Motorcycle accidents can be especially dangerous, and chances are that if you were involved in one, you have some kind of injury or property damage. In that case, you will find yourself dealing with the insurance company very soon. Motorcycle accident insurance claims should be straightforward, but instead, they’re often complicated and require a lot from you to prove your claim.
It’s important to understand how they work, though, because the right actions can increase your chances of getting the full compensation for damages you deserve. Here’s everything you need to know about motorcycle accident claims, including how they work, whether or not you should hire a motorcycle accident lawyer, and what you need to protect yourself and file a successful claim after an accident:
Personal Injury Versus Property Damage Claims
If another driver was involved in the accident, you’ll make a claim against their insurance company. If your accident did not involve another driver, you might be submitting a claim to your own auto insurance company. Basically, you’ll be making either a personal injury claim or a property damage claim:
- Personal injury claims account for physical injuries and other related damages that result from a motorcycle accident caused by another driver. If you had a passenger on your bike, their injuries and other damages can be included in the claim, as well.
- Property damage claims cover damage to your motorcycle from an accident. Property damage claims are made in the same way as personal injury claims, but they are much simpler.
If you carry collision coverage for your bike and had property damage with no physical injuries, you’ll likely make a property damage claim to your own insurer. But if you suffered physical injuries and physical injuries and property damage, you’ll need to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
To successfully file a motorcycle accident claim, you have to prove the other driver was at fault for the accident and your damages. That includes compiling evidence of your accident and the costs you now have.
Damages You Can Include in Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you are filing a property damage claim without injuries, you are usually entitled to collect the lesser of:
- The value of your bike at the time of the accident (meaning how much you would have sold it to anyone at a fair price, not the price you paid for the bike when you bought it)—not including salvage value
- OR the repair costs of your bike
If you are filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance, you should be able to collect the full amount. If the claim is made against your own insurer, your policy coverage will determine how much you can collect.
Many accident victims will wonder how much their claim is worth. The answer is highly personalized based on the details of your case, including the degree of fault and how severe your injuries and other damages are. But, if you have no blame in the accident and you suffered a lot of damages, your potential compensation will be higher.
Many accident victims will wonder how much their claim is worth. The answer is highly personalized based on the details of your case, including the degree of fault and how severe your motorcycle injuries and other damages are.
Personal Injuries Damages
If you suffered injuries from your crash (which is very common in motorcycle accidents), you can file a claim for any expenses you face now because of the accident. Those include:
- Medical costs like hospital and doctor bills, prescription medications, physical therapy, and any other medical expenses resulting from current or future treatment of your accident injuries.
- Lost wages from missed work time because of the accident and your injuries. This includes loss of future earning capacity if you can’t return to work as you did before.
- General damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship (if you’re filing a wrongful death claim), or physical impairment.
Full Versus Partial Compensation
The way you can collect damages depends on the state where your motorcycle accident occurred. If you’re in a fault state like Georgia and you were not at fault for the accident, you are entitled to compensation for all costs of the accident you face.
According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 51-12-33, if you were partially at fault for the accident in Georgia, you would be awarded compensation based on your percentage of fault (as long as you are 50% or more at fault).
If you’re not sure about the rules around the fault in your state, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer to walk you through the details.
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What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
The steps to prepare for a motorcycle accident claim begin as soon as the accident happens. The more you can preserve the accident scene, the better. That includes:
Reporting the Accident
Call the police and let them know what happened. When the responding officer arrives, ask for their name and whether or not they’ll assign a number to your accident report. Answer any questions about what happened during the accident, but never admit any blame.
Use your phone to take pictures of the entire scene, damage to your motorcycle from all angles, and all injuries suffered by you and your passenger, if you had one.
Think outside the box here. Photograph any skid marks or other markings on the road that show the conditions of the accident.
Ask for the other driver’s name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number. Note the driver’s car make and model and license plate number. You can also ask for proof of their auto insurance and which insurer they have.
Talk to Witnesses
If anyone saw the accident happened, ask if you can have their name and contact information. Your attorney will likely reach out to them later for a statement.
Don’t Delay Seeing a Doctor
If you have life-threatening injuries, call 911 for emergency medical treatment right away. If you are able to wait around to complete the above steps, see a doctor as soon as possible after you’ve left the accident.
Tell your doctor about any pain or symptom you experience, even if it’s minor. Medical records make up a large part of most personal injury claims, so you will want thorough records of all doctor visits and treatments. Plus, injuries that seem minor at first can become worse after your adrenaline wears off. If anything worsens with time, be sure to tell your doctor and follow all care advice from them.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you’re making a property damage claim against your own insurance company, call and ask your agent to connect you with a claims adjuster. You’ll need to provide them with proof of repair estimates or the value of your motorcycle.
More than likely, you’ll be filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company instead. This is trickier because someone else’s insurance will look for ways to reduce their payout to you. They may offer you a lowball settlement that is far below your actual claim amount. Or, they might try to blame you for a part of the accident or drag out negotiation time to delay your settlement.
It’s best to get legal advice before filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. And never accept the first offer or give a statement without talking to an attorney first. Doing so could leave you without any negotiation power, meaning you’ll be paying for most of your costs for an accident you didn’t cause.
Statute of Limitations
The deadline to file a personal injury claim in Georgia is two years from the date of your accident, according to OCGA § 9-3-33. That seems like a lot of time, but it really isn’t in the legal world. You will need time to get treated for your injuries, document your costs, and compile evidence that:
- the accident happened
- the other driver caused the accident
- and that your damages are a result of the accident they caused
You have every right to file the claim yourself, but most accident victims choose to have a lawyer do it for them. Working with an attorney increases your chance of a fair settlement that accounts for all of your damages.
Need Help With Your Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Motorcycle accident lawyers John Foy & Associates have been helping motorcycle accident victims seek full compensation for their claims for more than 20 years. We know what it takes to win, and we’d love to help—starting with a FREE consultation. To get your free consultation, call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started.
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