The short answer is, it takes time. The accident came out of nowhere, and there you were, at the wrong place at precisely the wrong time. At the moment of impact, time may seem to stand still. In reality, the clock starts ticking immediately on the four-year time limit to file a claim. The interval of a case, from inception to closure is only a guesstimate.
Nothing definitive will happen in a few weeks. If, after preliminary investigation, an attorney feels it may be appropriate to contact the insurance company very early on, a possible resolution to your problem could take time. There are no guarantees, so don’t expect promises. Every situation is different. That makes every timeline different.
Time To Heal
Although the human body is resilient, it takes time to heal. Give yourself all the time you need. From the onset of the collision, nothing else could be more important. Motorcycle accident injuries are usually severe. In those moments of disorientation and confusion, a victim may not realize the gravity of his or her injuries.
With continued medical care physical healing happens in time, Recovery can sometimes take years, and unfortunately, some victims never recover completely. Of note, failure to seek or complete medical care will seriously devalue a personal injury claim. One factor used to estimate the time span of a motorcycle cycle injury claim is how long you require treatment. If you feel you may have a viable legal case, hire a lawyer.
Time to Consider Legal Support
It takes time to find a motorcycle accident lawyer that will best serve your needs. The attorney you choose is your partner in this endeavor. Choose a lawyer based on his or her field of expertise. A motorcycle accident is full of complexities, and an attorney with experience in this area of the law is better positioned to guide you through the claims process. Due diligence takes time. Most personal injury lawyers offer an initial no-cost consultation.
Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the firm, the staff, and the support network at their disposal. Do not rush the decision-making process—take the time to check references and credentials. When you find one that feels like a good fit, go with your gut.
Time to Investigate
Hiring a lawyer to represent you begins the legal process. It will take time for a lawyer to collect and review evidence, then formulate and develop a legal strategy.
How much time? It depends on how readily available the potential evidence is, and how quickly they:
- Request the police report/accident report
- Obtain photos and videos taken at the crash site
- Secure any private or municipal surveillance camera recordings
- Obtain a list of potential witnesses
- Review and examine any debris collected at the accident scene
- Request a forensic examination of the clothing and gear you were wearing at the time of the accident
- Issue a request to preserve evidence
- Ask for a copy of the ambulance report
- Review the emergency room physician’s report
- Request copies of medical bills to date
- Get an evaluation from an accident reconstructionist
- Request your primary care physician’s report with a proposed treatment plan
- Request a copy of your complete medical record
- Review your personal health and vehicle insurance policies
- Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy
- Get details of your work history and payroll information
- Review any journals you may have detailing your pain level during the recovery process
Just to help clarify some time constraints, according to Florida regulations and HIPAA guidelines, in most circumstances medical providers should provide copies of requested medical records within 30 days of the request. So, at the very least you are looking at a month. Realistically, it can take months to obtain copies of all your medical records.
Time to Evaluate
It is time to put things into perspective. Do you have an actionable case? Ask your lawyer for an objective view of the evidence he or she has collected and an explanation of any potential problems that may arise. The sooner you and your attorney have this conversation, the quicker things can begin to move toward a resolution,
Time to Determine Cause and Liability
Motorcycle accident claims have many moving parts.
A motorcycle accident lawyer will need a sufficient amount of time to:
- Thoroughly review all the documents that have been requested
- Contact and interview all available witnesses
- Schedule and participate in depositions
- Initiating contact with the responsible person’s insurance company
- Prove negligence
- Maintain constant contact with client’s health care team
- File all legally mandated documents on time
Just as an example, let’s talk about depositions. All parties involved in the case, their attorneys, sometimes the client’s spouse, and a court reporter usually attend, and everyone must take all of those individual schedules into consideration.
What about proving negligence sounds simple? Nothing. To prove the negligence of the other party, your lawyer must show the other party had a defined and definite responsibility to ensure the wellbeing and safety of their client. Your attorney must explain how exactly they failed to do this, and demonstrate how this failure caused your injury, and that your injury is real. How do they do this? Reviewing case law, interviewing industry experts, scouring documents, reviewing professional publications, and the list goes on. Is it possible to prove negligence? Of course it is. Is this something that can be accomplished in a short amount of time? Unfortunately, no. No matter how much we all wish it wasn’t so, “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”
Law offices are busy. Given the nature of the business, every action, every telephone call, and every piece of correspondence is documented. Although electronically stored information (ESI) is widely accepted in these days of technology, it is plausible that attorneys still utilize written correspondence, usually sent by certified mail (to show proof of receipt). It would not be unreasonable to see a boilerplate closing statement such as, “Please respond to this letter within 30 days.” Given the part the United States Postal Service plays in this timeline, in this scenario, you would be looking at over a month for every piece of communication.
Time to Determine Monetary Compensation
Physical recovery from a motorcycle accident can take more time than expected. Without the protection of a heavy metal frame, seatbelts, and airbags, a biker’s injuries are usually severe. It can take months, maybe even a year, before treatment is discontinued. Accepting a settlement or filing a lawsuit before completing medical care, or reaching the maximum possible recovery, can be counterproductive. Determining the value of your claim is largely based on your medical records.
In cases of catastrophic bodily injury with ongoing treatment, there is an exponentially growing list of compensable expenses. As physical limitations present themselves, you may find you are unable to fulfill expected household duties or care for small children. The cost of hiring a nanny or a housekeeper is sometimes an injury-related expense. Medical expenses are quantifiable, but there is no magic formula for determining the value of pain and suffering, changes in the family dynamic, your inability to enjoy life as you once did, or your emotional distress level. All of these need to play out in real-time. There is that word again—time.
Lost wages, and the projected cost of future earning potential play a major role in assigning a realistic and fair dollar amount to your request for compensation To that end, an attorney may ask your employer to project and document the dollar value of any benefits you will lose if you are unable to return to your chosen profession. This should include stock options, 401K funding, anticipated raises, bonuses, commissions, and the value of company-provided benefits. This will take time for your employer to compile and time for your lawyer to review and evaluate.
There are huge financial burdens on the family of the motorcycle accident victim. Collateral damages can follow a motorcycle accident and they’re difficult to conceptualize. Is it possible, even with an unlimited amount of time, to assign a dollar value to the prospect of bankruptcy, the realization that a person may never return to their chosen profession, or the inevitable lifestyle changes that so often go hand-in-hand with a catastrophic injury? Maybe not. But perception sometimes becomes reality. A seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer can show insurance adjusters, judges, and juries how these things impact a family.
As the clock is ticking in your quest for a measure of justice, your financial burdens are mounting.
When all is said and done, in addition to documented actual medical costs and lost wages to date, the dollar value of your losses, in all fairness, should be based on:
- The severity of your injuries
- The likelihood of a permanent disability
- Your long-term prognosis
- The potential need for long-term healthcare
- Out-of-pocket personal expenses
- Lifestyle changes
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (past and future) for your spouse
- Psychological evaluation and treatment
- Your age and educational background of the injured party
- Rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering
When It Is Time to Move Forward
Settlement offers typically come when the at-fault party’s insurance company feels confident they have you and your family backed up against a wall of financial turmoil. The insurance company representing the at-fault driver, or entity, assigns a claim adjuster to review your medical records and evaluate evidence to ascertain your injuries. These adjusters are very good at what they do, and typically waste no time in protecting the interests of the carrier.
You may have heard stories of these adjusters showing up at the accident scene. However, these men and women likely do not have your best interest in mind. Their function is to spend as little money as possible, avoid litigation, and do it in a short amount of time. You may feel tempted to believe them when they tell you, “This is the best we can do in terms of a settlement.”
Take the time to discuss all viable options with your attorney. Initial settlement offers are often low-ball offers. Ultimately, you are the client, and you have control. There are no promises, and there are no guarantees. Your lawyer’s job is to advise you and your family of the potential avenues you have for recovery and to give you the information you need to make an informed decision. The choice, at the end of the day, is yours to make. If you can afford the time it will take to stay the course, stay the course.
Negotiations take time but can lead to settlement offers that are more in line with your financial needs. If the insurance company stands firm and is unwilling to increase the offer, you and your lawyer may decide to proceed with litigation. We have said it before, the legal system moves slowly. There is only a slim chance that your
motorcycle accident case will quickly go to court.
A seasoned attorney will stand by you, guide and advise you through every phase of a motorcycle accident claim, no longer how long it takes. So the bottom line is: At a time when your physical and financial future is in turmoil, a lawyer who will take the appropriate steps to pursue your claim may provide exactly what you need.