How Are Damages Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?

Taking to Kansas City’s open roads on your motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience. But it’s also risky, as even minor crashes can cause missed work time, medical bills, and other costs. And a serious motorcycle accident can completely change your life. In either instance, you need to speak with an attorney. They will determine if the extent of your injuries and the other driver’s culpability mean you can pursue damages.

How Are Damages Determined in a Kansas City Motorcycle Accident?

Every motorcycle accident is different, and accordingly, there is no precise formula to calculate the value of a claim. Certain factors, however, are considered in every case to evaluate a potential settlement value. These factors include two different types of damages: economic and non-economic. While both damages may sound similar in nature, they are in fact vastly different.

Economic Damages

Let’s start with economic damages, also commonly referred to as special damages. These are intended to financially compensate victims for out-of-pocket expenses directly incurred from the accident and include:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity following severe injuries
  • Expenses related to motorcycle repair or replacement
  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Loss of irreplaceable items
  • Household care due to a severe injury or disability

It’s very possible to calculate the value of these damages using receipts and invoices. But doing so is neither easy nor straightforward. To illustrate, calculating losses like future earning capacity may require the assistance of a professional economist to ensure accuracy. Despite this level of difficulty, identifying these losses from the outset of your case is crucial to establishing a potential claim value baseline.

Maximum Medical Improvement

Waiting until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement is one of the most important elements in identifying economic damages. This is the point where you’ve either fully recovered or recovered as much as possible and have received a final prognosis from your physician. You cannot realize the total costs of your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering (we’ll explain this more in just a moment) until you achieve maximum medical improvement.

We understand, however, that more catastrophic injuries require more long-term medical treatments. You may be off work for longer or be unable to return to work at all. The treatment you need may also be more expensive than a motorcyclist who sustained a broken arm. With that in mind, the more extensive your injuries, the higher you can expect your claim value to be.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, commonly referred to as general damages, provide compensation for losses that are harder to pinpoint. These often comprise the largest part of a personal injury claim and include:

  • Reduced quality of life
  • Physical impairment
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Emotional distress or anguish
  • Past and future pain and suffering

Attaching a value to past and future pain and suffering is difficult. These damages aren’t based on specific monies you’ve paid or owe but are instead more dependent on the overall extent of your injuries. Your Kansas City attorney will work extensively to value this portion of your claim and, to do so, will consider the impact of the accident on your mental and physical health.

Identifying a Dollar Amount

Your lawyer will use one of two techniques to calculate pain and suffering: the per diem or multiplier method. Per diem is Latin for per day and means your lawyer will calculate pain and suffering on a daily basis. Sometimes, your personal daily income serves as the base figure. Other times, your lawyer might assign a dollar amount, such as $100, and multiply that by the number of days you’re injured until you reach the maximum payout (if applicable).

The multiplier method requires a look at the individual amounts of medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Once these sums are totaled, they are then multiplied by a number between one and five. One represents those injuries that are least severe, while five represents the highest level of severity. Your lawyer will determine which multiplier is appropriate for your case.

The Crucial Aspect of Liability

To even discuss damages, you must first be able to prove another driver’s negligence is responsible for your injuries. Texting, failing to yield the right of way, or speeding are examples of negligent acts that can prove another driver’s liability. If, however, another driver wasn’t at fault, you cannot pursue any damages.

Liability that can be easily established will increase the value of your claim. But if proving liability is difficult, your case will likely be weakened and your settlement likewise reduced. Keep in mind that in any Kansas City personal injury case, the burden of proof lies entirely with the plaintiff. Just to reiterate, this means you must be able to prove the defendant really is liable for the motorcycle accident and your subsequent damages.

Going to Trial vs. Settling

If you have a case but lack strong evidence, your attorney may recommend that you settle out of court rather than go to trial. Simply put, a settlement creates an agreement between you and the defendant. It states the latter will pay you monetary compensation for your injuries and, in exchange, you will not take your case to court.

You can generally estimate your case’s settlement value with simple math. Multiply the predicted value you could get from going to trial ($300,000, for instance) by your likely chances of winning at trial (let’s estimate that at 40%). Based on the math, you can expect a settlement value of around $120,000 from this scenario. These figures are given only for demonstration purposes to help you understand how settlement monies are often calculated.

The Benefits of Settling

Your lawyer will advise you whether it’s better to settle your case or take it to court for a judge or jury to decide. As we said earlier, settling is often ideal when you lack substantial evidence to prove the other driver’s fault.

An out-of-court settlement can also move more quickly than a court case. The courts only move as quickly as time permits, meaning your case could drag for years. In the meantime, you might be responsible for ongoing expenses like property damage and medical bills.

Fewer Expenses and Less Stress

Even if your attorney works on a contingency basis and does not charge upfront fees, court cases come with expenses that can quickly mount. Worse, these may need to be paid out of your pocket and can include money for expert witness testimonies as well as filing fees. And the more work your attorney must put into your case, the more your legal bill will grow.

You may also experience less stress by keeping your case out of the classroom. Having to sit through hours of testimony and wonder how the jury will decide can cause great angst. But a case that costs less and moves quickly can help you keep stress in check – and allow you to focus on healing.

Jury Bias

Jury bias against motorcycles is also very real. It’s neither fair nor reasonable, but some jurors harbor biases that cloud their judgment in personal injury cases. This can mean a less-than-generous verdict in your motorcycle injury claim.

If you were injured while riding your motorcycle, it’s critical you speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We proudly serve residents in Kansas and Missouri and work to deliver real results. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced team members by contacting Potts Law Firm today.