Motorcycles are fast, fun, and fuel-efficient, making them a great way to get around, whether you’re riding in busy Duluth or along winding rural roads. Unfortunately, motorcycles also carry a much higher risk of serious accidents than other types of vehicles, and often, it’s the driver of the other vehicle who is at fault.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Duluth, or the surrounding area, or if your loved one has been fatally or catastrophically wounded, the experienced Duluth motorcycle accident lawyers at Scholle Law are here to help. We advocate tenaciously for clients who have been injured on their bikes.
Do I need an attorney for my motorcycle accident?
Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney is highly recommended for any injury accident, especially one involving a motorcycle. Because motorcyclists are not surrounded by automotive glass, bumpers, fenders, airbags, and sidewalls, they’re more susceptible to injury and death. When a larger vehicle collides with a motorcycle, the impact can throw the rider off their bike and result in very serious injuries. These injuries can involve a lengthy recovery timeline, mind-boggling medical expenses, and result in time away from work.
Even in accidents involving no other vehicles where it appears you are at fault, there may be extenuating circumstances in which others may be held partially liable. For example, if you were trained improperly by an uncertified instructor or if your motorcycle has design flaws.
Unfortunately, even in cases of severe injury, insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible to settle the claim. Trying to negotiate with the insurance company on your own will almost always result in a settlement that is grossly insufficient. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney knows how to deal with insurance companies, when to settle, and when to litigate, all to make sure you receive every dollar you deserve. Your compensation will typically be exponentially higher by hiring an attorney than if you try to settle on your own.
When to Get a Duluth Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
The time to hire a Duluth motorcycle accident attorney is as soon after the accident as possible. After the accident occurs, every minute counts. Forensic evidence must be gathered and documented before it is compromised by time, weather, and more.
Witnesses need to be interviewed while the memory of what happened is still fresh. And your unpaid medical bills will start piling up faster than you think. The sooner you get an experienced attorney involved, the sooner the attorney can begin developing the case. That improves your chances of getting the full amount your injury accident warrants.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
If you are involved in an injury motorcycle accident, the steps you take in the moments, hours, and days after the accident can greatly impact the amount of compensation you receive. Depending on the severity of your injuries, a trusted loved one may have to do some of these things for you if you’re not able to do them yourself.
Steps to Take Immediately Following the Accident
- Get to safety as soon as possible. If you have landed on the road, do what you can to move to the side and out of the way of oncoming traffic.
- Call 911 for immediate medical assistance. Bear in mind that you may not be fully aware of your injuries because adrenaline or shock can block the pain. You may also have internal injuries or brain injuries that won’t show up right away.
Don’t assume you are okay until you are checked. Don’t attempt to get up and move around, and don’t remove your protective gear until the first responders arrive to assist you.
- Gather photographic evidence of the accident scene. Take photos of the damage to your bike, skid marks, the other vehicle, your injuries, license plate numbers – anything related to the accident. This evidence can be used to piece together what happened and determine fault.
- Get contact information and insurance info. If another driver was involved in the accident, you need to obtain that driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance information, and license plate number of the vehicle.
Do not discuss what happened with the driver or speculate about who is at fault. The evidence will tell that story later. Meanwhile, anything you say could be used by the other person’s attorney to weaken your compensation claim.
Steps to Take in the Aftermath of the Accident
Once you have received medical attention and have been stabilized, it’s time for some important next steps.
- Contact an experienced local Georgia motorcycle accident attorney. You want to give the attorney as much time as possible to begin evaluating your situation and investigating your case while the evidence and memories are fresh. The attorney will also offer guidance as to how to collect documentation of the damages you have suffered.
- Avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company directly. If they call you, refer them directly to your attorney. Do not discuss the case with the insurance company until and unless your attorney is present.
- Contact your employer. Let them know what happened, tell them if you will need to be off work for an extended length of time and how long it may take you to recover, if you have that information.
- Obtain a copy of the final police report of the accident. This is usually available within 7-10 days after the accident, and you should be able to request a copy online.
- Keep copies of all paperwork pertaining to your accident and recovery. This includes medical reports, receipts, health insurance documents, etc.
Brain Injuries from a Motorcycle Accident
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are common in motorcycle accident victims, ranging in severity from mild concussions to life-threatening brain hemorrhages. Motorcycle helmets are mandatory in Georgia, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent, and the risk of head injury by 69 percent. But even with a helmet on, motorcyclists have a significant risk of brain injury if they are involved in an accident.
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Fifteen percent of hospital-treated helmeted motorcyclists suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) compared to 21 percent of hospital-treated unhelmeted motorcyclists.”
If you suffer a brain injury from a motorcycle accident, the effects of that injury can last for years or even a lifetime. Depending on how severe the injury is, a TBI can cause memory loss, loss of movement, loss of speech, and more. It can affect your ability to work, carry on a conversation, or do simple tasks. It can even change your personality.
If you are diagnosed with a brain injury due to your motorcycle accident, you may need more compensation than just the cost of your immediate medical bills. An experienced Duluth motorcycle accident attorney can help you obtain a settlement that covers the cost of your ongoing care, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you and your family may continue to endure.
How a Duluth Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at Scholle Law Firm Can Help
Motorcycle accident cases are unusually complex. Even if the motorcyclist was wearing a DOT-approved helmet at the time of the crash, negative bias and societal stigma against motorcycle riders might work against them by painting them in a bad light that makes the judge or jury assume the motorcyclist was behaving recklessly. If you were injured in a motorcycle wreck or your loved one was killed due to negligence, it’s important to consult with a skilled motorcycle accident attorney near you who understands Georgia’s laws regarding motorcycle crashes and personal injury.
Scholle Law is an experienced Duluth personal injury law firm that handles serious motor vehicle accident cases, including motorcycle crashes and collisions. With decades of law practice experience, our team understands the most common tactics insurance companies use to dodge their legal responsibilities – and how best to counter them.
We’ll conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence to determine how much compensation you’re entitled to receive. We’ll fight to represent your interests, using every option from skilled negotiations to aggressive litigation to ensure you receive every dollar to which you’re entitled.
Elements of a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
When we file a personal injury claim in a motorcycle accident case, our objective is to prove that the other party was negligent and that their negligence was a key factor in your injury. In most cases, the lawsuit will be against the other driver, but in certain cases, other parties may have been negligent (e.g., the motorcycle manufacturer, the other driver’s employer, etc.).
To prove negligence, the lawsuit must effectively demonstrate the following elements:
- That the other party had a reasonable duty of care toward you as the motorcyclist;
- That the other party failed to provide reasonable duty of care due to negligence;
- That you were injured as a result of that negligence; and
- That you suffered loss as a result of the accident (with details as to what you lost).
What damages can I claim in a motorcycle accident lawsuit?
The damages you’ve suffered in your motorcycle accident likely extend well beyond the injuries themselves. The fallout from the accident may continue to impact you and your family for years to come. For that reason, you may be able to include damages on multiple fronts in your lawsuit.
We categorize damages for personal injury accidents into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages refer to specific costs incurred due to your motorcycle accident, including medical expenses (past and future), personal property damage, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, etc. Economic damages are the easiest to collect because we can track and document the actual costs of your accident and your recovery process.
Non-economic damages refer to the other ways the motorcycle accident changes your life for the worse besides financial loss. These may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium (e.g., if the injury affects your relationships)
- Reduced quality of life
These damages are intangible, making them more difficult to translate to a specific dollar amount. Therefore, these damages are the ones most likely to be countered and negotiated. Attorneys use several different formulas to calculate these damages.
The more skilled and experienced your motorcycle accident attorney is, the more likely you are to receive the maximum amounts for these damages in your settlement.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may also ask for additional punitive damages. These damages are paid to you, but they are not intended to compensate you for loss specifically. Rather, they’re intended to punish the other party for especially egregious actions, extreme negligence, or bad faith.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Because riding a motorcycle doesn’t afford the same kind of protection as driving or riding in an enclosed vehicle, motorcyclists may suffer a wide range of injuries resulting from an accident, many of them serious or life-threatening. In fact, more than 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, according to the NHTSA.
Let’s look at the most common types of injuries motorcyclists may suffer in an accident.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), ranging from concussions to severe hemorrhaging and permanent brain damage. Wearing a helmet reduces this risk significantly but does not completely eliminate it.
Roadrash refers to the severe abrasions and burns a fallen motorcyclist often suffers while skidding across asphalt or dirt.
Motorcycle accidents frequently cause fractures in the arms, legs, collarbones, hips, and other bones of the body.
The severe impact of a motorcycle crash can cause damage to internal organs as well. These injuries may not be apparent at first, but they can be serious or fatal if unattended, which is why you should always get checked by a physician after an accident, even if you feel okay.
Even in places where the skin is not broken, you may suffer contusions (bruises) throughout your body – places under the skin where the blood vessels break, causing painful “black-and-blue” marks.
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue refers to muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc., all of which can be damaged in the impact of a motorcycle accident.
Neck and Back Injuries
The impact of a motorcycle accident can also cause serious injuries to the neck, back, and spinal cord, including alignment problems, ruptured disks, fractures, and even temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can occur due to a wide range of causes and factors, many of which constitute negligence on the part of the other driver.
Rear-End Motorcycle Accident
One of the most common scenarios for a motorcycle accident occurs when a vehicle driver hits the motorcyclist from behind. Quite often, this happens when the other vehicle is speeding or following too closely. Motorcycles can come to a complete stop very quickly, while larger vehicles require more time and a greater stopping distance. Rear-end motorcycle accidents can be very dangerous for the cyclist because it is nearly impossible for the cyclist to maintain control of the motorcycle once hit from behind.
Poor Road Conditions
Less-than-optimal road conditions can be a recipe for disaster for motorcyclists. Wet or icy conditions reduce the friction of the tires on the road and make it easier to disrupt the cyclist’s balance. Likewise, these conditions can also cause other motorists to skid and possibly plow into the motorcyclists. Potholes, debris, and loose gravel can also cause cyclists and other motorists to lose control of their vehicles. Poor visibility due to fog can be deadly for a motorcyclist if other drivers can’t see them.
Every vehicle has “blind spots” – areas in the field of vision where the driver’s vision is partially obstructed. Some vehicles are now equipped with safety features to warn a motorist of blind spot activity, but not all. If a driver changes lanes without double-checking their blind spots, they could hit a motorcyclist who happens to be in that spot.
Motorists who are in a hurry or just being careless sometimes “cut off” other drivers, making a quick lane change or unexpected turn that forces the other driver to hit the brakes quickly or make evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. When a motorcyclist is cut off in this way, it can be extremely dangerous, not only because of the danger of the cyclist hitting the vehicle but also because any quick maneuvers could throw the motorcyclist off balance and cause them to skid out of control.
Driving Under the Influence
When a motorist drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that driver’s perception and cognitive abilities are both impaired. It also affects their ability to make reasonable decisions. When DUI drivers get around motorcyclists, things frequently do not end well.
Distracted driving has become one of the main causes of accidents in recent years. When a driver texts, emails, or talks on the phone while driving, it has the same effect as driving under the influence. Other forms of distracted driving include fatigue, drowsiness, or falling asleep at the wheel, as well as reaching for an object in the car.
About 3,000 people a year die in distracted driving accidents, and motorcyclists can be particularly susceptible to injury or death when other motorists are driving while distracted.
Contact the Duluth Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Scholle Law Firm Today
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or someone you love has been injured or killed in such an accident, it may be completely obvious to you who is at fault and who should pay. But just because it seems obvious to you, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to hold the other party accountable or that you will get the settlement you deserve.
Motorcycle accidents are complex cases that require the expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer. The motorcycle accident lawyers at Scholle Law Firm have extensive experience and a stellar track record in helping motorcycle accident victims get the compensation they’re entitled to receive.
We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars in damages to assist with their recovery and help them, and their families become whole. Contact us today for a free evaluation.
Motorcycle Accident Questions and Answers
How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit?
In the State of Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims is two years. In the case of motorcycle accidents, that two-year window begins on the date of the accident itself.
That may seem like plenty of time to file a lawsuit, but bear in mind that motorcycle accidents can be complex cases that require time to gather evidence and documentation in preparation for filing a lawsuit. Not to mention, your medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses won’t wait two years to be paid. That two-year window goes faster than you think, and once the statute of limitations is up, it is too late to seek compensation.
For that reason, we recommend contacting us as soon as possible after the accident happens to help prepare a solid case and stay well within the window of opportunity for filing the lawsuit.
How much does a motorcycle accident lawyer cost?
At Scholle Law Firm, we understand your motorcycle accident has already been extremely costly, so we believe there should be no up-front fee to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer. The final cost depends on many factors, including how complex your case is, whether we need to litigate, and how long it takes to settle your claim.
However, we never take a fee unless and until we win your case, so you’ll never have to pay up-front for a motorcycle accident lawyer. Additionally, the amount our clients receive in settlements minus the attorney fees is usually exponentially higher than if they simply accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer. So, in the end, the fee is infinitely worth it.
What if I was partially to blame for my motorcycle accident?
First and foremost, you’re not alone. The truth is, there are relatively few personal injury cases involving motorcycles or other vehicles where one party is determined to be one hundred percent at fault.
Part of the process for determining settlements in personal injury cases is to assign fault as a percentage. For example, if you were distracted or speeding when another motorist drifted into your lane and sideswiped you, the other driver might be assigned 80 percent of the fault while you are assigned 20 percent. Scenarios like these are quite common in vehicle injury accident cases.
Second, and this is important: being partly to blame for your accident does not mean you forfeit your right to receive a settlement. Being assigned a percentage of the fault may prompt the insurance company to negotiate for a reduced settlement based on that percentage, but it does not mean they do not have to pay. What’s more, even if you were partially to blame for your accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are partially to blame for the injuries you incurred in that accident or that those injuries weren’t caused by someone else’s negligence.
It’s your attorney’s job to get deep into these details and to fight on your behalf so the insurance company or the defendant can’t play the “blame game” as an excuse to keep from paying you what you deserve.
Bottom line – don’t worry if you believe you were partly responsible for your motorcycle accident. It doesn’t exempt you from getting help and the evidence may show that you aren’t at fault as much you think.
What if a loved one died in a motorcycle accident?
If someone you love has died in a motorcycle accident, you may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim. The idea behind a wrongful death claim is to compensate those who relied on the deceased financially or emotionally and who will suffer direct loss as a result of the death.
Georgia law prioritizes who may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, starting with the spouse of the deceased, who may also file a claim on behalf of any children under 18. If there is no spouse and no children, the parents of the deceased may file the suit. Finally, the deceased’s estate representative may file a wrongful death claim and distribute the settlement among the next-of-kin.
As with personal injury lawsuits, a wrongful death lawsuit may seek economic and non-economic damages, including lost wages and benefits, medical costs, burial expenses, loss of companionship, etc.
Contact us to speak with a lawyer about your accident.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online