Motorcycle Lawyer FAQ
At the outset, this Q & A is written by a lawyer who rides a steel horse. So although by no means comprehensive, this is the culmination of years of representing motorcycle mishap victims, as well as my riding debacles, strategies,, and tactics for staying safe while riding. These are the most frequently asked questions from bike riders and victims from a legal perspective.
Table of Contents:
- Steps to Take?
- How Do I Pay For Medical Care?
- Is it Better Not To Have a Lawyer?
- Other Reasons To Hire a Lawyer?
- How Much Money Will I Get?
- Should I Get My Bike From Storage?
- Time to Repair or Replace Bike – How Long?
- How Long to Settle?
- But it Wasn’t My Fault – What Then?
- Left Hand Turn Accident.
- What If I failed to Wear a Helmet?
- Accident Reporting Requirements.
Q: What Steps Should I Take Immediately Following a Crash?
A: Assuming you’re not in a coma, or in a danger zone, the most important step you can take is to clam up and hire a lawyer. At the accident scene, you can never admit fault. You should NEVER put ink to any paper, including signing witness statements, or settlements. Do snap pictures, do get to the hospital and begin physical therapy or surgery preparations. Go here to learn more.
A: This is the number one question I get from downed riders. You’d be driving a BMW M-3 if you could afford medical care right? Well not always, but many riders cannot afford a more expensive car. Sometimes they are hard pressed to provide liability, let alone, health care insurance. Not to worry, at Ehline Law Firm we will leave no stone unturned. By hook or by crook, finding medical care.
Many methods exist for getting a great doctor and not going to collections. One way is to have a doctor that trusts the attorney. Then, the lawyer can sign a lien. In fact, the client agrees to pay the doctors out of the proceeds of their personal injury settlement. There is also MediCal, MediCare. But other sources exist like med pay and workman’s comp insurance too. We can help you understand more when you visit.
A: This is a big issue. It requires a Long Answer. So many injured riders think they can deal with the crafty insurance adjusters, and get as much as a lawyer could. But all the reported studies indicate that a represented party has a much better chance at a successful claims resolution, or in court.
Lawyers who understand the rules of evidence, and liability, already have the baseline experience to get the ball rolling. Since many are veterans and have had many of the same fact patterns in the past as part of their caseload, they probably already have dealt with a particular issue or the rule of law.
This means they have confidence and knowledge on a matter you know NOTHING about. An excellent motorcycle lawyer will also know how to present you and your case in a light most favorable to you. This is priceless when dealing with an adjuster, judge or jury.
You become the celebrity, and the advocate becomes your “handler.” Get it? You get insulation and the face of a mean, pit-bull lawyer, tearing into your adversaries. The benefits of counsel don’t end there. A personal injury lawyer has to know a lot about medicine, and bodily harm. Most hurt riders have no clue how to read medical charts or decipher X-Rays.
Lawyers Explain Physical Limitations to a Jury.
Experienced counsel makes a jury hone in on the permanent physical and mental scars. For example, you could be paralyzed, have lost your senses of touch, feel or pain. A lawyer can focus on how your limitations prevent you from going to the bathroom, working or dating. See where we are headed?
Now imagine trying to argue your damages to a jury. An outstanding attorney will go the extra mile to learn the medicine of your case. That is what we do. And you should expect nothing less in your quest for recovery.
As always, you may need a profession accident re-constructionist to prove it was not your fault, etc. This is a lot to know, and if you fail to do it, you could blow your whole case and any chances at economic recovery. In other words, a few bad choices can put you in the poorhouse fast.
So while you could get a quick settlement without counsel, once you sign on the dotted line, there is no more money. EVER. So what about the fact you can no longer work? How is a cheap settlement going to pay for that? This is why you should always consult a lawyer after a motorcycle crash.
A: Understand that often, you will screw up and not take an ambulance to the hospital. As a matter of fact, you may wait to get medical care or legal help. In the meantime, the person at fault could be plotting to blame you for everything.
As discussed above, there are many potential sources of aid that only an attorney would know how to get. Some doctors will not touch a patient with no insurance. So patients must show they have a prominent motorcycle lawyer.
After all, the caretakers don’t work for free. They need adequate assurances you can pay at case conclusion. The other reasons are that you now have an opportunity to heal, and mend, and you have a gladiator, or legal mercenary, on a mission for you. You relax, and we fight. What is wrong with that?
A: To most lawyers, this is a silly question. But our lawyers are compassionate enough to comprehend this will always be the single most important issue for a disabled rider. And rightly so. Of course, not only is it unethical for a lawyer to evaluate a case like that, it is impossible.
Everything is weighed on a case by case basis. Every plaintiff, wreck, and defendant are different. Some injuries are worse than others. Some at fault drivers have more money or coverage to pay, etc. An adjuster and jury may have an entirely different idea of the value of the case.
Adjuster Will Roll The Dice?
But an unfamiliar jury could go either way. They could buy the arguments of the defense that it is your fault, that you’re a low life, etc. The adjuster may be willing to roll the dice and offer you a pittance and risk a trial. This, of course, is another reason why you should never talk to the adjuster.
If they size you up, or you get angry and lose it. So they will assume you will do the same in front of a jury and blow your case. Understood?
In any event, you are entitled to the fair value of your riding equipment like your boots, shattered helmet, etc. If your lawyer can prove fault, you can also recover money for pain, suffering, lost work, and other compensatory damages. To be a success, it takes a team of dedicated doctors, lawyers and experts to build and preserve your claims.
In the end, anyone who has served on a jury knows that they would rather be somewhere else. This means the cards remain already stacked against you. You had better have a compelling case. A non-represented party will have a tough go of being a convincing witness. Don’t forget, in the end; you’re a biker. The statistics show that many people are biased against riders. So this is a balancing act.
Q: How Do I Get My Destroyed Bike Out of Storage, or Should I Even Waste My Time?
A: This is a question we get a lot. Riders are like, hey my bike is dust. By the time I got out of the hospital, I owed more in storage fees than it is worth. Well, first, you should have already hired a lawyer to secure that bike and advance the costs before they sky-rocketed. But if you were in a coma, etc., that is not always possible. It may have already been auctioned off for parts.
But it is vital evidence in your case in chief and steps should be taken to retrieve and store it without breaking the chain of proof. In the worst case scenario, you should have it examined by an expert, and have pictures taken of the entire bike, from far away and close up. Hire a lawyer, better still.
A: As discussed above, some bikes are beyond repair, are impounded and sold off as scrap. Still other times, the damage is not too extreme that the motorcycle cannot be fixed. Still other times, the bike will need to be replaced. Either way, if you had a custom, souped-up bike, you need to get the fair value of those aftermarket parts so you can get a fair property damage offer.
Adjuster Like to Underpay.
Of course, the adjuster will almost always try and underpay. They often use a captive appraiser, who will go out and find similar bikes in your geographical area, and claim your bike is worth little. We have found that when we call the list that the insurance company used to base their price upon, that the bike that was for sale was damaged.
Sometimes it had a blown motor or never existed. In other words, the company the insurance company “retained,” lies and pretends they were honest when arriving at the figure.
Either way, a lawyer will ask the client to go down the list and compare and then get us back your notes. We will then act as your voice, and argue as to the differences between your bike and comparisons they used. In extreme cases, we will help you file insurance fraud complaints against the lying insurance company.
We hold the insurance company accountable and put their feet to the fire. So when it comes to getting the bike repaired or replaced at the full value, we are good. Typically the insurance company will act more responsively when they see we caught them at their own game. As a matter of fact, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Here, the oil is compensation for your bike.
A: The mantra of many liability providers is to delay, deny, defend. So know this before you start to get mad. And don’t get upset, get even. Even the odds with a great lawyer. They don’t want to pay up. Bottom line. If you don’t have a lawyer, a common tactic taken is for the adjuster to pretend he wants to help.
He or she will insinuate if you can just wait a little longer to see a doctor, etc., they will do what they can to get you money. The often try and make you wait till you no longer have the right to sue in court and then kick you to the wayside.
Understand their approach. No lawyer, you’re a dunce. But if a lawyer is present, they had better settle if they are a good lawyer. So find one that has a record of hitting home runs against the insurance company.
No matter who your opposition is, it takes longer to settle for a reasonable amount. A fast settlement is means a quick, hasty amount. And again, without an expert at your side, good luck getting the true case value.
A: As discussed, bikers are much less visible to car operators than fellow autos. Lack of attentiveness and the lower visibility of a rider means that the majority of accidents are not the rider’s fault. But the insurance company for the at-fault party rarely lets facts get in the way of a good argument not to pay.
So don’t count on the adjuster being honest, or reasonable. They owe you no duty unless they are your insurance company. There are so many scenarios where you could be hurt in a no fault accident, that they boggle the imagination of most riders. So worry about getting to the hospital, and letting us PROVE you were not at the blame.
You can leave nothing to the imagination of a shifty insurance company employee. You have to hit them square between the eyes with an iron clad prosecution of your claim. That is what we help you do. We are the rider’s friend.
A: Understand that at fault car operators are notorious for trying to pin the blame on anyone but the. This is particularly the case after an adjuster coaches them on what they “could” say, or what “could have happened.” “Maybe the motorcyclist was trying to run a red light?”
Don’t be surprised that the guy who apologized at the accident scene will lie through his teeth once he gets off the phone with his insurance carrier. There is no powder-coating this. Pure evil is what we are up against. The statistics PROVE most left-hand turn collisions are not the rider’s fault.
The truth is what we seek. And the truth will settle your case fastest when it is sought by a no holds barred attorney.
Typically, unless the failure to wear the helmet worsened the injury, you should still be able to seek medical and other compensation. So if for example, you broke your leg, that would be covered. But if you shattered your skull, it is unlikely you can recover for that unless your attorney can prove the helmet would not have prevented a shattered skull. Get it?
A: The Vehicle Code mandates that any wreck involving loss of life, limb, bodily injury or over $500 total estimated damages means the cops must be called. Just the property damages alone in most bike wrecks easily exceeds $500. Don’t be kind to the scared defendant when they insist the police don’t need to come. Protect your rights and let the attorneys argue it out later. Get it?