So nowadays, virtually everyone has seen the Google results for “personal injury settlement calculator.” But the whole point is that there is no sure-fire way to determine the value of a motorcycle accident insurance claim or court award.
You can get as close as you can by building the suit itself, while it is still in the investigatory phase. But still, most accident victims want to know how much their case is worth.
You can get as close as you can by constructing the claim itself, while it is still in the investigatory phase. But still, the common concern for most accident victims is how much they are going to get in compensation. In this treatise, Michael P. Ehline, an aggressive, motorcycle lawyer who rides, discusses methods of determining case value and some curveballs the law may throw at a victim on the path to recovery of monetary damages. Table of Contents:
California State Bar regulations prohibit lawyers from assigning a value to a civil lawsuit. In other words, we may not guess the outcome. (Read more here.) So there are several primary factors for consideration when determining the prospective case value. There can be a jury verdict value and pre-filing insurance settlement value. Mainly it is a risk versus rewards test. Motorcycle accident insurance claims are problematic due to the bias against riders.
In any event, it takes evidence like medical treatment records, and bills, and witness testimony to win. Plus, pictures of injuries, as well as of the property damage, builds value. But it is a lot of work to get a case to the point a client and attorney can agree on the price. A jury uses this information to guide them. Once the defendant is found liable, the next question is, “how much?”
A plaintiff in a negligence case has a right to seek financial recovery for:
This list could go on and is in no way comprehensive. But the point is, how would an unrepresented victim have any clue how to gather and assess the value of a case? Your best hope is an expert motorcycle accident lawyer.
A robust and straightforward advocate will be able to compile all of the information. Then he can place it on a plausible settlement demand letter. Afterward, he notifies the insurance provider for the liable defendant. No doubt, this could help settle or prepare for trial.
Doing the initial workup, getting investigative reports, as well as other evidence, enables your injury law firm to represent your interests accurately. It is only following this method that gives your representative the best shot at getting you big money to compensate you handily.
The costs associated with severe and even minor injuries can always be a severe economic drain on someone rich or just barely making it. So no matter what the social strata of the motorcycle victim, they must all take steps to protect their legal rights.
The first and foremost important action a crash victim can take is to get into the ambulance and ride to the hospital E.R. Any delay in the chain of events and getting emergency medical care, allows a creative defense attorney to claim your injuries are fake.
P Is on way to rugby game. P gets rear-ended by B’s car. Defendant B is in so much pain, he is medically evacuated. So he rides to the hospital in the ambulance. Plaintiff P calls a close by friend. So the friend picks him up. Next, P arrives at the hospital an hour later. But now he complains of and exhibits objective symptoms of a broken collar-bone. P sues B for the broken collar bone, easily proving the liability of B but only wins $1 in damages!
In the example above, the defense attorney successfully convinced a jury that P went on to play his rugby game. So he was able to suggest the P either broke or made his collar bone injury worse during the match. For this reason, alone, P decided to get treatment.
This example above with B and P describes a “gap” in treatment or triage. When there is a gap, there is no unbroken documentation linking the cause to the effect of the injury. Defense attorneys love this and exploit it. Also, not seeking care demonstrates to many uneducated, cynical, or otherwise jaded third parties, that Plaintiff probably wasn’t hurt.
Of course, experts can opine that adrenaline acts as a masking agent. Thus, pain takes time to show. And this is because that chemical remains chemically masked for a time. So although a gap in treatment is not fatal, it helps the defendant create doubt in the minds of the judge or jury. Because of this, Ehline always encourages the caller to get to the hospital. What we do is meet victims at the hospital and start protecting their claims right away.
Injuries that don’t always rear their ugly heads upon impact are the soft tissue cases. These are the cases that insurance adjusters and their T.V. ad campaigns elude to as being of little or no value. So insurers claim that stronger cars with stiff bumpers mean the occupant is probably okay, and “let him sue me.” (It is little to no risk for the insurance company to force a case to trial, that costs more for you to try than your potential jury award payout).
Insurance companies also assign a high dollar status to some injuries. Examples include a blown, or ruptured disc, and any head injury. But any damage that takes longer to develop, or worsens over time, is an injury the defendant will dispute.
Typically, defense lawyers argue the later noticed injury was from your failure to mitigate. And they may even argue a superseding or intervening cause was responsible. For example, above, we saw that a broken collar bone yielded a $1 award.
Arguably, the jury thought P was lying about the severity and cause of the injuries. But the jury did find B was liable for the impact to the rear of P. No doubt; a better lawyer could have won the case on damages. But here the shallow win was on the issue liability only.
The sad part is the collar bone needs to be re-broken and reset. So that means costs of future surgery, a hospital, and an anesthesiologist must be hired. Also, a wheelchair and even a helper, like an at-home nurse, are expensive. Sadly, in the example above, P wins on liability but loses on damages.
Hopefully, a smart rider understands that along with the fun of riding, comes other contingencies. Riding and injuries go hand in hand. So for this reason, the smart biker will maintain a lawyer like Ehline on a retainer. Afterward, the biker has a lawyer tasked just for this purpose. Of particular interest, Ehline offers 24-hour support to our fallen motorcycle rider clients.
A doctor can document your pain, your objective injuries, and subjective complaints. Also, the physician can identify and treat other difficulties you have post-accident. So starting with the ambulance EMT, start identifying where the area of impact and trauma was, and where it hurts.
For example, be articulate in describing if you are unable to work, as opposed to merely working while suffering chronic pain. The more details, the better the diagnostic report. Jury materials must be accurate. There is a significant difference between “ouch that hurts” and “I can’t lift stuff at work, so they fired me as a result.” Understood?
Assuming the motorcycle accident victim had insurance, he or she can seek damages for mental and physical trauma. Us lawyers call this “pain and suffering.” But this is reimbursement on top of recovery for substantial economic damages, such as medical costs. Suffering and pain are just that.
The law allows a jury to assign a price tag to the emotions of grief, torment, humiliation, agitation, outrage, panic, and overall debasement. After all, the catastrophe has altered your life negatively.
Of particular interest, these damages are “subjective costs.” In other words, the trier of fact must delve into the mind, body, and soul of a victim. Questions include: “how does this affect day to day quality of life?”
Juries want to know how valuable quality of life is. For example, what if the rider now suffers chronic pain and risks morphine addiction? So these damages are a significant component of any injury claim. Evaluating a claim is just as much science as it is an art.
Replacement or repair of your bike is always essential. The exorbitant costs of buying a new bike, and replacing any expensive modifications can be alarming. For example, now you are faced with trying to get back money for custom pipes.
Running around, locating estimates and receipts can drain victims of their time and resources. A rider with no comp or collision coverage to replace the bike is left in the cold. So unless the wrongdoer pays money, your bike remains wrecked.
Of course, we all love our bikes. And usually, we have done some custom work, as discussed. Many bikes are a labor of love. The diminished value of a repaired bike should be part of the factor. A bike that was in a wreck always is worth less than a pristine motorcycle.
Even if the bike was fixed, it is no longer “cherry” in the minds of any buyer or collector. So a top lawyer will be able to seek coverage for a new bike, or compensation for the lost value of the repaired bike, not just to have it repaired. Because of this, at Ehline, we go the extra mile to get the full price out of your bike.
Some of us work for ourselves and contract our services out. When unable to work due to injuries, collateral issues arise. For example, when riders can’t perform their obligations, they are found in breach of a contract. But impossibility usually terminates the deal. So when you’re in a crash, and self-employed, you’re in a real pickle.
That victim with a regular job can use some sick pay, collect state disability. Also, if fired, he or she could probably collect unemployment insurance. But for the ambitious risk-taker, nothing but torment and sadness remain after a smash-up on a bike.
Self-employed movers and shakers don’t get all those nanny state privileges. So unless you have a contract in writing, you will likely lose. His backup strategy would be to use tax records of previous years to show a loss. But even then, there are so many variables it can become a convoluted economic damages claim. Most of all, these numbers can confuse a jury.
But for a lawyer, this remains important to know. In the meantime, the victim needs time to heal. If you fail to utilize the optimum time for recovery, your situation can worsen. Unfortunately, the nonemployee has a hard time recuperating. Most of all, he or she stresses over having no inflow of money.
No matter your job status, even a simple soft-tissue claim can hurt a person economically. A more severe injury can harm your future earning capacity. And that could trigger a significant and rapid loss of funds.
Keeping a log becomes crucial in a personal injury claim. The late Johnny Cochran was a proponent of maintaining a day in the lifelog. For example, he said to write down day to day activities. The idea was to show how the accident harmed your life. Cochran was right on the money.
But beyond that, victims must keep records with dates of tardiness from work, using up vacation, and sick pay. Furthermore, for the self-employed, they must keep records of lost contract(s), etc.
A crafty defense attorney will argue in mitigation that you were able to do work sooner. So they will assert you were playing hooky, or “milking” it. So, in addition to employer documentation, your doctor must justify your absence in the medical reports. He will need to explain why you were not able to return to light duty.
Or, you will need to prove that your employer did not offer light duty. Of course, you will also probably need to show that retraining is not an option, assuming it is a permanent injury preventing you from your previous job description.
Every motorcycle crash remains unique. Finding a lawyer with experience in court who also rides is crucial to the presentation of your damages claims. Defendants must see the strength or your case.
Our firm has the necessary training, knowledge, skill, and time in grade to press your case to its maximum. Let us help you squeeze the maximum potential economic recovery. Speak to a legal pro experienced in motorcycle law before the statute of limitations runs out to sue. We have a proven record of excellent outcomes for aggrieved riders. Call us now at (213) 596-9642.
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