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Can I File a Personal Injury Claim After a Motorcycle Accident?

Can I File a Personal Injury Claim After a Motorcycle Accident?

A Texas Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help Win Compensation

Riding a motorcycle can be a fun and inexpensive way to travel, but motorcycles are no match for larger vehicles and offer little protection in a crash. As a result, people on motorcycles are 28 times more likely to die in an accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Survivors may be left with serious injuries and dealing with pain, increasing medical and rehabilitation bills, and loss of income from being unable to work.

Fortunately, Texas law offers a way to help. If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a motorcycle accident due to another party’s negligence or fault, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you received through insurance or a personal injury claim. Consulting with a knowledgeable Texas personal injury attorney can guide you through this complex process. While no amount of money can make up for tremendous suffering, this compensation can take care of your costs, relieve financial pressures, and provide the medical care necessary so you can concentrate on your recovery and rebuilding your life.

Texas insurance law requires drivers to be insured for a minimum of $30,000 per injured person – up to $60,000 per accident – and $25,000 of property damage per accident. But in a serious motorcycle crash, that coverage may not be enough. After an accident, you might need surgery, require hospitalization, and face long-term rehabilitation at a time you must take time off work. Your costs and financial losses can easily exceed the limits of your insurance policy, so a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary to get coverage for all the damages you received.

However, Texas injury laws are complicated, and making mistakes can cost you the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are out for profit and want to pay out as little as possible. They are biased against motorcyclists to begin with and will try to prove the accident was your fault. They have teams of adjusters and high-priced lawyers that use a wide range of tactics to minimize or deny claims. For example, they may come up with a lowball offer they hope you will accept quickly in return for signing a release promising that you will not file any further claims. If you take the offer and you have more costs in the future, you will be out of luck. Also, insurance companies may try to trick you into saying something they can use to show that you were at fault or contributed to the accident, which can be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit.

At this difficult time, when you are trying to deal with recovering from your accident, it can help to get guidance from a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling motorcycle cases.

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in Texas, it is important to act quickly and take certain steps. If you are in condition to do so, the first thing is to see that you and everyone involved in the accident is safe and out of the road to avoid further danger. Then you should take the following actions to increase the chances of getting compensation:

  • Call 911 and get emergency medical assistance. Even if you do not think you are badly injured, you should be evaluated, as some injuries don’t show up immediately and may worsen over time; a prompt medical evaluation could detect underlying injuries. Tell doctors that you were in an accident, make sure they do necessary tests and document all your injuries, and get copies of your medical records, as they can be used in your claim.
  • Make sure responding police officers file an accident report. Be sure to tell the police officers your side of the story about what happened and avoid making statements that could be construed as admitting you were at fault for the crash.
  • Collect the other driver’s contact information and insurance details. Essential information includes the name, telephone, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance company that you will need when filing a claim.
  • Get contact information for any witnesses. Write down witness statements that can help verify an objective version of what happened should the other driver try to deny fault in an accident to get out of responsibility.
  • Document accident damage by taking photos and videos of the crash scene, damages to your motorcycle and other vehicles, and any conditions that may be relevant, such as dense fog, icy roads or potholes in the road. Providing your lawyer with photos that document the state of the accident scene before anything as been moved can be used to help reconstruct the accident and prove fault.
  • Document your symptoms as they appear or worsen and see your own doctor for a medical evaluation and follow-up care. Follow medical instructions as to treatment, medication, therapy, etc.
  • Call a Texas motorcycle accident lawyer before making any statements and talking to insurance. If you say something to the insurance company that indicates you are at fault or contributed to the accident, the settlement amount can be reduced.  Texas state law uses “modified comparative negligence” (CPR Section 33.001) when determining fault. As long as you are less than 51 percent responsible for a crash, you may collect damages, but the amount will be reduced by the proportion of fault you are found to bear. If you are more than 50 percent at fault, you may not recover damages.

An experienced Austin motorcycle accident attorney can guide you as to what and what not to say and do before you make mistakes that can hurt your case.  Be aware that insurance agents may attempt to sound friendly, but they usually ask questions that are specifically designed to get you to make damaging recorded statements about your accident which can negatively affect the outcome of your case. Tell the insurance company to talk to your attorney, and let the attorney take over all aspects of your case and make sure everything is done correctly and according to the law.

Your attorney should:

  • Meet with you to hear your version of how the accident happened and who the responsible parties may be
  • Evaluate whether you have a valid case, what it may be worth and the settlement to fight for
  • Ensure that you get proper medical treatment and that everything is documented
  • Investigate the accident and gather and preserve evidence such as from traffic cameras, and police and medical reports
  • Interview witnesses, police officers, and first responders
  • Hire experts to reconstruct the accident and testify on your behalf and experts to evaluate your costs and injuries and testify as to how they affect your life now and into the future
  • File all forms and paperwork and make court appearances in accordance with Texas requirements
  • Handle all communications with insurance companies and their attorneys fand negotiate or a fair settlement
  • Build your case and take it to trial if necessary.

A good personal injury lawyer is skilled at evaluating how much in damages you should receive and knows how to negotiate with the insurer to receive a fair settlement. In most situations, it is desirable to have your attorney settle the case out of court, as it avoids the higher fees and unpredictability of a trial that could drag on for years. However, should negotiations break down, your car accident lawyer can help you file a lawsuit for the damages you received.

If pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to go, your lawyer will advocate for you and represent you every step of the way, working to get you just compensation.

How to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Texas

If negotiations with insurance fail to come up with a fair settlement, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties at fault for causing the accident. This lawsuit must be filed promptly as Texas has a statute of limitations (CPR Section 16.001) that gives accident victims only two years from the date of an accident to file a claim. Once the statute of limitations expires, accident victims are typically barred from receiving any compensation at all.

To win a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney would have to show that another party, the defendant in the case, was negligent and at fault for causing the accident that injured you. Proving liability legally requires showing the existence of the following elements:

  • Duty: The defendant had a duty of care not to cause harm.
  • Breach: The defendant breached that duty through actions or failure to act.
  • Cause: This breach was directly related to the accident that caused your injuries.
  • Damages: You suffered damages as a result.

For example, everyone who gets behind the wheel has a duty of care to drive responsibly and not harm others. If they fail to do so by driving while intoxicated and run your motorcycle off the road and you suffer injuries, the driver can be held liable.

In some cases, there may be multiple parties responsible for the accident. In addition to the driver of another vehicle, defendants may include:

  • The manufacturer of a defective motorcycle or other vehicle part that failed and caused the accident
  • The maintenance company responsible for road repairs that neglected to fix a pothole
  • A bartender who served too many drinks to an obviously intoxicated driver that ran you off the road.

Your attorney should name all potentially liable parties as defendants in the lawsuit, as they all may have insurance and assets that can go toward a settlement.

Damages You May Recover

In Texas personal injury cases, your motorcycle accident attorney may get you an award that covers both your economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages, also called “special” damages, are for the monetary costs you have from the accident. These may include:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses and costs of continuing care
  • Lost wages and earning capacity, both past and future
  • Property damage, such as costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle.

Non-economic damages, also called “general” damages, are awards to compensate you for losses that do not have a specific monetary value, but negatively impact your life, such as:

  • Emotional distress
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship and consortium
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.

There is a wide range of settlements you can win in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, that may range from the thousands to millions of dollars.  The amount you may receive in your individual situation will depend on factors such as your actual costs, your age, family situation, and earning capacity, and the type, seriousness and permanence of the injury you received.  The skill of your lawyer to negotiate, build, and present your case is also a factor.

Get Help from a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Austin, TX

If you or a loved one was injured or someone has died in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence or fault, the experienced and knowledgeable Texas personal injury lawyers at Evans/Reilley are available to determine the best way for you to get compensation for your losses.

At Evans/Reilley Law Firm, we understand the devastating impact motorcycle accidents can have on people’s lives and are passionate about bringing justice to our clients.  We know the complexities of Texas law and how to deal with the insurance companies and their attorneys, the courts, and the system. We take the burden off you by taking care of all legal issues, investigations, and negotiations, so you don’t have to.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your accident, answer your questions, and show you how we can help. Do not worry about costs — you pay nothing unless and until we win a settlement for you. Contact our motorcycle accident lawyers in Austin or call us today at (512) 732-2727 to get started.

Attorney Chip Evans

Austin Attorney Chip EvansChip Evans is a partner at Evans & Herlihy. Chip brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing Plaintiffs. It is the desire to help individuals, not corporations, that attracts Chip to this side of the docket. [ Attorney Bio ]