While it might be possible to calculate an average payout to motorcycle accident victims, that figure would not have much usefulness in an individual case. Every motorcycle accident differs, and the payout potentially available to the victim depends on various case-specific factors.
Here’s an overview of what goes into determining the value of a motorcycle accident claim and why calculating an average won’t tell you much about what a skilled lawyer might get you in your case. Reach out to a motorcycle accident lawyer.
Three Key Factors in Valuing a Motorcycle Accident Claim
The value of a motorcycle accident payout broadly depends on three core factors. In a motorcycle accident case, the victim’s lawyer will tend to evaluate each of these factors in determining the potential amount the case could produce.
1. THE VICTIM’S MAXIMUM DAMAGES
The first thing you need to know to determine the value of your motorcycle accident injury claim is: how much do you have a legal right to receive from the at-fault party, an insurance company, or some other source, as money damages for your losses? In other words, what’s the maximum amount the law allows you to claim? This is the starting point for calculating your potential payout.
Generally speaking, the law entitles motorcycle crash victims to seek payment from an at-fault party for the harm they suffered because of that party’s wrongful actions. It comes as a surprise to many injured bikers to hear just how broadly that legal right extends.
If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle wreck for which someone else bears the blame, you can usually demand compensation for the full range of economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered.
You may also have the right to claim additional, non-compensatory damages in some circumstances. The total of these categories of damages represents your maximum potential payout.
You can generally claim payment for all economic damages resulting from your motorcycle accident.
These are the direct financial costs and losses you’ve sustained, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses for treating your motorcycle accident injuries and any resulting health complications.
- Costs for repairing or replacing damaged personal property, such as your motorcycle.
- Past and future out-of-pocket expenditures made necessary by the motorcycle crash and the injuries you suffered in it, such as paying for modifications to your living space or hiring help with everyday tasks like childcare or transportation.
- Past lost earnings and benefits from missing work because of your injuries, including vacation time and sick leave you used while missing work.
- Future lost earnings and benefits if your injury will continue to keep you out of work.
This is just a partial list. Any direct financial impact of your motorcycle accident and injuries will usually count as recoverable economic damages.
You can also generally demand payment for the non-economic harm you have suffered because of a motorcycle accident. This category of damages encompasses every negative effect (other than financial) that the crash and your injuries have had on your life.
It may include:
- Physical pain and discomfort from your injuries and medical treatments
- Emotional distress and mental health challenges triggered by your accident or injuries
- Loss of independence and the daily inconvenience of living with your injury
- Loss of quality of life and of enjoyment of activities or personal relationships
- Scarring or disfigurement caused by the motorcycle accident
As above, this is just a partial list. The point is that you can ask the party at-fault party (and its insurance carrier) to compensate you for most types of non-financial harm, so long as your lawyer can prove they occurred.
OTHER, NON-COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
In some cases, motorcycle crash victims can seek non-compensatory damages from the at-fault party or an insurance carrier. These damages have a purpose other than compensating the victim for losses.
For instance, if an at-fault party engaged in extreme or malicious conduct in causing a motorcycle accident, the victim’s lawyer may ask a court to award punitive damages. These damages punish the at-fault party. But they can constitute a significant portion of the total value of a motorcycle accident claim.
A crash victim may also claim statutory damages if the events surrounding the motorcycle accident or its aftermath violated a specific law and that law provides for fixed payments to the victim.
2. THE CLAIM’S PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS
Having established the theoretical maximum amount a motorcycle accident victim could claim as damages, the next step in analyzing the potential payout is to assess the probability of the claim’s success. This involves evaluating the likelihood of winning the case for the maximum amount of damages if it were to end up in a courtroom trial.
To be sure, very few car accident cases see the inside of a courtroom—most settle out of court—but a claim’s chances of winning at trial still play a starring role in determining its settlement value.
Here’s how it generally works. All good lawyers understand that no motorcycle accident claim has an absolute, 100 percent guarantee of succeeding. Some claims can come close to that, but there’s always uncertainty. A key witness can move away.
Critical evidence can get deleted. Jurors, judges, insurance adjusters, and defense lawyers can see things differently than you do. That’s just the nature of how our civil justice system works.
As a result, experienced motorcycle accident lawyers know that putting a value on a case right now—before trial—requires discounting the maximum damages potentially recoverable by an amount that reflects your claim’s odds of success.
Numerous factors go into estimating the probability of a motorcycle accident claim’s success at trial.
But broadly speaking, they boil down to:
- The strength of the evidence and legal arguments available to support your claim
- The skill, experience, and resources your lawyer can put to work on your behalf
- The validity of any dispute the other side can raise about key elements of your claim, such as who has liability or how much you should receive
Cases featuring ample evidence and quality lawyers representing a victim, on balance, have a greater chance of success than hotly-disputed cases resting on weak foundations. But even so, assessments of the strength of a case and the skill of a lawyer can vary widely and may evolve over the course of a case as new evidence emerges or new arguments get raised.
That is why experienced lawyers emphasize that probability estimates are just that—estimates—based on their experience and understanding of the legal landscape. More art than science, in other words.
3. THE AT-FAULT PARTY’S FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Your claim seeks payment from someone—usually an at-fault party and that party’s liability insurance carrier. Whether you receive payment in full will, in part, depend on their financial resources. The final piece of the puzzle in evaluating a motorcycle accident claim, in other words, is determining whether they can pay.
In most motorcycle accident cases, the at-fault party’s liability insurance coverage stands first in line to pay your losses. If that coverage falls short of your total damages, you may also have the right to pursue payment from the at-fault party directly if that party has assets (such as a bank account or valuable property) available to satisfy your claim.
In evaluating the amount of a potential motorcycle accident payout, attorneys for injured bikers will tend to focus on the amount of insurance covering the at-fault party’s liability. Those funds represent the lowest-hanging fruit, so to speak, when it comes to securing payment. Collecting from an at-fault party can be more difficult and time-consuming, so a lawyer may discount the value of that party’s assets in weighing how much they might contribute to satisfying a claim.
If the financial resources realistically available do not cover the biker’s full claim, they may effectively set a cap on the amount of a potential payout. For example, a lawyer might reduce the value of an $800,000 case to $500,000 if the at-fault party’s insurance limit is $500,000 and the at-fault party has no other assets to pay the claim.
Why Knowing an Average Motorcycle Payout Does Not Help You
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 80,000 Americans suffer injuries, and more than 5,000 die, every year in motorcycle accidents. Most of those victims are bikers. And many of those injured motorcyclists, or their grieving families, have claims to make against a party at fault for their crash.
Data on the payouts to injured bikers and their surviving spouses and families are not readily available to the public. Insurance companies possess large collections of that data because they’re generally the ones making the payments. Individual lawyers and law firms also have data on that topic, although on a much more widely dispersed scale.
But if you could tally together those payouts and divide them by the number of victims to get an average per-victim payout, that number wouldn’t tell you much about the value of your specific motorcycle accident claim. That’s because of the highly case- and injury-specific nature of potential payouts. The amount you can hope to receive depends on the unique harm you suffered and the characteristics of the evidence, your lawyer, and the party who harmed you.
Without digging into those factors, there’s no telling where your claim might fall on the spectrum of motorcycle accident payments.
Trust an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Maximize Your Payout
The discussion above explains why there’s no useful information to be obtained from an average motorcycle accident payout. But here’s some information you can put to use. The most reliable way to get the most money possible for your motorcycle accident claim is to put it in the hands of an experienced attorney.
Lawyers representing injured bikers know how to evaluate claims and build strong cases for maximum damages.
- Investigate what caused a crash and who should pay your damages
- Analyze insurance coverages to identify any that cover your losses
- Act quickly to preserve evidence or meet deadlines so that your rights stay protected
- Work with you, your loved ones, and your medical team, to evaluate the full scope of losses you can claim as damages
- Prepare and submit claims on your behalf to courts or insurance companies
- Negotiate with opposing parties to achieve a favorable settlement of your claim if possible
- Go to court on your behalf, including taking your case to trial
- Collect and distribute the money owed to you
Motorcycle accident lawyers regularly perform these and other services on a contingent fee basis. That means they represent injured bikers and others without charging them upfront or by the hour for their work. Instead, they only get paid if they get results for their clients, such as through a settlement or jury award. It costs nothing to have a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer working for you, in other words, unless and until the lawyer gets you money for your losses.
Contact a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
As the victim of a motorcycle accident, you may have valuable rights to receive compensation for your losses. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can assess the harm you suffered and evaluate your claim, giving you insight into the potential payout you might receive.
To learn more about your rights to compensation after a motorcycle accident, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area today.