The short answer is that, of course, it all depends on the specific situation in which you’re involved. In fact, if a lawyer is claiming that he or she can win ‘X’ amount of money for a motorcycle accident (or any legal care for that matter) without even hearing the facts of the case, run far and run fast. Some accidents can result in significant sums of money being paid out—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars—while other times, virtually no money is doled out to claimants involved in seemingly similar situations.
While there are a variety of things that come into play, the compensation a person can expect to receive for a motorcycle accident largely depends on two factors: liability and actual damages sustained.
Liability & Damages
Simply put, liability is defined as the state of being responsible for something, especially by law. In regards to a motorcycle accident, the person who’s liable is the person at fault. Proving who’s liable for an accident can be quite tricky. The burden of proof in these sort of incidents rests on the plaintiff. In other words, the person claiming innocence for the accident must prove that the defendant was negligent. If the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s lawyers can’t prove negligence/fault, the compensation will be nothing or perhaps a very small amount.
In the event the plaintiff is able to prove the other driver was negligent/liable for the motorcycle accident in which he or she was involved, the next step is determining a fair amount of compensation for damages sustained. Damages can relate to property and physical/bodily harm sustained. Naturally, the more damages done, the more compensation to which a person is likely entitled. For example, consider an accident in which a motorcycle rider was accidentally tapped from behind by a driver at a stoplight, but the only damage was a broken taillight. No one was hurt. The most the motorcyclist could most likely expect to receive is roughly the amount it cost to repair the light.
Types of Damages
A motorcycle accident can be similar to other personal injury cases in that damages are typically split into two categories: those capable of exact calculation (special damages) and damages not capable of exact calculation. Special damages include loss of wages and benefits as a result of the time spent away from work recovering from the accident, as well as the resulting medical bills. Such things as pain and suffering cannot be calculated exactly and fall in the latter category. This is where a jury can hold a lot of power. Judges will usually leave it up to them to set a fair monetary value on the damages that cannot be calculated precisely.
Trial vs. Settlement Value
Finally, one of the last things to keep in mind when trying to determine potential compensation for a motorcycle accident is the difference between settlement value and trial value. Settlement value is what a person can reasonably expect to receive if the two parties settle outside of court. Trial value is what you can expect from winning in court. Obviously, the trial value will always be higher than settlement value, but keep in mind that losing at trial results in no compensation at all. This is why many choose to go with the “safer” route and hedge their situation on a settlement that provides them adequate and fair compensation.
For more questions about motorcycle accidents and injuries, contact the Denver attorneys at The Law Offices of Dianne L. Sawaya LLC.