Why You Need a Plano Motorcycle Accident LawyerIn Texas, motorcycle accidents aren’t a rarity. In recent years, there have been over 7,481 motorcycle crashes. In these accidents, 1,856 motorcyclists sustained serious injuries, and 482 died. Many motorcyclists call Plano, Texas home. Each year, about ten fatalities occur on Plano roads. Some of them involve motorcyclists. These motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries that involve lengthy medical treatment. Some accidents could also result in severe emotional damage. The money you might receive from a settlement could be vital to improving your quality of life. By working with a Plano motorcycle accident attorney, you could increase the amount of compensation you receive and avoid unfortunate mistakes. While you aren’t obligated to hire a lawyer to obtain damages, doing so can help you get the money you deserve. Besides offering valuable legal advice, a Plano motorcycle accident lawyer can:
- Conduct an independent investigation - the legal team can collect evidence, help obtain a copy of a police report, speak to witnesses, and hire investigators (if necessary).
- Provide a realistic evaluation - the legal team can give you a good idea of what to expect from your motorcycle accident case, including an approximate amount of damages, the possibility of taking the case to court, the strength of the other party’s defense, and much more.
- Handle paperwork - a personal injury case involves a significant amount of paperwork. Filing documents correctly and on time is a substantial part of a solid case.
- Assist with negotiations - negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company can be time-consuming and highly complex. Many people give up and settle for an insufficient amount without legal assistance. An experienced motorcycle accident legal team knows whether to accept an offer or take the case to trial. The goal is to maximize your compensation while keeping risks low.
- Find expert witnesses - expert witness testimonies can be crucial to obtaining fair economic and non-economic damages. The legal team will find the right witnesses to support your case when necessary.
- Take the case to court - if the insurance company doesn’t want to provide a fair settlement or if you decide to sue the at-fault party directly, you may need to take the case to court. Proper legal representation is integral to the successful outcome of court proceedings.
Types of Damages to Claim in a Motorcycle AccidentIf you prove the negligence of another party in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to recover these damages:
Medical ExpensesSince motorcycle accidents are often serious, injuries may require long-term medical treatment. The at-fault party should cover the cost of this treatment and all related medical expenses that you may incur in the future. These costs could include:
- Hospital services
- Surgery expenses
- Physical therapy
- Doctors’ bills
- Laboratory costs
- Prescription medication costs
- At-home care
Pain and SufferingPain and suffering are not tangible injuries. However, a personal injury settlement can still cover these damages. Any physical and emotional distress you suffered from the accident can lead to compensation. You could recover compensation for:
- Pain and discomfort you feel after the accident
- Pain and discomfort you may feel in the future
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety, depression, fear, shock
- Mental health issues (for example, post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
#1. Lost wagesIf you can’t work after the motorcycle accident, you may recover lost wages. As with medical bills, you could receive compensation for both current and future loss of wages. For example, suppose a person sustains a permanent disability that keeps them from working the same job as before the accident. In that case, they can recover the difference in wages between the two jobs. To prove future loss of wages, you would need to obtain testimonies from expert witnesses.
#2. Property DamageIf your motorcycle sustains damage during the accident, you can claim payment for repair or replacement. You can also claim compensation for damaged gear.
#3. Wrongful Death DamagesIf your loved one dies in a motorcycle accident, you may claim wrongful death damages. These damages can include:
- Pre-death medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial contribution
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of emotional support
- Loss of inheritance
#4. Punitive DamagesIn rare cases, the court may also award punitive damages to the accident victim if the defendant acted recklessly, outrageously, or despicably. Punitive damages are a disciplinary measure. However, the plaintiff still benefits from them. For example, in a motorcycle accident case, the court could award punitive damages if the at-fault party drove while intoxicated. The judge determines the size of these damages on a case-by-case basis.
First Steps to Take after a Motorcycle AccidentMotorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries, even if you wear a helmet. Many riders feel hurt, disoriented, and highly stressed when an accident occurs. The first steps you take after the crash could dictate the outcome of your motorcycle accident case. That’s why it is essential to keep a cool head and act quickly if possible.
#1. Seek medical assistanceYour health is more important than any legal steps. Contact 911 to request medical assistance. If you are able, move yourself to a safe area as quickly as possible. Do not remove any protective gear before medical help arrives on the scene. You may not feel the extent of your injuries due to the high levels of adrenaline coursing through your body. Removing the gear could worsen existing injuries. If you or other people involved in the accident sustain injuries, you need to seek medical help by calling 911. If you can’t call on your own, ask witnesses for help.
#2. Collect evidenceWhile waiting for paramedics and the police to arrive, collect as much evidence as possible. You can take photos of the scene or ask witnesses and passersby to help you take pictures. Make sure to photograph everything, including:
- All vehicles involved in the accident (preferably from all angles)
- Weather conditions
- The condition of the road
#3. Get contact informationIt would be best if you tried to obtain contact information from all accident witnesses. Their testimony may prove crucial when determining which party is at fault. Unfortunately, not all witnesses may be ready to share their contact information. Don’t give up if one person refuses. Ask as many people as possible. If you don’t get the person’s details on the spot, it will be hard to find them in the future.
#4. Call an attorneyAfter calling 911, consider contacting a motorcycle accident attorney. A lawyer can give you valuable advice about what you can and can’t do after an accident. They may also travel to the scene to collect valuable evidence before it disappears. The faster you speak with an attorney, the faster the attorney will be able to build a strong personal injury case. Even if you’ve never worked with an attorney before, you can easily do it from the scene of the accident. The legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers is always ready to take the call and give instructions to motorcycle accident victims.
#5. Stay silentThe other party’s insurance claims adjuster and defense lawyer could arrive at the scene before the police or your attorney does. If they ask for a statement, you have the right to refuse to give it. The only reason why these representatives usually ask for statements is to minimize their client’s fault. Injured, stressed, and disoriented motorcycle riders are easy targets. Don’t give any statements or sign any documents before speaking to an attorney. Important: Even if you didn’t call an attorney from the accident scene, do so as soon as you can. While the evidence and witnesses’ memories are still fresh, a lawyer can conduct a high-quality investigation if necessary.
How to Prove Negligence in a Plano Motorcycle AccidentThe key to being compensated after a motorcycle accident is proving the other party’s negligence. To do that, your attorney would need to establish four elements:
- Legal duty of care - to prove negligence, the at-fault party must have a legal duty of care to the plaintiff. All traffic participants have a legal duty to comply with traffic laws and act rationally behind the wheel.
- Breached duty of care - next, you would need to prove that the at-fault party breached their legal duty of care to you. In a motorcycle accident, this usually involves demonstrating that the defendant violated a traffic law. For example, the at-fault driver may have run a red light or made an illegal U-turn. While some breaches are straightforward, others may be harder to demonstrate. Other breaches of duty could be the driver being distracted by eating, smoking, or texting while driving.
- Causation - third, you would need to prove that you incurred damages when the at-fault party breached their duty of care to you. For example, if you fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury when another driver ran a red light and hit your motorcycle, this would likely constitute causation.
- Damages - finally, you would need to show that you sustained damages. Damages could include lost wages due to being out of work because of your injures or medical treatment costs.
The Statute of LimitationsIf you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. This is the statute of limitations. According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 16.003(a), the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in the state of Texas is two years. The clock usually starts running on the date of the accident. However, a few exceptions exist:
- Age under 18 - if the injured person is a minor, they can file the lawsuit within two years after they turn 18.
- Disability - if injuries you sustained in the accident affected your mental health in a disabling manner, the clock starts running when you regain a sound state of mind.
- Absence - if the at-fault party leaves the state of Texas, the period of their absence doesn’t count toward the two-year limit.
At-fault parties in a Motorcycle AccidentSeveral people may be responsible for a motorcycle accident. Discovering all at-fault parties can help you obtain fair compensation.
#1. Another motoristIn many cases, the responsible party for an accident is another driver. A common cause of motorcycle accidents is a car making a left-hand turn. The driver fails to see the motorcycle in the oncoming lane and turns into it. If another driver causes your accident, you can likely expect a settlement from the other driver’s insurance company. In some cases (discussed in the next section), you may need to sue the driver directly to receive compensation.
#2. PedestrianIf a pedestrian is jaywalking, a car may swerve to let them pass through. If the swerving causes a motorcycle accident, the pedestrian may be partially liable. The judge will determine each party’s fault in the accident and distribute the damages among them accordingly.
#3. CompanyIf the driver that caused a motorcycle accident was an employee doing their job, the employer might be liable. This situation can arise if the accident involves a truck driver, a carrier, or a technician driving a company van. In such cases, the employer’s insurance company should cover the damages. The exception would be if the driver ran personal errands or caused the accident on purpose. In this case, you might sue the driver personally.
#4. Government agencyIf you got into an accident due to poor road conditions or lack of road maintenance, you might be able to recover damages from the local government. You could also sue the government if the at-fault party is a government employee. Suing the City of Plano comes with numerous nuances and limitations. For example, you need to file a notice of your claim within six months from the date of the accident. You can only file a lawsuit after the city responds to your claim. Navigating a personal injury case against the government can be complicated. Both cities and states have robust teams of lawyers on their side. You may want to consider hiring an experienced attorney to level the playing field
#5. Motorcycle manufacturerIn some cases, you may be able to recover damages from a motorcycle manufacturer. If you can prove that the manufacturer was negligent when manufacturing or repairing the vehicle, they may be liable. For example, a manufacturer who installs faulty spare parts or fails to initiate a timely recall may be liable for your injuries.
Suing the At-Fault Party to Recover DamagesWhile the at-fault party’s insurance company usually covers the damages, you may need to sue in some cases. The main reasons for going to court include:
The Insurance Company Doesn’t Offer a Fair SettlementIf negotiations with the insurance company don’t go as planned, you don’t necessarily have to settle for a low payout. An attorney can help you take your case to court, where you can present all the available evidence and arguments to a judge. If you have sufficient evidence and present the case well, you have a good chance of recovering the amount you deserve.
The At-Fault Party’s Coverage has a LimitMotorcycle accidents can lead to sizable damages. In some cases, the at-fault party’s insurance doesn’t cover everything. Texas law requires each driver to have at least 30/60/25 coverage. It means getting $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person, up to $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. For example, if the other driver has a 30/60/25 coverage, but your damages are $150,000, you could receive $30,000 + $25,000 from the insurance company. Then, you would sue the driver personally for the rest of the money.
The At-Fault Party Doesn’t have InsuranceIf the responsible party doesn’t have insurance, you can sue them for damages directly. Unfortunately, drivers rarely have sufficient funds to make large payouts when they can’t pay for auto insurance. If the court rules in favor of a motorcycle accident victim, the at-fault driver would need to make a payment. If they cannot make an immediate payment, they may face license and registration suspension. This penalty often incentivizes at-fault parties to work out a viable payment plan. While you are waiting for compensation, you can:
- Check your own insurance - if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to recover some damages from your own insurance company.
- Take advantage of PIP (personal injury protection) - in Texas, PIP insurance is mandatory unless you specifically sign a waiver. The minimal PIP coverage is $2,500. It can help you cover urgent medical bills and other costs associated with accident-related injuries regardless of who caused them.
How to Choose a Motorcycle Accident LawyerIf you’ve been in a motorcycle accident in Plano, hiring a lawyer can increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation. With many law firms available in your area, it can be hard to decide where to turn. Here are a few steps to consider:
#1. Do your researchThe easiest way to find a reliable motorcycle accident lawyer in Plano is to ask around. References from people you trust are usually helpful. If none are forthcoming, do your research online. Check out Better Business Bureau and Yelp for more information about your candidates. Factors you should consider include experience, reviews, and location. If you find an out-of-town attorney you like, you could still hire them. Many lawyers are willing to travel. However, local attorneys are more familiar with local legal nuances, which can make a difference during settlement negotiations.
#2. Ask the right questionsMany motorcycle accident attorneys offer free case evaluations. When you discuss your case with the lawyer, you can ask:
- How many people will be working on my case?
- What kind of experience does your firm have with motorcycle accidents?
- Do you have experience working against the insurance company involved in my case?
- How much time are you willing to devote to my case?
- How long does it usually take you to resolve cases similar to mine?
- What settlement can I expect?
- Can I speak to your previous clients?
- Do you have experience taking motorcycle accident cases to trial?
#3. Choose the firm’s sizeWhen looking for a motorcycle accident attorney, you can usually choose between large and small law firms. A small firm can provide more personalized attention. On the other hand, large firms could be a better option for highly complex cases that demand extensive resources. They may be a good choice for litigating a large claim that involves hiring numerous expert witnesses, conducting extensive investigations, and taking daylong depositions. Keep in mind that working with a big firm doesn’t guarantee you a higher settlement.
#4. Discuss the feeMost motorcycle accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Discuss this fee with the attorney and ask what it includes. Generally, you don’t have to pay a fee unless you win the case. If you have an extensive list of suitable candidates, you can set up consultations with at least three of them and “shop around” for the best cost. Some law firms may be open to negotiations
#5. Evaluate your comfort levelA motorcycle accident legal team doesn’t just deal with your case; they offer emotional support. During the initial consultation, evaluate the level of comfort you feel when speaking to the legal team. Motorcycle accident cases can be time-consuming. Throughout the case, you will spend a lot of time interacting with your legal team. If you don’t feel like you “click,” consider researching other candidates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I sue after a motorcycle accident?If another party is responsible for your motorcycle accident, you can obtain compensation from their insurance company. In some situations, you may need to take the case to court. To improve the outcome of your case, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney.
Do I need a motorcycle accident lawyer?You aren’t obligated to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to recover damages in a personal injury case. However, without legal representation, obtaining fair compensation may be difficult.
When should I contact a personal injury attorney after a motorcycle accident?Ideally, you should contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as the accident occurs. The attorney can provide valuable advice about the first steps to take after a crash. However, it’s not too late to contact an attorney at any time. Just make sure you don’t wait until the statute of limitations is up.
What if I lose a personal injury case?If you lose a personal injury case, you still have an opportunity to recover damages. You can hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney and file an appeal. Appeals can be complex, but they give you another chance at claiming compensation.
What compensation can I expect after a motorcycle accident?If you prove another party’s negligence, you can recover:
- Economic damages - medical bills, lost wages.
- Non-economic damages - pain and suffering, loss of consortium.
- Property damages - motorcycle and gear repair and replacement.
- Punitive damages - disciplinary measure if the at-fault party demonstrates outrageous and reckless behavior.
How long does it take to settle a motorcycle accident?The duration of your motorcycle accident case may differ depending on many factors. If the fault is straightforward and the responsible party has insurance, you can get your first payment within 30 days. If you decide to take the case to court, it may take anywhere from several weeks to several years to settle. Complex cases that involve multiple at-fault parties, numerous expert witness testimonials, and a strong defense are likely to take longer. You can often speed up the process by hiring a motorcycle accident attorney.
How much does it cost to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer?The costs of hiring an attorney vary depending on the complexity of your case. Generally, motorcycle accident attorneys charge a fixed contingency fee—a percentage of the final settlement. In most cases, you don’t have to pay a fee unless you recover damages.
Why You Want Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident LawyersThe legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. Our team takes a personalized approach to each client regardless of the complexity of their cases. We have helped hundreds of people obtain fair compensation and improve their quality of life. We do what it takes to improve your chances of recovering damages. If you were injured in a Plano motorcycle accident, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we take all of our motorcycle accident cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a dime unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by clicking here. Let us help you get your life back.
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"As a relatively new resident of Houston, I did not know of an attorney to contact for a personal injury suit. I randomly went through the yellow pages contacting two attorneys that had rejected my case prior to me contacting Stewart Guss. Stewart took my case on and settled for far more than I had anticipated. The silver lining of this is that I will now have enough money to go back to school for retraining, so I will be able to reenter the workforce in a new capacity. The paralegal, Angela, was kind and supportive throughout the process. If I did not understand the legal jargon, I did not hesitate to ask, and was never once made to feel that I was incompetent. Thank you Stewart and Angela for giving me a new lease on live."