- Personal Injury Lawyer
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Before you can determine what the value of your motorcycle accident claim, you need to look at two very important factors:
Unless you can prove the answer is yes to both, the value of your case is virtually zero.
This is because “liability” is a fancy word for “fault” and if fault can’t be established, the value of a case – even with significant damages – plummets.
Let’s look at a couple quick examples:
Let’s assume that you were at a stand-still and the car behind you collided with your motorcycle. In the state of California, rear-end collisions are nearly always the fault of the second vehicle. So the first threshold of liability is met.
However, let’s assume that in this collision, you were not injured and your motorcycle was not harmed. In that case, there is liability without damages, creating a motorcycle accident with zero value.
Let’s assume you were speeding and cut in front of a vehicle which hit you in an intersection. As a result, your motorcycle was damaged to the tune of $18,000; you were injured and incurred medical expenses for a lengthy hospital stay plus physical therapy totaling $92,000. This would seem like a HUGE case, right? WRONG. In this example, there are clear damages but the liability (or fault) rests with you.
And the burden is on you, as the injured party, to establish liability. If you’re hit by a car in an accident and it’s determined the car was at fault but there were no damages – there the case has little value. Conversely, if you’re at fault for some reason and there is lots of damages, the case has little value to you.
This article will outline how your personal injury attorney will assess your case to determine its worth to you.
Damages come in two forms:
Pain and suffering are not capable of exact calculation because there is no dollar amount attributed to back pain or whiplash. Therefore, a skilled attorney will take your special damages and use those figures to determine the value of your pain and suffering with a damages multiplier. (e.g. medical bills of $5,000, multiplied by a damages multiplier of three equals a settlement value of around $15,000).
Now that you understand what is required to establish value in the first place, let’s move to type of value (Settlement Value vs. Trial Value) to determine what your case may be worth.
Settlement value is what you hope to receive in a settlement from an insurance adjuster outside of court. This value is usually lower than trial value because the whole purpose of settlement is to strike a compromise and value your risks: risk of winning or losing in trial vs. immediate settlement.
Trial value is what you should expect if you go through a court trial, taking all of the expenses of trial into consideration.
Using the motorcycle accident example from before, let’s assume this time that liability was with the driver who hit your motorcycle. There were $110,000 in damages! You believe that a jury would award you $300,000, (based on what?) but you think your chances of winning are only about 20% then where does $300K come from?). You have been offered $190,000. (by the driver’s insurance carrier?)
An attorney can usually handle the course of settlement without the need of court appearances, and all you need to do is approve the amount offered to settle your case. When your time and stress are factored in, $190,000 in the above scenario may sound like enough.
Trials are very expensive.
In the course of trial (even if the chances of winning were much higher than 20% in the above scenario) a potential award of $300,000 is reduced by many things.
After evaluating all these factors, you can make a decision about whether a) the value of your motorcycle accident claim is worth pursuing and b) does it make sense to settle your case or take it to trial. These are decisions that a skilled motorcycle accident attorney can help you make.
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