Preparing for A Consultation with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
“Ride or die” and “born to be wild” are some of the catchphrases associated with motorcycle riders. But despite the adventurous portrayal, most of Florida’s half-million bikers ride daily without incident — that’s a good thing. But from time to time, accidents do happen. And when they do, survivors often struggle with insurance issues, legal issues, rising medical costs, missing work, and, of course, repairing or replacing the motorcycle itself. Consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney is wise.
It can feel lonely handling these types of claims, especially because of the stigma attached to riders: their brave reputation strongly suggests they’re always to blame, even for accidents other car drivers have caused.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and we know it. Avoid being taken advantage of by an insurance company or other party to the accident by consulting with a motorcycle accident attorney. Riders are entitled to same rights and protections as other drivers on the road. This is important: do not speak with any insurance company until you have had an opportunity to speak with an attorney. Attorneys can be intimating, but not at this law firm. Here’s how to best prepare for a consultation so that you can best protect yourself and the loved ones who depend upon you.
What Makes Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims Different?
Not all types of accidents and injuries on the road are equal. Because of the insurance and legal risks associated with riding (and not being protected by tons of heavy metal as in a vehicle), most motorcycle accidents involve catastrophic injuries. Car and truck drivers often do not check for motorcyclists when switching lanes. It’s easy to be in a blind spot. Even a parked driver on the street can cause injuries if he opens his door too quickly and a rider does not have time to stop. Sometimes, even, a defective part on the bike is to blame for the cause of an accident. Under most scenarios, the motorcyclist is thrown from their motorcycle into the street or into other vehicles involved in the crash. This can cause significant hardship to the rider and the people he loves.
As a result, when considering past, present, and future costs, motorcycle accident among the most expensive claims that an insurance company will need to pay out. Unlike most car accidents, for example, motorcycle accidents involve traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, chest and abdominal injuries, “road rash,” fractures, and amputations. Therefore it is important for you and your loved ones to prepare in advance for a consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney to ensure you get the justice you deserve.
This is What to Expect at Your Initial Meeting:
At the risk of stating the obvious, your first consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney is significant — it marks the deciding moments of if you are suited to work with each other to achieve a common goal. To give your attorney proper understanding of who you are and where you come from, be sure to provide detailed personal and background information. Be mindful that your attorney may ask questions that may seem unrelated to your case, but he knows the pertinent information to gather about your personal and business background that may help you maximize your recovery.
Honesty is the Best Policy
For anyone who has seen Law & Order, Boston Legal, or Perry Mason, you know your conversations with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege. What this means is that no one has access to what you share with your attorney. Your attorney will know many of the important questions to ask, but he will also want to know all the details that only you know. He may ask questions like this:
- What you saw, heard, and did or did not do
- What you said and to whom
- Who else was involved
- What others said or did
- What safety equipment you were or were not wearing
- What type of insurance (if any) did you have
- Copies of all medical bills
- Correspondence from your employer regarding your work
The questioning may seem tedious, but your cooperation is important, as the information gleaned may identify pertinent information, leads, witnesses, and more.
A good rule of thumb is before you leave your first meeting, think to yourself, “Are there any questions my attorney didn’t ask, but should have?” If so, go ahead and offer that information on your own. And, by all means, never lie to your attorney, no matter how bad you think the information may be. Your attorney has likely heard much worse, but, more importantly, she can’t help you if she doesn’t know all the facts. This is especially true when it comes to following safety protocols (like wearing a helmet) even if Florida law doesn’t always require it.
Document, Document, Document!
Along with a good willingness to cooperate, bring any paperwork and photographic evidence related to your incident. Prepare a list of helpful witnesses to your case, such as people who can corroborate your story, saw the events of the accident, can confirm your account of what took place, or have any damaging evidence that could undermine the case against you. And if you have a prior legal history, any information on your previous cases would be also helpful. The more you bring, the better. Let your attorney make the decision about what’s relevant.
What are Your Rights After an Accident?
Florida law does not require motorcyclists to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Even if a biker has PIP coverage for their automobile, it does not transfer to their motorcycle. If you have PIP or MedPay coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company no matter who was liable for the crash.
Nevertheless, if another party (let’s say a car driver) was negligent and caused your accident, you can hold that party financially responsible, at least in part. These cases are never clear cut, but if the other driver was intoxicated or a manufactured produced a defective part on your bike, then it’s likely they may pay for your costs though an insurance claim or a lawsuit.
There are also punitive damages, which are intended to punish the party that was at fault. These are rarely awarded in Florida personal injury cases because a defendant’s conduct must have been wanton, willful, reckless or malicious. Even then, Florida law limits punitive damages to a maximum of $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
In short, preparation for your first consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney is critical. It will also help ease the stress of the situation because it allows you to take ownership of the process and contribute positively toward your representation. Strong preparation will save time and money – and most of all, maximize your chances at a favorable outcome. Call our office at (813) 259-0022 to schedule a consultation.