Motorcycles are popular because they give riders a greater sense of freedom. These vehicles are so popular the number of registered motorcycles in the U.S. doubled from 2002 to 2021.
Although the volume of registered motorcycles in the U.S. substantially increased over the past two decades, the 8.575 million registered motorcycles in the U.S. in 2021 account for only 3% of the 282 million registered vehicles in the nation in the same year.
Motorcycles may make up a small percentage of the total registered vehicles in the country. Still, in 2021, motorcycle accident fatalities equaled 14% of all motor vehicle accident (MVA) deaths. Motorcycles face unique risks when motorcycling, which is why you may have grounds to pursue a motorcycle accident lawsuit if you were in a motorcycle accident. Let’s explore motorcycle accident lawsuit timelines, steps to take after an accident, and how a lawyer can help with your claim.
Motorcycle accident lawsuit timeline
Several factors affect how long a motorcycle accident lawsuit takes. Timeline variables include the following:
- Severity of injuries: You may not initiate a lawsuit immediately if you’re in a coma or hospitalized with severe injuries after an accident.
- Identifying the at-fault party: The circumstances leading to the accident may be unclear, and you may wait to learn who’s at fault before taking legal action. You may also have issues taking legal action if you were injured in a hit-and-run and don’t know the at-fault driver’s identity.
- Shared liability: Suppose two drivers share liability for your motorcycle accident. It may take longer to negotiate a settlement because their insurance companies are fighting over their percentage of liability.
- Unproductive negotiations: Lawsuits take longer to resolve if insurance companies aren’t willing to negotiate or refuse to offer reasonable compensation.
It can take up to two years to resolve your motorcycle accident lawsuit if your case goes to trial or complex factors slow the negotiation process. Although this may sound long and negative, extra time resolving an injury lawsuit can sometimes be positive.
Suppose you were hit by a car and suffered severe injuries, including partial paralysis. You’re undergoing medical tests and treatment, but your prognosis is unclear. Extra time for medical examinations can substantiate a claim for relocation costs if you need to move to a wheelchair-accessible home, personal care costs if you need in-home care, and job retraining if you cannot return to your profession. You may not realize the extent of your long-term medical and living expenses if you settle your claim quickly.
Common motorcycle accident causes
Motorcycle accidents share many of the common causes of car accidents, including the following:
- Alcohol: Drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs put everyone at risk, including motorcyclists
- Distracted driving: Any time a driver isn’t thinking about the road, lets go of the steering wheel or looks away from the road, they can cause a distracted driving accident
- Mechanical issues: Mechanical malfunctions can cause motorcyclists to lose control and crash. Mechanical issues also affect other motorists, who may collide with a motorcyclist if they lose control of their vehicle.
- Speed: Traveling at high speeds reduces the time available to adjust for changes in road conditions or stop a vehicle, which is why speed is a common cause of MVAs
- Weather: Rain, snow, and other weather conditions can create driving hazards, leading to accidents
There are also common motorcycle accident causes unique to motorcycles and motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are more likely to have an accident if they’re inexperienced and still learning to control a motorcycle. Inexperienced motorcyclists may also make the mistake of choosing a vehicle that’s too powerful or complex for their skill level.
Common motorcycle accident injuries
MVAs can injure any driver or passenger; however, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable. The fatality rate in motorcycle accidents is significantly higher than your chances of dying in a car accident.
For those that survive, common motorcycle accident injuries include the following:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
It can take years to recover from critical injuries, such as SCIs and TBIs. In severe cases, injuries can be permanent and life-altering.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The timer for filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit in Colorado is activated when you’re in a car accident. You must file your claim before the time limit elapses.
The legal term for your time limit is the statute of limitations. Colorado gives MVA victims, including motorcycle accident victims, three years to file a lawsuit. However, suppose you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident and are pursuing a wrongful death suit. In that case, you must file within two years of the accident date unless their death was ruled a vehicular homicide. In those cases, the timeline doubles to four years.
What to do immediately after the accident
Taking appropriate steps after a motorcycle accident will help you when you file a claim. Your injuries could prevent you from completing all steps, but if possible, you should complete the following tasks:
- Assess the situation: Determine if anyone is hurt and render first aid. You may need to move victims or vehicles from the roadway if you’re in an unsafe location.
- Call 911: You must report an MVA if it causes death, injuries, or property damage.
- Exchange information: Provide other drivers with your name, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license number. Gather this information from other drivers. You can ask the police to get this information for you if another driver refuses to supply it.
- Collect witness information: Ask witnesses for their names and contact information.
- Collect visual evidence: Take photos of the scene and relevant factors. For example, if the accident occurred at an intersection with malfunctioning traffic lights, having photos or videos of those lights could be relevant to your case.
- Call your insurance company: Ideally, your insurance company will learn about the accident from you. However, you can contact them later if you’re severely injured.
- Seek medical help: Many accident victims are in shock after an accident and don’t realize they’re injured or understand the severity of their injuries. You could feel okay, not realizing you have fractured bones or internal bleeding. Seeking medical care ensures you get a comprehensive post-accident assessment and identify injuries promptly.
- Talk to a lawyer: Call a motorcycle accident lawyer from the accident scene to discuss your case.
You must stay at the accident scene if possible. Paramedics may remove you for medical care if you’re unconscious or severely injured. Still, unless you need emergency medical care, you should wait until the police arrive and permit you to leave.
The best time to consult an attorney
Contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer will confirm the grounds for your claim and handle the following tasks:
- Interviewing witnesses
- Gathering evidence
- Preparing legal paperwork
- Help calculate damages
- Filing your claim
- Serving defendants
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Negotiating for a settlement
Insurance companies often try to rush the settlement process to reduce the payout. Your attorney will evaluate the evidence and your accident costs to fight for you to receive the damages you deserve. Your attorney will present evidence in court if your case goes to trial.
How much is a motorcycle accident lawsuit worth?
Motorcycle accident settlement amounts vary. Victims receive higher settlements if they have more severe injuries because they typically have more medical expenses and other accident-related costs.
Your accident expenses could include childcare costs, house cleaning bills, medical bills, and lost income while you recover. You may also suffer personally, developing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after your accident or because you’re unable to enjoy your favorite activities or be intimate with your partner.
Your motorcycle accident lawyer can help identify your grounds for economic and non-economic damages and help calculate the total damages you can claim. Your attorney will also determine if you can seek punitive damages, which could increase the settlement amount.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, Let Bachus & Schanker help
Bachus & Schanker’s Victim’s Advocate team investigates accidents and ensures we identify the at-fault parties. Our team understands the trauma accident victims suffer. It provides information about resources you can turn to for financial and personal assistance during your recovery. We’re available to answer your questions, so you’ll never feel like you’re being kept in the dark while your case progresses.
Our motorcycle accident lawyers will handle all the legal requirements to prepare and pursue your claim, giving you the time to recover after your accident. As your legal advocates, we’ll fight for you to receive fair compensation and update you on our progress every step of the way.
Teoh, E. (2021). Motorcycles registered in the United States, 2002-2021.