FVF Law is a values driven law firm.
Motorcycle accidents are an all-too-common occurrence in Texas. While some motorcycle accidents can be the fault of the motorcyclists themselves, when they use dangerous riding techniques like riding between vehicles to avoid traffic, or “lane splitting,” more often than not, the accidents are caused by another driver or drivers, who fail to notice the motorcycle’s presence.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents include truck drivers who fail to notice an approaching motorcycle when they change lanes, and drivers generally failing to yield the right of way to motorcyclists at intersections. This can be caused by simple driver inattention, or by the driver’s failure to see the motorcycle approaching as a result of the size of motorcycles.
According to many statistical models, the average motorcycle accident settlement is about $200,000. Keep in mind, that is an average, which means there are settlements that are higher and some that are lower. The fact of the matter is, when determining the appropriate motorcycle injury settlement amount, there are a number of factors to consider.
The settlement amount in a motorcycle accident case largely depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your specific motorcycle accident. That is why it’s rare for two settlements to be identical. In setting a value for a motorcycle accident case, three things must be considered: liability, damages, and sources of recovery. If the other party or parties involved in the motorcycle accident were not careless, it will be difficult to prove you are entitled to a large (or any) settlement for your motorcycle accident. Also, since Texas is a comparative liability state, if you are found to be more than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident, you cannot recover anything from the other drivers.
If liability can be established against the other driver or drivers, the next factor for evaluating a motorcycle accident settlement involves the extent of the injury, or damages. You can recover money to compensate you for all of your short- and long-term harms and losses, such as medical expenses, pain, physical impairment, and lost wages. The greater your harms and losses, the greater your expected settlement would be. It is very important to take the necessary steps to fully understand and evaluate these harms and losses before considering settling your motorcycle accident claim.
Finally, even in motorcycle accident cases where the harms and losses are significant, including catastrophic injuries or death, settlement value will depend on how much insurance money or assets there are to go after. In Texas, most drivers are only required to carry $30,000 to pay for the harms and losses they cause. Also, most motorcyclists fail to carry adequate Underinsured Motorist Coverage, which can provide a source of recovery when a motorcyclist is hurt by a driver with insufficient insurance. So, it is possible your settlement will be limited because there simply are not deep enough pockets to pay for the damage done. Further, most people do not have enough personal assets to recover from, and Texas is very protective of people in this regard.
The best way to begin learning about what you should expect for a motorcycle accident settlement is to discuss your specific case with a qualified lawyer, like the lawyers at FVF.
The length of your motorcycle accident case will depend on a number of factors — primarily, how badly you were hurt and what kind of impact it will have on your life. Motorcycle accident injuries are often quite severe, requiring aggressive, ongoing treatments. Cases involving these kinds of injuries typically take longer to settle because they may require more documentation and time to see how injuries manifest and/or respond to treatment. Here are a few additional factors that can impact the length of your settlement.
Another factor to consider is whether a settlement is the best way to maximize your motorcycle accident recovery. Sometimes, personal injury trial lawyers can secure better results by presenting your case to a jury at a trial. There are pros and cons to each:
Settlement: Settlements are very common, because they guarantee a payment in order to settle the motorcycle accident claim. This avoids many of the costs and risks associated with trial, including the possibility that a jury awards very little or nothing in your case. The vast majority of motorcycle accident cases settle before trial, and the settlement value will depend on the quality and experience of the lawyer you choose.
Trial: Trials are much less common, because many people wish to avoid the expense, delays, and risks of trial. Because a trial involves asking a jury comprised of a random selection of members of the community, trial results can be unpredictable. However, jury verdicts can often well exceed any settlement offer that was made. On the other hand, jury verdicts can be for much less than a settlement offer that was on the table prior to or during trial.
At the end of the day, whether to accept a settlement or proceed to trial is up to you. It is most important that you understand your options, as well as the risks and benefits of those options. The motorcycle accident lawyers at FVF understands how to evaluate each case on its own merits and will help you make educated decisions.
Unlike calculating for “pain and suffering,” which varies broadly from case to case, lost earnings and lost earning capacity are quite capable of exact calculation, to the dollar. Lost earnings can include sick time that was used to recover from the motorcycle accident, lost hourly wages, and other missed opportunities to earn money. If the injuries will impact your ability to earn wages in the future, you can also prove what the long-term lost earnings will be, and work with an economist to determine the present value of that amount.
Similarly, calculating past medical expenses involves determining whether there have been any health insurance discounts taken from the charges that were billed, as well as any charitable reductions or discounts. In Texas, you can only recover those past medical expenses that were actually “paid or incurred,” meaning the at-fault driver gets the benefit of discounts that are applied because of your health insurance contract. This is not the case for your future medical expenses, though, and calculating your future medical expenses can often require involvement of experts such as doctors, life care planners, and economists.
A motorcycle accident can result in injuries, damages, and losses that are nothing short of catastrophic. Consider the size difference between virtually every other vehicle on the road and a motorcycle, combined with the fact that the rider of a motorcycle is not protected the way the driver of a car is.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you likely find yourself with many questions about this type of personal injury case. One of the key questions may have to do with the average motorcycle accident settlement. The motorcycle accident lawyers at FVF will answer all your questions so you can know what to expect for your motorcycle settlement amount. We will also make sure you are familiar with the process of making a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The role of a personal injury lawyer in a motorcycle accident is to help educate you so you can make informed decisions, help you access the appropriate medical care, strategize ways to maximize the amount of compensation you can legally ask for, and advocate for you to achieve outstanding results.
Talking to an experienced lawyer as early as possible can help you avoid common mistakes that can dramatically reduce your motorcycle accident settlement. Personal injury cases involve many complicated decisions that are different in each and every case, and having an expert by your side to lead you down the best path will probably result in you recovering more money than if you tried to handle the case on your own. Additionally, there are typically other parties, such as medical providers and health insurers, who have a legal right to be paid out of your motorcycle accident settlement proceeds. An experienced lawyer knows how to negotiate or fight those liabilities, which results in a direct net increase to what you recover from the settlement.
It is important to remember that insurance companies make money by paying you as little as possible to settle your motorcycle accident claim. Do not be fooled if an insurance company is trying to convince you to settle your accident claim very early, even if the terms seem reasonable. Many injuries that seem minor can increase in severity over time, and result in a lifetime of physical pain and costly medical expenses. By taking a little time to have a free consultation with a lawyer at FVF who will not pressure you to do anything, you can learn your rights and options and make decisions that can have a meaningful impact on your bottom-line.
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