California Motorcycle Accident Settlement Guide & Process
Settling a motorcycle injury claim with another driver’s insurance company can be complex, especially if you suffer serious injuries. It’s worth understanding what factors determine your settlement amount, such as medical expenses, time off from work, and the pain and suffering you endured when you consider filing a claim.
A California motorcycle accident attorney can work to protect your legal rights and financial interests when you go through the motorcycle accident settlement process. They can also inform you about your legal options if the insurance company doesn’t offer the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
What Do I Need to Support My Motorcycle Injury Claim?
When you file a claim with the other driver’s auto insurance company for your injuries and property damage, you must prove your claim with evidence. A dedicated motorcycle accident attorney in Glendale, CA, can help you with your claim.
In addition, they can offer valuable motorcycle insurance claim advice on which pieces of evidence you need to support your claim, such as the following:
Medical records include receipts, diagnosis forms related to your injuries, and bills from medical providers. For example, a head-on motorcycle collision can cause serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury. You may have an MRI to diagnose your condition, followed by various treatments, medications, or physical therapy in recovery.
Your attorney can put together your claim using records from these medications, rehabilitation therapies, and follow-up visits to prove the severity of your injury.
A police report indicates who was at fault for the collision. It also contains a diagram of the vehicles at the time of the accident. The report describes the intersection of the accident, any vehicle damage, and if speeding or any negligent action played a part. Your lawyer can use this police report to bolster your claim and determine liability when dealing with the insurance company.
A receipt or repair estimate showing the value of your motorcycle gear and personal items can support your property damage claim. The insurance adjuster may use Kelley Blue Book and J.D. Power to evaluate your motorcycle’s value. If the cost of repairs exceeds the bike’s value, the insurance adjuster may declare your bike a totaled bike.
The insurance company will review all these documents and determine how much to pay out after you submit them with your lawyer’s help. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company until both sides agree on a fair settlement.
Factors That Impact a Motorcycle Settlement Amount
Negligence, the amount of damages, and the other driver’s auto insurance limits can affect your total settlement amount. Therefore, your lawyer considers each factor before arriving at the insurance settlement amount asked for in your claim.
Determining Negligence in California
To determine negligence in California, the claims process looks at whose actions contributed to the accident. For example, if the other driver was asleep at the wheel, they carry responsibility for the incident.
Your actions during the accident can affect your settlement. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are riders who speed or move between lanes. A police report describing you driving between lanes or speeding might result in the reduction of your settlement.
If you didn’t strap in your helmet and it fell off during your accident, your actions would violate California motorcycle helmet laws and make you partially at fault.
Since California is a pure comparative fault state, you can still receive damages even if you share a certain percentage of liability in your motorcycle accident. For instance, if the above scenario caused a jury to find you 20% at fault, you would only receive 80% of your total settlement.
Amount of Damages
Your past and future medical expenses and property damage can factor into your compensation. Proving the loss of future earning capacity requires showing your W-2s and paystubs. Your other damages may include:
- Loss of wages if you had to take time off from work
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering from your injury and its impact on your quality of life
A motorcycle accident settlement calculator can also help you determine the amount you can receive based on the financial losses you suffered after your accident.
It is best to consult with your attorney with experience in handling motorcycle accidents in California. A lawyer can assess your case and tell you how much your settlement should be based on the factors in your case.
The Other Driver’s Auto Insurance
Auto liability insurance policies limit what they will pay for injuries caused by accidents. In California, the minimum limits are $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. However, you may not receive total compensation under the policy limit if you incur more than $15,000 worth of medical expenses.
Your lawyer may need to consider filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit to cover excess medical bills. If the other driver lacks auto insurance, you can work with your lawyer to file an uninsured claim with your motorcycle collision insurance company.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Claim or Lawsuit Take?
A motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit may take several months or years to resolve. Most insurance claims can be resolved within months, especially if they don’t involve multiple parties.
Auto insurance companies must respond within 15 days of receiving a claim under California law. Once your legal team submits evidence for your claim, the company must accept or deny it within 40 days. These deadlines ensure that your claim doesn’t go unanswered for more than a few weeks.
Once the insurance company responds, your attorney can begin negotiations on your behalf for a fair settlement. This process can take several additional weeks and only ends when you agree to a settlement offer or decide to enter into litigation in a civil motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Litigation is most common when the insurance company refuses to pay you a fair settlement for your injuries.
Filing a lawsuit can happen in these steps, which can take several additional months or years to resolve:
Filing a Complaint
Your lawyer files a complaint to report your legal claim in court. The summons form must be personally served to the other party. They have 30 days to respond.
Case Management Conference
A case management conference (CMC) must be held within 180 days of filing a complaint in Los Angeles County. The judge and lawyers from both sides meet to decide how the case will be handled and set the trial date. The exception to this rule is under Rule 3.24(b).
If the other party responds to the summons, the lawyers from both sides exchange evidence and questions. This phase helps them to prepare for the trial and understand how to build a case. Discovery must end 30 days before the trial date.
If the value of your case is $50,000 or less, it may go under arbitration. An arbitrator can listen to arguments, review evidence, and award damages based on what the lawyers say. However, the decision is not binding unless both sides agree.
At this point, when there is no settlement, the pretrial phase can begin 90 days before the trial. It involves the lawyers finalizing evidence and witness appearances with the judge.
The court can hold a conference to negotiate and settle the claim between both sides. Both parties can submit a settlement conference statement to the court within 5 days of the scheduled trial.
Remember that every motorcycle injury claim is different depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your motorcycle accident case. By going to trial, you can better understand how much compensation you can receive and put your accident behind you.
What are the chances of getting in a motorcycle accident?
The lack of safety protection on motorcycles makes them more vulnerable to accidents with other motor vehicles. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration reports that motorcycle riders are 4 times more likely to suffer injuries and 28 times to die from accidents than those in passenger vehicles.
What is the most common motorcycle accident?
Most motorcycle accidents occur when cars turn left in the path of motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, 42% of all motorcycle accidents involve vehicles going left and riders driving straight or overtaking them, making it the most deadly for motorcyclists.
What is the average payout for a motorcycle accident claim?
There is no average settlement for motorcycle accidents in California since every case is unique. The average motorcycle accident settlement depends on the victim’s injuries, insurance coverage, and damage caps in the state where the accident occurs. Most plaintiffs accept compensation in the thousands of dollars, which covers all their economic losses and some non-economic damages.
What to do after a motorcycle accident?
California motorcycle accidents resulting in injuries or death require filing a police report. You must also take photographs of the scene from all angles, including the license plates and the point of impact left by the other driver or your bike.
Ask witnesses for their contact information so your lawyer can get their testimonies. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible so they can help you with your case.
The Shirvanian Law Firm Can Help You
You can make a strong motorcycle injury claim when you work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at The Shirvanian Law Firm. Your attorney can review the details of your case to help you obtain a fair settlement for motorcycle accidents in California.
Call our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation.