So nowadays, virtually everyone has seen the Google results for the “personal injury settlement calculator.” But the whole point is that there is no surefire way to determine the value of a motorcycle accident insurance claim or court award.
You can get as close as possible by building the suit while it is still in the investigatory phase. But still, most accident victims want to know how much their case is worth. Because of this, it remains essential to have an adept lawyer on your side. Let’s look at what our top motorcycle lawyers have to say.
You can get as close as possible by constructing the claim while it is still in the investigatory phase. But still, the common concern for most accident victims is how much they will 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.
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.
It takes evidence like medical treatment records, bills, and witness testimony to win. Plus, pictures of injuries, as well as of the property damage, build 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 compile all of the information. Then he can place it on a plausible settlement demand letter. Afterward, he notifies the insurance provider of the liable defendant. No doubt, this could help settle or prepare for trial.
Doing the initial workup and getting investigative reports and other evidence enables your injury law firm to represent your interests accurately. Only following this method 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 powerful economic drain on someone rich or 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 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 suggested that the P either broke or made his collarbone 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.
Soft tissue cases are injuries that don’t always rear their ugly heads upon impact. These are the cases in insurance adjusters whose T.V. ad campaigns elude to as little or no value. So insurers claim that more robust 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 claim a superseding or intervening cause was responsible. For example, above, we saw that a broken collarbone yielded a $1 award.
Arguably, the jury thought P was lying about the severity and cause of the injuries. But the jury found B 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 of liability only.
The sad part is the collarbone 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, an intelligent rider understands that other contingencies come with the fun of riding. Riding and injuries go hand in hand. So, for this reason, the competent biker will maintain a lawyer like Ehline on a retainer. Afterward, the biker has a lawyer tasked just for this purpose. Ehline offers 24-hour support to our fallen motorcycle rider clients of particular interest.
A doctor can document your pain, objective injuries, and subjective complaints. Also, the physician can identify and treat other difficulties you have post-accident. So starting with the ambulance EMT, begin placing the area of impact and trauma and where it hurts.
For example, be articulate in describing if you are unable to work instead of 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, they could seek damages for mental and physical trauma. We 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 a victim’s mind, body, and soul. Questions include: “how does this affect the 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 and 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 in a wreck is always worth less than a new motorcycle.
Even if the bike was fixed, it is no longer a “cherry” in the minds of any buyer or collector. So a top lawyer can 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 total 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 breach a contract. But impossibility usually terminates the deal. So when you’re in a crash and self-employed, you’re in a real pickle.
A victim with a regular job can use some sick pay and collect state disability. Also, if fired, they 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, many variables 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, they stress over having no inflow of money.
Even a simple soft-tissue claim can hurt a person economically, no matter your job status. 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, the self-employed must keep records of lost contract(s), etc.
A crafty defense attorney will argue in mitigation that you could 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 could not 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 presenting your damages claims. Defendants must see the strength of their case.
Our core competencies come from decades of experience representing motorcycle crash victims throughout California. We will direct a thorough investigation of the collision to pin down the accused party’s responsibility. Are you aware that at least three-quarters of motorcyclist collisions comprise strikes with other vehicles – often, smaller compact cars? Sometimes, the crash may have been caused by defects in the road, such as a pothole or debris, in which case the city, county, or state may be held responsible.
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. You can also fill out our online website contact form here.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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