Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Experienced motorcycle riders enjoy the exhilaration of the open road. However, the Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Eason & Tambornini know too well that no matter how good a rider, a motorcyclist cannot always protect them-self from negligent drivers and the resulting motorcycle accident.
Our Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorneys appreciate that there can be a bias by judges and juries against motorcycle riders. Too often judges and jurors have an image that the motorcyclist assumed special risks by choosing to ride a motorcycle, and thus do not want treat them the same as those in a car accident or truck accident.
The Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Eason & Tambornini are experienced in educating judges and jurors that motorcyclists have the same rights to the road as cars, and that when a motorcyclist is a victim of an accident caused by an inattentive or negligent car or truck driver, the motorcycle rider is entitled to all remedies under the law!
Just like in major construction accidents, the injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident can be terrifying. Motorcycle riders more susceptible to brain injury, other spinal cord injuries or even wrongful death, than cases such as a dog bite. Additionally, there are significant incidents of medical malpractice in the emergency room as well. With the average American car weighing in excess of 6,000 pounds and an average motorcycle rider weighing less than 200 pounds, the weight differential is staggering.
There is much debate about when and under what circumstances a motorcycle rider is at fault in an accident. There seem to be a bias by many insurance carriers against motorcycle riders such that they believe that a rider assumes the risk of an accident just for choosing to ride a motorcycle. This is the furthest from the truth, and we will fight this bias aggressively. Motorcycles riders have the same rights to the road as other vehicles, and are entitled to the same right-of-ways and protections.
While it is important that as motorcycle riders we pay a little extra attention to inattentive drivers, that extra attention does not excuse car and truck drivers from their standard of care: to drive as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances. If a driver fails to act as another reasonable driver would, then that driver would typically be liable for the injuries caused to the motorcycle rider.
Frequently Asked Questions posed to our Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Lawyers:
Radio and television can be very educational places, but not usually the best places to look when you want to hire a professional. Advertisements are routinely created using paid actors and generally the actual attorney is not even in the advertisement (beyond a brief appearance). What many motorcycle victims do not realize is that many of the advertisements seen or heard on television or radios for motorcycle accident attorneys are just referral agencies. Many people are surprised to learn that the attorney advertised often never speaks with you, and it is even more rare that the actual attorney handles your case. Many of these agencies (under the disguise of being a law firm) simply refer your motorcycle accident case to a different attorney who pays a referral fee. Typically, the best way to find a reputable motorcycle accident attorney is through referrals or from reviews left from past clients.
How are Eason & Tambornini’s motorcycle accident attorneys able to obtain so many favorable settlements, judgments, or awards for their clients?
Our successes are the result of the experience of our attorneys, but also the hard work that each of them put into our motorcycle crash cases. It is easy for an unscrupulous attorney, or a victim from a motorcycle accident, to assemble a police report, medical records, and photos, and send them to an insurance company to request payment. Doing this little amount of work will often result in a settlement offer that may sound good, but it is likely depriving the victim of significant money.
We pride ourselves on working with our clients to make sure that they receive the best medical care for their injuries. Once our clients’ injuries from the motorcycle accident have been resolved, we then turn our focus to determining how their lives have been impacted since the motorcycle accident and how their lives will continue to be impacted in the future. Only after careful review do we begin the settlement process. If the insurance company’s response to our settlement demand is not appropriate, we file a lawsuit. During the motorcycle accident lawsuit, we continue to try to reach an informal resolution if possible, but when the insurance company is not treating our clients fairly, we will present the matter to a jury, judge, or arbitrator.
The Internet and phone books are packed with advertisements from attorneys claiming to be a good motorcycle accident attorney or a successful personal injury attorney. Some advertisements even like to tally the dollar amounts of settlements reached, suggesting that they can do the same in your case. However, these advertisements rarely tell you anything about the quality of their representation.
The motorcycle accident attorneys at Eason & Tambornini take pride in working directly with our clients to assist them with their unique needs. Eason & Tambornini is not a referral mill, or an employer of transient motorcycle accident attorneys that move from job to job; we are a collection of attorneys who take pride in handling the particular needs of each of our clients. Similar to most other motorcycle accident lawyers, we do not charge any fees for an initial consultation with you. We hope that you will interview us as if we are prospective employees to work for you. We encourage you to ask us the important questions such as:
- Who will be the specific attorney working on your case;
- What do we think the weaknesses of your case are and what will we do to help reduce those weaknesses;
- What do we think the strengths of your case are; and
- What things should be done to increase the likelihood of success in the case?
How do I prove that the car that hit me in a motorcycle accident was at fault? What does ‘negligence’ mean in the context of a motorcycle accident?
In the context of a motorcycle crash, the term “negligence” generally means that a driver who hit you failed to act like a “reasonable” driver would have in the same or similar circumstances. In resolving this question, it is particularly important to take the circumstances surrounding the motorcycle crash into consideration. For example, driving the posted speed is generally not negligence if the roads were dry but could be extremely negligent if the roads were wet, slick, or icy, or in a situation where a reasonable driver would have slowed down.
In addition to general negligence, the law also recognizes a concept known as “negligence per se.” While the application of negligence per se can be complicated, in general, a person is negligent per se if they violate a statute, code, or ordinance that was designed to protect the victim. A simple example of negligence per se is crossing the double yellow line to pass and causing an accident. Other examples of negligence per se include talking on a cell phone or using a smart phone without a hands free device; running a stop sign; or driving at night without headlights turned on.
When asked this question, good motorcycle accident attorneys will usually say, “it depends.” The better and more personalized motorcycle accident attorney will say “it depends,” and then will proceed to tell you the major factors that specifically affect your motorcycle accident case, and give you various potential ranges of value.
The four most significant factors impacting the value of a motorcycle accident claim are: the likelihood of success in proving liability on the other driver; the likelihood of success in proving the damages suffered by the victim; the amount and types of damages claimed by the victim; and the likelihood of collecting a judgment after trial (e.g. is there sufficient insurance coverage to pay the claims, or does the negligent driver have sufficient assets to pay the claim).
Proving liability in a motorcycle case should be the easiest of the four factors to analyze, but this factor often changes as the case progresses: witness testimony can fade; witnesses who would be able to support the victim’s claims may move.
The types of damages claimed, and the amount that the victims or their insurance carriers pay out-of-pocket for property damages or medical bills, have serious implications on valuation in a case. Significant hospital or medical bills can sometimes increase the value of a case. However, if the medical bills were ultimately not necessary or are only for diagnostic treatment, the insurance company may attempt to deny liability for these expenses.
Likewise, claims that initially appear to have a large settlement value may, unfortunately, have little to no value if there is a lack of insurance coverage or assets of the defendant to satisfy the claim. Unfortunately, we often see drunk driving crashes, wrongful death accidents, and serious brain injury claims that have little to no value because the drivers did not have sufficient insurance. One way to protect yourself from this situation is to purchase your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with appropriate policy limits. A good motorcycle accident lawyer will discuss these factors not only during your first meeting, but will continue to analyze and discuss these issues with you throughout their representation.
The number of horror stories about the long time it took to settle a case from people that hired the wrong motorcycle accident attorney is extremely frustrating. Many motorcycle accident attorneys are also known for settling their clients’ cases too soon. They settle the case without waiting to see if the victim’s injuries are truly resolved. Some motorcycle accident attorneys also settle the claim simply by accepting the initial settlement offers from an insurance company.
Similarly, we regularly hear situations where the motorcycle accident attorney took far too long to settle the claim, and the claim dragged on for years. There are many legitimate reasons for the occasional case to be delayed, as there are some necessary evils in order to obtain the best settlement (in some situations). Unfortunately, most motorcycle accident cases do not need to take as long as they do and the delay is largely caused by the attorney failing to press the insurance company to resolve the case.
Obviously there are exceptions, but it is our philosophy that no matter how minor the injury, a motorcycle case should rarely be considered for settlement within the first six to eight weeks after the accident. We want to be sure that there will not be any nagging injuries before settling even a small bodily injury case. In a more significant bodily injury case, it is our practice to wait, if at all possible, until the injuries resolve or at least become stable. This could take months, and occasionally longer. However, waiting is usually the better course of action because you should be confident that the injuries are either resolved or stable before settling.
Just because a victims claims may be stable and ready to be settled, a victim should not settled without cooperation from the defendant or insurance company. As anticipated, some insurance companies and their adjusters are more cooperative than others, and thus cases with these companies or adjusters resolve quicker. Conversely, other insurance companies and adjusters can be less cooperative, and thus those claims may need to go to trial to reach a just resolution. The length of time to get to trial varies based on which court the case is filed in, which judge is assigned to the case, and the general workload of the court. Regardless, it is generally anticipated that a typical motorcycle accident case goes to trial approximately 18 months after the lawsuit was filed against the driver.
It is very important for a victim of a motorcycle accident case to know that attorneys’ fees are negotiable between the attorney and the client and are not set by the courts. There can be some limits applied in certain types of cases, such as those involving children. Attorneys’ fees in a motorcycle accident case are virtually always handled on a contingency basis. A contingency agreement is one in which you do not have to pay any attorney fees unless and until you get paid a settlement.
The percentage that a motorcycle accident attorney may agree to charge may vary on the stage of the case when it is settled. For example, a motorcycle accident attorney may agree to charge 33% if the case settles prior to filing a lawsuit, but may increase their fee to 40% if the case proceeds to trial. On the other hand, they may agree to reduce their fee to 25% if the case is settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
While attorneys’ fees are negotiable, and some advertise low fees, you should be very cautious about choosing an attorney on the basis that their fee percentage is lower than someone else. A motorcycle accident lawyer who is willing to handle a case for a small fee may be willing to do so because they do not intend to spend much effort on your file. Likewise, a motorcycle accident attorney who will work hard on your file to achieve what you deserve will want to be adequately compensated, and you will want to adequately compensate that attorney to make sure that they work their hardest. To think of it in a different way, if you were going in for heart surgery, would you want to hire the cheapest doctor, the most expensive doctor, or would you rather focus on hiring the best doctor for your case? Choosing an attorney should be done in a similar way.
If I go to a free consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney, do I have to hire that attorney?
Absolutely not. Think of hiring a motorcycle accident attorney like interviewing a potential employee. When you meet with a motorcycle accident attorney you should treat the consultation like a job interview, and you are the prospective boss. Once hired, you need to work as a team, but during the hiring process you are the decision maker, and should make sure that you are comfortable with working with an attorney before hiring them.
A motorcycle accident attorney works for you and you are the boss. You should feel comfortable working with the attorney, you should expect them to work hard, and most importantly, you should expect them to communicate with you. If you are not completely happy with your existing motorcycle accident attorney, you can fire them and hire someone who will work for you. As you might expect, however, firing an attorney should not be done on a whim. You should make sure that you are unhappy with the attorney’s representation, and not just unhappy about the message the attorney is delivering. A conscientious attorney will tell you the good and the bad about your case, and just because they are being forthright with you about your case, it is not generally a good reason to fire your attorney.
Having medical treatment is not necessary to be entitled to a claim for damages from a motorcycle accident case. Lots of people suffer from pain caused by a motorcycle accident that medical treatment will not cure. However, without documentation of the pain and related medical treatment, the value of your claim will likely be very little or incredibly difficult to prove. On the other hand, a victim should never seek out medical attention just for the purpose of bolstering a motorcycle accident claim. If you were not injured from an accident, you should feel fortunate and move on. Unnecessarily seeking medical treatment drives up insurance costs and increases the skepticism of juries, judges, and insurance companies, making a true victim’s case more difficult to prove.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you are generally entitled to recover from the driver or their insurance carrier for the medical bills that you reasonably incurred. Unfortunately, California law does not require the defendant or their insurance carrier to pay your medical bills as they are incurred. Unless there is a specific policy provision otherwise, known as a medical payment provision, these bills are paid as part of a final settlement, judgment, or arbitration award. Prior to the actual entry of a final settlement or final court order, the injured party typically bears the responsibility to pay medical bills either directly or through their own private insurance policy.
In certain cases, medical treatment may be obtained on a medical lien basis. A medical lien is a contract in which you and the medical provider agree that the bills for the medical treatment will be paid out of the ultimate settlement. If you are in need of medical treatment for a motorcycle accident and do not have insurance to pay for the treatment, the motorcycle accident attorneys at Eason & Tambornini can provide you with the names of medical providers and doctors that will regularly treat on a lien basis.
The phrase ‘pain and suffering’ is a label used by motorcycle accident attorneys as a catch-all expression that refers to general damages to which you cannot clearly point to a specific dollar value. In a motorcycle accident case, economic damages are often a way of describing out-of-pocket monetary losses, such as: medical bills incurred; wages or salary lost; damages to personal property (such as your car); and things which a dollar number can be affixed with a degree of certainty. Pain and suffering, sometimes referred to as general damages, are those items that usually are unique to each individual, such as: physical and emotional pain; discomfort; depression and anxiety; sleep loss; difficulty sitting, standing, or walking; and even personal embarrassment.
The recovery of punitive damages by a victim in a motorcycle accident is very rare, but is permitted in unique situations. Punitive damages are intended to be awarded when it’s necessary to punish someone and make an example of them for their despicable conduct or how they intentionally harmed someone. Punitive damages are not ordinarily allowed for simple negligence cases, and because 99% of motorcycle accidents are based on the concept of negligence, punitive damages are rare. In California, punitive damages are usually only awarded when you can show that the defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.
There are various definitions of malice, but the most common type of malice in the context of a motorcycle accident is when the defendant was aware of the dangerous consequences of his or her conduct, and then he or she willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences. Generally speaking, negligence does not rise to the level of malice, but rather it takes some time of intentional conduct. To recover punitive damages, you generally must show some aggravating factors to support that the conduct was willful and wanton (e.g. drag racing through a residential neighborhood at twice the speed limit and running several stop signs in the process may potentially be sufficient to award punitive damages).
From a victim’s perspective, it is rarely expensive to pursue a motorcycle accident case, at least in the beginning. Most motorcycle accident claims are handled by the attorneys on a contingency basis (you pay no attorney fees to the lawyer until the case is completed). Likewise, most motorcycle accident lawyers will advance the out-of-pocket court costs and fees. However, the out-of-pocket court costs advanced by the attorney (to prosecute the case) can be particularly expensive, depending on the claim. It is not unusual for attorneys to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the use of medical doctors, accident reconstructionists, life-planning experts, and economists as expert witnesses. While not all cases need each of those experts, an expert witness of some discipline is typically necessary in all motorcycle accident cases that wind up going to trial, and in some cases even additional types of experts are required.
If at all possible, you should try to consult with an attorney within 24 hours of a motorcycle accident, or at least on the next business day. You do not need an attorney for every motorcycle accident and many claims can be resolved in small claims court without an attorney. However, you should almost always try to speak with an attorney promptly to discuss items such as the problems with (and reasons against) giving a recorded statement to insurance adjusters. These statements will rarely be used for your benefit. Likewise, it is important to discuss documenting your injuries and wage loss; securing witnesses who saw the accident; and preserving evidence such as photographs or surveillance video. During the initial consultation, you and the motor accident attorney should discuss the significance of your injuries and whether hiring a motorcycle accident attorney immediately is the right decision.
While some victims are adamant about their “day in court,” the reality is that going to trial is generally not an enjoyable experience for people. A diligent motorcycle accident attorney will prepare the case to maximize the chances of resolving the claim without a formal court intervention. A thorough motorcycle accident attorney will not only properly assemble evidence to persuade the insurance adjuster to pay what the victim deserves, but will also hire the appropriate experts (when needed) to provide explanations and opinions to support the claims. The best motorcycle accident attorneys also have the respect of insurance company adjusters; this helps foster productive dialogue. However, the client should be willing to take the motorcycle accident case to trial, even as a last resort, if the insurance company is not being fair.
If I hire a motorcycle accident attorney, won't I wind up with less money in my pocket than if I settled the case myself?
A reputable motorcycle accident attorney will not take your case unless they believe that they can add significant value to your case. Adding value to a case means not only getting more money from the defendant or insurance carrier for the claim, but also making sure you net more money in your pocket after the attorneys’ fees. Motorcycle accident attorneys can add value in not only preparing and presenting your case to an insurance adjuster, judge, or jury, but also in negotiating resolution of medical liens. Even in a situation that has limited insurance policies, a good motorcycle accident attorney can typically add value by negotiating down or eliminating the lien or other claims, as well as finding other possible avenues of recovery.
Even the best surgeon would not try to perform a procedure on his or her own body. Likewise, successful motorcycle injury attorneys would not try to settle their own personal motorcycle accident case because they would not have the necessary objectivity to maximize their recovery. Thus the phrase, “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Representing yourself in a motorcycle claim is usually a recipe for disaster. You are likely to overlook significant details that could dramatically change not only the amount that you receive for your claims, but also the amount that you have to reimburse other claimants (such as medical providers and health insurance companies).
The time period in which a claim or a lawsuit arising out of a motorcycle accident must be filed is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” The purpose of the statute of limitations is to establish the deadline by which a lawsuit must be started (by filing a complaint or in some cases, making a demand for arbitration). Failure to commence a lawsuit by the statutory deadline will generally result in a complete waiver of your rights. In addition to the statute of limitations, there are also some equitable theories, such as laches, that can be a legal defense a lawsuit? for being untimely filed. Regardless of the statutory deadlines, waiting too long to file a lawsuit can result in witnesses being unavailable, defendants’ assets dissipated, and parties having faded memories.
While there are many reasons not to wait until the last moment to file a lawsuit, there are occasions when waiting to file a lawsuit can make sense, specifically if you are waiting for injuries to heal or other claims regarding the same issue to resolve. Be aware that anytime you are waiting, you are putting yourself at risk, so you should consult with a motorcycle accident attorney to determine what those risks are.
The applicable statute of limitations for typical motorcycle accident cases in California is two years from the date of the accident. However, if the motorcycle accident was caused in part by a government entity, the time period could be as short as six months. Likewise, if there was a death involved, the accident may also be impacted by the California Probate Code. Consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney about your statute of limitations is very important and not the type of decision that should be made based on Internet research since laws change and facts are unique to each situation.
Providing a statement under oath to another party’s insurance adjuster or company is not required after a motorcycle accident. Insurance adjusters often attempt to lead motorcycle accident victims into minimizing the significance of their case during these statements. This technique is similar to a police investigator obtaining a recorded statement from the “party in interest.” The police investigator will lead the party in interest into thinking that talking will help their case and it does not. Insurance adjusters will regularly lead victims into believing that a recorded statement will be used to help their case, but it does not. Claims adjusters will typically ask questions that don’t elicit information that is best for your case, but instead focus on information that could be harmful.
If I used my sick time or vacation time as a result of a motorcycle accident, can I be reimbursed for that lost time?
Time lost from work due to a motorcycle accident is recoverable. Even when your employer still pays you but deducts your vacation pay or sick pay, you may still recover the value of that time taken off. Sick leave and vacation pay are work credits that you earned. They are a monetary right that you had to expend when you were forced to use them, and thus you should receive compensation for those credits as if you were not paid.
The ability to sue the parents of a teenager for a motorcycle accident can depend on many issues, including whether the teenager was still under the age of 18, and whether the parents were negligent in entrusting or providing a vehicle to the teenager. The good news is that you usually do not need to worry about this issue. If the teenager was a permissible user of the parents’ vehicle, and was not expressly excluded from insurance coverage on the applicable insurance policy, the parents’ insurance policy will usually cover the teenager as well. Traditionally, without an express exclusion written into a policy, a car insurance policy covers anyone driving the vehicle with the permission of the owners.
Generally speaking, when emergency services are called on your behalf to a motorcycle accident scene, you are liable for those service fees, even if the services were ultimately not required. However, if the other party caused the motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident attorney can seek reimbursement for the ambulance fee from the other party or their insurance carrier.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and the other party only has minimum insurance, do you have to settle for that amount?
After a motorcycle accident, you are never required to “settle.” The very nature of a settlement is that it is a voluntary act, and one that should be done when the cost/benefit or the risk/reward of pursuing settlement makes more economic sense than proceeding with further litigation. If an at-fault driver only has minimum insurance, you are not required to accept those limits as a settlement. However, you should speak with an attorney before pursuing a case in that situation. As a general rule, people who only carry minimum insurance limits do not have financial resources to settle an excess damages case. Likewise, most damage claims arising from a motorcycle accident can be discharged in a bankruptcy. Motorcycle accidents caused by drunk drivers can, however, create an exception to a bankruptcy discharge.
However, a good motorcycle accident attorney often provides significant value in a minimum motorcycle insurance policy situation. They can help you negotiate liens and sometimes even get the liens waived. Furthermore, a diligent motorcycle accident attorney may be able to find other ways to pursue your claims, such as: employer liability, umbrella coverage, and additional third party liability.
If you are rear-ended on your motorcycle after making a right hand turn, is the other driver still liable for the accident?
This is a heavily litigated question, and there can be some conflicting answers. Under the law, a car must yield to oncoming traffic. Consequently, even if you were in a right hand turn lane and making a right hand turn, you still must yield to the on-coming traffic (e.g. not cut them off). On the other hand, the oncoming traffic is also required to be travelling at a safe speed for the traffic conditions. If the approaching car was travelling too fast for the conditions and the intersection, they could be liable for rear-ending you. When a motorcycle accident happens like this, it is particularly important that you hire a motorcycle accident attorney.
Can I sue a drunk driver who was involved in a motorcycle accident if they didn’t otherwise do anything wrong?
While it is obviously illegal to drive drunk, the plaintiff must still prove that the drunk driver was at fault. Fortunately, proving a drunk driver was at fault is usually fairly easy. Drunk drivers regularly fail to yield, drive too close, and fail to stop. Liability is rarely a challenge, but still must be proven to have a case. Besides proving liability, it can also be important to prove that alcohol was a partial cause of the motorcycle accident. Damages caused by alcohol-related motorcycle accidents can be excluded from a person’s bankruptcy discharge, and thus subject to collection for the life of the drunk driver.
What happens if the driver who causes a motorcycle accident does not have insurance in their name, but the car or truck he was driving was insured?
The good news is that if the vehicle that struck you was insured, then generally any person driving that vehicle is covered by that vehicle’s insurance. Determining whether the insurance covers the driver in a motorcycle accident is typically conditioned upon whether the driver was a permissive driver. Liability may also depend on whether the driver was listed on the policy as an excluded driver.
To be a permissive driver in a motorcycle accident, the owner of the vehicle must have expressly or impliedly authorized or permitted the driver to operate the vehicle. This is contrasted with situations when the car has been stolen, as in those situations, the insurance policy would not likely apply.
Besides being a permissive driver, it is important that the driver who causes a motorcycle accident was not an expressly excluded driver on the insurance policy. For example, in roommate situations or where extended adult family members live together, some insurance companies will expressly exclude adult roommates on the policy. However, for this to avoid liability, it must be done in advance of the motorcycle accident. Exclusion of adults from a policy is somewhat common in situations where one of the family members has a particularly bad driving record and the family wants to save money on their insurance premiums.
What happens if the debt on my motorcycle is more than the motorcycle is worth, and it was totaled in an accident?
It is not uncommon to have the amount of debt owed on a brand new motorcycle to be more than the fair market value of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the at-fault driver or the driver’s insurance company is not legally liable for the amount of your debt, but rather they are only liable for the value of your motorcycle. Consequently, you may still be liable for any difference on the motorcycle loan.
When negotiating the value of your motorcycle with an insurance company, it is very important to not only take the value of the motorcycle into account, but also the cost of replacement (including licensing, fees, and sales taxes). Another way to protect yourself from this problem is to purchase what is commonly referred to as gap insurance. Gap insurance is a specialized insurance program that is created to expressly cover the difference between the value of the motorcycle and the debt owed. Most new motorcycle dealerships will offer you this type of coverage when you purchase a motorcycle.
California is what is commonly known as an “at-will” employment law state. Thus by default, an employer can terminate an employee after a motorcycle accident “at-will” for any reason, and without cause. There is some very limited good news, as there are exceptions to this at-will status that may apply following a motorcycle accident, such as: Family Medical Leave Act; Americans with Disability Act; various laws applicable to work related injuries; union agreements; and possibly even contractual agreements with your employer. If you were in a motorcycle accident that was serious enough to require time off work on extended medical leave, you should definitely seek the assistance of a motorcycle accident attorney.
What should I do if my motorcycle was totaled in a motorcycle accident and I do not agree with the Kelley Blue Book value, or the insurance company will not pay me the Kelley Blue Book Value?
While Kelley Blue Book is a private publishing company that strives to determine the best estimate of the fair value of motorcycles across the entire United States, neither you nor an insurance company must agree to use the Kelley Blue Book Value for your motorcycle. As to be expected, whenever someone tries to standardize something across such a large spectrum, the standardization is susceptible to significant errors. Although Kelley Blue Book generally does a good job of providing guidance, there are often significant discrepancies between what it reports as the value and what the local area considers the value. You do not have to agree to the valuation by Kelley Blue Book, by an insurance company, or anyone else. Conversely, the insurance company does not have to accept the valuation either.
To calculate the value of your motorcycle after an accident, you should check not only with Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), but also with other places where cars are placed for sale, such as: www.craigslist.org; www.ebay.com/motors; and www.autotrader.com. The Sacramento Bee newspaper would also be a good source. When checking these references, you should assemble lists of comparable motorcycles for sale and their prices. Then compare your features to the other motorcycles, and based on that information, determine the value of your motorcycle. If the insurance company disagrees with your valuation, you can demand arbitration and/or sue in small claims or superior court (depending on the specifics of your motorcycle property damage case).
If a police report, sheriff report, or CHP report prepared after a motorcycle accident is wrong, it is not the end of the world. The police report is considered hearsay, and the conclusions in that report are often of an officer who did not actually see the car accident. Consequently, the law is such that the judge, jury, or arbitrator makes the final determination as to who was at fault, not the police officer. In fact, in most cases, the police report is NOT admitted into evidence at the motorcycle accident trial because it is only secondhand accounts of what occurred and thus not credible. If the police report says you were at fault in a motorcycle accident and you believe the report is wrong, you should contact an attorney immediately to help obtain and preserve evidence to rebut the conclusions in that report.
Obviously, if you were recently injured in a motorcycle accident, the first thing you should do is to seek medical assistance. Getting care for your injuries is more important than anything else. After the accident, if the emergency room doctors tell you to follow up with your primary care physician, or if you still have pain, it is very important that you follow up with your primary care doctor.
When you fail to follow up with your primary care doctor, the conclusion reached by many judges, juries, and claims adjusters is that any injuries must not have been that significant or must have resolved. Consequently, following up with medical attention after a motorcycle accident is of particular importance.
In addition to following through with medical care, it is important that you locate and preserve evidence of the accident. Taking photographs even with your cell phone can be very helpful. Likewise, obtaining contact information of witnesses who can testify as to what occurred is helpful to a motorcycle attorney in making sure that a judge, jury, or claims adjuster reaches the correct result.
Besides getting treatment and preserving evidence, it is particularly important that you do not give a written or recorded statement to anyone else’s insurance carrier! Many victims think that giving a statement will help them, or at least will not hurt them; unfortunately, adjusters are very skilled at leading victims down an unfavorable path with artful questioning.
Unfortunately, it is very common for drivers in motorcycle accidents to not have insurance, or even more frequently, to not have enough insurance to cover all the damages caused by the accident (underinsured). If a driver in a motorcycle accident is not adequately insured, you do not have to settle with the driver for the policy amounts. However, it is usually very difficult to collect from underinsured drivers. In these situations, attorneys will routinely focus their efforts on finding other possible insurance carriers or deep pockets by looking to see whether the driver was in the course and scope of employment. Alternatively, they look to see if there is coverage under your policy for an uninsured motorist. They also often increase the net money in your pocket by providing assistance in negotiating liens or finding other ways to reduce your loss.
What happens if I forgot to report the motorcycle accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles, or I didn’t know I needed to file a Traffic Accident Report SR 1?
The failure to file an accident report with the Department of Motor Vehicles is not a limitation or defense to your case. You still have rights. However, if you did not file a report, it can raise concerns from adjusters as to whether there was collusion, or whether you were truly injured. In California, a Traffic Accident Report SR1 is required to be filed anytime you are involved in a motorcycle accident and there is property damage of more than $750, or when someone is injured, no matter how minor. We suggest that everyone file an SR1 in those circumstances, even if it’s late.
What do you do if you need medical treatment after a motorcycle accident and do not have health insurance?
If you do not have health insurance and were in a motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident attorney can help put you in touch with medical providers that will treat on a lien basis. Treating on a lien basis means you still have to pay for the services, but you can do so at the end of the case rather than upfront.
After a motorcycle accident, how do you get a copy of the police report, CHP report, or traffic collision report?
Getting a report after a motorcycle accident should not be too difficult. The responding police officer, sheriff, or highway patrol will typically provide you with an index or business card with specific information on how to obtain a copy of the traffic collision report. If you did not receive that information, or cannot find it, you should contact the agency that responded to the scene (e.g. Sacramento Police Department or California Highway Patrol). Most of the police, sheriff, and similar agencies have a website that will tell you how to order a copy of the report. Of course, you do not need to get a copy yourself, we would be happy to obtain that for you.
After a motorcycle accident, is it possible to get a copy of the police report before it becomes final?
It is very rare that the police, sheriff, highway patrol or coroner will provide individuals with a preliminary report. They generally wait until it has been finalized. However, a motorcycle accident attorney can sometimes assist you in getting a preliminary version, or finding out what it will say before it comes out.
I was on my motorcycle and was T-boned at a four-way intersection. How do I prove I was not at fault?
There are several rules of the road that apply at four-way intersections for motorcycles and cars equally. Generally, the first vehicle to stop (whether a car or a motorcycle) is usually the first to go. The next test is the farthest to the right goes first; and then finally, the straight traffic goes first. Unfortunately, these rules of the road do not resolve the question of who has the right of way and who should have gone first. The primary issue at trial is often simply who “failed to yield.” If you were T-boned on your motorcycle at a four-way intersection in which all directions had stop signs, the mere fact that you were T-boned is good evidence for you that the other car failed to yield. Because of the complexity of a T-bone case, it is particularly important to hire a motorcycle accident attorney rather than try to handle it alone.
What do I do if the insurance company is low-balling settlement offers to me for my motorcycle accident?
Insurance companies increase profits by raising their revenue (collecting premiums), and reducing expenses (avoid paying claims.) The less in claims they pay to motorcycle and other victims, the more profits they make. It is a regular business practice for insurance companies to low-ball motorcycle accident victims. As motorcycle accident attorneys, it is our job to educate the insurance adjuster as to why they should pay what the victim deserves, and if the insurance company still will not cooperate, then to file a lawsuit or demand arbitration. The end result is that a motorcycle accident victim does not have to accept what the insurance company is offering, and quite frankly, should very likely reject all of the early offers.
Some of the more typical mistakes people make after a motorcycle accident are: failing to immediately call the police; failing to seek medical care right away, or failing to follow up with their primary care doctors; failing to document the accident scene and damage to the motorcycle with photographs; and failing to photograph injured parts of their body (bruises, cuts, etc.). Probably the biggest mistake made after a motorcycle accident is giving a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
After a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to recovery of your out-of-pocket losses such as loss of wages, medical bills, and property damage. After an accident, you are also entitled to non-economic damages, such as the value of your injuries for pain and suffering, disability, as well as the loss of enjoyment of life.
If you were hurt in a hit and run car accident while on your motorcycle, you should make a police report immediately, as well as seek medical treatment. If you were forced off the road, or laid down your motorcycle, you will want to try and photograph or document any place on your motorcycle that shows that there was actual contact with the other vehicle. Proving you made actual contact with the other vehicle can be very critical in order to avoid having your insurance claim denied. You will next want to contact a motorcycle accident attorney who can assist you in making a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage policy against your own insurance company.
An ungrounded, but regular fear of victims of hit and run car accidents, is that their insurance rates will go up if they file a claim. However, the law is clear that an insurance company may not raise your rates unless you were at fault.
Is there a difference between bodily injury liability and uninsured motorist bodily injury liability on a motorcycle insurance policy?
The phrase “bodily injury liability,” or BI, refers to the motorcycle insurance limits applicable to people who have claims against you for things you did wrong. For example, if you have a $15,000 each person/$30,000 each occurrence policy for bodily injury, that in essence means that your insurance carrier will pay claims to other people on your behalf in an amount up to $15,000 per person, and up to $30,000 in total, for the entire motorcycle accident.
If the word “uninsured” is used in the same phrase as bodily injury on your insurance policy, then those policy limits are the maximum amounts that your insurance company will pay to you personally, or someone on your motorcycle, for the injuries that were suffered. Uninsured also means “underinsured,” which is interpreted to allow you to recover from your policy if the other driver has a small policy. You should speak with one of our motorcycle accident attorneys, however, for a complete explanation of the differences in policies.
Although motorcycles represent just 2% of vehicles on the road, they are involved in more than 10% of all crashes. If you were the victim of a reckless or negligent driver and were injured in a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation for all of the damages that were caused or resulted from the motorcycle accident. These damages include not only your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that have occurred, but also the future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that you may incur in the near or distant future. If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, please call one of our Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for a free consultation.