When a motorcyclist is injured on a roadway, they generally cannot seek compensation for wage loss and medical expenses from their injury through a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, as these policies are only provided to drivers of four-wheeled vehicles and members of their household. However, they may seek compensation through the Florida personal injury claims process.
An experienced Tampa motorcycle accident attorney from Eltringham Law may help you understand this process and our services to help you obtain the compensation you need. No payment for our experience or services is necessary until we get you a settlement or a court award for your claim.
Seeking Compensation after a Tampa Motorcycle Accident
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), nearly 500 motorcycle accidents occurred in Hillsborough County in one year’s time, resulting in more than 500 injuries. Often, another roadway user’s negligence, such as a distracted or alcohol-impaired driver, caused those accidents.
The personal injury claims process is a series of steps to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. While most motorcycle accident claims receive compensation through settlements, a judge or the jury determines a small number of them through a personal injury lawsuit. Here is a look at the steps in a personal injury claim:
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Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Tampa
Many people think that they can seek compensation on their own after suffering a serious injury, only to find that the legal process overwhelms them, making them unsure whether the insurance company is telling them the truth and whether the deadline to file the claim in court is approaching. An attorney spends years acquiring the education and experience necessary to manage the timeline of the claim, communicate with an insurance claims adjuster who desires to pay as little as possible, and ensure that their client has the information necessary to act in their own best interest.
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The Attorney’s Investigation of Your Claim
An attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of how your accident occurred. There are several reasons for this investigation, including:
- Determining who is liable (at fault)
- Determining the insurance policies that the liable parties have available to compensate
- Gathering the necessary evidence to prove the claim
Common types of evidence that the attorney will be looking for in their initial investigation include information from the police report, such as whether the at-fault party was cited for the accident, whether there were witnesses to the accident, and whether local businesses captured the accident on their surveillance cameras.
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Valuing Your Claim
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your attorney will value your claim. Maximum medical improvement is when your physician determines that you have made all the meaningful progress in your physical recovery according to your circumstances, even if you are continuing medical treatment for your injury.
Valuing your claim involves calculating the expenses you incurred, such as wage loss, medical expenses, and damage to your motorcycle and gear, as well as the compensation necessary for the quality-of-life impacts from your injury, which are known as non-economic damages. Some factors to calculate non-economic damages after a motorcycle accident include the severity of your injury and the presence of permanent disabilities that will impair your ability to earn an income in the future.
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Demanding Compensation from the Insurance Provider
After the insurance provider has established the value of your motorcycle accident claim, your attorney will demand the full value from the at-fault party’s insurance provider. The provider may respond in one of three ways:
- Accepting the liability of their insured and paying the claim
- Denying the claim and providing a reason for the denial to the claimant
- Offering to settle the claim outside of court for less than its demanded value
Insurance providers commonly attempt to take advantage of the claimant’s lack of experience with the personal injury claims process by delaying communication about the claim, blaming the claimant for the accident, or offering a ridiculously low settlement value. However, they are often more likely to participate in a resolution that fairly compensates the claimant if there is an experienced attorney assisting them.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
If the insurance provider fails to compensate the claim, the claimant may file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. In Florida, motorcycle accident claimants generally have four years to file a personal injury claim. This does not mean that the court must resolve the case in this timeframe or even that the claimant’s attorney must stop negotiating with the insurance provider in order to obtain a settlement for you.
Failing to file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations will usually result in the loss of your ability to use the court system in order to obtain compensation for your injury. Without the consequence of litigation, most insurance companies will not settle an expired claim.
Negotiating a Settlement
The initial settlement offer for a motorcycle accident claim is almost always far lower than the value of the claim. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance claims adjuster to get them to increase their offer. You may make settlement offers at any time, even after the trial has begun, as long as the court has not yet made a decision on the matter.
If the court has not compensated your claim by the time your trial date occurs, your attorney will provide litigation services in order to properly present your claim to a judge or jury.
Collecting Your Compensation
Once a settlement agreement or a court award resolves your case, your attorney will assist you in collecting the proceeds. Because your attorney works on a contingent fee basis, they will receive payment for their services at this time, and you will receive the remainder of the compensation.
Seek a Tampa Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Help You with Your Claim
Let an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Tampa help you understand the process of obtaining compensation for injuries from a motorcycle accident. Contact us to learn more or schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.