The Steps of a Motorcycle Accident Case
There are several steps involved in an injury case, and they vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. In general, the legal process of an injury claim involves:
- Meeting with a lawyer. When you schedule your initial consultation with us, we will determine whether your case falls within the statute of limitations and who should be held liable for your injuries. If you qualify for damages, we will have you sign a fee agreement and start working on the demand letter. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t have to pay anything upfront for representation.
- Sending a demand letter. We begin by making a demand package to send to your (or the at-fault driver’s) insurance company. A demand is a detailed request outlining how the accident happened, the injuries you sustained, the medical treatment you had and will need in the future, a total of your losses, and an order for payment. Once the liable party receives the letter, they can respond by paying the amount you asked for, negotiating a lower amount, or refusing to pay. If they offer appropriate compensation immediately, you can sign a settlement agreement and end your claim.
- Filing a lawsuit. If the liable party rejects the claim, we move on to filing a lawsuit (known as the complaint) to force the insurer to explain why they aren’t accountable in front of a judge. The complaint is filed in court, and a copy is sent to the responsible party to prepare them for the pending lawsuit.
- Gathering evidence. Next, both sides will start the evidence-gathering process, known as discovery. Discovery involves requesting documents, photos, video, witness testimony, and other information that could potentially be used as evidence in a trial. Attorneys in the case may trade evidence back and forth and respond to written questions, known as interrogatories.
- Taking depositions. Depositions are question-and-answer sessions given under oath and recorded for later use in court. Many different parties may be deposed, including eyewitnesses, doctors, and experts whose testimony has a bearing on the case. The opposing attorney will question you, and your attorney will question the at-fault party. Your attorney will prepare you to answer questions about your injuries and accident, preventing you from making a mistake that could hurt your case.
- Attending independent medical exams. The insurance company may request that you undergo an independent medical examination with a third-party doctor to determine the severity of your injuries. This doctor will perform a physical exam and read through your medical records before composing a written IME report that can be used in your claim. Since an unfavorable IME report could result in the suspension of your insurance payments and hurt your compensation claim, your attorney should attend the examination with you.
- Negotiating for a fair settlement. Settlement negotiations may continue throughout each step of the case, even as the case proceeds toward trial. Insurers know they can lose big at trial, so the more evidence we have, the more likely they will settle out of court.
- Fighting for damages at trial. If the at-fault party refuses to settle, we will prepare to take the case to trial. However, very few cases progress to this stage because a jury’s actions can be difficult to predict. In some cases, juries may award significant pain and suffering damages for victims; in others, they may decide that victims are not owed any compensation. If you win your case but are partially at fault, you may collect lower damages under Massachusetts’ comparative negligence law.
How Long Will it Take to Settle My Case?
There’s no “average” motorcycle accident lawsuit—each one varies depending on the specifics of the case. Many factors could lengthen or shorten the overall time it takes to decide the claim, including:
- The extent of your injuries. While it’s a good idea to get legal advice as soon as possible after an accident, it’s best to wait to settle your case until you reach maximum medical improvement. If you accept a settlement before your injuries have stabilized, you may not get enough to cover the future costs of your injuries—and you won’t be able to go back and ask for more. If it’s going to take months (or longer) for your condition to heal fully, your attorney can help you keep track of costs and potential future losses (such as a reduced earning capacity).
- The insurer’s cooperation. Some insurance companies respond quickly to demands, while others may request additional information. It can take anywhere from two weeks to more than a month for an insurer to review a claim, and some may deliberately take longer to pressure a victim into accepting a lower settlement.
- The number of liable parties. There may be more than one person at fault for causing your accident, and each one could bear the financial burden of your injuries. Our attorneys carefully evaluate your claim to get compensation from every available source.
Speak to a Massachusetts Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Today
If you were hurt in a motorcycle crash, the attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP are here to help. Please call 508-879-3500 to schedule a no-cost case evaluation, or learn about your rights in our free guide, What You Can Do to Get a Full and Fair Settlement After a Car Accident.