In the United States, a majority percentage of all road accidents involve motorcycles. The physical injuries and damages caused by the motorcycle accident are usually extreme. Major causes of such accidents may be the negligence of the driver, speed of the vehicle, poor condition of roads, bad climate, lack of protective gears, helmets and knee pads.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, first seek proper medical assistance. After getting the medical care, report the accident for claiming your compensation. Hiring a good motorcycle accident attorney will help you to get reasonable compensation. One of the common questions asked by the many in this respect is how long does a motorcycle accident claim takes to process in California. An accurate answer to this question cannot be given, since it depends on the nature of the case.
If you are not satisfied with the offered compensation, then file a motorcycle accident claim. Here we are discussing the steps involved in claiming a motorcycle accident.
Steps in Motorcycle Claim Process
Hiring a Motorcycle Attorney
Hiring a motorcycle attorney is a good idea since your knowledge of motorcycle law is limited. An attorney will be your professional negotiator who convinces the opposite party about the need of getting a reasonable compensation. They are good investigators too. They help us in collecting pieces of evidence which supports the claim and can really determine the true value of your case. An insurance company will have insurance adjusters to protect the company’s profit. So accepting their offer without consulting a lawyer will be a great loss for you.
Presenting a Demand Package
A demand package is an estimated value determined by you for the settlement of your case. This should be based on certain factors such as the depth of your injury, vehicle damages, loss of income, initial medical expenses, long term medical expenses (for severe injuries), pain and sufferings, etc. All of this should be valued and a document (called the demand package) should be sent to the opposite party’s insurance company.
Receiving a Settlement Offer
Once you have sent the demand package, adjusters of the opposite party’s insurance company will review the same and offer an amount for the settlement of the case. This settlement amount needs to be evaluated by your attorney and verified if it covers all the medical expenses and damages caused by the accident and any future expenses from the same. If the offered settlement amount is found sufficient to meet your damages and loss, accept the offer, else you may file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
As said above, if you are satisfied with the settlement amount offered by the opposite party, accept the offer and settle your case. But if the opposite party is not willing to provide a reasonable amount, then file a lawsuit against them with the help of your attorney. Also, make sure to file your lawsuit within the time limit.
Present your Case before the Court
Filing a complaint in the civil court system is the first step for presenting your case before the court. Then a process known as ‘discovery’ begins. This process involves the exchange of documents such as medical records, bills, photographs and other relevant documents related to your case. Presenting supportive witnesses and collecting evidence to be used during the trial are included in this step.
Going to Trial
In some cases, the opposite party’s attorney may approach for a final settlement of the case. If it does not happen, the case will go to trial and your attorney has to present your case before the court. After both party’s presentation and examination on collected evidence, the jury will make a final decision on the claim. As per the final decision of the court, the opposite party will be liable to pay a reasonable amount decided by the court.
There are some other common questions about motorcycle claims. Does the person who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident have the right for compensation? Yes, he has the right to compensation. But the difference is that the compensatory amount received by him might be less than what he might have received if he had worn a helmet. In such cases, the opposite party may try to reduce the compensatory amount by stating that the negligence of the driver caused severe injuries.
Another question is about the time limits for filing a motorcycle accident injury lawsuit. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, from the date of the accident, a time limit of two years is given for filing a motorcycle accident injury lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. Lawsuits which are not filed within this time limit will not be considered by the court.
And if the opposite party in the case is a government official, then the time limit for filing lawsuit against them is limited to six months.