One of the first questions personal injury clients ask is how much their case is worth. The trouble is, there are so many factors to consider, all of which are unique to every situation and every client. That makes it nearly impossible to accurately predict how much a motorcycle accident case may be worth. Nonetheless, parties often make attempts at settling a motorcycle accident case, and there are some common factors that can be considered in reaching a probable value.
Determining the value of a motorcycle case
When attorneys make an effort to “value” a case, they are simply making the best guess at what a jury might award the injured party. Attorneys must also factor in what the person being sued may be willing to pay, in order to avoid trial. Ultimately, the amount the injured party (i.e., the client) is willing to accept to settle the case, must be taken into account. Factually speaking, the two major factors in determining the value of the case are: (1) how bad the accident was and how serious the injuries were that resulted, and (2) how likely the jury will find the defendant responsible for the accident.
The plaintiff’s injuries and losses
Motorcycle accident cases, and personal injury cases in general, are difficult to value for settlement because not all of the damages are concrete. In other words, expenses for medical treatment, lost wages, and property damage are easy to value because there is a “concrete” amount of loss. You have the bills for your medical treatment, your pay stubs and estimates for the repair or replacement of your motorcycle. It is the less concrete damages, such as “pain and suffering” which can only be determined with an educated guess. Each case and each jury are always different. However, reviewing previous jury awards in similar motorcycle accident cases, can provide a start.
The extent of the defendant’s liability
Another important factor to consider is whether the jury is likely to find that the defendant is actually liable, or responsible, for your injuries. If you have little or no evidence that the defendant was at fault in the motorcycle accident, then the value of the case will likely decrease considerably. If fault is not clear cut, a defendant may be more inclined to take the chance with a jury. To the same degree, the injured client may be more willing to accept a smaller settlement, if the chances at trial aren’t too good.
Bias against motorcyclists
Unfortunately, clients involved in motorcycle accidents have another hurdle to overcome, and that is the bias against motorcyclists, in general. The reality is, many juries have preconceived beliefs about motorcyclists. Motorcyclists, or bikers, are often seen as irresponsible, unfriendly and hot-tempered. Some may even assume they are involved in criminal activity. While certainly none of these characteristics could be fairly imputed to every motorcyclist. However, human nature and unfair stereotypes cannot always be avoided. For this reason, it becomes even more important to make a concrete case for liability and damages.
If you have questions regarding settlement, or any other motorcycle accident issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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