A motorcycle accident can change your life. You're not expecting it, and you're not prepared. You need your legal claim to go right. What should you do? Our motorcycle accident lawyers explain the Do's and Don'ts of motorcycle accident claims.
The 10 Do's and Don'ts of Motorcycle Accident Claims
1. DO – Claim ALL your damages
Motorcyclists have the full protection of the law when they are injured in an accident. If the accident is someone else's fault, you have the right to claim compensation. It makes no difference that you're a motorcycle rider and not a driver of a motor vehicle.
Assumption of the risk does not apply to motorcycle accident claims. The right to compensation is the same for a motorcyclist as anyone else on the road. Be sure to completely value your damages, whatever they might be, and include them in your motorcycle accident claim.
2. DON'T – Wait to start your claim
Even though you have the right to claim your full amount of damages under the law, time limits to file the claim still apply. In South Carolina, the Code of Laws § 15-3-530 creates a three-year time limit to start your case. If you miss the deadline, the other side can bring it to the court's attention. Then, there's a good chance that the defendant can have their case dismissed.
If some time has passed, know that you only need to start your claim by the end of the time limit. It can take longer to complete. It's always a good idea to start your case as soon as possible. Over time, evidence and witnesses can be harder to find. An attorney for motorcycle accidents can help you work quickly to get your case filed and preserve evidence helpful to your case.
3. DO – Factor in Fault
Fault is a factor in what you receive your motorcycle accident claim. If you share partial fault for the accident, the amount that you receive can be reduced. The exact calculation for shared fault varies by state.
Under South Carolina comparative negligence laws, you may receive some compensation if you're not 51% or more at fault for the accident. If you have fault between 1-50%, the court reduces your award by that percentage. If you're 51% to blame, you recover nothing.
Knowing your percentage of fault can be challenging – it's the jury that decides, so there's no way to know for certain without taking your case to trial. Just know that fault can impact the value of your claim. An experienced attorney can help you understand how to account for fault as you pursue your claim.
4. DON'T – Factor in Failing to Wear a Helmet
While shared fault is a factor in a motorcycle accident claim, failing to wear a helmet is not. In South Carolina, helmets are not required for riders 21 and older. Other parties cannot use it against you if you choose not to wear a helmet. Your damages are not reduced in any way because of failing to wear a helmet.
5. DO – Look for others who may be at fault
Certainly, the other drivers involved in a motorcycle accident may be liable to pay compensation. However, they are not the only party to look to for payment if you're in a motorcycle crash. An employer who hires and supervises a person who is driving for work may be legally liable for the driver's actions.
Even a government entity may be liable for poorly designing roads or failing to maintain the roads in a safe manner. A vehicle manufacturer may be liable if the vehicle is defective. Be sure to explore the underlying causes of the accident and look for all parties who may be at fault.
6. DON'T – Tell the insurance company too much
The insurance company has a legal obligation to fairly pay a claim, but they are not on your side. They want to come up with reasons to avoid making a payment. Even if the adjuster seems chatty and friendly, be wary. Provide only the basic information. Your attorney can speak to the insurance company for you and help you present the needed information while avoiding saying anything that could damage your interests.
7. DO – Get prompt medical attention
When a motorcycle accident occurs, the starting point for compensation is your physical injuries. To that end, getting medical attention quickly after the accident is critical. In addition, following your treatment plan is important. If you ignore your treatment the damages that you receive may be reduced. Keep records of your medical treatment, symptoms, and related expenses.
8. DON'T – Apologize
An accident is an upsetting situation. It can be tempting to want to say, I'm sorry! You may be playing back in your mind what you could have done differently. Be careful not to admit fault or apologize.
The things that you say outside of court can be used against you later. Statements that you say against your own interests are called admissions. If there's a way to take your words out of context and put new meaning on them, that's what the insurance company is going to do. Don't say too much, and don't apologize.
9. DO – Carefully build the evidence
Cases depend on evidence. Even if you know the truth, you must have proof. Don't assume you're going to win your case. Carefully build the evidence and evaluate each element of the case to ensure you have the information you need to make your case a success.
10. DON'T – Take the insurance company's word for it
The insurance company may try and deny your claim. They may offer you a settlement that is way too low. Don't panic! The insurance company doesn't have the final say. Instead, you can exercise your legal right to bring a claim. An impartial jury can decide the case. With the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, most claims reach a settlement without a trial.
Attorneys for Motorcycle Accident Claims
Have you been injured in a motorcycle accident? Don't wonder what to do next. Leave it up to our attorneys to represent you and make the most of your claim. Contact us today to talk about your case.