Getting Legal Help After a Motorcycle Accident
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
As a motorcyclist, you know there’s nothing better than hitting the open road on a spring day or heading to the beach in the summer for a July Fourth party. Your ride is your freedom, and despite its dangers, it’s nearly impossible to hang up your helmet once you’ve gotten a taste of motorcycle life.
The freedom of riding on a motorcycle comes with its drawbacks, including a lack of protection around you when you collide with another vehicle. In these cases, you and your passenger can face serious injury or even death. These are the ways a motorcycle injury attorney can help if you have been injured riding your motorcycle.
1.) Start an Investigation
If you or a loved one are involved in a motorcycle crash, serious and life-threatening injuries are the first things on your mind. While police gather evidence at the scene, your motorcycle accident attorney can begin compiling this evidence to investigate what caused the accident.
While police and crash scene investigators do their best to determine fault in an accident, they are often overwhelmed by their caseloads and the number of accidents on the roads. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we work tirelessly to build a solid case that can get you the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can interview eyewitnesses and gather evidence from traffic cameras to help support your claim against another driver or drivers.
If there were defects in the road leading to your crash, you may be able to file a claim against the responsible governmental agency or property owner to receive compensation.
2.) Understand and Navigate Complex Motorcycle Laws
The laws for vehicle and motorcycle accidents in Michigan are complicated and difficult to wade through without experience.
For instance, if you were not wearing a helmet during your accident, you must be 21 years old and possess first-party medical benefits coverage. This coverage must be at least $20,000 for you and $20,000 per person, per occurrence if you have a passenger. You may be denied compensation for any head or neck injuries you sustained if you were not wearing a helmet without this requirement.
No-fault coverage is not necessary for motorcycles in Michigan because they are not considered motor vehicles under the law. However, in order to ride a motorcycle, you must at least have liability coverage in case you are in an at-fault accident. This coverage must be a minimum of $250,000 for bodily injury or death and $10,000 for property damage.
3.) Navigate Insurance Claims
As soon as your accident is reported to the insurance companies, their adjusters begin an investigation. While your or the at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay for your lost wages and medical bills up to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) amount, you may sustain pain and suffering beyond what the medical bills and paychecks cover. In these cases, insurance companies are reluctant to pay you more compensation.
According to the new no-fault insurance laws enacted in July 2020, you can purchase optional PIP insurance. It is no longer required or unlimited. You can select unlimited coverage, or increments of $50,000, $250,000, or $500,000. Alternately, you can opt-out if you have Medicare.
Our investigation can help provide indisputable evidence about your injury’s lasting effects on your quality of life. These claims go beyond economic or calculable damages into non-economic damages that don’t always have an exact dollar amount. These can also include shock and fright, loss of consortium, embarrassment, mental anguish, anxiety, loss of enjoyment in life, and shame.
4.) Prove Negligence
In order to win a personal injury claim for non-economic damages, you must prove the other driver’s actions were negligent. This is a legal definition of wrongdoing that has specific criteria you must meet to determine negligence. These criteria include:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- The other driver failed to meet that duty of care
- Without this failure of duty, you would not be injured
- The other driver’s actions are directly linked to your injuries
- You must be injured and suffer an economic or non-economic loss
After showing the other driver was negligent, you must prove that the other driver was more than 50% at-fault. There must be a direct correlation between the driver’s actions and your injuries, and you must have lost or have serious impairment of bodily functions. Pain and suffering must accompany this injury.
Examples of negligent actions by another driver can include:
- Failure to yield or stop
- Improper lane usage and changes
- Distracted driving
- Texting or talking on the phone while driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Drowsy driving
- Following too closely/rear-ending
5.) Timely Filing of Claims
In Michigan, you have one year from the accident date to file a no-fault claim with your own insurance company to receive medical and lost wages benefits. You have three years to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
If you are in the hospital or a rehab facility recovering from extensive injuries, these deadlines can quickly pass you by while you are focused on healing. Your attorney can help you fill out and file your claims on time so you don’t miss the statute of limitations.
6.) Provide Expert Testimony
Some motorcycle accident cases aren’t as clear cut. Rainy conditions, sun glare, and other drivers may seem like contributing factors in your accident, even if you personally witnessed the other driver being negligent.
If you are more than 50% at-fault for the accident, you can still file a motorcycle accident claim, but the percentage you are found at fault will reduce your compensation. For instance, if you are found to be 60% at-fault on a $100,000 claim, you would only be eligible to receive 40% compensation, or $40,000.
To improve your chances of a higher payout, expert testimony can help prove you were not at-fault or less at-fault in the accident. This is essential if the other driver and insurance company try to blame you for the accident.
Additionally, you must prove that the injuries you sustained in your car accident meets the Michigan bodily injury threshold in order to file for pain and suffering. Three criteria define this threshold:
- The injury is visible to outside parties, also called objectively manifested
- The objectively manifested bodily function must have great value to your everyday life
- The injury must impact your ability to live a normal life
Your personal injury attorney can hire a medical expert to help bolster your case, providing evidence of your injury and its impact on your life. In conjunction with an examination of your usual activities before the accident, medical records can help prove that this accident had a detrimental effect on your quality of living.
7.) File a Wrongful Death Suit
If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act, family, surviving dependents, and beneficiaries can sue the other driver if their negligent actions caused the death. The representative of the estate can bring the lawsuit on behalf of these interested parties.
When you have lost a loved one, you are already overwhelmed by grief. Dealing with estate law and wrongful death claims is another task your attorney can help navigate. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is within three years of the death of your loved one.
Wrongful death damages can include economic and non-economic compensation such as:
- Reasonable hospital, medical, funeral, and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
Children who lost a parent in a motorcycle accident are also entitled to sue for loss of training and guidance and gifts or other valuable gratuities.
Let Us Help You
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we have legal and medical expertise to help you navigate your injuries following a motorcycle crash. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, we offer a free consultation so you can get expert legal advice about your case. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.