We Have the Answers You Need After a Motorcycle Collision in LouisianaGet Help Now
While every injured biker has a unique experience, it’s surprising how certain questions crop up with every motorcycle injury case. We’ve gathered together the answers to some of those popular questions to build our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource. Stop by to see if we have already responded to some of your most pressing concerns. If your key question hasn’t been answered yet, please call us directly for personalized help.
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If I have motorcycle insurance, why hire a lawyer after my accident?
After sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by another party's negligence, it's in your best interests to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Your insurance may cover some of your losses, but a personal injury claim against the at-fault party is the best way to protect your financial future.
Let You Focus Fully on Your Recovery
Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), neck injury and back injuries, and spinal injury. These conditions require extensive rehabilitation and therapy. You may also be struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health symptoms related to the trauma of the accident.
When you hire a motorcycle accident lawyer, he can handle the communication with the insurance company on your behalf. This allows you to direct your full attention on following your doctor's treatment plan.
Advocate for Your Interests
Insurance companies are focused on making a profit. Whether or not your settlement adequately compensates you for all of your accident-related expenses is of no concern to them. Without an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer on your side, you risk being offered a settlement that's far too low to pay for all your necessary expenses.
Caution Against Common Mistakes
Personal injury law is complex, which means you can accidentally damage your case without knowing it. Consulting a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you avoid the most common mistakes such as allowing your statement to be recorded or signing papers you don't fully understand.
Negotiate a Lower Percentage of Fault
Louisiana's comparative fault system allows you to still collect damages in a personal injury claim even if you're partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. However, your settlement is reduced by your percentage of fault.
If you're partially at fault for the accident, a lawyer's negotiation skills are essential to protecting your right to a fair settlement. There is no set formula that is used to determine fault percentage in a personal injury claim, so your lawyer can increase your compensation by arguing on your behalf for a lower percentage of fault.
A lawyer's negotiation skills will be particularly helpful if you weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the motorcycle accident. Being in violation of the state's mandatory helmet law will cause the defendant's attorney to argue that you're partially at fault for your injuries, but your lawyer may be able to argue that helmet use is irrelevant because a helmet wouldn't have prevented your injuries.
Document Your Expenses
Your motorcycle accident lawyer can help you document the reimbursable damages in your case. These include:
- Medical expenses and disability related to future medical needs
- Lost wages and loss of future earning potential related to your motorcycle accident disability
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and emotional trauma
Expenses you've already incurred can be documented with bills, invoices, and pay stubs, but future expenses will require your lawyer to locate expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf. These experts can help to estimate your future medical expenses, as well as the value of any lost future earning potential.
Prove Necessary Elements of Your Case
To receive compensation for your accident-related expenses, you must be able to establish negligence. Your motorcycle lawyer can help you establish the four necessary elements of a successful claim:
- Duty of care. The other party had a duty to act in a way that reduced the risk of injury to himself and others.
- Breach of duty. The other party did not live up to expectations for safe behavior while driving.
- Damages. You suffered injuries and other related damages.
- Causation. Your damages are the result of the defendant's negligence in causing the accident.
Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault
The legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has extensive experience assisting Louisiana residents in obtaining the compensation they need to move forward with their lives after suffering motorcycle accident injuries. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
What do I need to prove to have a successful motorcycle accident case?
Motorcycle accidents often involve serious and permanently disabling injuries, which is why it's vital that you protect your right to compensation by filing a personal injury claim within Louisiana's one-year statute of limitations. Filing promptly will allow you ample time to gather the necessary evidence to support your case.
Elements of a Personal Injury Case
Any successful personal injury claim rests on your ability to prove negligence. Legally, negligence refers to failing to exercise a duty of care that meets the standards of a reasonable person. In terms of a motorcycle accident, negligence would involve actions such as speeding, running a stop sign, failing to signal a turn, distracted driving, or drunk driving.
As the plaintiff, you must establish the following four elements.
- Duty of care. The defendant had a duty to act in a way that reduces the risk of injury to himself and others.
- Breach of duty. The defendant did not live up to expectations for safe behavior.
- Damages. You suffered specific injuries and other related expenses.
- Causation. Your damages are the result of the defendant's actions and not attributable to some other cause.
Louisiana uses a comparative fault system to assign responsibility for personal injury expenses. If you are determined to be partially at fault for the accident, you can still collect damages. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
One common way in which motorcyclists are determined to be partially at fault is by not wearing a helmet. Since helmets are legally required and proven to reduce the risk of head injuries, you will likely to be found partially at fault if you weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. However, if you suffered no neck or head injuries despite your lack of a helmet, your failure to wear a helmet will be considered legally irrelevant.
Your damages in a motorcycle accident personal injury case can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including emergency room care
- Future medical needs, if your motorcycle injuries have left you with a permanent disability
- Lost wages from the time you were recovering
- Loss of future earning potential, if you've been left permanently disabled
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and emotional trauma
Value of Expert Testimony
Expert testimony is valuable in any personal injury case but can prove particularly important in a motorcycle accident claim. Experts are people with advanced training and specialized experience who can submit testimony to support various aspects of your claim. For example:
- Accident reconstruction to prove fault
- Medical experts to prove your injuries were caused by the accident
- Life care planning experts to estimate anticipated future medical costs
- Economic loss experts to estimate anticipated lost income due to a disability that prevents you from returning to work
Insurance Policy Limits
In most cases, the size of your motorcycle accident settlement is limited by the available insurance. While jury verdicts can and do exceed the limits of insurance policies, collecting is often impossible if the defendant has no other assets. However, Louisiana law requires all drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM or UIM) unless they waive this option in writing. Therefore, your own insurance coverage may be able to provide additional reimbursement.
Protecting Your Rights
Motorcycle cases can be challenging because of the mistaken belief that riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous. When motorcyclists are perceived as being careless with their personal safety, it becomes more difficult for them to get the compensation they deserve.
The best way to protect your right to a fair settlement is to enlist the services of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can advocate for your needs throughout the process of resolving your claim. The legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered motorcycle accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How do I protect my right to compensation after a motorcycle intersection accident?
Intersections are one of the most dangerous spots for motorcycle riders. Drivers who are distracted, intoxicated, or careless can easily cause motorcycle accidents that result in serious or even fatal injuries.
Types Of Motorcycle Accidents
The most common types of motorcycle accidents at intersections include:
- Running a red light. No matter how experienced they are, motorcycle riders can't maneuver their bikes as quickly or safely as a driver can stop a passenger vehicle. When a driver runs a red light, it's often impossible for a motorcyclist to avoid the collision.
- Left hand turn accidents. These types of motorcycle accidents are almost always caused by a distracted or careless driver who simply didn't see the motorcyclist in his way. However, they can also be caused by drivers are who are in such a rush that they fail to yield to traffic coming from the other direction.
- Rear-end accidents. Since motorcyclists don't have seat belts or the protection of a fully enclosed vehicle, even a rear-end collision at a relatively low speed can be deadly.
- Blind spot accidents. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it easy for drivers to miss seeing a bike that's in their blind spot. Visibility can also be affected by poor weather or a lack of suitable lighting at night.
Motorcycle accidents that happen at intersections typically are classified as low-speed collisions, but they can still cause the following types of injuries:
Wearing a helmet and thick leather boots, jacket, and pants can prevent some injuries, but motorcyclists are still at risk even if they've taken all of the recommended safety precautions.
Determining Liability For A Motorcycle Intersection Accident
Determining liability for an accident is the first step in building a valid personal injury claim. Here are some types of evidence your attorney may consider:
- Medical records linking your injuries to the accident
- Police reports from the accident scene
- Witness testimony
- Video footage from traffic cams or nearby businesses
- Signs of damage on your bike and the clothes you were wearing
Keep in mind that if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, you may be found to be partially at fault for your injuries. This will reduce your compensation by your assigned percentage of fault. However, if you can show evidence that your injuries would have occurred even if you were wearing a helmet, you may be able to still receive full damages.
Types Of Compensation Following A Motorcycle Accident
A personal injury claim can include compensation for several different types of damages, including:
- Medical needs such as emergency care, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, and pain medication
- Anticipated future medical care related to a permanent disability
- Lost wages from the time you were unable to work due to your injuries
- Anticipated future loss of earning potential related to a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim filed by the surviving family of a deceased person. This type of case can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses up to the time of death
- Pain and suffering up to the time of death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of the deceased person's companionship
Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish the defendant instead of reimbursing for actual damages the injured person has suffered. Punitive damages are not typically a part of a motorcycle accident settlement; however, they can be awarded in personal injury and wrongful death cases if the conduct that caused the accident shows particularly reckless disregard for the safety of others. For example, accidents caused by extreme intoxication, drag racing, or playing chicken would demonstrate signs of gross negligence.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team has extensive experience handling motorcycle accident claims. Please contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I receive compensation for injuries in a motorcycle accident if I wasn’t wearing my helmet?
Motorcycle accidents often result in very serious injuries, which is why it's vital to protect your right to compensation by filing a personal injury claim as soon as possible. However, if you weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, keep in mind that your ability to recover damages may be affected.
Understanding Louisiana's Helmet Law
Helmets have been consistently proven to reduce the risk of fatal head injuries in a motorcycle accident, which is why the vast majority of states require motorcycle riders and their passengers to wear an approved helmet. LA Rev Stat § 32:190 states:
"No person shall operate or ride upon any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle unless the person is equipped with and is wearing on the head a safety helmet of the type and design manufactured for use by operators of such vehicles, which shall be secured properly with a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion. All such safety helmets shall consist of lining, padding, visor, and chin strap and shall meet such other specifications as shall be established by the commissioner."
Exceptions to the law include:
- A person operating or riding in an autocycle if the vehicle is equipped with a roof which meets or exceeds standards for a safety helmet
- Members of organizations sponsoring, conducting, or participating in parades or other public exhibitions who have received permits from the police authorities of a village, town, city, or parish
There is a $50 fine for violating the law.
How Failing To Wear A Helmet Affects Your Personal Injury Claim
If you weren't wearing a helmet and suffered head or neck injuries, it's likely that you'll be found to be partially at fault for your injuries. Under the doctrine of comparative fault, your ability to recover damages will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This means, if you're found to be 50% at fault for your injuries, you'll only be able to collect 50% of the settlement you'd otherwise receive. However, you may be able to increase your compensation if you can provide evidence indicating that your injuries would have occurred even if you were wearing a helmet.
If you weren't wearing a helmet and suffered no neck or head injuries, your failure to abide by the state's helmet law is considered legally irrelevant. Injuries to the arms, legs, and/or torso can't be prevented by helmet use, so your lack of a helmet is not an issue in your ability to recover damages.
Types Of Available Compensation
Available compensation in a personal injury claim includes:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, surgery, hospital stays, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, and prescription medication
- Anticipated future medical needs, if you've been left permanently disabled
- Lost wages, if you were unable to work because of your injuries
- Loss of future earning potential, if your injuries have caused a permanent disability that will affect your ability to return to work
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with the incident
Keeping careful records of your medical expenses and lost wages is essential in protecting your right to compensation, since pain and suffering is most often calculated as a multiplier of these expenses. In cases involving permanent disability, expert testimony is often used to establish the level of compensation necessary to account for future medical expenses and loss of earning potential.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Personal injury claims involving motorcycles can present complex issues. Protect your right to compensation by retaining the services of an experienced attorney who can assess the value of your case, line up necessary documentation, locate appropriate experts to testify on your behalf, and negotiate with the insurance company for the highest possible settlement.
If you've been injured in a motorcylce accident you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious motorcycle accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
What damages can I recover in a motorcycle accident case?
Motorcycle accidents can result in serious or life-threatening injuries, creating a significant financial burden. However, if your accident was caused by another party's negligence, you may be able recover some of your accident-related expenses by filing a personal injury claim.
Medical expenses from a motorcycle accident include all of the care involved in treating your injuries, including:
- Ambulance transportation
- Emergency room visit
- Diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRIs
- Crutches or other assistive devices
- Physical therapy
- Follow-up care
Medical expenses can be documented by providing copies of billing statements received from the hospital or your insurance company.
Estimated Future Medical Needs
If the motorcycle accident has left you with a permanent disability, you may be facing substantial future medical costs. The estimated cost of your care, as documented by your doctor and other relevant experts, can be included in your claim.
Lost income includes all of the time you were unable to work during your recovery. Time missed after you returned to work to attend follow-up doctor visits can also be included. You can document this loss by showing pay stubs or proof of sick leave or vacation pay used during this time period.
If your injuries have left you unable to return to work, working only part-time, or working in a lower paying occupation, you can seek damages for loss of future earning potential. Since it's difficult to calculate the loss of hypothetical future wages, you'll need an economic loss or vocational expert to testify on your behalf.
When you're self-employed, lost income includes lost earnings from the time you were unable to work as well as lost profit, loss of future business opportunities, and loss of goodwill. Your attorney will advise you on the best way to document these losses.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation is intended to compensate you for both the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with your injuries. This includes symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and flashbacks—which may be associated with PTSD related to your accident.
Since pain and suffering doesn't have a readily associated dollar value, it's most often calculated using a multiplier of your medical expenses. Exact procedures vary, but it's typical to use a multiplier between 1 and 5—with permanently disabling injuries receiving the highest multipliers.
Punitive damages are intended solely to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are relatively rare in personal injury claims but can be an option to pursue when the at-fault driver was particularly reckless in causing an accident that resulted in very serious injury.
There's a common misperception that bikers are careless with their own personal safety, but studies indicate motorists are actually responsible for the majority of collisions. When your injuries are caused by someone who doesn't respect the rights of bikers on the road, punitive damages may be appropriate. For example, a drunk driver or overly aggressive motorist might be held liable for punitive damages if the accident resulted in lifelong disability for the motorcyclist.
Fault and Your Eligibility for Compensation
If you were determined to be partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, this does not prohibit you from filing a personal injury claim. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
The best way to protect your right to compensation following a serious motorcycle accident is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance companies place top priority on protecting their bottom line, which means they're reluctant to settle claims for what they're truly worth.
Your attorney can maximize the size of your settlement by handling communication with the other driver's insurance company, collecting documentation to support the extent of your injuries, and contacting any applicable expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team has extensive experience helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious motorcycle accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.