If you were injured in a San Diego motorcycle accident that was caused by another person's negligence, you are probably entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation you should receive depends upon the facts of your case. A motorcycle accident personal injury lawyer can help you make that calculation.
There are things you can do to maximize your compensation. There are also things you should not do. Here are some helpful tips to follow if you were injured in a San Diego motorcycle accident.
Preserve the evidence
Your motorcycle was almost certainly damaged or destroyed in your accident. Do not junk it or repair it until after you talk to your personal injury lawyer.
At the very least, your lawyer will want to have photographs taken. A mangled motorcycle is a powerful image to place before a jury. If the accident needs to be reconstructed by an accident engineer, your lawyer might want that expert to inspect the motorcycle in order to determine the impact point. For that reason and because physical evidence sends a stronger message to juries than photographs, the lawyer might want you to keep the motorcycle in its post-accident condition rather than repairing it or selling it for scrap.
Do not talk to anyone about the accident until you get advice from a lawyer
The police at the scene of the accident will probably take your statement if your physical and mental condition allows you to give one. You should talk to no other person about the facts of the accident except your lawyer.
In particular, the insurance adjuster for the responsible driver will want to take your statement as quickly as possible. You should never give a statement to an insurance adjuster until you discussed your case with a personal injury attorney. Your attorney may advise you not to give a statement. Your attorney may want to be present if you do give a statement. In any event, your attorney will want to give you advice about answering questions so that you do not say something that will impair the value of your claim.
You should not talk to anyone else about your accident without talking to your lawyer first. If you tell a friend about the accident and that friend is questioned by an insurance adjuster or subpoenaed to testify in a deposition, your friend might not accurately remember what you said. If your friend makes a mistake that you later contradict, the insurance company will try to make you look like a liar. You protect yourself and your friends by declining to talk about the accident with anyone except your attorney.
Do not try to settle the claim without getting a lawyer's advice
If your injuries were minor, you are fortunate. Most injuries from motorcycle accidents are severe. If you only had scratches and bruises, you may be able to settle the claim yourself, but you should talk to a personal injury lawyer to decide whether it makes sense to do that.
Whether or not you have a lawyer, you should never settle a motorcycle injury claim until you know the full extent of the compensation you are entitled to receive. You will not know that until your injuries have fully healed and you have been released from treatment, or a doctor has told you that you have reached a “healing plateau” and your condition is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.
Insurance adjusters like to offer quick settlements. They hope you will take the money they offer before you realize that your injuries are more serious than you believed them to be at the time you settled. Since settlements are final, you cannot ask for more compensation if you later realize you made a mistake. For that reason, it is imperative that you refuse to discuss settlement until you understand the full extent of your injuries.
Follow your doctor's advice
The value of an insurance settlement declines every time an accident victim fails to follow through on a doctor's recommendation. Yes, physical therapy is painful and time consuming. But if you decide to blow it off, the insurance adjuster will assume that you felt fine and did not need it. If a doctor asks you to return for a follow-up examination but you fail to attend or reschedule the appointment because you are too busy, the insurance adjuster will argue that you did not need follow-up care because your injury had completely healed.
Medical bills are a major component of settlement value. Most lawyers and insurance companies rely on medical bills as a gauge of injury's severity. They multiply medical bills by a certain number (or range of numbers) to place a rough value on your pain and suffering. In other words, the higher your medical bills are, the greater will be the settlement value of your injury claim.
If you decide to discontinue treatment before you are discharged, you are artificially reducing your medical bills. That reduces the amount of the settlement you should receive. The only way to assure that you receive all the compensation you deserve in a personal injury settlement is to follow through on all of your doctor's instructions.