A Complete Guide to Maximizing Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Picture this. It’s a beautiful sunny day and you decide to go for an open-air drive on your bike. You grab your helmet, your jacket, and your wallet, and you hop on your new Harley excited for a drive in the freshly warm weather. You rev up the engine and start your drive, grateful for this time to enjoy the spring, your roaring engine, and a sense of freedom.
Before you know it, you are spinning off your bike on hard concrete as your motorcycle screeches away from you on the pavement and you look up to reorient yourself. A man is getting out of a medium-sized car that just crashed right into you and your precious bike. You look around thankful for remembering to wear a helmet, but as soon as you see your crushed bike and its metal parts were strewn around the road, a sense of deep sadness and frustration sets in.
Although you do have insurance, you spent almost all of your savings on that bike. You start to get up towards the motorcycle and as the at-fault driver stops to pick you up off the road, you look down to see one of your legs can’t move. It’s broken. You start to feel nervous, remembering that you have not yet reached your deductible for your health insurance. Panic sets in.
Does this story feel familiar?
Here are 10 helpful steps to take to maximize your personal injury claim.
In the year 2017, there were over 5000 motorcycle accidents in the United States alone. Car and motorcycle accidents are incredibly common, and sadly they result in drivers losing hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in their vehicles, their insurance, and their hospital bills.
Do you have insurance?
But you are not alone. If insured you have a binder of papers and a team of people ready and willing to help you recover your financial losses and start re-building your broken bike and your broken body. Insurance companies wait for their customers to file a claim and begin an investigation into an accident and begin a personal injury case.
So, you see, even after an accident, there is hope. There are a few basic steps that a driver can take in order to recover your money and win the most you can from your company and any at-fault drivers. Although the steps may be basic, it is worth exploring the details step by step in order to make sure that you get the most out of filing your personal injury claim.
1. Take LOTS of photos
No, not for Instagram. After you get into an accident, and if your phone is still intact, it is imperative that you preserve the evidence to the best of your ability. If your case is the type of personal injury that will eventually be presented at a hearing in court and therefore to a jury, then your photographs of the accident will be used as evidence.
Evidence will increase the strength of your case
Your evidence through photographs can incredibly increase the strength of your case, especially if you hope to prove the other driver’s fault. The pictures can also display the scope of the accident and prove your need for hospital bills through the accidents you suffered, or your financial loss from the destruction of your property.
The more pictures you take and the more evidence you preserve, the greater your case will be if your personal injury case will find itself being deliberated by a jury someday.
Evidence will help your insurance company claim
Even if your personal injury case does not go to court and it is your hope that you can simply and quietly file a motorcycle accident claim, these pictures will also help your insurance company investigate the scene of the accident. With more evidence, your insurance company can determine to grant you more financial help after seeing the scope of your crash and how it affected you financially.
2. Take down witness names and record personal information
If you can, immediately after your accident you should check to see if there were any witnesses you can attest to the fault of the drivers and how the accident happened. This will be helpful not just for a jury case, but also for the insurance company in case there is a debate between which driver was at fault.
If there was a police report filed, you must get ahold of a copy as soon as possible. If you later retain an attorney to help you file a personal injury case in court, if need be, then this police report will come in handy for your motorcycle accident lawyer to create your case.
3. Go to the doctor
Accidents can be psychologically harrowing and physically debilitating. Even if you feel that you are not hurt after your motorcycle or car accident, you may wake up the next day to discover a kink in your neck or a pounding headache from a concussion.
Sometimes these injuries go unnoticed. That is why it is important to seek medical treatment immediately after your accident even if you are unsure of the extent of the harm that was done. The treatment you seek can be everything from a simple checkup, to necessary physical therapy, or even social therapy in order to recover from the traumatic stress of an accident.
Doctors can also present an accurate case of the extent of your damages and injuries, and they can be great witnesses in a personal injury case. They will document your health and injuries and this evidence can convince the at-fault driver and the other side to offer a higher settlement.
4. Don’t limit yourself
Don’t limit yourself when filing a claim and assume that you can only receive compensation for one type of damage. As any lawyer will explain to you, there is a multitude of possible claims for damages that you can make in any case, from injuries to property loss.
You may not even be aware of the scope and scale of the extent of claims you can make to regain more finances after your accident. For example, if you find yourself having flashbacks or nervousness from your accident, you can claim compensation even for emotional damages.
5. Should You Hire an Attorney?
In moments like these, when emotions may be running high, it may be helpful to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you strengthen your claim and be your spokesperson when arguing with the insurance company or the at-fault driver about blame or compensation.
A lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law can quickly clarify and explain the process of filing a claim or filing a lawsuit and will fight for your rights in order to get the maximum compensation you need and build a strong case. Part of getting the most out of your claim is trying to convince the other side that you have a strong case and the at-fault driver should pay up and settle.
When you receive an unfair settlement offer, your lawyer will be there to reinforce your asserted claims and gather more evidence and arguments in your favor. A settlement rejection can convince the other side to deliver the compensation you deserve, and a lawyer will provide the negotiating skills necessary for such back-and-forth debating.
6. Be patient
Do not risk gaining more compensation in a few months just to receive a quick check-in a few weeks. Be patient when filing a claim and understand that you may have to negotiate the settlement money for a few months.
You may reject the first offer, the second offer, and even the third offer before you are given the compensation that you know you need to cover ALL of your financial losses. It is important to work with an insurance company representative or an experienced attorney in the crucial negotiation process to strengthen your claim.
7. Think about the future
Although your neck may not hurt now from the whiplash, it might become a nuisance or even a frustrating pain in months to come. Although you mend your broken leg in the next few months, who is to say that the pain symptoms won’t strike again next year when you take your kids out for a bike ride?
A personal injury can bring immediate pain and damage, but it can also affect your body long into the future when you have all but forgotten about your harrowing accident. When filing a motorcycle claim, it is important to look ahead and think about the fact that you may not fully recover from your injuries in a few months.
You can include future damages as part of your accident claim. It is for these reasons that it is crucial to visit a doctor to determine what possible losses and injuries you may suffer in the future and then work with your attorney to add your future damages to your claim.
8. File your claim or file your case
Once you have done your due diligence in seeing a medical professional, seeking treatment, taking photos, and speaking with an attorney, you can file your case with your insurance company to seek compensation. If you find that the other side is not working with you to receive the most that you can, you can file a personal injury suit in court.
If you do file a case in court, there are steps to take after this whether you are working alone or with an attorney. You will have to send a demand letter to the at-fault driver to give them a chance to settle. If it does not work then you will have to serve subpoenas and discovery demands, attend depositions and request records to build a strong case for yourself.
9. Understand the statute of limitations of your case
Although you want to build a strong case so you can be certain of your success, it is imperative to not wait too long to file your case. Most personal injury car and motorcycle accidents have a running clock as soon as they occur for the parties to file a case in court. So don’t wait to file your case.
After the statute of limitations runs its course and expires then you may not be able to bring a claim and recover at all. For example, if you feel like you suffered whiplash during the motorcycle accident that doesn’t begin bothering you until two years from now, you may not be able to bring that case in two years.
Therefore, time is of the essence and can be a critical aspect of preserving the correct evidence you need to file a strong suit so you can make a timely and fair financial recovery and move on with your life.
10. Stay off social media
Now is not the time for selfies. If you claim that you broke your leg, your insurance company and attorney do not want to see you a photo of you skiing the next week. Social media can be an incredible tool for insurance company representatives and attorneys to gather evidence and if you are not careful, the evidence may not favor your claim.
As in all cases, anything you say or do can be used against you in both your lawsuit and your insurance claim. It is beneficial, to tell the truth about your loss and injuries, but it is also helpful to stay off social media to protect yourself from gossip and from the other side’s investigations into you that may lower your settlement claim.
Don’t Give Up
Stay hopeful and positive that you will recover financially after your motorcycle accident. It is crucial to see the bright side of things that, with insurance, you can recover at least some finances and be compensated for the financial damage you suffer.
It is also necessary to keep a good impression in your community and among the parties in the event that you do file a lawsuit to strengthen your claim. If your case will be heard by a judge and jury, then they will naturally make assumptions of each party based on how they act and what they say.
Although unfair, some of these decisions can be based on a mere comment or polite word. It’s important to look your best while at court and work hard to appear reasonable and respectful. Any little thing can help strengthen your claim and your case so you can recover what you need after your accident.