Getting the Most Out of Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
The cost of a motorcycle accident can easily bury a person or family. Beyond the simple property damage of a collision, bikers can suffer catastrophic injuries and disabilities that take them away from work and make it difficult for them to put food on the table.
Even if you have good health insurance, you are still looking at expensive medical bills and weeks to months of lost wages. When it comes time to file a claim, it is important to include all of the costs you have suffered and fight for the maximum available award. A tough lawyer can help.
Insurance Companies Do Not Play Fair
While you may hope that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will offer a fair deal for your injuries, the truth is that insurance companies are only interested in profits. The entire industry is based on charging high premiums and paying out as little as possible during claims. When an adjuster receives your claim, he will not factor in your medical bills, lost wages, or the trauma of your injuries – he only cares about saving money.
If you file a claim on your own, you can expect to receive a low settlement offer right out the gate. An adjuster will say it is “the best I can do” or a “great deal for a biker,” but this is really meant to bait you into giving up your right to full compensation. You should never accept this first offer and, when push comes to shove, you should always talk to a Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer about how to get the maximum amount possible.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Motorcycle Accident?
In the state of Colorado, motorcyclists who are injured by negligent drivers can recover compensation for all their trauma through a personal injury claim. Personal injury claims are designed to make accident victims “whole” again following a collision. This means that anything you have suffered due to the negligent driver’s actions should be recovered in a claim.
Damages in personal injury claims are split into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include all of the financial costs of your injury, including medical bills and lost wages. These should account for the full costs of your injuries. This means if you need long-term treatment and care for your injuries, these costs should be included in your claim.
Non-economic damages refer to non-financial costs: the physical pain of your injuries, the emotional trauma of the collision, and how it has affected your personal life. This is harder to calculate, but there are techniques that your attorney can use to determine a fair amount for your suffering, such as the multiplier method. The multiplier method calculates non-economic damages by taking the cost of your medical bills and multiplying it by a number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe your injuries, the higher the multiplier number.
There is no cap in Colorado on personal injury awards, and you can recover for the following:
- All medical expenses, including past and future treatment for your injuries
- Lost wages if you had to take time off work to heal
- Lost earning capacity if your injuries forced you to change careers
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
However, the insurance company isn’t just going to hand these damages over. You will need to collect evidence and review all available policies first.
Documents You Need to Collect
Getting the most out of your claim requires collecting evidence of how the motorcycle accident has affected your life. For economic damages, this can include:
- Receipts and bills for medical treatment
- Old pay stubs
- Tax returns
- Any related financial documents
As mentioned earlier, non-economic damages are harder to calculate, but there are some methods that you can use to prove your case. If you are using the multiplier method, your medical doctor can provide testimony explaining how severe your injuries are and how much pain you are in. You can also keep a journal that details your day-to-day experiences, including how your injuries are affecting your personal life. Testimony from friends and family can also be used to support the emotional impact of the accident.
Reviewing All Insurance Policies
An important step in getting compensation for a motorcycle accident is reviewing all available insurance policies – including both the at-fault driver’s insurance and your own insurance. Colorado requires all vehicle operators to have at least:
- $25,000 personal injury liability insurance per person
- $50,000 personal injury liability insurance per accident
- $15,000 proper damage liability
At minimum, a personal injury claim against another driver for a motorcycle accident should yield $25,000 in compensation. However, if you have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage and the at-fault driver’s insurance does not fully cover your injuries, you can also file a claim against your own insurance company to make up the difference. UIM coverage must match your minimum liability insurance, meaning a policy should at least have $25,000.
For example, let’s say a drunk driver only has $25,000 in liability insurance, but you suffered $50,000 in damages. If you have a UIM policy, then you may be able to recover the remaining $25,000 to pay for the accident.
Lastly, if you have MedPay, you may also receive immediate compensation for medical bills after a collision, no matter who was at fault. MedPay policies can range between $1,000 and $25,000 and are invaluable for motorcyclists.
Fighting for Full Compensation
It is important to remember that Colorado is a comparative negligence state. If your case goes to trial, then a jury can assign some fault to you for causing the collision. If you are assigned at least 50% of the fault, then you cannot receive compensation. In addition, the total amount of compensation you receive can be reduced by 1%-49% — whatever the fault assigned to you.
To get the most out of your claim and ensure you receive full compensation for your injuries, you need to work with an experienced Colorado Springs personal injury attorney. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we understand how difficult it is for motorcyclists to get compensation from insurance companies, but we can use all of our skills and experience to fight for you. We have successfully recovered compensation for myriad clients throughout Colorado Springs and can provide you with the same reliable representation. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call us at (719) 475-2555.