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 at one of our six convenient office locations.