Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits: A Guide (2024)

Tamara Armstrong

Contributor

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

Read in 5 mins

Riding a motorcycle is undoubtedly exhilarating. However, lacking physical protection and visibility makes motorcycle riders vulnerable to crashes and injuries. Even a relatively minor accident could severely affect your health and financial stability.

You could be entitled to compensation if you were hurt in an accident. However, the time to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit may be limited, so don’t delay getting legal advice. An attorney can clarify your options and pursue fair compensation. Fill out our form today to get help.

Who Is Responsible for Your Motorcycle Accident?

Identifying who caused your crash is crucial to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit and recover compensation. All drivers have a duty of care to other road users, meaning they must operate their vehicles responsibly. If they fail to drive with adequate care, they could be negligent and liable for your accident-related losses.

However, it’s not always other drivers who cause crashes. Sometimes, road hazards, poorly maintained highways or defective motorcycle parts can contribute to accidents. When this happens, you could have a case against government entities or manufacturers.

Potential At-Fault Parties in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

Depending on what caused your motorcycle accident, you could hold one or several parties accountable for a crash:

  • Other Drivers. Another driver may be responsible if they were speeding, driving distracted or violating traffic laws when they caused your accident.
  • Vehicle Manufacturers: When a manufacturing defect or faulty part in your motorcycle causes an accident, you could seek compensation from a manufacturer and other third parties.
  • Government Entities. If your motorcycle accident occurred due to inadequate signage, poor road maintenance or other road hazards, you could sue the government entity responsible for roadway maintenance.
  • Businesses: If the driver who caused your accident was on work time, you may be able to hold their employer accountable for your damages.

Determining who is liable for your damages can be tricky and may involve a detailed investigation into the crash. The evidence required to prove fault can include police reports, witness statements, expert opinions, traffic camera footage and other material.

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What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2020 saw an extraordinary number of motorcyclists killed in crashes (5,579), more than at any time since 1975. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable in accidents, lacking the protection of a steel cage and safety features such as airbags or seat belts. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are:

  • Speeding. Failure to observe speed limits or adjust speed to weather or road conditions can lead to accidents. In addition, higher speeds typically cause more severe injuries due to the higher-force impact.
  • Right of Way Violations. Car drivers may fail to yield to motorcyclists when merging or making turns, causing side-swipe accidents.
  • Driving Intoxicated. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to reduced reaction time and increased risk-taking.
  • Changing Lanes Unsafely. Drivers can cause accidents by abruptly changing lanes, failing to check blind spots or neglecting to signal when changing lanes.

This is not an exhaustive list, and there can be many causes of motorcycle accidents, including texting and driving, motorcycle defects and bad weather. If your accident occurred due to the negligence of a vehicle driver or others, you could file a motorcycle accident lawsuit and qualify for damages.

You Could Be Entitled to a Motorcycle Accident Settlement

Depending on the specifics of your motorcycle accident and damages, you could qualify for compensation:

  • Healthcare costs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Medical devices (crutches, neck braces, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • On-going care costs
  • Modifications to your home and vehicle
  • Lost income and future loss of wages
  • Pain and anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of life enjoyment

Factors Influencing Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Compensation

There is no average settlement in motorcycle accident claims, and what you could receive depends on the details of the crash and your damages:

  • Extent of Injuries. More severe or life-changing injuries typically result in higher compensation for steep medical expenses and other costs.
  • Lost Income. If you cannot work temporarily or permanently, your settlement may include wages lost during recovery and potential future earnings.
  • Property Damage. Repair or replacement of the motorcycle and any other items destroyed in the accident may factor into settlement calculations.
  • Available Insurance Coverage. The coverage limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy may cap the amount of compensation available to you. This can significantly impact your final settlement amount.
  • Liability. Depending on state laws, your settlement may be reduced if you are partially at fault for the crash. This is known as comparative negligence.
  • Legal Representation. Working with a skilled motorcycle accident attorney can significantly impact your settlement. A lawyer can negotiate for maximum compensation and even take an insurance company to court if they refuse a fair settlement.

Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

An accident occurs in a split second but can impact your life and your family for years. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not your friends. They may be more interested in their bottom line than in adequately compensating you. Insurers may even use manipulative tactics to downplay your injuries or get you to say something they can use to deny or reduce your claim.

For these reasons and more, hiring an experienced attorney can be crucial for getting what you deserve. Here’s how an attorney can help:

  • Handle all the legal aspects of your case
  • Gather and organize evidence to build a strong case
  • Communicate and negotiate with insurance companies
  • Level the playing field and advocate strongly for your rights
  • Take your case to trial and fight for maximum compensation

Most importantly, hiring an attorney to handle your case from beginning to end allows you to focus on your recovery and well-being.

Ready to speak to a lawyer? Get started today and fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long your lawsuit takes can be challenging to determine at the outset. The length of your case depends on various factors, including the following:

    • The extent of your injuries and damages
    • The willingness of both parties to settle
    • Whether fault for the accident is clear
    • A court’s caseload

    Generally, cases moving to trial can take a year or more to resolve, while an out-of-court settlement can be much quicker.

  • There is no average settlement amount, as no two accidents are the same. Settlements can vary significantly and range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars and more.

    What you could recover will depend on the scope of your injuries, insurance coverage and state laws. An attorney can evaluate your case and determine a fair motorcycle accident settlement.

  • Your private health insurance plan should cover treatment for your injuries. However, the exact details of your coverage depend on your policy and provider. Your insurance may not cover all expenses, such as physical therapy or long-term care. You’ll also be responsible for any co-pays or deductibles.

    Remember, if another party is responsible for the accident, their insurance company may be responsible for reimbursing your medical expenses.

  • Failing to wear a helmet doesn’t prohibit you from filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. However, it could impact your case’s outcome. For example, if you claim damages for a brain injury that a helmet could have prevented, a court may assign you some fault for your injury. This could reduce your compensation.

    For example, if a court assigns you 30% responsibility for your injuries, and you have $100,000 in damages, you may only recover $70,000 (70%) in damages.

  • Most motorcycle accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if and when you win. Contingency fees vary from one attorney to another and can amount to one-third or more of the final settlement or court award.

    However, some attorneys charge hourly rates or retainers, meaning you could be responsible for fees whether you win or lose your case. Therefore, clarify the fee structure with your lawyer before hiring them.

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