Valuing Your Motorcycle Accident Damages
To value a motorcycle accident case, you have to consider two things: liability and damages. Liability means who was at fault for the accident. If there is no liability on the part of the other party, either because the person who hit you was not negligent or because you can’t prove negligence, your case will not be worth very much. On the other hand, if you can prove negligence, you may be able to acquire damages, or compensation for the accident. Damages are essentially the injuries and other losses you suffered, like property damage, in an accident. If you don’t have many damages, you also won’t be entitled to much compensation. On the other hand, if your damages were very high, like say if you were seriously injured in the accident, your case may be worth much more.
Settlement Value vs. Trial Value
When you’re trying to value your motorcycle accident claim, there are really two types of valuations: settlement value and trial value. A case’s settlement value is what you reasonably hope to settle the case for. The settlement value will be much lower than the trial value because you settle a case in order to avoid the risk of losing at trial. Trial value is what you reasonably expect to win at trial. As mentioned, it may be much higher than the settlement value.
How Are Damages Calculated?
Damages are also divisible into two distinct groups: damages capable of exact calculation, like lost wages (these are generally called special damages) and damages not capable of exact calculation like pain and suffering. Special damages may also include the plaintiff’s (the person bringing the claim) past, present, and future earnings, and lost earning capacity, including employment benefits, medical bills, and other financial losses. Pain and suffering is not capable of exact calculation. There are no guidelines for determining the value of pain and suffering. A jury cannot look at a chart to figure out how much to award. Because of this, judges generally instruct juries to use their good sense, background, and experience in determining pain and suffering.
Calculating lost earnings is easy. You simply add up all the earnings and employment benefits that you lost from being out of work.
Calculating lost earning capacity is much harder. To do this, your attorney may recommend hiring an economic expert to come up with this value.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident?
Besides seeking medical attention immediately (so the other side can’t claim you were later injured some other way and for your personal safety) you should also collect evidence and reports of the accident as well as information from any available witnesses. Your next step should be to contact a motorcycle accident attorney. Many car accident attorneys will claim that they can take on a motorcycle accident case but there are special considerations present in motorcycle accident cases that call for an attorney with experience in motorcycle accidents to evaluate. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled Columbia motorcycle accident attorney at the Stanley Law Group. Call 803-799-4700 and set up a consultation today.