As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,976 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2015. About 88,000 more were injured. The year before that, the NHTSA determined that motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die and five times more likely to be injured in a crash than drivers or occupants of passenger vehicles.
There’s no question that motorcyclists have the same rights on the road as drivers of other motor vehicles. If a motorcyclist is injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, he or she has every right to bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the person or entity that caused the crash. Nearly all claims of this type are based on the law of negligence.
About 98 percent of the motorcycle accident cases that we file on behalf of our clients are brought under the law of negligence. In order to sustain your case, we have to prove the elements of negligence. These elements are:
- The person who you claim was at fault for the accident owed you a duty of care
- He or she breached that duty
- The breach of that duty caused the crash
- The crash was the proximate cause of your injuries
- You suffered legally recognized damages
Every one of those elements must be proved. If we’re not able to prove any one of those elements, the claim fails in its entirety. If we think that we can prove the elements, you’re likely to have a personal injury claim.
What Is a Claim?
In the claim stage, we might deal directly with the insurer of the party who caused your motorcycle crash and injuries. There’s no judge or jury because no lawsuit has been filed. If the claim doesn’t settle, a lawsuit is often filed to protect the statute of limitations.
The Statute of Limitations
Every state has a period of time within which a personal injury lawsuit must be filed. If a person fails to file their personal injury lawsuit within the time prescribed by the statute of limitations, it’s highly likely that the court will dismiss their case permanently. Remember that a claim is not a lawsuit. In some states, the statute of limitations might be as short as one year, and in other states, it might be as long as four years.
Damages in Your Claim or Lawsuit
Once all of the elements of negligence have been proved, you’re entitled to an award of damages. Although every state is somewhat different, the damages generally awardable in personal injury cases consist of:
- Past and future medical, therapy, and rehabilitation bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
In the event that a motorcyclist died as a result of a crash, other damages can be awarded in a wrongful death claim. Since every state has its own wrongful death statute, reference must be made to your state’s statute to find out what damages might be available. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer Memphis TN trusts can provide you with more clarity with regards to this.
If a percentage of liability for the accident is attributable to you, the damages award might be reduced accordingly. Be aware of your state’s comparative negligence laws. Once again, an attorney can provide legal guidance.
The most important thing that a motorcyclist can do after an accident is to contact a motorcycle accident attorney right away. Our office offers free consultations and case evaluations that help motorcyclists determine whether they have a case. If it’s determined that there is a case, we’ll advise him or her when the statute of limitations on it will expire.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into motorcycle accident cases.