There are few things more enjoyable than hitting the open road on your motorcycle. Yet even for the most careful of motorcyclists, this activity can be incredibly dangerous. According to statistics from the California Highway Patrol, in 2017 alone, 14,051 motorcyclists were injured and 581 were killed in motorcycle accidents.
If you are injured in a motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress. A skilled Santa Rosa car accident lawyer can help you get the money that you deserve. We’ll fight to make sure that the at-fault driver’s insurance company gives you a fair settlement for your losses.
The Kuvara Law Firm advocates for injury victims throughout Northern California. Our legal team has decades of combined experience in California personal injury law. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Who Is Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle crashes happen all too frequently in Santa Rosa. If you are involved in a wreck while on your motorcycle, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party.
Whoever was responsible for causing the accident may be held liable for your losses. This may include another driver or motorcyclist, a pedestrian, or even the city or another government agency.
In California, personal injury claims are usually based on a theory of negligence, which is a type of carelessness. There are four elements in a negligence claim:
- Duty: the at-fault party (defendant) owed you a duty of care.
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty of care in some way.
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or the cause of your injuries.
- Damages: you (plaintiff) suffered losses as a result.
Another person may be negligent in any number of ways. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Uneven road conditions
- Vehicles merging into a cyclist’s lane
- Vehicles pulling in front of or cutting off a motorcycle
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Temporary metal plates on the road
- Loose gravel
- Defective parts (products liability)
Even in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident, it may be possible to seek compensation from a city, town, or other governmental entity responsible for the design or maintenance of the road. Similarly, if you wrecked your bike because your brakes failed or another part was defective, you could file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of that part.
The best way to determine if you have a potential insurance claim against a negligent party is to schedule a free consultation with a Sonoma County personal injury law firm. They will listen to your story and offer you advice on filing a claim against any responsible parties. If you choose to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer in Santa Rosa, CA, then they will get to work immediately to fight for your right to full compensation.
How to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you with the process.
The first step will involve investigating the underlying facts of the case. This typically involves requesting police reports, finding and reviewing any photos or videos of the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, and even working with accident reconstruction experts. Your legal team will then research California personal injury law to build a strong case for compensation.
Next, your lawyer will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A demand letter sets out the facts of the case, the legal reason why the insured is liable, and then makes a demand for compensation or damages. Insurance companies usually respond to demand letters with a counteroffer, which begins the negotiation process.
The parties will typically go back and forth until they can agree to a settlement. However, there may be cases where the insurer won’t offer fair compensation. This may happen because there is some question as to liability or the extent of your injuries.
If the parties cannot agree to a settlement, then it may be time to file a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will draft a complaint, file it in court, and serve it on the at-fault party. They will then have the opportunity to submit an answer and make any counterclaims against you.
Next, the parties will exchange information about the case in a process known as discovery. In many cases, the evidence shared during discovery helps move the parties closer to a settlement. Negotiations will continue throughout the pre-trial phase – including up to the eve of the trial.
Most personal injury lawsuits do not go to trial. While it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to preserve your legal rights, that does not mean that you will have to go to court. Instead, it is a way to preserve your rights while continuing to apply pressure on the insurance carrier to settle the case.
What Compensation Am I Entitled to for a Motorcycle Wreck?
In a motorcycle accident case, you may be entitled to two types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate injury victims for their losses, while punitive damages punish a wrongdoer.
There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages may include money for direct financial losses, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical care
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
Non-economic damages compensate an accident victim for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring, disfigurement, and emotional distress.
Finally, punitive damages may be awarded in a case where a defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. This may occur in drunk or drugged driving accidents. A seasoned Santa Rosa motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for punitive damages.
If a loved one dies in a fatal motorcycle crash, their survivors may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Damages in a wrongful death claim are slightly different, as they are meant to compensate the plaintiffs for their losses. Examples of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include money for the financial support that the deceased would have contributed, the loss of gifts or benefits, funeral and burial expenses, the reasonable value of household services that the deceased would have provided, and loss of consortium.
How a Santa Rosa Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
After a motorcycle wreck, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster. They may ask you to give a statement or sign some paperwork, tell you that they take full responsibility for the crash, or even offer you a settlement. You shouldn’t say or sign anything until you have had a chance to talk to a Santa Rosa injury lawyer.
Insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible on personal injury claims – or denying them entirely. They have teams of adjusters and attorneys whose goal is to find any potential weaknesses in your claim – and use them for their own benefit. In other words, the other driver’s insurance company does not have your best interests at heart.
An experienced attorney will take on the big insurance companies to make sure that you get maximum compensation for your case. They will handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf, and will work hard to ensure that you get top dollar for your insurance claim. If the insurer won’t give you the money that you deserve, they will take your case to court and ask a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more in personal injury claims, compared to people who represent themselves. The reason why is simple: insurance companies will use their position of power to ensure that they underpay your claim unless you have someone by your side who knows the law and how to protect you.
If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident in Sonoma County, don’t let the insurance companies trick you into giving up your right to full compensation. Reach out to the Kuvara Law Firm today for a free consultation.
How Much Is My Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
The value of your claim depends on a number of factors, such as the severity of your injuries, whether you will be permanently disabled, and the size of the at-fault party’s insurance policy. For example, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury, then you will likely recover more than a person who suffered broken bones that will fully heal within a few months.
During a free initial consultation, a Santa Rosa motorcycle accident attorney will give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. Contact the Kuvara Law Firm today to talk to a member of our legal team.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer for My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
It may be possible to handle a relatively minor accident claim on your own, without legal representation. However, in most cases, you will achieve a much better result (i.e., more money) if you have an experienced lawyer by your side.
Insurance companies work to settle claims for as little money as possible. They know that if an injury victim has an attorney, the chances of being able to get rid of the case for pennies on the dollar is much lower. The best way to level the playing field is by hiring a skilled attorney to represent you. Contact the Kuvara Law Firm today to learn more.
How Can I Afford a Lawyer for My Motorcycle Accident Case?
Personal injury law firms handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that instead of paying a retainer and an hourly fee, you won’t pay anything upfront to hire an attorney. Instead, if your case is settled or you get a verdict at trial, your lawyer will be paid a percentage of your total recovery. The exact percentage depends on your fee agreement but usually ranges from 30 to 40%.
This type of arrangement allows you to hire a lawyer even if you can’t pay out of pocket. It also ensures that your goals are aligned with your attorney’s – to resolve the case for as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. Reach out to the Kuvara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
After a motorcycle accident, you may be overwhelmed by your physical injuries, the need for ongoing medical treatment, and getting over the trauma of the crash. You may also be under financial strain from your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. In this situation, you need an experienced Santa Rosa motorcycle accident attorney.
Since 1971, the Kuvara Law has advocated for accident victims in Sonoma County and throughout Northern California. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to set up an appointment with a member of our team, give us a call at 707-571-0405 or fill out our online contact form.