Motorcycle accidents injure as many as five people a day just on Texas roadways. On average, more than 400 persons die every year on motorcycles. In many cases, these accidents were not caused by the motorcycle rider, but by the driver of another vehicle.
Significant Injury and Damage
It is no surprise that when a car and motorcycle collide, the motorcycle rider is at a disadvantage. They have no protection from a car since there are no sides; they can be thrown from their bike and suffer serious brain injuries; they can suffer road rash, which can lead to serious infections; and they can lose their lives. Although anyone operating a motorized vehicle can be at risk, motorcyclists face a greater potential for physical harm and loss of property.
When two cars collide, there is an equal chance that each vehicle will suffer similar damage. When a car and motorcycle collide, there is a higher chance of more serious damage to the motorcycle—not to mention the operator’s clothing, helmet, and bike accessories like specialized lights, satchels, etc.
When a victim of a motorcycle accident files an accident claim, they generally must file two claims: One for their injuries, and one for the damages sustained to their property.
Documenting a Property Damage Claim
Any claim filed after an accident requires documentation. For example, if you are filing an injury claim, you have to show proof of injury. This normally entails providing the insurance company with access to the records of the medical team that treated your injuries.
Property damage is slightly different, although the level of proof remains the same.
You must document:
- You were in a motorcycle crash.
- As a result of the motorcycle crash, your bike was damaged.
- The costs associated with the damage to your motorcycle.
Property Damage and Insurance Claims
As with any insurance claim, you must document the damage to your motorcycle. Insurance adjusters will likely take photographs and ask you for a copy of the bill of sale or other documentation you may have which indicates the motorcycle’s age. The insurance company may deem it appropriate to declare the motorcycle a total loss—this is especially true when motorcycle damage is substantial.
Following the adjuster reviewing the damage to your motorcycle, you may wish to have your own mechanic review the damages and provide you with an estimate to repair. You may also want to review Kelley Blue Book to indicate the motorcycle’s value before the damage occurred so you have some record to back up your claim.
Texas, for example, requires all drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance. This policy is known as a 30/60/25, which means $30,000 coverage for bodily injury for one person, $60,000 coverage for more than one person and $25,000 coverage for property damage, all calculated per accident. Your bike may be worth more depending on the year, make, and model. Additionally, there is a chance the insurance company may offer you less than the amount needed to restore the motorcycle to its value before the accident—in which case you may claim diminished value.
What Is Diminished Value?
Diminished value is calculated only after you have a full appraisal by a motorcycle expert. The appraiser will review the motorcycle’s condition following the accident and advise you what the current value of the motorcycle is based on the compromised condition. After this, they will then render an evaluation of what the motorcycle would be worth had it not suffered damage in an accident. The difference between the two is the diminished value.
When Insurance Company Adjusters Offer Less Than Full Value
When the full value of your claim is being denied, or the value the insurance company is offering to resolve your damage claim, a motorcycle accident attorney can help. In addition to helping motorcycle accident victims get compensated for their injuries including lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, they can also help you recover the losses to your property.
Insurance company adjusters may offer you a lesser amount than what you feel you deserve. This is particularly true if you still have an outstanding loan on the motorcycle at the time of a crash. If you feel the insurance company is not treating you fairly, talk to your motorcycle accident lawyer. Do not try to negotiate with an adjuster on your own—they may try to avoid getting a lawyer involved.
Motorcycle accidents are terrifying, and victims often suffer life-altering injuries. In addition to seeking compensation for your injuries, you may have a right to be fully compensated for the loss of your motorcycle, or the damage a negligent driver caused.
Following any roadway accident, you should notify the police and file an accident report. After you seek medical attention, you should notify your insurance company of the accident and provide them with the information for the other driver, as well as where the accident occurred, so they can obtain a copy of the accident report. Following these steps, seek guidance from an experienced lawyer. While you have two years to file a motorcycle accident claim, you probably have questions about what rights you have and what options are available to you to recover financially from the accident including your motorcycle accident and the damage to your motorcycle.
Do not wait too long to seek legal guidance. The insurers are probably going to contact you shortly after the accident for additional information, and they may ask you to sign documents that could diminish your claim. Contact an experienced motorcycle lawyer and make sure you understand your rights, and so you know you have someone who is serving as your advocate.