Every day, motorcyclists are injured by negligent drivers. This is especially true in busy metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles. If you or someone you know is injured in a motorcycle collision, how do you know how much your case is worth?
In this article, we discuss what you should know if you are the victim of another driver’s negligence, how to make an estimation of what your case might be worth, and why having a personal injury attorney experienced in motorcycle accidents on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, the first thing to be decided is who is “liable”; in other words, which party was “at-fault” in the accident? This requires being able to prove that the other party or parties involved were negligent, and that the accident occurred as a result of their negligence. If you are unable to prove this, or you were the one at fault, it is very unlikely that you will be able to prevail in your claim. Ways of proving that the other party was negligent include police reports and observations, physical evidence at the scene of the accident, eyewitness statements, and video evidence.
This is arguably the most important role that the personal injury attorney that you hire will play in your claim. An attorney who is experienced in motorcycle collisions should know all the legal options available given the facts of your case to be able to prove that the other party was the one at fault.
Once you are certain that another party was at fault because of their negligence, (usually a Vehicle Code violation)the next step is to calculate your damages. Damages refer to the injuries you have suffered as the result of the accident. These injuries can be, and likely are physical, mental, emotional, and financial.
“Special” damages are those damages that are capable of exact calculation. Typically, these consist of your past and future medical bills as the result of the accident, as well as your past, present, and future loss of earnings and earning capacity.
Past medical damages refer to the medical treatment you have already undergone as the result of the accident at the time the claim is brought. Future medical damages are the costs that you are likely to suffer for future medical treatment such as surgery, physical therapy, and specialty chiropractic treatment.
Loss of earnings means the amount of money that you have lost because of your inability to work as the result of the injuries from the accident. This is calculated by multiplying the hourly or salary wages directly before the accident by the amount of time that you were forced to miss work because of the accident.
Future loss of earning capacity, on the other hand, refers to the amount of money that you would have been able to make in the future had you not been injured in the accident. This is much more difficult to prove, because although there are exact dollar amounts used to calculate, doing so requires consideration of variables that are more speculative in nature than past loss of earnings.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know the best way to prove your future loss of earning capacity, often hiring an economist or forensic accountant on your behalf.
General damages are the injuries that you have suffered that do not have an exact dollar figure on them like an hourly wage does. These damages refer to the physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering that you have suffered.
An experienced lawyer will know the best methods of proving the value of your pain and suffering, and how to best present your case to a jury in the event it ends up going to trial.
Settlement Value vs. Trial Value
To settle or not to settle, that is the question! And one that is certainly best answered by an attorney with experience with motorcycle accident trials.
Essentially, whether or not to settle your case before it goes to trial involves a calculation of risk vs. reward. Settlement amounts are typically lower than jury awards–a settlement, however, is a sure thing, whereas convincing a jury may always be a gamble.
For instance, if you and your attorney have determined that your case has an estimated value of $100, ooo- but in your attorney’s experience and opinion there is only a 20% chance of winning at trial, then it would make sense to settle the case for around 20% of the estimated value if you did win, or $20,000.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
All of these issues should be handled by an attorney with both experience and a history of getting results for their clients. For over 30 years The Law Offices of Vann H. Slatter have been helping the victims of motorcycle accidents get the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you know has been injured, please call us today for your free consultation at (310) 444-3010 or toll-free at (888) 293-0404.