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How much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident?

How much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident?

hand above paper bills and calculator

In theory, getting fair compensation for your injuries after a motorcycle crash shouldn’t be different than any other type of car accident. If you’ve been seriously hurt as a result of someone else’s mistake, you shouldn’t be the one left to foot the bill.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents don’t always work out that way, and many bikers end up taking an injury settlement that’s far less than what they truly deserve. There are lots of reasons for that, from the typically severe nature of motorcycle injuries in general, to the comparative negligence law in Washington State, and even prejudice against motorcycle riders.

In this blog post, we’ll talk a bit more what your motorcycle accident settlement value should be, and why working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is almost always going to give you the best change to get it.

hand above paper bills and calculator

What should my motorcycle accident settlement cover?

man using a laptop

In any personal injury case—including motorcycle accidents—there are three basic categories of damages you can claim. “Damages” is a legal term that refers to the financial compensation associated with physical and emotional harm during some type of crash or accident:

  • Economic damages. This includes things like medical bills, lost wages, domestic services, and other strictly financial costs associated with your injury. You can claim not only the costs you’ve incurred up to this point, but also future lost earnings and future medical expenses (and other costs) you expect to pay based on the nature of your injuries.
  • Non-economic damages. Serious injuries often come with costs that aren’t as easily measured in dollars and cents. For example: pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, cognitive or emotional difficulties resulting from traumatic brain injuries, and other challenges.
  • Punitive damages. This relatively rare category of damages may be awarded if the at-fault driver behaved excessively recklessly and dangerously—for example, driving significantly over the speed limit or while intoxicated.

Making sure your motorcycle accident claim fully includes all the damages you’re eligible to claim is, for obvious reasons, essential if you want to maximize your recovery.

man using a laptop

So, what is a good settlement anyway?

man injured in motorcycle accident

To be clear, there’s no way to answer this question without speaking, in depth, with a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience handling these types of cases. Even trying to calculate an average motorcycle accident settlement wouldn’t do you much good, since cases can run from a few thousand dollars to millions, depending on the circumstances.

That said, a good settlement should include not only an accurate accounting of your economic damages, but also a meaningful amount of pain and suffering damages based on your symptoms. In other words, a good settlement should make sure you don’t pay a cent for a mistake caused by someone else.

If you’ve been badly injured and required a lot of medical treatment, or suffered any long-term or permanent symptoms, your non-economic damages could be worth considerably more than your economic damages or more. On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to escape with only minor to moderate injuries that you were able to make a full recovery from, you won’t get as much in pain and suffering.

But again, it all depends on the particulars of your case. For example, if you’re younger, your long-term medical costs will likely be higher. If you make more money, your wage losses will be more significant. And if you’re not carrying uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured coverage, your motorcycle accident case may be strictly constrained to the policy limits of whatever the at-fault driver is carrying—regardless of your medical expenses.

Don’t trust an online calculator or rules of thumb without speaking with an attorney. Otherwise, you risk leaving a ton of money on the table. And once you’ve settled, there’s no way to go back and get a do-over.

man injured in motorcycle accident

Common obstacles that prevent motorcycle riders from getting fair settlements in Washington State

motorcycle accident settlement

Motorcycle riders face many challenges when trying to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. Many of these are the same familiar problems that any driver is going to encounter, but unfortunately bikers often encounter extra resistance. A quick summary:

  • Greater chance of severe injuries. Because motorcycles offer limited protection, bikers are more likely to be seriously injured and require extensive medical treatment, and thus will be looking for a high settlement amount. The higher the potential settlement, the greater the incentive the insurance company has to fight it.
  • Insurance policy limits. In Washington, drivers are only required to carry $25,000 in liability insurance per injured person and $50,000 per accident. Given that they’re usually pretty severe, the vast majority of motorcycle accidents will blow past those caps almost immediately, so other source of coverage (such as your own personal injury protection or underinsured motorist coverage) will be necessary.
  • Motorcycle safety laws. If you ride without state-required safety gear, your ability to recover for certain injuries may be badly compromised. For example, if you were riding without an approved helmet, you may find it difficult to receive compensation for a head injury even when the other driver was 100% responsible for causing the accident. (Injuries to other areas of the body may still be covered, but an attorney is your best resource for getting fair compensation for both head and body injuries.)
  • Prejudice against motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, non-riders often show limited sympathy for those with a motorcycle injury claim. While this should not matter, provided the motorcycle driver did nothing wrong and followed all applicable laws, juries can be unpredictable and don’t always make the right choice. That makes going to trial an especially risky proposition, and insurance companies know it when making their settlement calculations.
motorcycle accident settlement

Should I get a lawyer to help with my motorcycle accident claim?

Yes, absolutely.

Far too many motorcycle injury victims don’t realize the true value of their injury claim until it’s too late and end up accepting a final settlement that’s far too low. Don’t follow their example and leave money on the table!

The best way to protect yourself is by hiring a personal injury lawyer with plenty of experience handling motorcycle accident cases, including cases that go all the way to trial.

Motorcycle accident lawyer Zach Herschensohn knows the tricks insurance companies play to deny injured riders the compensation they deserve. He is a tenacious advocate who will work hard to help you:

  • Calculate a fair value of your motorcycle accident claim (which may include connecting with medical specialists who truly understand the future medical treatment you’ll need) so you won’t be tempted by an obvious lowball settlement offer from the insurance company.
  • Gather the detailed, thorough evidence you’ll need to prove not only the validity of the damages you’re claiming, but also to keep the at-fault party from pinning the blame on you instead. This can include everything from gathering evidence at the accident scene to working with an accident reconstructionist to making sure you carefully track your expenses and symptoms to tracking down eyewitnesses, and much more.
  • Protect yourself from being tricked by the insurance adjuster into giving statements that harm your case.
  • Aggressively defend your interests in negotiations with the insurance company—or, if they won’t give you a fair settlement, take them to court.

And it won’t cost you anything to hire a personal injury attorney who will fight for you. That’s because initial consultations are always free, and you pay nothing unless we win you a settlement or verdict.

To request your free consultation with our law office today, give us a call at (206) 588-4344 or complete our simple contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

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References

  1. Texas Department of Transportation. (2020, April 15). Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Facts Calendar Year 2019. https://ftp.txdot.gov/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2019/01.pdf
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2019, December). Fatality Facts 2018, Large Trucks. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/largetrucks

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as
legal advice on any subject.