Most people picture a courtroom, jury, judge, and gavel when they think of legal cases. However, a motorcycle accident case rarely looks like this. Although going to trial is certainly an option, chances are high that you will not have to go to court for a motorcycle accident.
Most motorcycle accident cases are resolved through insurance claims. If you were not at fault for your accident, you can file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If your claim is successful, you can reach a settlement and not have to proceed to court.
How Motorcycle Accident Claims Work
Everyone has a legal duty to exercise ordinary diligence, which means acting with a degree of care that any careful person would have (Georgia Code § 51-1-2). The opposite of this diligence is negligence. In Georgia, the negligent party in an injury accident is responsible for all resulting damages.
To seek compensation for your motorcycle accident damages, you can file a claim with the negligent person’s insurance company. For example, if another driver ran a red light and crashed into your motorcycle, causing an accident, they would be responsible for your damages. You could file a claim with their auto insurance company for your damages.
Filing the Motorcycle Accident Claim
To file a personal injury claim, you will need to provide evidence that:
- The at-fault party was negligent
- Their negligence led to your motorcycle accident and
- You suffered injuries and other damages as a result of the accident
Your damages may include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering. You’ll need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before you can know the full extent of your medical costs. MMI is the point at which you have recovered as much as you’re going to with medical treatment.
It’s best to work with a motorcycle accident lawyer from the beginning who can help you gather evidence of your damages and calculate the value of your case. That way, you’ll know what settlement to request from the insurance company. It’s very important that you understand what your total damages are—including future costs you’ll face.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
After you file your claim, the insurance company will probably respond with a lowball settlement. If they don’t think you have a strong case at all, they might even deny your claim. In either situation, you’ll want to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer right away for help.
Your lawyer will work to negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement that is actually fair to you. This can take some time, but if your lawyer is successful, you can accept the better offer, end your case, and receive the settlement. You should never accept a settlement until you’re sure that it’s enough to cover your damages, since accepting the settlement will mean closing your case.
Three Reasons Motorcycle Accident Cases Have to Go to Court
Most motorcycle accident cases end with a settlement from the insurance claim. However, there are situations where you might need to file a lawsuit. Even if you do this, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will go all the way to trial.
After a lawsuit is filed, it’s likely that the insurance company will continue to negotiate. You may reach a settlement well before the actual trial date. In rare situations, a motorcycle accident case will actually need to go to court. Here are some situations where that might happen.
1. The Insurance Company Refuses to Settle
If the insurance company will not agree to a settlement that is sufficient for your damages, you and your lawyer may discuss presenting your case at trial.
If you do sue to seek your damages, you’ll need to have a lawyer with experience taking motorcycle accident cases all the way to court. They can give you the best chance at success, and you can rest assured knowing they will not encourage you to accept a settlement lower than you deserve just to avoid trial.
2. It’s Not Clear the Other Driver Was at Fault
The insurance company is much more likely to settle outside of court if it’s clear that the other driver was negligent. If there is a big gray area about who was at fault for the accident, you’ll have a harder time. The at-fault party will be more open to trial if they believe they can have a strong case against you.
If you don’t have strong evidence of the other party’s fault in the accident, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need to discuss your best options, as seeking a settlement might be better than going to court in this situation.
3. You Have Huge Damages
The advantage of going to court over accepting a settlement is that you have the potential to receive a lot more money. On the flip side, if you lose at the trial, you risk not being awarded anything.
If your damages far exceed the limits of the insurance policy or what the insurance company is willing to offer, it might be worth it to take your case to court. You and your lawyer will need to weigh the risks and benefits of going to court versus accepting a settlement.
You Have Two Years to File Your Motorcycle Accident Case
Keep in mind that most states also have a statute of limitations for motorcycle accident cases. In Georgia, that’s typically two years from the accident date. So, you’ll want to get started on your case as soon as possible by contacting an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Your lawyer can help you decide if you actually need to go to court after your accident. In most cases, it won’t be necessary.
Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Free Today
Motorcycle accident cases can be very serious and complicated. At John Foy & Associates, we have 20-plus years of experience working on a range of motorcycle accident cases, including those that need to go to court. Let us give you a FREE consultation to discuss the details of your case and what you can expect.