Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating and fun, but it comes with significant risks. There is little to protect you if you have a collision with a motorist. Unlike autos, your only barrier is the safety gear you wear. A motorcycle is also inherently less stable than a car or truck. These factors lead to high injury and fatality rates for crashes between a bike and a vehicle.
Insurance companies often treat riders unfairly, and many people assume the motorcyclist is at fault when involved in a traffic accident. If you were involved in an accident, a motorcycle accident lawyer could help you get the compensation you deserve.
Know the Risks
Understanding the risks involved in riding and taking measures to reduce your vulnerability is essential. Motorcycle accidents happen too frequently on Utah’s roads. In 2021, 1.9% of all traffic accidents involved a motorcycle. The 1,163 motorcycle-related crashes resulted in 41 fatalities and 1,095 injuries to riders.
Be Familiar With the Motorcycle Laws
As a rider, you must follow the same rules of the road as other motorists. However, there are special considerations for motorcyclists. Like auto vehicle drivers, the law requires you to have insurance. Your car insurance policy does not automatically cover your motorcycle. You need a special provision on your policy for your bike.
If your motorcycle is listed on your auto insurance policy, the coverage does not include the state’s mandated personal injury protection coverage. You may be able to get PIP or medical expenses coverage, but motorcyclists are an exception to Utah’s no-fault insurance requirements. As such, you do not have to meet the $3,000 in damages the state requires before motorists can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Utah does not have a helmet law. While it can be a life-saving safety device, insurance companies and legal teams cannot hold it against you if you were not wearing one when the accident occurred.
Understand Personal Injury Legalities
A motorcycle accident that results in physical harm is usually a civil case. If you pursue a lawsuit, your claim falls under personal injury regulations. To collect a settlement for your losses, you need to prove that the other party’s negligence resulted in the accident that caused your injuries.
How To Prove Negligence
Just as more than one person can be at fault in an accident for insurance purposes, the law allows for more than one liable party. In a motorcycle accident, both you and the motorist may share the blame, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from collecting compensation. The first step is establishing negligence, which involves the following four components:
- You must demonstrate that the other party was responsible for looking out for your safety. This is generally the easiest factor to prove in a traffic accident because all vehicle operators owe one another a duty of care.
- You must then show that the motorist failed in their obligation as a fellow driver. Presenting the right evidence is critical at this stage.
- Another challenge comes in proving that the other driver’s negligence was directly responsible for the accident, at least to some degree.
- The final component is proving that the accident caused your injuries. Doctor’s reports are essential, and it’s important that the attending physician who first treats you knows that you were in an accident and documents the information in the medical report.
If you can prove these four components, you likely have a case, though it’s only the first hurdle to cross.
What Damages You Can Pursue
Even if you have medical expenses coverage, there is a limit to what you can pursue in an insurance claim. If your injuries are severe, the other party’s coverage and your medical expenses policy may not be enough to compensate you for the full extent of damages. A legal claim opens up the potential to obtain a monetary award that pays for economic and non-economic damages, including the following:
- Current and future medical expenses and rehabilitation costs
- Travel expenses and in-home help
- Lost wages and reduced work capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
A Siegfried and Jensen motorcycle accident attorney considers all factors from the accident and expert testimony to calculate your losses. Whether you receive it depends to a significant degree on how much of the accident is your responsibility. It can help to have an attorney on your side to build a solid case that may give you a chance at favorable outcomes.
What Modified Comparative Negligence Means
Utah is a modified comparative negligence state. The law requires the courts to consider the fault of both parties in a personal injury lawsuit. Even though you seek damages and must prove the other party was at fault, your contributions impact how much of the damage award you can receive. The good news is that you may recover at least a portion of the damage award even if you were partially at fault.
If your contribution to the accident is 50% or less, you have a right to compensation. However, you won’t get the entire award unless the other party is 100% at fault. The amount you receive is equal to the damages awarded minus your percentage of fault. In other words, if the damage award is $400,000 and you are 30% at fault, and the motorist is 70% responsible, you receive $280,000 (which is 30% of $400,000).
On the other hand, if you are more than 50% at fault, you lose your right to recover damages. Regardless of the severity of your injuries, the law does not allow you to claim any compensation.
When To File a Legal Claim
Immediately after an accident, you generally must deal with the insurance companies. As a motorcyclist, you won’t necessarily have PIP or medical expenses coverage. You may hear quickly from the other party’s insurance representative if it is clear they are primarily at fault.
The representative may offer you a low-ball, quick settlement, hoping you’ll take the bait and alleviate their financial responsibilities. You may want to talk to an attorney before you speak to the insurance companies. They may attempt to get you to say something that they can use against you.
If you don’t accept their low-ball offer, or if they attempt to deny your claim, you could be in for a lengthy fight. They may try to drag out your insurance claim pursuit to wear you out or cause you to miss your opportunity to file a lawsuit. Every state sets hard deadlines on how long you have to file a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. In Utah, the statute of limitations for a personal injury legal claim is four years from the accident. If you miss that deadline, you generally have no other recourse.
Find out What a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
Hiring an attorney may improve your chances of recovering a fair settlement. Furthermore, with a lawyer doing all the legwork, you’re free to focus on getting better.
- Investigations and Evidence Collections: Though law enforcement submits an accident report after a crash, you generally need a more thorough investigation to gather the evidence required for a legal claim. A motorcycle accident lawyer from Siegfried and Jensen knows what and how to investigate and understands what evidence is needed to determine fault and damage awards.
- Paperwork Completion: When you have our legal team on your side, you won’t have to worry about completing all the necessary paperwork. We do it for you and ensure its accuracy before submission to avoid unnecessary delays. We also make sure legal documents are filed on time.
- Communications: Your legal team does all the talking. They make the required contacts with physicians, law enforcement, witnesses and anyone else who can contribute evidence and testimony to support your claim. They also deal with the insurance company representatives and the defendant’s legal counsel.
- Negotiations: Negotiations are tricky. They require finesse, experience and an understanding of the big picture. Your motorcycle accident lawyer handles the negotiations and brings legal knowledge and experience to the table.
We know that the idea of taking your claim to court is likely unappealing and intimidating, but sometimes it’s the only way to get a just settlement. If the insurance companies or defense representatives continue to treat you unfairly and refuse to accept the terms of reasonable and fair compensation, then you can count on our support should you decide to take your claim to court.
That said, very few personal injury cases land in a courtroom. However, you don’t have to settle for less than you deserve. Siegfried and Jensen’s attorneys won’t hesitate to go toe-to-toe in front of a judge and jury to pursue justice for you or your loved one.
Get Help From Siegfried and Jensen
At Siegfried and Jensen, we’ve too often seen how unfairly insurance companies treat motorcyclists. We are here to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Let us take care of the legwork and legalities while you take care of getting your life back on track. Get in touch with our offices to schedule a free, no-pressure consultation.
Finding the Right Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Siegfried and Jensen is your best choice for experienced motorcycle accident attorneys. Our accident and injury lawyers will fight to make sure you get treated fairly.
When you team up with us you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll help you get what you need to recover your old life or adapt to a new one.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, police reports, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure the insurance company plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
If you or a loved one has been the victim in a motorcycle crash and you’re not being treated fairly, contact Siegfried and Jensen today for a free, no pressure consultation or for more information.