The time it takes for a motorcycle accident lawsuit to be resolved can vary. This is due to factors such as how strong your case is, how long it takes you to recover, and how long it takes to litigate your case. On average, motorcycle accident lawsuits take a few months to even a few years to settle.
Not all motorcycle accident cases require a formal lawsuit as many are settled outside of court. This is why people hire an Augusta motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney will help guide you through the legal process and get the compensation you need and deserve.
What Your Lawyer Must Accomplish Before Filing a Lawsuit
In many cases, your lawyer won’t start your case by filing a lawsuit. They’ll likely undertake various obligations in hopes of settling out of court with the liable insurer. While building your case, they may:
Investigate the Accident
Investigations can take time.
- Reviewing the police report: The police report outlines the facts of the accident. For example, it may include the direction each vehicle drove at the time of the accident, weather conditions, and other factors that could have caused it. By reviewing the police report, your attorney can gain more insight into what and who caused the collision.
- Evaluating evidence collected from the scene: Law enforcement officials who arrived on the scene may have collected evidence. Your attorney could review that evidence to build their case. This information could include photos of the accident scene, witness testimony, and the location of any traffic cameras.
- Going to the accident scene: If necessary, your attorney could go to the accident scene to collect evidence themselves. This happens in situations where the injured party immediately contacts a law firm to manage their case.
- Interviewing witnesses: People who saw the accident could corroborate your version of events. These eyewitnesses could include bystanders, police officers, paramedics, and others who witnessed the collision.
Accident investigations can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.
Determine Fault and Liability
The most recent data from the Georgia Department of Driver Services shows that there were 3,948 motorcycle crashes and 170 motorcycle fatalities in 2019.
When seeking damages, your motorcycle accident attorney must identify and prove who caused your accident.
This involves learning how your accident happened. Some causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving: This could include talking on the phone, texting, or eating behind the wheel. Motorcycles are small vehicles and sometimes more difficult to see. Any small distraction could cause a vehicle to collide with a motorcycle.
- Driving while impaired: Drinking or doing drugs could significantly impair a driver’s ability to maintain control of their vehicle. Because of a motorcycle’s small size, an impaired driver could swerve into the motorcyclist’s lane and hit them.
- Speeding: When a driver speeds, their stopping distance increases, making them more likely to cause an accident.
- Tailgating: Driving too close behind a motorcyclist could cause an accident. If the motorcycle has to make an immediate or quick stop, the following motorist could cause a rear-end collision.
- Driver fatigue: If someone drives a motor vehicle while tired, they could have similar impairments to that of someone driving while intoxicated. Whether they fall asleep behind the wheel or struggle to keep their eyes open, tired drivers can cause motorcycle accidents.
Once your attorney determines the cause of your accident, they can identify the at-fault party. The negligent party could include another driver or a government municipality. Learning the at-fault party’s identity empowers your lawyer to file a claim with the liable entity.
To resolve your case, whether in or out of court, your lawyer must prove negligence.
This involves showing:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care: Motorists must exhibit a reasonable degree of caution because of how their actions could endanger others. They must act with reasonable care that an average person would in the same situation.
- The other driver breached their duty of care: The driver must have breached the duty of care they owed to other motorists on the road. A driver can breach their duty by speeding, driving recklessly, driving while intoxicated, or disregarding stop signs or red lights.
- Their breach of duty caused your injuries: Then, your lawyer must show that the other driver’s breach of duty caused your accident.
- You suffered damages because of the other motorist’s duty breach: Finally, your lawyer must show that because the other party acted negligently and caused your accident, you have damages. Examples could include medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
By proving each of these elements, your lawyer could negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the liable insurance company. This could prevent you from going to court and having to sit through a motorcycle accident trial.
Calculate the Value of Your Claim
Attorneys can calculate both monetary and non-monetary losses. How long this process takes depends on many factors, including your estimated recovery period and the availability of certain evidence. While calculating your claim’s value, your lawyer may consult with healthcare providers and other third-party professionals to learn more about what you’re owed.
After evaluating your accident, injuries, and losses, your lawyer can arrive at a fair dollar figure for:
- Medical expenses, both past and future: You could have suffered serious injuries in the motorcycle crash. These injuries could leave you facing extensive medical treatment. You might need surgery, stay in the hospital for an extended time, or need emergency room treatments. Any medical care treatments you receive could cost you money out of pocket. Through your claim or lawsuit, you could seek compensation for these losses.
- Lost income: You might have to miss work because of a long hospital stay or injury recovery. If you don’t have disability payments or paid time off, you could lose income during this time. Your attorney can help you seek compensation for any earnings you lost while you couldn’t work.
- Loss of future earning capacity: If you have injuries requiring long-term treatments or recovery, you could have to miss work after your case settles. What’s more, your condition could affect what job-related obligations you can handle. Your lawyers can consult with others in your field of employment to learn about your projected income losses.
- Pain and suffering: Your attorney could help you seek compensation for the physical discomfort or pain you felt due to your injuries. How much you can seek for this expense depends on your situation. Many states do not cap how much you can request for this expense.
- Emotional anguish: You could also seek compensation for the emotional issues your injuries caused. Also, the accident itself could cause you to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or fear.
- Disfigurement: Some injuries from your motorcycle accident could lead to scarring or disfigurement. Often, these injuries could take longer to heal and cause a loss of confidence. Your demand letter could include compensation for these challenges in your claim.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Injuries from a motorcycle accident could decrease the joy you get out of life. You might have to rely on others to do everyday activities or lose the ability to participate in activities you once could. If your injuries impact your enjoyment of life, you could seek compensation for that loss.
Your attorney needs time to calculate these losses and understand the compensation you deserve. How long your attorney takes to calculate the value of your losses can affect your case’s progression.
Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Before negotiations with the insurer take place, your lawyer must send a demand letter that outlines the cost of your damages, how much you’re requesting, and other aspects of your accident. After reviewing this document, negotiations with the insurer could take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
The complexities of your case can factor into how long negotiations take. Your lawyer doesn’t want to rush into accepting less than you need, as this could put you in financial jeopardy. Yet, they don’t want to endlessly negotiate and never recover the funds you need. In that instance, they may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit.
What Are the Steps to Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
The reasoning behind lawsuits varies. For instance, your lawyer may wait until negotiations have died down to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. They may even start your case with a lawsuit, hoping to convince the insurer to settle.
Regardless of the initiative behind your lawsuit, one fact remains: your lawyer hopes to recover damages at the discretion of a judge or jury. They may even welcome an out-of-court settlement once your case gets underway at trial.
The steps involved with filing a lawsuit include:
- Filing the complaint. Your case begins with filing a complaint against the at-fault party in your collision. The complaint may request compensation for your injury-related losses or otherwise state its terms.
- Exchanging evidence. During a process known as discovery, both sides exchange evidence. They may also interview witnesses and otherwise identify problems in the other side’s argument.
- Pre-trial motions. Each side may file motions after discovery has concluded. For instance, if your lawyer believes the other party has improperly gathered evidence, they could move to have that information deemed inadmissible in court.
- Trial. Finally, after all of these steps, both lawyers present their arguments in court. At the conclusion, a judge or jury will determine how much compensation you can receive.
This is just a framework of how many motorcycle accident lawsuits unfold. If you have any specific questions about your situation or next steps, you should consider consulting an attorney.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident?
You Must File Your Lawsuit Before the Statute of Limitations Deadline Ends
Your lawsuit’s filing deadline depends on where the accident occurred. For example, Georgia law states the injured party generally has two years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Once these two years pass, you could miss your opportunity to seek compensation for your losses.
You only have to file the lawsuit before the two-year deadline—not resolve your case. As noted, once you file the lawsuit, your case could take weeks to over a year before it gets resolved.
The amount of time a lawsuit takes varies on several factors, including:
- The amount of evidence each side has to present
- The number of witnesses each side has to interview
- How long the jury takes to deliberate
- The complexity of your case
- The nature of your condition
Each motorcycle accident lawsuit takes a different amount of time. When you start working with an attorney, they can explain how long your motorcycle accident case would take.
Contact a Motorcycle Injury Lawyer in Augusta, Georgia
An experienced lawyer can guide you through each step of your case, from answering your queries to keeping you informed about the progression of your motorcycle accident claim. They can represent your best interests, be it filing your case, negotiating a favorable settlement, or representing you in court.
Begin your journey to justice today. A no-obligation, free case review with an lawyer could be your first step towards understanding your rights and potential recourse. Don’t navigate this complex process alone – reach out for the professional legal support you deserve.