that can be claimed, these go from economic damages to punitive damages. Economic damages are quantifiable, and these usually refer to medical bills or lost income. Furthermore, future medical expenses can also be included as well as anticipated losses due to disability caused by the accident.
There are also non-economic damages, which include things like emotional distress, permanent injuries, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. While these damages are more difficult to quantify, they are equally valid during an accident claim.
Lastly, there are punitive damages. These are at the discretion of a judge, who might decide to include punitive damages when the guilty party was behaving in an especially irresponsible way. This is often seen in cases involving drunk or reckless drivers. The punishment for these damages varies by state.
3. Should You Accept a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
Before accepting a settlement offer made by the insurance company you should consider how likely you are to win the case at a trial and how much will the jury award in damages in case you win. Your lawyer can advise you on this and help you make a decision. While the amount offered by an insurance company is probably less than you would hope for, some things might make it a more viable option:
- Guaranteed money: A trial can go in many different ways, and the jury might award you less than what was proposed by the insurer. Furthermore, they could decide the defendant is innocent.
- Structured payment: This is a way of setting a settlement that can benefit both parties. The insurance company commits to making the payments in a structured way and you receive regular payments until the full sum has been paid. This can be great if you want to make sure you will not spend all the money at once. Furthermore, the total tends to be higher than what would have been paid on a lump settlement.
As long as you consult with a trustworthy attorney and you make sure you understand your rights, you are bound to make the right choice.