Of the many types of collisions we see, motorcycle accidents consistently result in some of the most serious harm. Motorcyclists have virtually no protection in the event of an accident, leaving them vulnerable to a wide range of injuries.
Whether you were injured in a crash with a motorist or you were in a single-vehicle accident involving only your bike, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The amount you may be able to recover depends on a variety of different factors, including the specific damages in your case, the circumstances of the accident, and more.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can review your case and advise you of your options for pursuing compensation. It won’t cost anything to see if Whitley Law Firm can help.
How Is Compensation Calculated in a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
It is important to understand that no two accident cases are exactly alike. The outcome of one claim is not an accurate reflection of what you can reasonably expect from the result an attorney may be able to achieve on your behalf.
Rather, the unique details of your case will help determine how much you may be able to recover in compensation. A motorcycle accident attorney will take the following into account when calculating potential damages:
1. Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Different types of injury result in different losses. The more severe and extensive the injury or injuries, the more compensation you may be able to recover.
Motorcyclists may suffer a multitude of serious injuries in an accident, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the head and face
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Spinal cord injuries
- Road rash
- Bone fractures
- Amputation and dismemberment
- Burn injuries
You may be entitled to compensation both for the financial impact of these injuries (e.g., medical expenses, the inability to work, etc.) and other adverse effects they have on your life. The potential payout will depend on the particular economic and non-economic damages.
2. The Damages in Your Motorcycle Accident Case
“Damages” is a broad term for the losses that may be recoverable in an accident claim. Generally, they fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Possible damages in your motorcycle accident claim include:
- Economic damages: These are losses with a clear monetary value.
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., reimbursement for medical-related travel, assistive mobility devices, prosthetics, modifications to your home and vehicle, etc.)
- Non-economic damages: These losses may not have a direct financial impact, but the law recognizes your right to recovery as a means of making you “whole” after a motorcycle accident.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
A third category of damages, known as punitive damages, is only recoverable in select situations. If your motorcycle accident attorney takes your case to trial and wins, the court may choose to award punitive damages if your lawyer presented compelling evidence that “egregiously wrongful acts” on the part of the defendant led to your injuries.
In North Carolina, punitive damages are generally subject to a cap of $250,000 or three times the total amount of economic and non-economic damages – whichever is higher. However, this cap does not apply in accident cases where the at-fault driver was driving while intoxicated.
Will the Insurance Company Offer a Fair Payout on My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
When you file a claim with the insurance carrier for an at-fault driver, it is important to account for all of your damages resulting from the accident. In a perfect world, insurance adjusters would review your claim and offer you fair compensation for all of your losses.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not operate this way. The payouts offered by insurers rarely represent fair compensation for accident victims. Instead, insurance companies tend to make low-ball settlement offers in the hope that claimants will not know their rights or how much their case is worth.
You only get one opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages from a motorcycle accident. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney for assistance with your claim, especially before you sign anything provided to you by the insurance company.
What If the Insurance Company Says I Am At Fault?
Although insurance companies generally try to settle accident claims for less, they may also deny claims. Under North Carolina’s extremely restrictive contributory negligence standard, claimants are barred from recovery if they share any of the fault for an accident – even if the other driver is 99 percent at fault for the crash.
If the insurance company can argue that negligence on your part contributed to the accident in any way, you may lose the right to a payout for your injuries.
Motorcyclists often face greater difficulty than other accident victims in recovering fair compensation after an accident. The stereotype that riders are careless or take unnecessary risks frequently is frequently the basis of arguments from at-fault drivers and insurance companies that the motorcyclist is responsible for the accident – even when the evidence says otherwise.
If liability is disputed in your motorcycle accident claim, it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney. A lawyer can gather evidence on your behalf to counter assertions that you are partly at fault, negotiate with the insurance company to settle payment of your claim, and (if necessary) present your case in court with the goal of recovering a favorable verdict at trial.
Start Building Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Ultimately, the compensation you may be able to recover after a motorcycle accident will depend on factors such as:
- Your injuries
- The economic and non-economic damages you incur
- The insurance company’s willingness to negotiate fairly
- Whether or not your case goes to trial
- Your decision to hire an attorney
At Whitley Law Firm, our motorcycle accident attorneys have decades of experience representing riders who have been injured due to the negligence of motorists and other parties. With the Whitley Advantage, you have a team dedicated not only to securing a fair payout in your case but treating you with respect, compassion, and diligence.
Please call (919) 785-5000 today for a free consultation. Motorcycle accident attorneys at Whitley Law Firm serve clients in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, New Bern, and all of North Carolina.