Motorcycle accidents can leave lasting damage to victims. Riders are at risk of severe injuries due to the exposed nature of the motorcycle. Helmets and protective gear are the only protection motorcyclists have in case of an accident. If you sustain injuries from a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas, we at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm will be by your side. We will help you in determining the negligent party in the accident and represent you as you seek compensation for your damages. The compensation you get is essential in covering your medical costs, lost wages, and suffering from the injuries.
Motorcycle Accident Overview
Motorcycle accidents have a higher fatality rate compared to car accidents. The rider is also likely to suffer more severe injuries due to his or her exposure. Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents in Nevada include:
- Unsafe lane changes by drivers and cyclists. Unsafe lane changes occur when a motorist fails to signal other road users of the turn he or she is about to make
- Opening car door in the path of oncoming motorcycles
- Speeding, which reduces visibility and reaction time in case of an emergency
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which contributes to more than half of motorcycle accidents, often with fatal results. When drunk, the driver or motorist is likely to be negligent and engage in reckless behavior such as speeding.
- Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle drives between two lanes. These types of accidents are common during traffic jams as the motorcyclist attempts to maneuver through the spaces between the cars.
- Sudden stops
- Collision with static objects
- Let turns where the driver fails to give the right of way to a motorcyclist. Left-turn accidents are the leading causes of injuries and death to motorcyclists. Left turns can lead to accidents when the motorcyclist is overtaking the car, passing it, or going through an intersection.
- Dangerous road conditions due to weather, uneven roads, poorly maintained roads, pavements, and lack of signals along the road to pinpoint potential dangers
- Defects in the motorcycle
Motorcycles are less visible to motorists, especially when the vehicle is making a turn, which increases the chances of an accident occurring. In other cases, the car driver underestimates the distance the motorcycle is from the car when making a turn.
When a motorcycle collides with another motorcycle, a vehicle, or a static object, the motorcycle loses balance. The ride may fall off the bike and suffer injuries. The severity of the rider's injuries depends on the impact of the collision, and whether he or she is wearing safety gear.
While motorcycle accidents are not necessarily more than motor vehicle accidents, they have more severe injuries, higher fatality rates, and more damage to the motorcycle. Some of the common injuries from a motorcycle accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, which can be mild or severe, depending on the impact of the collision on your head. Such injuries can have a temporary or permanent impact on your brain. In some cases, traumatic brain injuries will cause death within the first few hours of the accident.
- Road rash that results from the rubbing of the rider’s exposed skin against the surface of the road. Road rash can result in nerve damage if not treated promptly.
- Fractures and broken bones
- Spinal injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Arm and leg injuries
- Muscle damage
- Facial injuries
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you should seek medical attention soon after the accident. The signs of injury might show up after several days or weeks, which will substantially affect your claim and ability to link these injuries to the accident.
Visit a doctor who deals with motorcycle accident injuries, as he or she will be familiar with some of the common injuries. Early diagnosis also prevents extensive injury and damage to other organs. Your doctor might conduct imaging tests to determine whether you suffered any injuries to your internal organs.
Liable Parties in a Motorcycle Accident
Establishing liability is one of the first steps before filing a personal injury lawsuit. You have to know what caused the accident and whether someone else’s negligence contributed to the accident. Nevada laws allow you to sue one or more parties who contributed to the accident. Some of the liable parties include:
- A driver who acted negligently leading to the accident
- The manufacturer of the bike or parts if the accident resulted from a defective part
- Mechanics who repaired or worked on the bike
- Manufacturer of the helmet or safety gear if it failed to perform
- The agency responsible for maintaining the roads or pavement where the accident occurred
- Any person who contributed to the accident
Negligence is a common element in motorcycle accidents in Nevada that helps in establishing the liable party. Liability in motorcycle accidents arises where the defendant or liable party:
- Had a duty of care towards the you
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- The breach or negligence led to or contributed to your injuries
- You have suffered damages due to the injuries these damages include medical costs
Nevada allows the theory of contributory negligence in motorcycle personal injury lawsuits. Comparative negligence allows the defendant to defend himself or herself by proving that your actions contributed to the accident and your injuries.
In cases where comparative negligence arises, the court will divide the settlement based on each party's negligence. For example, if your contributory negligence is 20 percent, you will get 20% less the total compensation.
In cases where the accident resulted from defects in the bike, then the strict product liability laws of Nevada do not require you to prove the negligence of the manufacturer. Instead, you have to prove that:
- The bike was defective
- The defect existed when the manufacturer released the product
- You used the motorcycle in a reasonable manner
- The defect on the motorcycle led to your injury and damages
However, if the manufacturer breached a duty of care through the defective product, then you have to prove the elements of negligence.
Some product liability cases involving motorcycles arise when the manufacturer or distributor intentionally misrepresents a product. He or she knows of the existence of the defect at the time of distribution and concealed it fraudulently.
You might need the help of a motorcycle accident attorney to help you in determining the liable parties. You should hire an attorney soon after the accident to ensure that you cover as many details as possible.
The accident scene will be cleared soon, which could lead to the loss of crucial evidence that you can use to support your claim. However, when you have an attorney, he or she will focus on gathering the relevant evidence while you recover from the injuries.
If your loved one died from a motorcycle accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death after a motorcycle accident. The countdown begins on the date of the accident when you discover the accident or the day your loved one died from the accident.
You should avoid settling with the insurance company, especially if the injuries, medical costs, and damages are high. Insurance companies offer the lowest possible settlement to ensure they do not suffer losses.
Their main goal is to settle before you can calculate the full extent of your injuries. Making such settlements prevents you from recovering the best compensation for your injuries, and could leave you struggling with medical bills and associated costs. If you are not ready for the negotiations, hire a lawyer to handle the process on your behalf.
Damages from a Motorcycle Accident in Nevada
The three types of damages in a Nevada motorcycle injury case include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages compensate you for the quantifiable damages you suffer due to the accident. These include medical costs, rehabilitation costs, funeral, and burial costs.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the unquantifiable damages you suffer, such as pain and suffering. Most courts award economic and non-economic damages for motorcycle accidents. However, it may charge punitive damages on the defendant to discourage other parties from engaging in such negligence.
Here is a breakdown of the compensatory damages you can receive:
1. Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are usually the most noticeable effect of a motorcycle accident. Medical expenses can be one-off or go on for as long as you live. Nevada places the responsibility for medical bills on the negligent party responsible for the accident. However, you have to sue him or her to recover these costs.
In the meantime, you can pay for the bills using your health insurance or auto insurance of the negligent party. Other alternative payment methods to cover your bill before your lawsuit is complete include:
- Government health insurance programs
- Medical liens from healthcare providers who accept them
- The insurance company of the at-fault party
In most cases, the insurer of the at-fault party might delay in making a settlement or offer an unfair amount that does not cover your damages. Patience in these cases and seeking alternative means is the best option. Meanwhile, your lawyer will work on building your case and getting a fair settlement.
If you are not insured, then you can find doctors who work on lien until your case ends. If your doctor treats you on a lien, he or she will calculate the medical costs by the highest billing rate; therefore, it a much more expensive option. If you get a personal injury attorney early enough, he or she might negotiate for reduced medical costs. In addition, the law requires that major hospitals offer discounts of 30% to uninsured persons.
For people with multiple insurance covers, you should submit the medical bills to all the insurance companies. You might have to reimburse these companies if you get a large enough settlement.
During the case, you should bring all the receipts for the medication, treatment, and rehabilitation you received due to the motorcycle accident injuries. You may also have to submit medical records for the past five years to rule out pre-existing conditions.
You will not receive compensation for pre-existing injuries. However, if the accident worsens the pre-existing injury, then the at-fault party has to compensate you.
2. Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity
The effect of motorcycle accidents on your ability to work depends on the severity of the injuries sustained. For example, if you suffer a traumatic brain injury, you might be in the hospital for several weeks, during which you will not be working. Even after leaving the hospital, you might be unable to resume work immediately. In some cases, you cannot work at the same job or at the same salary or wage you earned before the accident.
Lost wages in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Your regular pay
- Income from self-employment
- Vacation and sick days
- Lost benefits
If you are an employee, you can prove the wages you have lost due to the accident by providing a letter of lost wages from your employer. The letter provides details of your employment, including:
- The job title
- The date of employment
- The date of the injury
- The number of hours you work
- The regular rate
- Overtime pay
- The number of overtime hours you usually work per week
- The period you have missed work
- The potential perks you have missed due to the accident
Alternatively, you can present evidence of your pay stubs, payslips, and income tax returns. If you are self-employed, you can show evidence of lost income by presenting:
- Your tax returns
- Billing statements
- Testimony of a forensic accountant
You can also recover damages for lost earning capacity due to your injuries. For example, disability can affect your ability to work as you did before the accident. The court will estimate how much you could have reasonably earned had the injury not occurred.
Lost earning capacity is harder to prove than lost wages. For the latter, you can calculate the days you have missed work. However, with lost earning capacity, you will be speculating about the time you will be out of work due to the injury.
Lost earning capacity also compensates you for the opportunities you miss due to the injuries. When calculating the value of your lost earning capacity, the court will consider:
- The period your injuries are likely to last
- Your age
- Whether it is reasonable that you will return to regular employment
- Life expectancy
- Your health before the injury
- The number of years before you retire
- Promotion opportunities
- Your employment goals
- The nature of your income
- Other relevant
The court will then calculate what you are likely to earn after the injury and award you the difference. Calculating lost earning potential is usually not as straightforward. Your specific circumstances complicate the matter. Therefore, you need to hire a lawyer who will gather the relevant evidence and witnesses to support your case.
3. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are non-economic damages you recover for pain, emotional distress, and loss of consortium, disfigurement, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment in life. Pain and suffering damages can raise the value of your settlement, especially if you can provide convincing proof.
Nevada does not place a limit on the amount you can recover for pain and suffering damages after a motorcycle accident. However, it does require that these damages be fair and reasonable. Fairness and reasonableness vary depending on each case and the type of pain and suffering the person experiences.
Usually, the presence of physical injuries increases the value of the recoverable damages. Some of the factors that can substantially increase your settlement include:
- Permanent disfigurement from the injuries
- Difficult or long recovery
- Verifiable physical injuries
- Huge medical bills
- Death of your loved one from the motorcycle accident
The amount you receive for non-economic damages depends on how well you convince the jury that you are suffering. Some of the ways you can prove pain and suffering include:
- Presenting visual evidence like photographs of yourself before and after the accident to share the extent of your injuries. You can also provide videos of what your daily life looks like, especially if the accident has affected movement and your independence.
- Providing medical notes and imaging results from your doctor. In some cases, you may need to have the doctor provide expert testimony as to how the injury affects you, especially with less obvious injuries.
- You can also bring in friends, relatives, and therapists to testify on your behalf. These people are in constant interaction with you and can testify on how the accident has changed you.
- If pain and suffering have led to conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia, you need to be treated by a mental health professional. The doctor can also testify on your behalf and explain how these conditions affect the quality of your life.
Keeping a pain and suffering journal helps document and prove the extent of your injuries. In such a journal, you can record the frequency with which you experience the pain, how you respond to it, and the medication you are taking.
You should record your thoughts and feelings. Take care not to exaggerate or provide untrue details, which could negatively affect your settlement.
While keeping a journal could mean a higher settlement, you should avoid social media. Even with the most sophisticated privacy settings, insurance companies can find a way around to seeing your posts and those of your family members.
Therefore, you should advise your family to keep off social media or avoid posting things that could negatively affect your settlement. However, social media can be used to prove your claim for pain and suffering positively. For example, if you join local support groups to deal with a certain aspect that arose from the accident, you can use it as proof. Such groups could include therapy support groups.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A motorcycle accident can result in the death of your loved one. You can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party to recover the damages. For you to sue successfully for wrongful death damages, you have to prove that:
- A person dies
- The person died due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person
- You are a personal representative or heir of the deceased
- You suffered damages due to the death of the person
You can sue for wrongful death damages if you are a child, spouse, dependent, or representative of the estate of the deceased. You have to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of death. Some of the damages you can recover include:
- Medical expenses that the deceased incurred due to the accident before his or her death
- Damages that he or she would have recovered is the deceased lived
- Punitive damages
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship, consortium, and comfort
- Grief and sorrow
Wrongful death cases are often complicated and may require the testimony of an economist to help in determining the value of the damages. Some of the factors that go into calculating the value of these damages include:
- The age of the deceased and his or her life expectancy
- The health of the deceased before his or her death
- The number and age of dependents
- The deceased income and earning potential
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Personal injury lawsuits can be time-consuming and exhaustive, especially if you are still recovering from your injuries. A motorcycle injury attorney can help you in dealing with the legal side of the accident while you recover. If you or your loved one sustains injuries from a motorcycle accident, contact the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm. Our firm will help you build a case and fight for rightful compensation. We specialize in personal injury lawsuits and help our clients by examining the scene of the accident, medical reports, and testimonies from experts in various fields that relate to your case. We focus on building a strong case to justify your settlement and ensure that you are fully compensated for the damages you suffer. Contact us at 702-996-1224 for a consultation.