Motorcycles provide many benefits; however, being involved in a motorcycle accident can cause multiple injuries. A disabling injury dramatically changes the life of a motorcycle accident victim and those around them. People who suffer such an injury may require help to care for themselves, learn how to care for themselves again, and might even need a new career or become unable to perform a job.
If you or someone you love now has a disability because of a motorcycle accident, you may face many expenses and challenges but most of all, you need to know you have legal rights. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you as you sort out your accident, seek available sources of compensation, and learn to live with a disability.
Not all serious or even severe injuries are disability injuries. However, an injury that disables a motorcycle accident victim takes a long-term or permanent toll that affects their ability to work and live normally. Some people who sustain disabling injuries will require round-the-clock nursing support and care. While most people can live independently, many need permanent care, assistance, and supervision.
Sometimes they require medical devices and therapeutic or rehabilitative care for months, years, or even a lifetime. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the victim may never recover full consciousness or total mental capacity. If the victim suffers brain injuries, they can result in memory loss, personality changes, emotional problems, learning problems, and other issues.
Examples of disability injuries potentially resulting from motorcycle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck injuries
- Anoxic brain injury
- Severe burn injuries
- Internal organ damage, sometimes requiring a transplant
- Spinal cord injury (SCI), including paralysis
- Loss of eyesight
All of these injuries are catastrophic and can fundamentally change how you live the rest of your life.
The Lifelong Costs From a Disability
People who require ongoing medical attention or long periods of hospitalization for a disabling injury usually cannot work. In some cases, victims cannot care for their routine daily needs. Medical expenses, daily nursing care costs, and other related expenses can financially ruin them and their family.
Some of the financial burdens of a disabled motorcycle accident victim include:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Continuing medical care
- Visiting nursing care
- Medical equipment such as a hospital bed at home, wheelchairs, a Hoyer lift
- Costs to retrofit a home to accommodate a wheelchair
- Diminished earning capacity (future lost income)
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
One of the significant challenges with a disability injury is that the injury’s effects continue long after the accident. For example, someone who suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) can develop respiratory problems long after the actual injury occurred. Someone who sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might seem perfectly normal on the outside but faces invisible challenges such as blinding headaches, seizures, and cognitive difficulties, making it nearly impossible for them to hold down a job and maintain personal relationships.
Sources of Disability Compensation
In addition to anticipating that the insurance company will do the right thing, you might also believe you can rely on government assistance like disability payments or even your own long-term disability insurance.
While you might successfully receive payments for such claims, the best way to ensure and maximize your injury compensation is to exercise your right to pursue a motorcycle accident injury claim. Those suffering disabling injuries need to know that other claims they file can also come with their own hurdles, and they cannot guarantee success.
Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents
Most motorcycle accident cases arise from negligence. Negligence is the failure to act or behave as a reasonably prudent person should under the same or similar circumstances. For example, reasonable drivers stop at stop signs, don’t text and drive, and drive sober.
Motorcycle accident cases based on negligence must prove:
- Duty of care: The negligent party had an obligation to act in a certain way. Sometimes this obligation is evidenced by law, such as traffic laws. Other times, it’s common sense or an ethical obligation.
- Breach of duty: The negligent party breached the duty of care. For instance, failing to yield the right of way or driving the legal speed limit.
- Injuries: The victim suffered injuries as a direct result of the other party’s breach of duty. The key here is that there must be a link and the victim must show the breach was a direct or proximate cause of their injuries.
- Damages: Because of their injuries, the victim has compensable damages and can recover financial compensation for them.
When you meet with a motorcycle accident attorney, they will ensure they can prove all of these factors before moving forward. If you have a valid claim, they can gather sufficient evidence to prove each of these elements.
What Is Your Disability Injury Case Worth?
After an injury, it’s natural to assume that people and insurance companies will do the right thing to help you. After all, you deserve enough compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company to cover your extensive losses.
However, this is rarely the case unless you enlist a seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer who knows how to engage with experts, such as economists and actuaries, who can analyze the long-term costs of your medical care into the future. Without an attorney, you might not know what compensation amount is fair for your injuries and the ongoing damage they caused in your life.
Each disability injury case is different, but these are typically high-dollar claims. Considering the extraordinary financial, emotional, and physical burdens injured individuals and their families face, it’s no wonder why these types of injuries deserve and usually garner more significant settlements.
When you meet with an experienced attorney, they can review all the details of your case. Knowing the ins and outs of what happened and your injuries will help them to provide you with an estimate of what your claim might be worth.
Establishing Damages in a Disability Injury Claim
After any kind of injury accident, the liable party has a duty to make the victim whole again. They obviously can’t undo the physical, financial, or emotional damage they have caused. However, they can provide the victim with monetary compensation to make up for their financial losses and help with their other damages.
Damages are generally what determine a motorcycle accident victim’s compensation. Economic damages depend on the actual or projected costs or financial losses incurred by the accident.
Also known as special damages, they can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Disability accommodations
- Live-in care or nursing home care
- Medical equipment
- Rehabilitation and therapies
- Lost income and earnings
- Damaged or destroyed property
- Transportation and travel costs to medical appointments
- Legal expenses and attorney’s fees
Specific types of damages and the amounts injured parties receive for them will vary from one accident case to the next. For example, a more severe motorcycle accident that causes disabling or catastrophic injuries will compensate the victim more. In contrast, a less severe injury crash won’t pay as much.
Non-economic damages, or general damages, are more difficult to value but no less critical. They usually include physical and psychological damage.
These damages can include:
- Future lost income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Psychological distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depression and anxiety
- Lost quality of life
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of opportunities
- Scarring and disfigurement
When you meet with a motorcycle accident lawyer, they will help you determine the damages specific to your case and their value. Their job is to stand up for your rights, advocating for you so you can get full and fair compensation for your injuries. Sometimes a successfully negotiated settlement does this. Other times, it requires presenting your case to a judge or jury. Either way, your lawyer isn’t afraid to stand up for your rights.
Should You Accept the Insurance Company Settlement Offer?
Accepting a quick settlement might seem easier in terms of time. Still, you should never accept anything without consulting with an experienced lawyer. Accepting an insurance company settlement can be attractive as it resolves your claim sooner rather than later. It may seem like less of a hassle and a time-saver just to take what they offer you.
Do not make this grave mistake, especially in cases where you suffer a disabling injury.
It can take some time before the victim of such an injury even knows the extent of their injuries and how they will affect them in the future. Even motorcycle accident attorneys with decades of experience hire financial experts like actuarial accountants to help determine what an injury claim is worth.
You can’t know what your claim is worth without speaking to an attorney and waiting to see how your injuries will affect your life. Although settling with the insurance company will resolve your case, it’s almost certain to devalue your claim substantially. Always speak to an attorney first.
How are SSI Payments Determined?
If you have a disability after a motorcycle accident, keep in mind you may not qualify for Social Security or disability payments. However, even if you do qualify for these government benefits, they are only a fraction of what you can receive for a motorcycle accident injury claim.
Each Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient’s benefit amount is a set rate. Each person receiving SSI benefits gets the same base amount. These amounts are determined each year based on the average income index and cost-of-living adjustments.
For SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines your payment based on your lifetime average earnings before your disability. Calculating your SSDI benefit amount considers your covered earnings your earnings at jobs where your employer took money out of your check for Social Security or FICA. Generally, SSDI payments range on average between $800 and $1,800 per month.
What is Long Term Disability Insurance?
Although you shouldn’t rely on long-term disability insurance to cover all of your bills and expenses after suffering a disability in a motorcycle accident, it might help. Long-term disability (LTD) insurance replaces all or a portion of someone’s income if they can’t work due to sickness or injury.
Coverage might be an employment benefit or purchased directly from an insurance company. Each LTD policy is different and has its own requirements claimants must meet before they can receive benefits. It’s crucial to read your policy carefully to understand your coverage, terms, and benefit limitations. However, sometimes policy language is confusing and can be misleading. Your LTD insurer may also fight accepting your claim.
Paying for a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Sadly, many motorcycle accident victims make the mistake of handling their claims on their own or not pursuing one at all because they don’t believe they can afford an attorney. What they don’t know is most motorcycle accident attorneys work on contingency fees only. This means they don’t receive payment at all until they settle your claim or receive a court award on your behalf.
So, in other words, if they don’t get compensation for you, they don’t get fees. With this arrangement, you pay them nothing upfront. Once they obtain compensation for you, they receive a pre-agreed-upon percentage of those funds. In nearly every injury case, especially those dealing with disabling injuries, securing representation from a skilled attorney is worth the expense.
Did You Suffer Disabling Injuries in a Recent Motorcycle Accident? Seek Legal Help Today
If you suffered a disabling injury due to someone else’s negligence in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait to seek legal representation. You need legal help to ensure you get the compensation that is rightfully yours if a negligent party caused your injury. Without dedicated legal representation, you might not get the compensation you deserve. Seek the services of a knowledgeable personal injury law firm in Denver today.