Who Is Responsible For My Motorcycle Accident Medical Bills?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated 84,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2019 – a 2% increase over 2018. Nothing protects you better than skill and awareness on the road, but when something goes wrong, you might be thinking “Who is responsible for my motorcycle accident medical bills!”, and sticky legal issues so you and your loved ones can concentrate on your fullest possible recovery.

After a Motorcycle Accident

Once the immediate shock of a motorcycle accident is over, some sense of relief may set in as you realize that, in spite of the pain, your life has been spared. Nevertheless, that relief may give way to unnecessary frustrations if the management of your legal-financial affairs during the recovery period is not in order. Consider the following as general rules of thumb only, and follow the instructions of your legal counsel to the most advantageous effect according to your specific situation.

Proving Negligence

Motorists have a basic, common duty to exercise reasonable care while on the road. A breach of that duty can include carelessness or failure to heed roadway regulations, resulting in harm or property damage to others. Because most people are not sufficiently trained on how motorcycles handle differently than cars and trucks, it’s the other motorist who is more statistically likely to be found at fault – but of course, negligence must be determined with court-admissible evidence, not mere speculation.

Avoid clouding the evidentiary waters from the start by researching what to say and what not to say at the scene of an accident. This will help you ensure that your record and any accident report reads cleanly while leaving little room for interpretation. Take photos and the verified contact info of any witnesses who will attest to the incident. Ask any first responders what information they need for their report and how you can get copies of it. If you can’t prove damages or injuries, you cannot recover a claim, and an unverifiable claim could even backfire.

Comparative Negligence

Some jurisdictions have comparative negligence laws designed to ensure that damages are awarded proportionately to fault. Find out if this applies to the areas you frequent on motorcycle trips so that you can tailor your accident-site conduct accordingly. For example, you might be extra cautious of how you respond to questions if you think it could be used unfairly by the other side to deny even partial responsibility. The safest bet is to say as little as you need to. You can always invoke the need to obtain urgent medical attention, and save details for when you confer with your counsel – especially if you do not yet know the laws in your jurisdiction where the accident took place.

At-Fault or No-Fault?

Some jurisdictions handle insurance claims quite differently. Under at-fault rules, the driver who is at fault (or their insurance company) is liable for all damages they caused. No-fault regulations instead make each driver’s insurance company liable for their person’s payments. The difference between at-fault and no-fault territories is important to know when handling the financial side of the matter, but in either case, you will want to obtain the other party’s insurance information.

On the legal side, you must keep in mind the concept of the “proximate” cause of action. The court record must show that the negligent party was the direct (i.e., proximate) cause of the accident. Clarity on this helps many of our clients know how to communicate the matter to the best effect, ensure that their evidence is admissible, and ultimately make the strongest possible case. Failure to heed the advice of your counsel on this point alone could give your opponent’s personal injury attorney a foothold to weaken or even jeopardize your entire case.

Compiling Your Motorcycle Accident Medical Bills

Like any claim seeking compensation for medical bills, a basic but universal calculation will include the following figures:

  1. Medical expenses: Obtain medical bills and denote which expenses were covered by insurance and which weren’t.
  2. Property damages: Include any mechanics’ bills and/or assessments by insurance agents. If other property was damaged (e.g., clothes, cell phones, helmets, etc.), include this as well. Photos will help your record be all the more obvious.
  3. Lost earnings: Calculate how much income or other money was lost due to your inability to work. If you relied on PTO or vacation days, you can still get compensation.
  4. Future medical-expense estimate: You will need documentation from doctors and medical professionals to show the court you are not simply “padding” the numbers.
  5. Future lost-earnings estimate: The most common method is to combine records showing the time your recovery will take with those showing daily compensation, and multiply the figures together.

The financial matters and relevant legal codes are all the more complicated to handle if interstate commerce or more outstanding issues were at play, as explained next.

Are Other Damages Possible?

Yes. “Non-economic” damages can be awarded by the lower courts under the following conditions:

  • Punitive damages in instances of gross negligence, intentional misconduct, and malice;
  • Manufacturer negligence (e.g., defective parts) – this can even apply to provably negligent mechanics;
  • Pain and suffering, including loss of physical ability, loss of sexual function, and emotional trauma.

The burden of proof for these matters is much stricter. Your legal counsel can advise you on which of these may apply and which must be included in your claim. Some of these damages are totally at the discretion of the trier of fact, while some must be specifically requested right away in the pleadings.

Get Compensated for Your Motorcycle Accident Medical Bills

Tens of thousands of Americans are faced with life-altering decisions after a motorcycle accident. Seemingly miraculously, such trauma has been known to give people a renewed lease on life when they realize how narrowly they escaped death. Let that be you by minimizing the issues surrounding legal-financial affairs as much as possible, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Only the most competent legal counsel should be trusted to make that happen, and in any event, MLG is at your service.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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