The average motorcycle accident settlement ranges from $50,000 to $200,000 in Chicago, Illinois. However, the final settlement amount for a motorcycle accident will vary from case to case, as each accident has unique circumstances. The factors determining the settlement or compensation amount include motorcycle accident fault, policy limits of the parties involved, the extent of damage to the motorcycle, injury severity, total losses incurred, and loss of wages or income.
Insurance companies tend to offer settlement amounts that cannot pay for the full scope of losses incurred by the injured parties. So, you can maximize your chances of receiving a higher payout if you involve a motorcycle accident lawyer than if you go it alone. The lawyer will leverage his or her extensive legal experience and knowledge to build a strong claim on your behalf.
Factors That Influence a Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Every motorcycle accident and final payout is different. The unique circumstances of your accident will impact your settlement amount or compensation. Common factors that affect the payout in a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit are as follows:
Who Is Liable for the Motorcycle Accident
An insurance company or its adjuster will investigate the accident to determine who is to blame for the crash. Some states follow a pure contributory negligence rule that prevents you from collecting monetary compensation if you contributed to the accident, no matter how small your share of liability was.
Other states, like Illinois, follow a modified comparative negligence rule that allows you to receive monetary damages if your share of fault is under 50%. Your share of liability in the accident will, however, get deducted from your settlement amount.
A lawyer familiar with your state’s motorcycle laws can compile irrefutable evidence that the other motorcyclist was responsible for the accident. That will go a long way toward maximizing your potential compensation.
The Severity of Your Injuries
Motorcyclists have higher risks of sustaining a severe injury than car occupants, particularly when riding at night. The reason is that motorcycles are two-wheeled and lack seatbelts or airbags. They are significantly smaller compared to other vehicles. They are also not enclosed and protected by metal.
The severity of your injuries will impact your final settlement or compensation amount. Severe injuries attract high medical bills, which should reflect on the final payout. A motorcyclist who suffers minor bruises in an accident will incur lower medical expenses than one who sustains catastrophic injuries.
Damages and Other Losses Incurred
The insurance company will calculate your total damages before arriving at a final settlement amount. This step involves adding all economic (tangible) and non-economic (intangible) damages.
Economic damages are losses stemming from the accident that are easy to quantify. They include medical expenditures, lost wages or income, and property damage. Non-economic damages are losses arising from the accident that are hard to quantify. They include physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Your compensation amount will depend on the total amount of losses incurred. The higher your losses, the higher your compensation is likely to be.
Coverage Limit of the Liable Party
The total damages may sometimes exceed the coverage limit on the liable party’s insurance policy. Insurance providers are only responsible for the maximum compensation specified on the insured’s policy. As such, the insurer has no legal duty to cover any amount that exceeds the policy limit.
Fortunately, your lawyer can discuss other options for recovering the remaining balance. The first option is obtaining a court order to recover the remaining damages from the liable party’s assets. The other option is getting an order to seize the liable party’s wages until all the damages are cleared.
Settlement vs. Court Verdict
The payout amount will also depend on whether the case gets resolved through an insurance settlement process or lawsuit process. An insurance settlement process is usually faster and less costly, but may lead to a lower settlement. A lawsuit process, on the other hand, is long and expensive, but may result in higher compensation. This is especially true if the judge finds the defendant grossly negligent and awards you punitive damages.
Retaining a Lawyer vs. Self-Representation
Hiring a lawyer vs. self-representation will also impact the settlement or compensation amount. According to a Martindale Nolo survey, plaintiffs represented by lawyers received about three times higher compensation amounts than the unrepresented ones. It also found that around nine out of ten plaintiffs represented by lawyers collected a payout, compared to 5 out of 10 who did not hire a lawyer.
How Long Do Most Motorcycle Accident Settlements Take?
There is no specific timeline for motorcycle accident settlements. Some cases take a few weeks to settle, while others might take years. The following factors will determine how long your motorcycle accident claim will take to settle:
Your Injury’s Severity
Motorcycle accidents usually result in severe injuries. These injuries often require thorough, continuous treatments. Cases involving serious injuries have a longer settlement timeline, as more time is necessary to assess their severity and response to treatment. Documenting such injuries might also be involving and time-consuming.
Insurance companies are more interested in growing their profits by offering lowball settlements. As such, your lawyer may need to engage the responsible insurer in multiple negotiations before reaching an acceptable settlement agreement. This will increase the length of time your case might take to resolve.
Process Used to Resolve Your Case
A case resolved at trial will take longer than one resolved through an out-of-court settlement process.
How Many Parties Are Involved in Your Case
Cases involving multiple at-fault parties will take longer to settle than cases involving just one party. An in-depth investigation is required to assign liability to all the liable parties. Also, increased communication and collaboration are necessary to bring all the involved parties on the same page.
Damages You Can Recover in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
A motorcycle accident results in physical, psychological, and financial consequences. You may recover various damages for losses and expenses arising from the accident if someone else caused it. The types of damages you can recover in a motorcycle accident lawsuit include:
Medical expenses and other bills from treating motorcycle accident injuries constitute the highest percentage of a motorcycle accident claim. Medical bills to include in your claim include initial treatment costs, hospital bills, future treatment costs, travel to and from the doctor’s office or hospital, and physical therapy.
Lost Wages or Income
A motorcycle accident injury can cause you to miss work or prevent you from opening your business. In this case, you can include lost wages or income in your accident claim. Be sure to document the length of time you have been out of work because of the injury (or injuries). Also, note the bonuses, promotions, and other benefits you would have otherwise enjoyed.
Your accident injuries might keep you from returning to the job or position you held before getting injured. Fortunately, you can pursue the loss or reduction in earning potential in your claim or lawsuit.
Repair or Replacement Costs
You can pursue compensation for the cost of repairing your damaged motorcycle. You can also pursue replacement costs if your motorcycle gets damaged beyond repair.
Pain and Suffering
This category covers physical pain and psychological suffering stemming from the motorcycle accident. It includes diminished quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, and permanent impairment and disability.
Wrongful Death Damages
These damages are available to surviving family members or dependents who have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident. They cover reasonable funeral and burial expenses, financial support the family was receiving from the decedent, and non-economic losses, like loss of the deceased person’s companionship.
Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement Amount
The settlement or compensation amount you will get will vary with the nature and severity of your injuries, total property damage, and whether you are working with a lawyer.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Chicago, Illinois
Take the following steps after a motorcycle accident:
- Get out of the traffic flow and check yourself and anyone involved in the crash for injuries.
- Do not remove your helmet and other safety gear.
- Gather information about the other motorist, the vehicle involved, and people at the accident scene who witnessed the accident and are willing to record a statement.
- Observe the other motorist and note any strange behavior.
In Illinois, a driver involved in an accident that leads to injury, death, or property damage must stop and remain at the accident scene to provide information and render reasonable assistance. Some drivers, however, ignore this requirement and leave the scene. In such a scenario, record as many details about that vehicle as possible. These details include the vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number.