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Motorcycle Accident Settlements And Jury Verdicts

Motorcycles are growing in popularity. Unfortunately, that also means that motorcycle accidents are on the rise. With more than 8 million motorcycles on American roads, perhaps it is unsurprising that nearly 100,000 motorcyclists are injured each year. Among those injured riders are many who were injured through the negligent actions of other drivers. Protecting those motorcyclists is an important job.

After a motorcycle accident, there are many issues you need to address to protect your rights. While it may be tempting to rely on your insurance company to help you through this difficult time, you should resist the urge. The insurance adjustor's job is to protect his or her employer. That means limiting the money you can collect from them. The insurance company is the last place you should turn to for advice. 

Understanding the value of your case is tricky. Do you know the full extent of your injuries? Will you ever make a full recovery? Did you miss work or school because of the injury? Will you be able to return to work in full capacity? How much pain did you suffer? How was your life impacted? How did the injury impact the lives of your family members? You must answer all of these questions and more to understand what a fair settlement of your motorcycle injury case should look like.

Why Do Motorcycle Accident Cases Settle?

Recent estimates suggest that around 19 out of 20 personal injury lawsuits settle before trial. The vast majority of these settlements are confidential, making it difficult for industry outsiders to get a clear picture of what a case is worth. The cases that do go to trial typically end in an award to the injured plaintiff. Defendants and the insurance companies that actually pay the claims are at a disadvantage, but only if the threat of losing at trial is real. Injured people who do not have an experienced attorney on their side are easy targets for insurance professionals.

Simply put, motorcycle accident cases settle because the insurance company believes that is the cheapest way to resolve the issue. The decision to settle is purely financial on their part. The Insurance Research Council, a group funded by insurance companies, did a study on insurance payouts on accident claims, and found that a person represented by a lawyer received 3.5 times more money than a person without a lawyer. Insurance companies understand the value of legal representation and take that into account during settlement negotiations.

Trial Experience and Jury Bias

Motorcycle accident victims are at a particular disadvantage when representing themselves. Whereas most accident victims can count on a sympathetic jury, if the issue ever reaches a courtroom, motorcyclists have to contend with a serious bias. Many non-riders are of the opinion that motorcycling and motorcyclists are unsafe. The wrong jury could conclude that you don't deserve damages because you accepted the risk of injury when you got on the motorcycle. They could conclude that you were at fault in the accident, despite evidence to the contrary, just because they hold a negative viewpoint of riders in general. Again, insurance companies are well aware of this bias and use it to their advantage.

To counteract this bias, you need an attorney with experience in motorcycle injury trials. When the insurance team looks at your claim, you need them to see that they could easily lose in court. Insurance companies are keenly aware of which attorneys have produced results in personal injury trials. Having an attorney like that on the other side will motivate them to negotiate with you fairly.

Your Problems Are Our Problems

There is a clear financial benefit to having a motorcycle accident attorney on your side. That said, it may be secondary to the advantage of knowing that your claim is being handled properly. A good lawyer takes ownership of the situation and gives you the peace of mind you deserve.

Suffering a serious injury is incredibly stressful. You need to focus on maximizing your physical recovery. You need to focus on what is best for you and your family. Now is not the time to take on the additional stress of trying to master courtroom rules and insurance negotiations. Once you hire Rittgers & Rittgers, all communication with the insurance companies will go through us. Your problems become our problems.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Motorcycle Crashes," March 2016 

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