How Long Can I Wait To Hire A Lawyer On A Motorcycle Accident ?
how long can i wait to hire a lawyer on a motorcycle accident
Approximately three million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes annually in the United States. For motorcyclists, who are relatively unprotected, injuries are far more likely to be severe. The structure of a car protects the occupants inside. Also, cars have special safety features that help protect them in a crash. On the other hand, motorcyclists are often thrown from their bikes, hitting the pavement, other vehicles, or objects.
Since the 1920s, the popularity of motorcycles has dramatically increased along with the number of motorcycles on the road. There are over 8.3 million motorcycles registered across the country and Illinois has over 300,000 registered motorcycles. Each year in Illinois, motorcycle fatalities make up almost a quarter of the deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes.
Insufficient education: Approximately one-third of motorcycle accidents involve an unlicensed or improperly licensed motorcycle driver. Many motorcycle drivers learn to ride from family or friends and lack important defensive driving skills.
Only 14 percent of motorcycle accidents do not involve a fatality or injury. In a recent year, 88,000 injuries resulted from motorcycle crashes, more than 1,000 injuries for every 100,000 registered motorcycles.
Motorcyclists typically face unwarranted negative biases from every party involved in their case. This can completely affect the outcome of an insurance settlement or even a personal injury verdict if their case gets that far
Common types of injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Motorcycle accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries, which can have devastating, long-term consequences.
- Injuries to the neck, back, or spinal cord.
- Cuts, burns, or abrasions.
- Wrongful death. In one recent year, 4,985 people died in motorcycle crashes in the United States.
The Clock Is Already Running out on Your Rights
As the victim of a motorcycle accident, you likely have the legal right to receive compensation for your injuries and losses from the parties who caused them.
However, that legal right has an expiration date, known as the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to take legal action to recover compensation for your injuries and losses, you can lose your rights altogether.
The length of the statute of limitations varies from state-to-state, but typically lasts months to just a few years. The clock starts running on the statute of limitations beginning the moment you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident.
The best way to make sure you do not accidentally miss the expiration date for your rights to seek compensation after a motorcycle accident is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your motorcycle crash.
Statute of Limitations to File a Motorcycle Collision Lawsuit
The general rule is that you would have two years from the crash to file your lawsuit. However, this is not always the case. Here are the specific rules you need to know and follow:
- Personal injuries. You have two years from the date of your motorcycle accident to file a lawsuit for the personal injuries you suffered.
- Wrongful death. If a family member was killed in the motorcycle wreck, you would need to file a wrongful death action. The deadline to do this is two years from your loved one’s death, which could be different than the date of the collision.
- Governmental entity. You would have a much shorter time period to sue if the negligent party is the State of California, a city, or other governmental entity. You would only have six months after the date of the crash to file your claim.
- Minors. There is an exception to the two-year deadline to file a lawsuit if the motorcycle accident victim is a minor. They would have two years from the date of their 18th birthday to sue. However, you may be able to pursue their case for them before they turn 18 years old.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline to Sue?
The lawyer for the negligent driver’s insurance company would almost certainly file a motion to dismiss your lawsuit if you filed it after the statute of limitations expired. The judge would grant the motion and dismiss your case. If this occurred, you would not be able to litigate your claim, and the insurance company would have no incentive to offer you a settlement.
Possibly the most important reason to contact an attorney as soon as possible is the California statute of limitations. The California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 has set a two-year deadline to file a lawsuit after a personal injury or loss as a result of a motorcycle accident.
However, if the victim died as a result of the motorcycle accident, and a party is interested in filing a wrongful death case against the guilty parties, there is a different timeline. In that case, the clock starts ticking on the day that the individual dies. Even if the date of the accident is a few weeks before the person dies as a result of their injuries, the statute of limitations will differ from other personal injury cases.
You may think that the statute of limitations gives you plenty of time before you need to seek legal help.
Starting the process early, however, improves your chances of a successful resolution because:
- When motorcycle accident victims attempt to handle claims on their own, they may end up causing delays or damaging their claim.
- By starting right away, your memories of what happened are clear. Your attorney can get a better idea of what took place and can access information that may prove to be important. Your statement can help determine fault. If you wait, your memory may fade or become distorted by what others have said about the accident.
- Identifying witnesses early can help your lawyer gather and preserve valuable evidence. Witnesses’ memories are also clearer and more detailed immediately after the accident. Their statements may help establish fault. Unfortunately, the longer the delay, the less accurate the statements become. In some cases, it can be hard to locate witnesses after some time has passed.
- If you hire a lawyer soon after the accident, he or she could begin collecting evidence and working with you to craft a case. For example, traffic cameras or local businesses’ security cameras may show what happened during the accident. If too much time has passed, these videos may have been erased or taped over. If your accident involved a big truck, the driver’s logbook might offer valuable evidence of negligence.
- Bills will stack up quickly. After an accident, you may have medical expenses to deal with, but you may also have to miss time at work due to your injuries. An attorney could help you reach a fair and timely resolution so you can handle these problems.
How long do I have to find a motorcycle accident lawyer after a crash?
For those who are unfamiliar with the legal concept of the statute of limitations, think of it as a time, provided by the law, within which injured victims are eligible to initiate legal action after a motorcycle accident. The time provided by the statute of limitations varies among states and depends on the type of claim an injured victim seeks.
In Florida, the statute of limitations permits motorcycle accident victims to pursue legal action within four years of the date of the accident. Although some limited exceptions may extend the deadline, in most circumstances, victims cannot pursue compensation for accident-related losses after the statute of limitations expires. Contacting an attorney as soon as you are able after an accident can help to ensure that you are not barred from filing a claim.
How Long Can I Wait to Hire a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident?
Injured victims are not required to obtain legal representation to file a claim for damages resulting from a motorcycle accident. So long as the claim process is initiated before the statute of limitations expires, injured victims have a legal right to pursue a motorcycle accident claim.
However, initiating a claim can be complicated and intimidating to victims who have no experience navigating the legal process. To ensure your legal rights are protected and to increase your chances of maximizing compensation for your losses, consider speaking with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Some victims may need to prioritize their physical recovery and wellbeing over handling any legal matters associated with their motorcycle accident. However, an experienced attorney can relieve the stress caused by the legal process.
If you want to see success with your case, though, and you don’t want it to drag out, it’s best to hire a lawyer as soon as you can after your accident. Many people wait until they make a full physical recovery to deal with legal matters and find an attorney—that’s okay!
A lawyer can also help you much sooner after your accident, though. Some people can retain lawyers earlier after their crashes. This makes it easier for their attorneys to stay on top of medical documentation and gather evidence early.
When Do You Need A Lawyer After A Motorcycle Accident?
How an attorney can help after a motorcycle crash
It’s a good idea to take advantage of consultations with a few lawyers no matter what your legal plans are after your motorcycle accident. This will help you understand what your options are, even if you opt not to pursue them.
Some circumstances, however, make finding a lawyer more pressing.
Motorcycle accident survivors may want to expedite their search for an attorney if they:
- Suffered severe injuries: The more severe someone’s injuries are, the more likely they are to (a) be expensive and (b) take a long time to heal. These two factors can complicate the legal process after a motorcycle accident. More expensive injuries usually mean you pursue more compensation—this can make a case take longer. Many cases also do not begin until accident survivors have physically recovered; the more severe your injuries, the longer this takes. A qualified lawyer can help speed up the process where it’s possible and handle the paperwork and legal issues while you heal
- Have permanent injuries: If your motorcycle crash caused permanent injuries, you may benefit more than some people from hiring a lawyer. It’s good to have someone who can legally represent you to prove your life-changing circumstances
- Need extensive medical care: Again—extensive medical care is not cheap or time-efficient. It’s best to work with an attorney if you need lots of medical care after your accident. That way, you can focus on your recovery and you’ll have someone to help you if your case grows
- Missed more than a few days from work: It is very common to have to miss days of work after an accident. If your accident has caused you to miss more than a few days of work, however, it might be in your best interest to get in touch with a lawyer. Motorcycle accident attorneys have experience helping their clients pursue damages for lost wages when they miss time from work because of injury
- Are dealing with shady insurance companies: Insurance companies rarely offer an accident survivor a fair settlement; but if the insurance agencies you are dealing with are giving you exceptional trouble, a lawyer can probably help. Try to speak with an attorney if insurers are pushing structured or low settlements in your face
- Do not know who might be responsible for their accident (or think more than one party was responsible): Sometimes, it is very clear who was responsible for an accident. In many other cases, the fault is not so obvious. The sooner you hire a qualified motorcycle accident attorney, the sooner he or she can help you determine and prove who caused your accident. Some accidents also involve numerous responsible parties. If this may describe your accident, you could benefit significantly from working with a lawyer
Call an Attorney the Day of Your Crash
If you or somebody you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, we strongly encourage you to contact an attorney the day of the accident if at all possible. That said, your number one priority must be to seek medical care. Any person involved in a motorcycle crash needs to be evaluated by a qualified physician right after the incident occurs. Please understand that the signs and symptoms of many motorcycle accident injuries do not appear until hours or even days after the crash occurs. There are various reasons why we do not want you to wait until you feel pain to seek medical care.
If you wait to seek medical care, this could be used as evidence by insurance carriers that you were not really injured in the actual motorcycle accident. The longer you wait to seek care, the more of an opportunity you give the insurance carriers to say that your injuries were caused by something else.
After you receive medical care, or even while you are waiting to see a doctor, you need to pick up the phone and call an attorney. When a motorcycle accident lawyer gets to work on your case, they will begin the process of obtaining and gathering evidence immediately. The reality is that there is a significant amount of evidence that will begin to disappear very soon after an accident occurs. After this evidence is gone, there is often no way to get it back and use it to help bolster your case against aggressive insurance carriers or during a personal injury trial.
An Attorney Will Gather Evidence and Prepare the Demand Letter
A motorcycle accident lawyer will have more resources than the accident victim when it comes to these situations. An attorney can use the resources to gather all of the following evidence:
- Photographs taken at the scene of the crash
- Video surveillance from any nearby cameras
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Statements from other drivers and passengers
- The accident report
- Vehicle “black box” data
- Mobile device data
An attorney will also ensure that the motorcycle accident victim is evaluated by trusted medical and economic experts who can help calculate the total expected losses. Using all of this evidence and the information from the financial experts, an attorney will prepare a demand letter to be sent to the insurance carrier. This will typically begin a negotiation process between your attorney and the insurance carrier. Please understand that the insurance carriers are not your friend, and they will be looking to find any reason to deny your claim or to pay out as little as possible. An attorney will work to negotiate the best possible settlement for your situation.
However, if the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies the claim altogether, an attorney will be fully prepared to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Plaintiffs must file a lawsuit within a certain period called the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations exists to help ensure that decisions are based on evidence that has not deteriorated or that has become less reliable over time. Imagine a witness trying to accurately recall the series of events or small details ten years after an accident. A jury is not likely to find their testimony very credible.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In Florida, for example, the statute of limitations for a motorcycle accident is four years. Four years sounds like a long time, but it will pass much more quickly than you may think. In most states, the statute is far shorter.
Regardless of where you live, you will need to complete these time-consuming actions before you file a lawsuit:
- Time managing your injuries and the accompanying medical demands;
- Gather evidence related to the accident to assess which party is responsible for the accident
- Prepare an initial damages assessment to include in your lawsuit
We explore each of these steps in more detail below, but the primary takeaway is not to do it yourself, or wait to contact an attorney to help move your case forward. Reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney today for more information, then let your lawyer do that work for you.
When It Comes to Talking to a Lawyer, Good Things Come to Those Who Do Not Wait
The statute of limitations is the outside time limit on your legal rights. Do not think of it as a suggestion for when you should seek the help of a skilled motorcycle accident injury lawyer.
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering full compensation for your injuries and losses, then you do not have a moment to lose in speaking with an attorney. Here are several reasons why you cannot wait another minute to hire a lawyer for your motorcycle accident.
Someone Needs to Preserve Evidence and Witness Recollections Right Now
With every day that passes after your motorcycle accident, chances increase that key evidence will go missing and that witnesses will forget important details about the crash. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner the lawyer can prevent that from happening by locating and securing evidence and speaking with witnesses.
It Might Take a While to Investigate Your Motorcycle Accident and Build Your Strongest Case
Winning lawsuits aren’t built in a day. Even the most skilled and experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyers often need a solid block of time to dig into the details of your motorcycle crash to determine how it happened, who should take the blame for it, and how much money you deserve as damages. They may need to hire experts to reconstruct the accident. They may want to wait for your doctors to give you a firm prediction of your future medical needs. They may think you should explore alternatives to a lawsuit.
The sooner you hire a lawyer for your motorcycle accident, in other words, the more options and opportunities you give your lawyer to build you the strongest possible case.
Defense Lawyers and Insurance Companies Take Quick Action Seriously
To make the most of your legal rights, you need representatives of the parties who owe you money to take your claim seriously. The sooner you act, the better the odds that those defense lawyers and insurance companies, in particular, will see you as someone who means business. Serious claims can lead to serious money.
If you wait to hire a lawyer after your motorcycle accident, however, you risk making your claim look like an after-thought to the people who decide how much money to offer you as a settlement. Do not risk making that mistake. Hire a lawyer for your motorcycle accident today.
It Costs You Nothing to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Sometimes, people wait to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer because they fear they cannot afford to pay legal bills.
They do not need to worry. Skilled motorcycle accident injury lawyers offer free case consultations to potential clients. It costs you nothing to contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.
Those same lawyers also virtually always work on contingency. That means they agree to work for motorcycle accident victims without receiving any payment up-front or as the case goes along. Instead, their legal fee gets paid out of any money they succeed in recovering on a client’s behalf. If you don’t get paid, in other words, then the lawyer does not get paid either.
Experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyers represent clients on contingency because they know how injuries and losses can put crash victims under severe financial strain. These lawyers believe that everyone deserves to have a high-quality lawyer representing them in their moments of need. Working on contingency makes that possible.
Instead of “How Long Can I Wait?” Ask “How Long Should I Wait?”
Let’s recap. The basic answer to how long you can wait to hire a lawyer for your motorcycle accident is: until the statute of limitations expires and you lose your rights.
But, as we’ve said, it’s not always obvious how long the statute of limitations lasts, and in any event, it’s an outside time limit, not a target date.
The better question to ask is: “How long should I wait to hire a lawyer for my motorcycle accident case?” The answer to that question is clear: Not another moment. You have potentially valuable legal rights to receive significant compensation for your injuries and losses, and you have the best chance of receiving that compensation if you act now.
To learn more about your rights after suffering injuries and losses in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney right away.
Step by Step What To Do
After a motorcycle accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can. Even if you think that you escaped with fairly minor injuries such as scrapes, cuts and bruises, you should still get examined by a doctor who will know how to fully examine you for injuries and order the appropriate tests. Some injuries can be serious but not obvious to victims – especially when they are in a state of shock. Traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, soft tissue damage and internal bleeding are examples.
Additionally, when you see a doctor, you will document the type of injury that you have suffered and the date of the injury. If you move forward with filing a personal injury claim against another driver or any other party that caused your motorcycle crash and injuries, this documentation will play an important role in your case. Evidence that you received timely treatment of your injuries, for instance, will help to establish that your accident caused those injuries. It can prevent an insurance company from claiming that your injuries occurred for some other reason.
In addition to getting medical treatment, you should also consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can review all of the facts of your case and help you to understand your legal rights and your options for seeking compensation.
Also, the lawyer can determine which statute of limitations applies to your case and determine how much time you have in which to file a lawsuit. If filing a lawsuit is necessary, the lawyer can ensure that it is filed in a timely manner.
Keep in mind: The investigation and preparation of a motorcycle accident claim takes time. So, if you wait too long to get legal help, it could hurt your ability to file a lawsuit and seek compensation that you are due. For this reason, you should not delay contacting a lawyer.