If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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Can I Sue for a Motorcycle Accident?
We can sue for your damages as long as we can show that someone else was negligent and caused your injuries. You do not have to sort through all of the legal requirements. Just call us for a free consultation, and we can take a look at your accident to let you know if you can sue for your losses.
Requirements for Filing a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident
We have to prove that someone has liability for the accident to sue them for your damages. We cannot file a lawsuit against every driver in the wreck. We have to evaluate four factors to determine who we should sue.
Elements of Liability
If someone else's carelessness caused him to suffer harm, you, we might be able to sue for a motorcycle accident under the legal theory of negligence. We have to prove all four of these factors to hold someone responsible to you financially:
Duty of Care
The at-fault driver must have owed you a duty of care. In motor vehicle accidents, this duty is automatic because operating a car, truck, or other vehicle imposes a duty to act with caution and to obey the law.
Breach of the Duty of Care
It is negligence when a driver fails to operate the car in accordance with the duty of care. Examples of violating the duty of care when driving a car include such things as speeding, driving while under the influence of narcotics, falling asleep at the wheel, and texting while driving.
The negligence must be the thing that caused the accident. For example, if the driver was texting while driving and this behavior caused him to run into the back of your car, the negligent failure to keep a proper lookout while operating a motor vehicle was the cause of the crash.
If the police discover, when they come to the scene of the accident, that one of the other drivers happened to be over the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC), you can only sue the drunk driver if that person's negligence also contributed to causing the accident. The reason for this rule is that the person’s negligence must have caused or contributed to the wreck.
The Negligence Caused Measurable Damages.
We have to show that you sustained quantifiable damages from the negligence in order to file a lawsuit for compensation. If you suffered physical injuries from the crash, you have measurable damages.
Damages from a Motorcycle Accident
Once we establish who we can sue for a motorcycle accident, we need to consider the types of damages for which you can collect compensation. Every situation is unique, so there is not an automatic amount of damages for any particular motorcycle accident. Your injuries might be different from those of a passenger on your bike.
These are some of the more common types of damages for a motorcycle accident lawsuit:
- Medical expenses for the reasonable treatment you needed because of your injuries. This category can include things like the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, doctors, lab work, x-rays, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
- Rehabilitation center expenses, if you had to get treatment at a rehabilitation center, for example, if you suffered a catastrophic head injury or spinal cord injury.
- Long-term care facility, if your severe injuries caused you to need daily assistance with medical treatment and personal care.
- Lost income to make up for wages, salary, self-employment, and other income you missed because of the accident and your recuperation time.
- Loss of earning capacity, if your injuries leave you unable to make as much money as you could before the crash.
- Disability, if you cannot support yourself through gainful employment because of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical pain and emotional distress you experienced because of the wreck.
- Other intangible losses, like disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and your spouse's claim for loss of consortium.
Potential Defendants in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
In many situations, more than one person was negligent leading up to an accident. We can explore whether we can file the lawsuit against multiple defendants.
People often assume that you can only sue the driver of one of the vehicles in a collision. In reality, other parties might also be liable to you for some or all of your damages. These parties can include:
- The owner of the car that hit you, if the driver was using someone else's car.
- A passenger inside one of the vehicles, if that person's negligence led to the crash.
- The government agency responsible for constructing and maintaining the roads, if unsafe road design or conditions contributed to the collision.
- The manufacturer of tires, brakes, or other vehicle parts of your motorcycle or another vehicle in the wreck, if defective equipment contributed to the accident.
- Any other individual, company, or entity's whose carelessness was at least partly to blame for the crash.
You do not have to sort out all of these legal issues. Give S. Burke Law a call today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.
How Long Will My Motorcycle Case Take?
You might be quite motivated to settle your motorcycle accident case, but you cannot control all of the factors that can affect your claim’s timeline. Here are four of those items that can affect how long your motorcycle case will take:
Your Medical Issues
There are several medical facets to your injury, and each one can either speed up or slow down the pace of your case.
Extent of Your Injuries
The severity and complexity of your injuries can determine how much time it will take until you are back on your feet. You should never settle an injury claim before you finish all of the medical treatments and therapy and achieve the maximum level of healing that your doctor expects you to have.
Accepting a settlement before that point exposes you to significant financial risk. Let’s say that you break a bone in your back in a motorcycle accident. Your doctor puts you on eight weeks of bed rest. After two months of physical therapy, your doctor decides that you need back surgery.
If you have already accepted a settlement, you would have to pay for the surgery out-of-pocket. You will not get any more money from the insurance company, even if the operation does not go well and you can no longer perform your job.
Some medical treatments require a longer recuperation time than others. For example, if you need surgery and then physical therapy for your injury, your case will take longer than if you required only stitches and a few days of rest. Also, your age and general health can affect how long it takes for you to recuperate.
Follow-up or Ongoing Treatments
In some situations, your doctor might have to perform an initial medical intervention, and then wait and see what you need to have done at that point. If you sustained significant injuries or experienced complications, you might have to undergo additional procedures. This situation can push your case back by months or longer.
Settling or Going to Trial
If you settle your motorcycle case, it will likely be completed more quickly than if you go to trial. If the insurance company gives you the compensation you deserve, you can settle and get your money. If the insurance company refuses to give you a fair settlement, you can file a lawsuit.
Once your lawyer files the lawsuit, both sides start searching for evidence to prove their cases and to discredit the other side’s arguments. We use interrogatories (written questions) and depositions (questions the lawyers ask in person with a court reporter present) as part of our pretrial discovery. We also gather and exchange documents like medical records and police accident reports.
The discovery stage of the lawsuit typically takes a few months or longer. If we need to hire an expert witness for your case, doing so will add time and expense to the lawsuit, but since experts testify about critical issues, they can be worth it.
Appeals from the Trial
If there is an appeal, your case can go on for another year or two after the trial. Either side (the insurance company or you) can file an appeal if they disagree with the trial court decision.
Is Eyewitness Testimony Important for a Motorcycle Accident Case?
You probably want to know what you can do to strengthen your case if you have experienced a motorcycle accident. One possibility is to use eyewitness testimony to bolster your other evidence, like the police report and medical records.
Using eyewitness testimony can be risky since you cannot always predict what the witness will say during the pressure of trial. With documentary evidence like medical records, you know what the evidence will reveal at trial. Its story will not change. With eyewitnesses, there are no such guarantees.
Also, sometimes eyewitnesses get it wrong, despite the best of intentions. An eyewitness might have only seen part of the accident and not what led up to it. She could have been standing in a place where something obstructed her vision, or the sun was in her eyes. An eyewitness whose testimony is factually incorrect can hurt your case, but there are times when an accurate eyewitness can help your lawsuit.
When Eyewitness Testimony Can Help Your Motorcycle Accident Case
An eyewitness who had a clear view of what happened, paid attention, and remembers the facts accurately can be vital when someone is contradicting what happened. For example:
- Liar, liar. If the person who caused your motorcycle accident is trying to escape having to pay for the harm he did to you, he might try to lie his way out of it. If he makes up a false story about what happened and then you tell what did happen, the judge might think of it as a “he said, she said” situation. To tip the scales in your favor, it can be useful to have an eyewitness corroborate your testimony.
- Police report with errors. Law enforcement officers are human, so sometimes they make mistakes. If the investigating officer wrote it down wrong or misinterpreted the accident scene, you might have to gather your own evidence to tell the judge the true story. Eyewitness testimony is one way to correct errors in the accident report.
Why Eyewitnesses Sometimes Get It Wrong
Some eyewitnesses make false statements intentionally, and others think they are telling the truth, but they have the facts wrong.
Why people inadvertently tell an incorrect or inaccurate version of what they saw. Flawed eyewitness testimony sends many innocent people to prison for crimes they did not commit. Sometimes DNA evidence will convince a judge years later to release the person. While sometimes these eyewitnesses have a motive to lie to the judge, often the eyewitness sincerely believes that he is telling the truth. Some explanations include:
- Reconstructed memories. Our brains will, without our realizing it, fill in gaps in our memory, even by inventing the information if necessary. As time passes after the motorcycle accident, an eyewitness’ recollection will start to fade. He might not realize it though, because his brain will fill in the gaps. This reconstructed “memory” might happen to be what happened, or it might not be.
- Incomplete observation of the event. We are seldom standing in the perfect spot to witness an unexpected event like a motorcycle accident. As a result, an eyewitness’ angle might have kept her from seeing the entire incident. A person viewing the wreck from a different perspective might see something that looks very different. Also, if the eyewitness turned to look after hearing the crash, she missed what caused the accident.
How to Get Help for Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
The team at S. Burke Law will be happy to talk with you and evaluate your motorcycle accident at no charge. A motorcycle accident lawyer will explain your legal rights, what to do if you were injured, and let you know if you might be eligible for compensation like a settlement. Call us today at 404-842-7838, and we will schedule your free consultation. There is no obligation. We do not charge legal fees until you win.
How Do You Get a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
To get a fair motorcycle accident settlement, you must:
- Prove who is liable
- Have the evidence to show your damages
- Negotiate for the settlement you deserve
At S. Burke Law, we will investigate your motorcycle accident, establish who was at fault, gather the evidence to prove your losses, and negotiate directly with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to find out how we help our motorcycle accident clients.
How We Can Hold Someone Responsible for Your Losses
Duty of Care
We must prove that the person who caused your motorcycle accident had a legal duty toward you. All drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicles in a careful manner. If the person who caused the accident was another driver, that person automatically has a legal duty toward you.
Sometimes a person who is not driving causes an accident. Let’s say that a passenger in the car in front of you opened their door into the path of your bike.
Breach of Duty of Care
We will track both scenarios through the four elements. Let’s say that the driver of the car that hit your motorcycle was driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. That driver violated the legal duty of care in two ways: driving while impaired by drugs is illegal and is a failure to operate the vehicle with caution. Breach of the duty of care is negligence.
In the second situation, the passenger opened their door without looking and doored you. This action is negligent.
The at-fault person’s negligence must be the direct cause of your injuries. Both situations meet this test. The carelessness of the at-fault parties caused the wrecks, which in turn, caused the injuries.
In the first situation, the drug-impaired driver changed lanes without looking because the drugs affected his ability to make sound judgments. Since operating a vehicle while in an impaired state is negligence, his negligence caused the wreck.
In the second example, the passenger opened their door into your path causing you to collide with it. This fact satisfies the causation requirement.
You must have suffered economic, physical, or emotional damages. These include things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Types of Compensation Available in a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Once we establish who is responsible for your damages, we will build a case for the compensation that is appropriate in your case. There are two different types of damages that might be available after a motorcycle accident.
Some of the typical economic damages in a motorcycle accident case include:
- Medical expenses: You can recover damages for all of the reasonable medical care you needed as a result of the crash. Some examples are ambulance transportation, emergency room, surgery, doctors, prescription medication, diagnostic testing, hospital, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: You can collect compensation for the income you lost because of the wreck, including wages, salary, and self-employment.
- Reduced earning capacity: Motorcycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that can diminish your ability to make a living. For example, a severe head injury might cause you to have permanent cognitive challenges that could take away your ability to perform your previous job. If you cannot earn as much money as you did before because of your injuries, the difference in your income is compensable.
- Disability: Because a motorcycle rider has very little protection in the event of a collision, sometimes the severe injuries make it impossible for a person to work at all. If you are permanently disabled because of a motorcycle accident, we can seek damages for your loss.
- Long-term care: We can include the cost of long-term care in your damages claim if your injuries leave you in need of daily medical attention and personal care assistance.
Although they are not out-of-pocket losses, these damages represent legitimate harm you experienced. Some of the noneconomic losses from a motorcycle accident can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological distress, depression, and anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Our Team Can Help You Get a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact S. Burke Law for help getting a fair settlement. Just call us at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation.
Can I Get Compensation for a Permanent Scar From a Motorcycle Accident?
Yes, it is possible to get compensation for a permanent scar from a motorcycle accident, but each case is different. When we talk with you about your case, we will gather information to evaluate some of the factors that will determine how much compensation you might receive. These factors include:
The Location of Your Permanent Scar
The location of your scar will affect the compensation you can collect. By way of example, a mark left on your face will have a higher settlement value than an identical one on your lower back.
The visibility of your scar is an essential element of your damages. Noticeable skin damage is more disfiguring than hidden scars. Ask yourself whether the scar is in a location that could cause strangers to stare if you go in public under ordinary circumstances.
Internal vs. External Scars
Another component of the scar location factor is whether your scars are internal or external. While an internal scar is not noticeable to the public, internal scars can cause extreme pain and significant health issues. You can develop internal scar tissue from the original injury or from the surgical repair of your injuries.
If you have internal scar tissue, you have tough bands of tissue that grew between the organs and tissues inside your body. These fibrous bands can “cement” your organs to each other, resulting in organ malfunction and excruciating pain.
The Severity of Your Scar Affects the Settlement Value
Scars from motorcycle accidents can come in many different sizes, shapes, and forms. Here are some examples of how the scar’s presentation can impact the amount of compensation a person can collect:
Lower Compensation Higher Compensation
Small scar Massive scar
Heals to skin tone of the area Color changes
Painless after healing Causes lasting discomfort
Smooth and flat Lumpy or raised
Laceration Burns from a motorcycle accident
How the Scar Affects Your Life
In addition to cosmetic issues, scars can cause other long-term consequences that can impact your life on a daily basis. The level of impairment and discomfort you experience will be a factor in the amount of damages you might collect. Two of the more common types of severe scars include:
If your body grows keloid tissue in response to injuries, you can suffer both pain and loss of function. Keloids happen when your body produces more scar tissue than it needs to repair the damage. The excess scar tissue can build up and become lumpy and raised.
Adhesions happen when excess scar tissue “welds” two organs or two other areas of the body to each other.
Both keloid tissue and adhesions can restrict a person’s movement and cause pain when the person tries to move his body in everyday situations. The scar tissue can prevent the organs from performing their intended functions, which can create a medical crisis. Excess scar tissue can be particularly hard to treat, since surgically cutting the scar tissue can cause more scar tissue to grow, making the problem worse than before.
Some Scars Cause Pain
Some scar tissue lacks functioning sensory nerves, causing a loss of sensation in the area. In other situations, the scar tissue hurts.
Your Other Injuries
In a motorcycle accident that caused permanent scars you probably suffered multiple injuries. For example, if you sustained permanent facial scars, you might have also experienced a traumatic brain injury. Your total settlement will consider all of your injuries, not just your permanent scars.
We can evaluate your medical records and the police report to compile a list of all of your injuries. We can gather the evidence to build your claim and prove all of the damages you suffered. If your scar is small but you have significant other injuries, the value of your motorcycle accident settlement can be much higher.
Also, if you lost time from work because of the crash and your recuperation, we can add your lost wages to the damages. Your pain and suffering for the scars and your other injuries will be another component. Your spouse might have a claim for loss of consortium if the injuries harmed your relationship.
Getting Legal Help for Permanent Scars from a Motorcycle Accident
We can review your medical records and the police report to determine if you might be eligible for compensation for your scars and other injuries from a motorcycle accident. You can call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you get a settlement or award of damages.
How Much Is a Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident?
There is no set value for a motorcycle accident claim. Several factors can affect how much a settlement for a motorcycle accident is worth.
Factors That Affect a Motorcycle Accident Settlement’s Worth
How much a settlement for a motorcycle accident is worth depends on:
The Severity of Your Injuries
The more severe your injuries, the higher your settlement. For example, you will likely be entitled to more compensation for a traumatic brain injury than you would be for a broken arm and leg.
How Long They Affect You
The longer your injuries affect you, the more compensation you may be eligible to recover. For example, you will be entitled to higher amounts of compensation for an injury that affects you for your life than one that affects you for eight months.
Whether They Keep You Out Of Work
If your injuries keep you out of work, you can recover compensation for the wages you lost. If your injuries cause you to take a lesser-paying job or retire, you can also recover compensation for those losses.
Whether You Contributed to the Accident
Per Georgia’s comparative negligence law, any liability on your part will decrease your settlement. Say you were traveling through an intersection when a car turned left in front of you. The investigation found the driver 90 percent liable for the accident. However, the investigation determined you were speeding, so you received 10 percent of the blame. You would be eligible to recover 90 percent of your demand (e.g., $45,000 of $50,000).
Recoverable Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Potential damages recoverable in a motorcycle accident claim include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Compensation for pain and suffering
Medical expenses include both current and future medical expenses. You can also recover the costs of medication and rehabilitation.
You can recover compensation for the wages you lost while recovering. This can also include any time you needed to take off to attend doctor’s appointments.
Compensation for Lost Earning Capacity
If your injuries caused you to take a lesser-paying job, work fewer hours, or retire, you can recover compensation for the wages you should be earning. We can work with economists to determine what you should currently be earning.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
You may be entitled to recover compensation for pain and suffering. You can recover compensation for both physical and mental pain, such as fear, worry, the loss of enjoyment of life, and post-traumatic stress disorder from your motorcycle accident. You can help your case by keeping a diary of the duration or frequency of your pain.
There Are Different Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering can be difficult to value as there are no receipts to reference; however, it can be the largest portion of your settlement. As such, it is important to know the different methods used to calculate the value:
Some attorneys who represent clients injured in a motorcycle accident use the multiplier method to place a value on pain and suffering. The attorney multiplies the injured person's economic damages—medical bills and lost wages—by a number between one and five depending on the severity of the injury.
For example, you suffered a traumatic brain injury that will cause you pain for the rest of your life. The attorney uses a 4.5 multiplier. Your economic damages total $150,000. Your pain and suffering is worth $675,000.
Per Diem Method
Other attorneys use a per diem (or per day) approach. The attorney assigns a dollar amount (typically your daily wages) and then multiplies it by the number of days you had to deal with the pain and inconvenience of your accident.
For example, you make $400 a day. You are in pain for 90 days. You are entitled to $36,000 in pain and suffering.
Insurance Companies Can Value Pain and Suffering Differently
Insurance companies are not required to use the multiplier method or the per diem method. Some insurance companies use a computer program to place a value on pain and suffering. The program takes into account the type of injury, the type of medical treatment the injured person sought, and the duration of the treatment.
Do Not Accept the First Settlement Without Running It By a Lawyer
An insurance company may offer a settlement shortly after an accident. Accepting a settlement too quickly could spell trouble. Settlements are usually binding. Some injuries, like post-traumatic stress disorder, do not surface immediately. An injury lawyer can look over a settlement before you sign, discuss the pros and cons, and negotiate with the insurance company for a higher amount.
Discuss Your Case with an Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyer TodayDid you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident? Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine a value for your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Can a Motorcycle Accident Cause PTSD?
Yes, a motorcycle accident can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying or horrific event. The motorcyclist can have a severe emotional response following an accident. PTSD is more than normal feelings of guilt or anger. It is an emotional response that affects the daily life of the motorcyclist.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD After an Accident
Symptoms of PTSD may occur within a month of the motorcycle accident, or they may not appear until years after the crash. A person with PTSD may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Ongoing general anxiety or anxiety triggered by seeing or getting onto a motorcycle
- Refusal of medical tests or procedures
- Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
- Excessive worry or unreasonable anger
- Inability to connect with people
- Suicidal thoughts
The critical distinction between PTSD and normal reactions following a motorcycle wreck is the impact of PTSD on the motorcyclist's day-to-day activities. The motorcyclist re-enacts the crash in his or her mind, becomes easily stressed, and avoids situations that trigger memories of the collision.
Recovering Compensation for PTSD After a Motorcycle Accident
In some circumstances, you may be eligible to file a claim to recover compensation for a mental injury, such as PTSD. However, there are several things our injury firm must do:
Provide Proof to Recover Compensation for PTSD After a Motorcycle Accident
We must prove that a doctor diagnosed your PTSD. We must also show the relationship between the PTSD and the accident. Even if the PTSD diagnosis preceded the accident, you may still be able to recover some compensation if the accident made the PTSD worse.
Proving the Other Party Caused or Contributed to the Motorcycle Accident
We must prove that the negligence or reckless conduct of the other driver caused the accident. This might include behavior such as distracted driving, driving over the speed limit, or disobeying a red light.
Reduction or Bar to Recovery If Your Conduct Caused the Accident
Georgia’s comparative fault law can reduce your potential recovery or bar you from obtaining compensation entirely. For example, say an investigation found the other driver to be 80 percent at fault and you to be 20 percent at fault. You would be entitled to 80 percent of your demand. If you demanded $20,000, you would be able to recover $16,000.
The comparative negligence law can also bar you from recovering compensation. Georgia follows a 50 percent bar rule which means the state will bar you from recovering compensation if you contributed 50 percent or more to the cause of the accident.
When to File a Claim to Recover Compensation for PTSD
We must file a lawsuit for physical injuries arising out of the accident within a certain time of the accident. The time varies from state to state. Georgia imposes a two-year time limit. If you fail to file suit within those two years, Georgia will throw out your lawsuit.
Proving That the Motorcyclist Suffers PTSD from the Accident
To prove you have PTSD caused by the accident, a doctor must give an opinion that the accident caused the PTSD. An expert witness can explain in an affidavit, a deposition, or in court the causal connection between the accident and the PTSD.
Other witnesses will also be valuable in proving your PTSD. These witnesses may be a spouse, a friend, or a co-worker who has daily interaction with you. They can support your case in several ways:
- Relate how your conduct changed after the accident.
- Give examples of episodes they observed.
- Explain the impact of PTSD on your daily activities.
We will determine what witnesses might be helpful in your case.
Receiving Compensation for PTSD
The compensation for PTSD might include the following:
- Medical expenses from psychologists and psychiatrists
- Costs of prescriptions
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Compensation for mental anguish
You can take action that will help us when negotiating a settlement or trying your case in court:
- Keep records of your prescriptions and any medical bills you receive
- Keep track of missed days of work
- Jot down notes of nightmares, bouts with depression, and feelings of anxiety
How S. Burke Law Can Help
The S. Burke Law motorcycle accident team will negotiate with the insurance company to get you a settlement for your PTSD. If negotiations do not yield a reasonable settlement, we can gather evidence, interview witnesses, hire experts, and present your case in court.If you have questions, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838.