Rear-end collisions are prevalent. According to facts and statistics on highway safety from the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) highway safety facts, rear-end collisions make up about 7.2% of fatal crashes with a moving motor vehicle. That’s not including rear-end accidents that are not fatal but leave the victim with injuries and vehicle damage.
Although rear-end accidents tend to be less severe than other types of accidents, they can still be dangerous, especially if you got rear-ended while operating a smaller vehicle like a motorcycle. In addition, you can face costly medical bills, missed work time, disabilities, vehicle damage, and mental anguish as a result of your injuries.
Understanding Your Right to Sue
If you did not cause your rear-end accident, you have a legal right to sue for the recovery of your damages under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-1-6. When getting a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company is not an option, filing a lawsuit is sometimes the best option.
Also, keep in mind that Georgia operates on a modified comparative fault rule. What this means is that you can’t file a claim for your accident if you’re more than 50% responsible. However, if you’re less than 50% responsible, whatever percentage you are liable for in your accident will get deducted from your final settlement total.
Get the strong arm
The Legal Process After a Rear-End Collision
The legal process is the same for any type of rear-end collision, whether you were riding a motorcycle or driving a car, truck, or another automobile. The first step is usually to seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You can do this through a personal injury claim.
Filing an Injury Claim
To file a claim, you will need to show that:
- The driver was negligent, and therefore at fault, in your accident
- Their negligence resulted in your rear-end accident injuries and
- You suffered damages as a result of your injuries and the accident
Thankfully, it’s often easier to prove fault in a rear-end collision. Although there are exceptions, the rear driver is almost always assumed to be at fault for the accident. To make sure you accurately show the other driver’s negligence and your damages, it’s best to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to help you with your claim.
Negotiation and Settlement
If you’re lucky, the insurance company will accept the compensation you’re requesting in your claim and pay you for your damages. This rarely happens, though. Most of the time, the other driver’s insurance company will be looking for ways to reduce what they have to pay.
The insurance company will likely offer you a very low settlement that barely covers any of your total damages. They might make this seem like the best offer you can get or pressure you into taking it to help with your immediate costs. Be careful never to accept the first offer without speaking to a lawyer first.
If you accept any money or sign anything, you could sign away your rights to seek further compensation. But, instead, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you build a strong claim and negotiate for a settlement that is actually fair to you.
Filing a Rear-End Collision Lawsuit
Most rear-end accident cases end with a settlement, especially if your damages were less serious than the average accident. If you have a good lawyer on your side, they might be able to negotiate an ideal settlement and get you paid the money you deserve. Unfortunately, however, there are some situations where the insurance company will not negotiate a settlement that works for you.
If you cannot get what you deserve through the insurance claim, you might want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This is a decision to make carefully and discuss beforehand with your lawyer. Lawsuits can be lengthy and expensive, but they can also help encourage the insurance company to negotiate.
Negotiation Before the Trial
If you sue for a rear-end collision, it’s unlikely that your case will go all the way to trial. However, each side will have several opportunities before the trial to negotiate. In addition, insurance companies do not like to deal with lawsuits, so you might be able to get a higher settlement during this negotiation process.
If you do end up going all the way to trial, your lawyer can help you gather evidence of the accident, the driver’s negligence, and your damages to fight for your rights in court.
What to Do Before Suing for a Rear-End Collision
Deciding to sue someone is a big decision, so you will want to discuss the following with your lawyer before filing the lawsuit.
Make Sure You Have a Strong Case
When filing a lawsuit, it’s vital that you feel confident in your chances of winning. Unlike personal injury settlements where you can either accept a lowball amount or negotiate, lawsuits are “all-or-nothing.” You could end up with a lot more money than if you’d accepted a settlement, or you could end up with nothing.
Most experienced lawyers will only go to trial with you if they feel you have a strong case, so this is something to discuss in detail, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll need to consider how a judge or jury might view and deliberate on your case.
Consider Your Chances of Getting Paid
Even if you win a high judgment in court, you might have trouble actually collecting that award if the at-fault driver doesn’t have the assets to pay it. This is common in cases where the driver did not have auto insurance.
You’ll need to ensure that if you win in court, you’ll be able to collect what you win, even if you have to set up an arrangement with the defendant.
Prepare for the Process
You should also make sure you’re mentally, physically, and financially prepared for the lawsuit process. It’s often a long road, even if you end up negotiating a settlement along the way. That being said, if you have a good chance of winning, it can be incredibly worth it.
Thankfully, most motorcycle accident lawyers work on contingency, which means you don’t pay any upfront fees, and the lawyer’s fee simply gets taken as a percentage of whatever they win for you. If they don’t win you a settlement or award, you don’t pay.
Receive Compensation for Your Damages
There are various types of damages that you can receive compensation for when you negotiate for your settlement:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
- Medical bills and all related medical expenses
- Lost wages or reduced earning capability
- Vehicle repairs or replacement
- Various property damages
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
When you get help from one of our motorcycle accident lawyers, we will account for all of the damages you sustained and ensure nothing gets left out of your settlement. Whether we negotiate out of court or fight a lawsuit in court, we won’t let the at-fault party or the insurance company get away with paying you only the bare minimum.
File Your Claim As Soon as Possible
When you file your claim against the insurance company and the at-fault party, OCGA §9-3-33 only gives you two years to do so. Even worse, certain circumstances surrounding your accident can also shorten the amount of time that you have. Therefore, it’s best not to wait until the last minute to get started with the legal process of pursuing a settlement.
Speak to a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Atlanta for Free Today
If you got injured in a rear-end collision on your motorcycle, our attorneys at John Foy & Associates can help. We have been helping injury victims win the money they deserve for over 20 years. Call us today or contact us online to get started with a free consultation.