You suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, and you need to file a motorcycle accident claim so that you can seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses and impacts you experienced because of the accident. You may need those funds fast, especially if you have medical bills piling up and other expenses rolling in as you struggle to recover and get back to work. Naturally, one of the most common questions motorcycle claimants naturally have is how long a motorcycle accident claim takes.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Claim Take?
In general, you should expect it to take at least several months to resolve your motorcycle accident claim and receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Many factors can determine how long a claim takes to resolve. You should talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to get a better idea of how long you should expect your specific claim to take.
What Factors Can Influence the Time for a Motorcycle Accident Claim to be Resolved?
While your motorcycle accident case will have unique circumstances affecting how long it takes to resolve your claim, several common factors typically affect the timeline.
1. Your Recovery
You need to determine your health prognosis after a motorcycle accident before you can even make a demand for damages. You can only determine how much compensation you deserve by knowing what your long-term medical needs will be after your motorcycle accident. Often, it will take weeks or even months to know what your long-term needs will be and how much they will cost.
In the case of some injuries common to motorcycle accidents, like spinal cord injuries, it may take up to six months for your medical provider to develop a firm prognosis. For instance, before making a final prognosis, they may want to administer certain treatment and rehabilitation to preserve your mobility as much as possible. If you suffered severe burns, such as major road rash, in your motorcycle accident, your doctors may need time to see what complications you may experience while undergoing treatment. Broken bones, too, can have varied recovery times, and the amount of mobility that you ultimately recover may vary, especially if you suffered multiple broken bones in your motorcycle accident. Your attorney may, therefore, recommend waiting until you have a better idea of your future prognosis before moving forward with your motorcycle accident claim.
2. The Investigation
Sometimes, you can show by clear evidence who exactly caused your motorcycle accident and the injuries you suffered as a direct result. You may have a solid police report or even dashcam footage clearly demonstrating that the other driver committed a severe error on the road that led to the accident.
Other times, determining liability and linking the motorcycle accident to your injuries may require more in-depth investigation. For instance, if the evidence may in any way suggest you could have been partly responsible for the accident, the other driver’s insurance company is likely to seize the opportunity to fight your claim, thus prolonging the process. Your attorney might need to look more in-depth to uncover further evidence or testimony to substantiate your claim, or might need to look for an expert witness to help reconstruct the scene of the accident to establish that the defendant caused it. The other driver’s insurance company will likely also want to conduct its own investigation into the accident.
Investigation can take a long time, especially if you have a complicated motorcycle accident case in which more than one party may bear liability for the accident. For example, if your motorcycle accident involved a commercial driver, your attorney may need to investigate the driver’s company to see if the company may share liability, by lacking safety procedures or engaging in unsafe practices that contributed to the accident.
3. Settlement Negotiations
Negotiating a settlement with the liable driver’s insurance company can also take considerable time, prolonging your claim. Most of the time, you will not want to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer, which likely will be far less than the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Likewise, the insurance company will likely not accept the terms of your first demand.
As a result, you may need to go back and forth through several rounds of negotiation before arriving at agreeable terms. The more complex the case and the more there is for the insurance company to lose, the more rounds of negotiation you may need to go to before you can settle your motorcycle accident claim.
If the parties can’t reach an agreement between themselves, they may be referred to mediation. Mediation is a process in which an objective third party, called a mediator, guides negotiations between the parties to try and help reach an agreement. The mediator may introduce considerations for each party to entice them to move toward terms the other side may find more acceptable.
While the mediator does not take one side or another, the mediator can help frame the case so that the parties can better evaluate their respective strengths and weaknesses, and the benefits of settling, as opposed to dragging a case on through the lengthy litigation process. Furthermore, at the end of the mediation, a mediator may make a recommendation about how to settle, but they have no authority to bind the parties.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, even with the help of mediation, you may need to take your motorcycle injury claim to court. Going to court often significantly extends the time needed to resolve the case. The court process introduces a whole new set of notoriously tedious, lengthy stages and processes—from pretrial motions and discovery to a final trial. The speed of your case also partly depends on how backed up a court’s docket is, and how soon it can schedule the various hearings that your claim may require.
Even after you file in court, though, the parties may settle. Most of the time, insurance companies prefer to settle out of court following a motorcycle accident, as it saves them from the possibility of a judgment that is costlier than settlement and from the legal fees they will incur in the meantime.