A motorcycle accident can leave you with many costs and losses. In a personal injury case, these are known as “damages.” You can collect compensation for your damages as stated under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 51-12-4.
Your damages will depend on what you lose because of your physical injuries. If you weren’t at fault for your motorcycle accident, you can file a personal injury claim with the negligent party for compensation. Below are some of the most common damages you can seek from your motorcycle accident.
Types of Damages You Can Pursue After a Motorcycle Accident
You can file a motorcycle accident claim and win compensation for several types of damages. These are just a few of the most common ones our lawyers see.
Medical bills and other treatment costs typically comprise the most significant portion of a motorcycle accident claim. Since you would not have suffered these costs if the accident hadn’t occurred, you have a right to seek compensation for them.
Medical costs you will probably have because of a motorcycle accident include:
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Prescription medications
- Future treatment
- Physical therapy
- Travel to and from appointments
Motorcycle accidents are often incredibly serious. Since motorcycles don’t provide the same protection as other vehicles in an accident, the rider can easily suffer catastrophic injuries, so no medical cost should get discounted.
Motorcycle Repair or Replacement
Your motorcycle might also experience a lot of damage during the collision. You can include the costs of repairs from property damage in your claim. Be sure to save all quotes, invoices, and receipts you receive as proof of your repair costs. It’s best to go to a shop for an estimate of what your repairs will be.
Sometimes, the damage from the accident is so bad that the motorcycle gets declared a “total loss.” This means the insurance company will typically just compensate you for the fair market value of the motorcycle so that you can get a new one rather than paying for repairs.
Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity
If you were working before the motorcycle accident happened, you would likely need to miss work because of the accident and your injuries. You can include this as lost wages to collect in your insurance claim.
You’ll want to keep track of how much work time you’ve had to miss after the accident, including any bonuses, raises, or other income you would have otherwise received.
The accident might also leave you with injuries that prevent you from working in the same capacity as before. Even if you can switch to a different type of job or work at the same job in a limited capacity, you deserve to get compensated for the considerable change. This is known as loss of earning capacity, and it’s another damage you may be able to claim.
There are two main types of damages that are included in a motorcycle accident claim:
- Economic damages that have a set dollar amount like medical bills and lost wages
- Non-economic damages that cannot be demonstrated with a dollar amount
Non-economic damages fall into the second category known as general damages and include:
- Physical or emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Fear, humiliation, or anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Non-economic damages can be challenging to demonstrate and calculate, so you will want to hire the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer if you have these damages. They will know how to account for them in your injury claim and ensure any settlement you accept covers them.
Wrongful Death Damages
Sadly, serious motorcycle accidents often result in death. If someone dies from a motorcycle accident, certain family members can bring a wrongful death claim. The death of a loved one can be a huge emotional and financial burden on those they left behind, so collecting compensation for wrongful death damages can help prevent financial strain.
Wrongful death damages you may be able to claim on behalf of the deceased include:
- Medical expenses from the deceased’s last injuries
- Mental and physical pain and suffering the deceased experienced
- The deceased’s lost wages from the accident and wages they would have earned if they had lived
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of consortium
If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, our experienced and compassionate lawyers can help you file a claim for the compensation your family needs and deserves. We can handle the legal details so that you can focus on mourning and being with loved ones.
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Punitive Damages From a Motorcycle Accident
Although the damages listed above are the most common in a motorcycle accident case, a third category is rarely available: punitive damages.
According to OCGA § 51-12-5.1, punitive damages can only be awarded in injury cases where the at-fault party’s actions clearly showed “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression,” or behavior that showed indifference to consequences.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and discourage further unacceptable behavior more than compensate the victim. Punitive damages only get awarded in specific situations, such as DUI cases.
Your lawyer can let you know if your case is eligible for punitive damages. If so, they can help you gather evidence of the at-fault party’s actions and disregard for the safety of you and others on the road.
Which Damages Will I Be Eligible to Receive?
The damages in a case must be proven by evidence. We have to prove to the insurance company, or the court, that you were damaged. For economic damages, this is simple. We simply have to produce the bills and estimates.
For non-economic damages, things are more complicated. There are several ways to calculate non-economic damages and to decide which ones apply to your case. One way we prefer is to do a multiple of the economic damages, but there are other ways.
The insurance company may have their own way of calculating non-economic damages. Part of our negotiation is to come to an agreement about how to calculate the value of things like pain and suffering.
How Do I Improve My Chances of Collecting More Money?
First and foremost, hire a motorcycle accident attorney. They can give you advice tailored to your specific situation. However, here are some general things to do that can improve your chances of collecting damages:
- Do not discuss the case with anyone but your lawyer and your doctor.
- Don’t mention the accident on social media
- Follow all the advice and treatment your doctor recommends.
- Keep all your bills and receipts.
- Start keeping a journal of your experiences post-accident. Write factually about the struggles and what you’re doing for treatment. You can use your phone to record your experiences if you prefer to speak. Be sure to mention the date and the time in all entries.
Never Settle for Less From the Insurance Company After a Motorcycle Accident
The negligent party’s insurance company may try to reach out to you right after your motorcycle accident. Try to avoid speaking with any insurance adjuster until you hire a lawyer to help you. Anything you say, write, or do will get used against you. In addition, the insurance company may try to sweet talk you into accepting a fast settlement offer.
Never accept this offer. This is often a lowball settlement that they’re trying to get you to accept so that they can get away with settling for less. Before you agree to anything, it’s always in your best interest to get professional legal assistance first.
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations to File a Claim
Remember, your ability to collect compensation for your damages is time-sensitive. Georgia only gives motorcycle accident victims two years to file a claim. Once two years pass, there’s next to nothing you can do to pursue a settlement. So, always keep the statute of limitations in mind.
While we don’t suggest blindly rushing into your claim, we don’t recommend you wait too long either. After seeking medical treatment, get in touch with one of our experienced motorcycle lawyers to help you. More often than not, just hiring a lawyer is more than enough to get the insurance company to listen to you.
You shouldn’t have to fight an uphill battle against the insurance company while you’re injured. We want you to focus on your healing and recovery. Let us handle all the legal aspects surrounding your case. If we can’t win compensation for your claim, you owe us absolutely nothing in return.
Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Free Today
To make sure you seek the total damages you deserve after a motorcycle accident, speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer today. At John Foy & Associates, we have been helping injured bikers win the compensation they deserve for the past 20-plus years. Call us or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.