As Pennsylvania gets over a brutal winter season and we enter into the spring and summer month, motorcycle riders have taken to the roadways to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. However, motorcycle riders need to keep in mind, while riding is always a rush, the likelihood of accident when riding a motorcycle is high – safety is paramount. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes, but rate for motorcycles was 72.34 per 100,000 . Furthermore, data shows that in the U.S. there are over four million motorcycles registered; motorcycle fatalities represent approximately 5% of all highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent just 2% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. Moreover, approximately 80% of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20%. One main reason for these statistics is that motorcycles provide little to no protection in an accident. The severity of injury in motorcycle accidents and the intricacies of these cases, make the evaluation of the case by a Delco personal injury lawyer, who will look at all aspects of your case vital.
So you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, the other parties insurance company keeps calling and would is offering you an out-of-court settlement, what should you do? Should you accept or reject the insurance companies offer? What are my chances if I reject the offer and my case goes to trial? We get asked these poignant questions on a daily basis, and the answer is always – it depends on many factors, which will be discussed.
Needless to say, the insurance company’s ultimate goal is to pay you as little as possible for your injury. Any conversation that you have with the other persons insurance company and any information you give them, will be used to keep their payout to you as low possible. Tip #1 Do Not Speak to the Other Parties Insurance Company Before Speaking to a Delco Personal Injury Lawyer. A lawyer can speak to the insurance company on your behalf, giving them only the necessary information, in order to possibly negotiate an acceptable settlement, prior to any court action. If no settlement can be reached, a lawyer will prepare for the next phase of your claim: the motorcycle lawsuit and the subsequent trial.
Tip #2 Understand There are No Guarantees in Court. While we always advocate aggressively for our clients, we want clients to understand that if you lose in court, you get nothing. While our firm has an excellent trial record, when a lawyer goes to trial, there are sometimes variables outside of our control. That said, many times the only way to get the true value of the motorcycle injury is to take the case to trial, which we are always prepared to do.
As a practical matter, a settlement negotiation will be over far more quickly than a trial, which can drag on. If you opt to settle the case, most times you will receive compensation quickly, but you may sacrifice value in exchange for a more ‘up front’ payment. Additional factors to consider: the expenses that are incurred at trial will often come out of the end verdict which are not incurred if there is a settlement early; details of your case will remain confidential if you elect to settle, but if you go to trial, details of your case – and your potential reward – will be a matter if public record.
The key disadvantage of settling out of court before initiating motorcycle lawsuits is that there in a chance that your motorcycle accident settlement may be less than the award you would have received had you gone to trial. Insurance companies use the time value of money, and the risk of a trial to their advantage in offering lower dollar amounts to settle cases prior to suit. It is our feeling that a lawyer should prepare from day 1 to take a personal injury case to trial, this ensures that you obtain true value for your clients.
The takeaway: a settlement guarantees you some recovery, but may be a significant amount less than what your case is worth at trial. Every case is unique, facts are different, clients situations are different – the decision to settle or go to trial may be the most important decision you make when it comes to determining the size of your final payout. It is our responsibility to advocate for your best interests every step of the way, speak with a Delco personal injury lawyer before making this decision or signing away your rights is imperative.