Answers to Your Motorcycle Accidents Questions
Motorcycle accidents are some of the worst seen on the roads in Texas. When a crash involves a motorcyclist or passengers on a bike, the injuries are typically severe. Motorcycles simply do not have the protection that comes with other types of vehicles. They are not equipped with airbags, and there is no steel frame protecting the operator or their passengers.
Due to the severity of the injuries sustained in these crashes, motorcyclists typically have a lot of questions about their legal right to compensation and how to file a personal injury claim. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our San Antonio motorcycle accident lawyers are here to answer those questions and fight for every penny an injured crash victim deserves.
Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions our legal team receives.
How Are Motorcycle Cases Different from Car Accident Cases?
The biggest difference between motorcycle accidents and car crashes is the severity of injuries. Motorcyclists are largely exposed when riding. They have little protection other than perhaps a helmet and some safety gear, such as goggles. When they get into an accident, the motorcyclist sustains injuries not only from the vehicle that hit them, but also from falling onto the pavement. This doesn’t usually happen when two cars get into an accident.
Another difference lies in the fact that there is still an unfair prejudice against motorcyclists. Bikers are seen as risk-takers and daredevils by juries and insurance companies. This influences their decision when awarding compensation.
When motorcycle cases go before a jury, jurors also often must be educated about motorcycles. Because motorcycles operate very differently from a car, jurors must first be told about these differences so they can understand how the accident happened. Being able to effectively show these differences is a crucial part of arguing in a case. So it is important to have a personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience specifically with motorcycle accident claims.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
After a motorcycle accident, an insurance adjuster from the other party’s insurance company will likely contact you right away. They may seem friendly and like they want to help, but they don’t. They are trying to secure information from you that will hurt your claim. Insurance companies train their staff to do this so they can minimize payouts.
As such, you should never speak to the other side’s insurance company after a crash. You do not want to say anything that could inadvertently hurt your case. You have the right to tell them that they must speak to your attorney. Your lawyer will protect your claim and fight to hold the insurance company accountable for paying the compensation you deserve.
You may also have to report the accident to your own insurance company, particularly if the other driver was uninsured. Even your own insurer, however, is looking out for their own best interests. While you should report the accident as quickly as possible, an attorney should still handle these communications.
What Type of Compensation Can I Get?
Once liability in an accident claim is established, the amount of damages you can receive becomes the focus of the case. Damages refer to the amount of losses you have suffered as a result of the accident. In Texas, there are two types of damages in most personal injury cases:
- Special damages are costs and losses that have an actual dollar value. They include items such as medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, and loss of earning capacity.
- General damages refer to the losses you have incurred that are not as easily quantifiable. These include factors such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
Another type of compensation sometimes awarded in personal injury cases are punitive damages. These damages are only awarded when the defendant has shown gross negligence or carelessness. Punitive damages are not asked for within a claim, but are awarded by the court.
Will I Be Able to Recover If I Was Partly at Fault?
Too many motorcycle accident victims don’t file a claim because they worry that they partially contributed to the accident and, therefore, think they are not entitled to compensation. That is not always necessarily true.
Texas is a modified contributory negligence state. This means if you were partly at fault for the accident, you can claim compensation if your percentage of fault is less than 51 percent. This means someone else holds more liability for the accident and, as such, is responsible for paying you compensation for your injuries. However, any compensation you are awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Can I File a Case If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
Texans over the age of 21 who have taken a motorcycle safety course and carry proper insurance have the right to not wear a helmet while on their bike. However, it’s important all bikers understand that failing to wear a helmet could negatively impact their case.
This is due to the fact that the courts and insurance companies may find that not wearing a helmet is failing to try to mitigate the severity of injuries. That is, your injuries would not have been as severe if you were wearing a helmet. As such, the courts may assign you partial fault and reduce the total amount of compensation you receive.
Can I File If I Was a Passenger in a Crash?
Anyone injured in a motorcycle accident can file a claim against the at-fault motorist in Texas. This includes motorcycle operators. If you were a passenger on a motorcycle and the biker was to blame for the accident, you will need to file a claim with the motorcycle operator’s insurance company. If another driver was at fault for the crash, you will need to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company.
It’s important to understand that as a passenger, you cannot be found negligent and an attorney can help you pursue the full settlement you deserve.
What If the Accident Was Caused by Poor Road Conditions?
Sometimes, it’s not another driver who is at fault for a motorcycle accident, but poor road conditions. Road conditions such as large potholes or improper design are difficult for drivers to deal with, but are especially dangerous to motorcyclists. These can easily cause a biker to lose control and crash.
When this happens, a government entity could be liable for the crash. If the government hired someone, such as an engineering company to design the roadway, these parties may also be liable for an accident.
Claims against the government are particularly challenging to file. They have their own procedural rules and deadlines, so it’s important to speak to an attorney for help filing your motorcycle accident claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
In Texas, the statute of limitations for all personal injury claims, including motorcycle accidents, is two years from the date of the accident. If you file your claim after that time limit has expired, the courts and insurance company will likely bar you from receiving any compensation.
This is why it’s so important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Before filing your claim, evidence must be gathered, and you must have an understanding of the full extent of your injuries, and how long it will take to heal from them. All of this takes time, so you must speak to an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to File a Claim?
If you speak to the insurance company after a motorcycle accident, they will likely tell you they can resolve your claim and there is no need to speak to an attorney. They do this so they can manipulate the situation and keep your payment as low as possible. Insurance companies know that attorneys are aware of the tactics they use to reduce, deny, and delay claims, and that an attorney can also properly value a claim. An attorney will also defend you against accusations from the defendant that you were partly to blame for the crash, so your compensation is not reduced.
To understand the full amount of compensation you need to help pay for your injuries, you should always speak to an attorney after a motorcycle accident.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Too many accident victims fail to speak to an attorney after a crash because they think hiring a lawyer is too expensive. However, personal injury lawyers understand that after an accident, victims struggle financially. Victims have mounting medical bills and are often left unable to work to pay for them. As such, the attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund offer a free consultation to review accident cases and explain all your legal options.
If we can help you pursue a claim, our personal injury lawyers will then work on a contingency basis. This means we don’t receive any payments unless your claim is successful. If it is, we will then take our fees as a fair percentage of the compensation awarded.
Were You Injured in a Crash? Call Our San Antonio Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our motorcycle accident attorneys understand the many obstacles you face after a crash. We know you are dealing with severe injuries, and that the insurance company and at-fault driver will try to avoid paying you the compensation you deserve. We will not let them get away with those tactics and will fight to hold them accountable, and ensure your rights are upheld.
Contact us online for your free consultation so we can discuss your case.