Motorcycle accidents are increasing throughout California and the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in bike collisions in 2012. Approximately 93,000 riders were injured in non-fatal collisions that year. Even with the increased promotion and education efforts by several federal, state and local organizations to increase the awareness of motorcycle safety, the fact remains that other drivers just do not watch out for two-wheeled vehicles on our highways.
A motorcycle accident legal professional understands the devastation caused by a negligent, careless or reckless automobile driver. They know that a bike collision hurts you financially, emotionally and physically. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible following the crash so that he can help you pursue compensation for your damages. The party that is responsible for the crash must be held accountable for their actions and liable for the damage caused because of that crash for you to receive any reimbursement.
A very simplified answer to the question, “What does a motorcycle accident lawyer do” is we handle your accident and injury claim. However, that really does not give you much information about exactly how your legal professional works to get you the compensation you deserve due to negligence or other wrongful acts of another party.
Each case is different because the circumstances surrounding the incident are unique to that situation and the injuries sustained in the collision are unique to that individual. However, when we receive these types of cases there are several things that we begin to do immediately in order to protect your rights to recovery.
Beginning with your initial interview, your legal professional will be investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash. Once retained, this includes gathering vital evidence from the crash scene. Either the lawyer or one of his investigators will go to the scene to take photographs as close to the time of the collision as possible. He will also take photographs of the motorcycle and any other vehicle involved in the crash and request that you have photographs taken of your injury. Photographic evidence is a very compelling element in a personal injury case.
In addition to the photographs, the lawyer will begin to gather other information including copies of medical records, the police report, witness statements, the driving record of the other driver and copies of insurance declaration pages for all relevant companies. It is important for your lawyer to review all applicable policies to determine what coverage is available as well as analyze and address the validity of any liens that may be placed against your settlement proceeds through a subrogation right (the right of the insurance company to be reimbursed from the accident settlement for any medical bills it paid).
Your law firm will speak with your physicians to understand your condition, check on the progress of your recovery and determine if they will need to retain the service of an expert witness should your case go to trial. Your lawyer may also retain the services of other experts depending on the complexity of your case. For example, if liability for the collision is in question, he could hire an accident reconstructionist to reconstruct the crash to show that the other driver is responsible for your injuries. If your injuries have resulted in permanent disability, he may hire an economist or vocational expert to testify as to the economic loss you have suffered as a result of the incident.
Once your lawyer has completed his investigation, obtained all of your medical records, and has consulted with you, he will begin to negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to settle your claim. Adjusters for these companies have years of training to prepare them to negotiate settlements down in order to reduce the amount of money that the company must pay to the victim (i.e. protecting the insurance company's profits).
Therefore, you want a motorcycle accident attorney who has years of experience dealing with these companies because he has expertise in dealing with their tactics. An inexperienced attorney or anyone without a law degree may fall victim to these tactics and accept a much lower settlement than the victim deserves based on his or her damages. It is very important that you do not try to negotiate directly with an insurance adjuster and/or the law firm for the insurance company as this may decrease the amount of your settlement even if you hire a law firm later in the case. Something you say to the adjuster or their law firm may be used against you to hurt your chances of recovery.
If the insurance company fails to act in a fair and reasonable manner to negotiate a settlement in your case, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit. At that point, he will focus on preparing the case for trial. Actually, experienced attorneys will prepare for trial from the very beginning of the case in the event that a trial is necessary. This helps him to maximize the amount of your recovery because he has been building a strong case from the first moment you met with him.
The attorney will draft and file a summons and complaint to be served on the defendant (the person who caused the crash). Once a lawsuit is filed, your attorney has the legal right to require the defendant to answer questions under oath (i.e. interrogatories), produce documents and other evidence (i.e. request to produce) and interview the defendant and any witnesses under oath (i.e. depositions). The attorney will also prepare you for your deposition.
As the case proceeds, the attorney may hire expert witnesses to provide reports concerning various aspects of the case and to testify in court if needed. He will draft various motions to file with the court as needed to ensure that the case is progressing as he feels that it should. As the time of the trial draws closer, the attorney will have exhibits created to present at the trial such as copies of photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, diagrams of how the accident happened according to the reconstructionist and any physical evidence, if applicable (i.e. section of the motorcycle, helmet, etc.).
At the trial, your motorcycle accident lawyer will present the evidence to support the allegations that the other driver caused your injuries. He will also present evidence to support the amount of money that you are claiming for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium, lost earning potential and pain and suffering. However, your attorney will also be weaving your story throughout the entire trial to show the jury how devastating this accident has been for your and for your family so they will understand, and agree, that you deserve the amount of money you are demanding from the defendant.
There are very few motorcycle accident cases that do not require an attorney. Regardless, obtaining a free consultation from one of our skilled legal professionals can help get you on the right track. Call (800) 838-6644 today to obtain a free injury consultation with no obligation to retain our services.