Published in Personal Injury by Chris Eskew on January 25, 2023.
Most motorcycle riders understand the inherent dangers of riding a motorcycle. However, despite driving courses, defensive driving techniques, and taking extra precautions, accidents still happen. Because motorcycles don’t offer the same amount of protection a car or truck does, accidents can be devastating. At best, the motorcycle will be damaged, but anything worse than that often means horrible consequences for the rider. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, Eskew Law, LLC can help you get the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
What Do I Have to Prove to Get Compensation?
Before calculating damages and your potential recovery, you must establish who is liable for your damages. To prove that someone is liable, you must prove that their negligence caused your accident and injury. Without showing liability, you cannot obtain financial compensation.
To prove negligence, you must prove the following elements:
- The person who caused the accident had a duty to operate their vehicle safely;
- The person who caused the accident breached this duty by engaging in unsafe behavior;
- The unsafe behavior caused the rider’s injury or death; and
- The rider suffered damages because of their injury.
In a motorcycle accident, common examples of a breach of duty or unsafe behavior on the part of the negligent party can include the following:
- Distracted driving,
- Drowsy driving,
- Aggressive driving, and
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Motorcyclists can also engage in unsafe behavior that could impact their ability to recover compensation, including riding in blind spots of other vehicles, abruptly changing lanes, or failing to signal before changing lanes. If you can prove liability, the next step is proving your damages.
What Are Damages?
Damages compensate you for losses caused by your injury. You are probably wondering, What damages can I recover for a motorcycle accident in Indiana? When you bring a motorcycle accident claim, you can pursue both economic and noneconomic damages. Proving injury or death tends to be straightforward because there is usually objective medical evidence documenting the injuries. However, it gets a little tricky to prove mental and emotional injuries and other damages, so it’s important to reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney who can fully analyze your losses and calculate potential damages in your case.
Economic damages are quantifiable monetary damages related to your accident. Economic damages are losses such as:
- Medical bills,
- Future health care costs,
- Lost income for missed work,
- Lost future earnings, and
- Property damage or loss.
An attorney will gather pertinent evidence such as medical records, bills, pay stubs, and repair invoices to prove these damages. The attorney may even need to engage an expert to determine potential future health costs or potential lost future earnings.
In almost all motorcycle accidents, there will be some damage to the motorcycle and repair costs. Generally, when the amount of money required to make repairs to a vehicle after an accident exceeds the vehicle’s true worth, the vehicle is deemed a total loss. In some states, including Indiana, there is a lower total loss threshold. In Indiana, if repairing your vehicle will cost you more than 70 percent of that vehicle’s value, the vehicle is likely a total loss. In that case, the negligent party’s insurance company should reimburse you for the vehicle’s full actual value. To prove this, an attorney will assist in obtaining repair estimates and compare them with the vehicle’s NADA or Kelly Blue Book value.
Noneconomic damages compensate you for the emotional and mental suffering caused by your accident. Noneconomic damages are more subjective, and the insurance company may not consider them if you don’t claim them. Some examples of noneconomic damages are:
- Pain and suffering. The phrase “pain and suffering” is a legal term that describes both the physical and emotional injuries suffered by a victim following a motorcycle accident. Any substantial physical or mental anguish you suffer following an accident may qualify as pain and suffering for settlement purposes.
- Long-term physical impairments, such as disfigurement, scarring, or amputation. Compensation is higher if, for example, your injury will cause a long-term or life-long impairment, such as limited mobility. If you required an amputation or suffered surgical complications, such as nerve damage, then you might be eligible to receive more compensation.
- Emotional distress. Emotional distress in a personal injury case includes any non-physical damage caused by your accident or injury. Emotional distress is a subjective type of harm that can differ from person to person. Some types of emotional distress include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Generally, you will need a diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist to substantiate this type of harm.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. Damages for loss of enjoyment compensate an injured victim for their inability to fully participate in activities they enjoyed prior to the accident. For example, suppose someone who was an avid hiker suffered a leg injury in a motorcycle accident that now prevents them from hiking. In that case, a lawyer can likely prove the victim’s quality of life has decreased. The victim will explain how the injury has affected their life to create a quantifiable amount of damages. Loss of enjoyment is very subjective, however, and it can be difficult to establish that an injury did cause a loss of enjoyment without the help of an attorney.
- Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium concerns the quality of your relationships. The ultimate goal in claiming loss of consortium is to compensate for the loss of love, care, affection, support, and intimacy, including sexual intimacy.
Because noneconomic damages are more subjective than economic damages, getting help from a lawyer is imperative to ensure you properly claim and demonstrate these damages.
After a devastating motorcycle accident, you need experienced representation to help maximize your recovery. Eskew Law is an award-winning law firm that is part of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Our lawyers take a client-centered approach that always puts your goals and needs first. Contact us today online or by phone to schedule your consultation.