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Motorcycle accidents often result in more serious injuries than other types of vehicular accidents. This is because the motorcyclist does not have the added protection of airbags found in most modern vehicles. All a motorcyclist has for protection is a helmet and clothing.
Many types of motorcycle accident victims sustain injuries that affect them over the long term. For instance, losing one’s ability to walk and being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of one’s life is a common long-term injury. Another long-term injury is trauma to the head, where there is brain damage and the person does not fully recover.
In severe motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists often die immediately following the accident or a short time later, due to complications from their injuries. When someone dies, it can greatly impact the surviving family members. If the motorcyclist was the primary wage earner and had children, it can have a major financial impact on the family.
Whether you survived your motorcycle accident or you are a surviving spouse or another family member of a motorcyclist who died, you need to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. The only way to do this is with help from a personal injury lawyer with experience in motorcycle accidents.
Some people think they can handle filing a motorcycle accident claim with their insurance company on their own. After all, it is just like an auto accident. You call your insurance agent to file a claim. The agent gathers information to determine who was at fault. Based on these findings, you are given a settlement offer.
You accept the settlement offer and cash your check. Then your insurance company will go after the other party’s insurance company to get reimbursed. Sounds fairly easy, right? Not so fast. Whether there are minor or serious injuries, injuries that could be problematic now and in the future, or someone dies, the process is not as easy as it sounds.
In addition, you need to remember your insurance company and ALL insurance companies are in business to make money. This means they will be friendly, supportive, and helpful when you file a claim on your own. They want to make it appear like they have your best interests at heart in order to get you to take the first settlement offer they make. This offer is normally well below what you are truly entitled to receive as compensation.
A motorcycle accident attorney understands the laws relating to personal injuries and how much you are entitled to receive for your personal injuries or the death of a loved one. In addition, they have access to a wide range of resources they can utilize to help support your case and achieve a positive outcome.
To illustrate why you need a motorcycle accident lawyer, let’s assume you were involved in a motorcycle accident. You broke your leg and arm and were banged up with bruises, cuts, and scrapes, but otherwise were okay. You contact your insurance company to file a claim.
The company reviews your case and, based on the police report, determines the other party was fully at fault. It offers to pay you a lump sum of $20,000, which covers your current medical bills and lost wages from work. You sign and accept the settlement. You think you did pretty well at negotiating your own settlement, and you did not have to pay an attorney.
Now, let’s assume that instead of filing the claim yourself, you call a personal injury lawyer BEFORE starting the insurance claims process. During the free initial consultation, you find out you could be entitled to receive up to $250,000 for your personal injuries.
You retain the lawyer, and he or she guides you on how to file your claim with your insurance company and file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer is able to negotiate a settlement of $200,000 without having to go to trial. You decide to accept the offer. You pay your lawyer his or her fee and end up with a cash settlement of $170,000. $170,000 is quite different from the $20,000 you were able to negotiate on your own.
As you can see, hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer can be beneficial in securing a larger settlement offer from the insurance company. Please keep in mind, the dollar amounts used in this example were for illustrative purposes only. The amount of your legal fees and what you could be entitled to receive for your personal injuries will depend on the circumstances of your case and other factors.
After being involved in a motorcycle accident, calling 911, seeking medical treatment, and filing a police report, your next step should be to call a personal injury lawyer. It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer prior to starting the insurance claims process.
If you call your insurance company first to file a claim, your insurance company might ask you leading questions. These questions could imply you were partially at fault for the accident. The reason they want you to admit some fault is that Texas uses comparative negligence to determine how much you can receive for your injuries.
For instance, if you are entitled to receive $50,000, but your insurance company gets you to admit partial fault of 20 percent, then you will only receive $40,000 ($50,000 minus 20 percent [$10,000] equals $40,000).
Additionally, your insurance company could attempt to get you to sign a “statement” or other such forms, which could contain restrictive language and limit the amount the insurance company will pay you for your injuries.
Another reason you want to contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible is that it can help gather evidence to support your claim. The company has experts in different areas, such as medical professionals. These professionals could be called on to testify in your case, if it goes to trial, to help support your claim.
Your lawyer will take care of everything needed to ensure your claim is handled correctly without any errors or delays. This means you can concentrate on resting and recovering from your injuries.
Your lawyer remains objective throughout the process. It is not uncommon for people to be emotionally affected by their injuries, which can cloud their judgment and ability to make reasonable decisions like how much compensation they should receive for their injuries.
Experienced personal injury law firms and lawyers do not charge retainer fees to take your case. Rather, they work on a contingency basis, which means they will only collect a fee if they are able to win your case through settlement or trial.
Your lawyer can offer financing options to help pay for medical bills and cover other living expenses pending the outcome of your case. Any money borrowed through these programs is paid back once you receive your settlement check from the insurance company.
Your personal injury lawyer will take care of gathering all evidence for your case. This could include getting:
The lawyer will also handle all necessary communications with all involved insurance companies and lawyers representing the insurance companies and the other party.
Insurance companies are less likely to “lowball” an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. The insurance companies know they are dealing with someone familiar with the laws and what you are entitled to receive for your personal injuries.
There are many benefits to getting assistance from a motorcycle accident lawyer to help alleviate stress and financial worries while attempting to reach a fair and reasonable settlement. If you have or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in the Greater Houston Area, please feel free to contact Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. at 713-893-0971 to speak with one of our motorcycle accident attorneys today!