If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you’re probably facing a long recovery time. When a motorcycle collides with a car or truck, the outcome is usually catastrophic. According to the National Safety Council, motorcyclists account for 14% of all fatal traffic accidents in the United States, even though motorcycles represent only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled. Those who survive often experience devastating injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries that may cause paralysis, loss of sensation, and other long-term disabilities
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal injuries that include damage to the organs and internal bleeding
- Burns (if the bike catches fire or explodes)
- Emotional trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression
When an exhilarating motorcycle ride turns tragic because someone else was negligent, you may be entitled to significant damages. In this blog, we go over the possible damages you may be entitled to and how a motorcycle accident lawyer at Conybeare Law Office can help you pursue them via a personal injury claim.
Why Are Motorcycle Injuries So Serious?
There are two primary reasons why motorcyclists are more likely to suffer severe injuries in a car accident:
- Lack of Protection: Unlike commercial and passenger vehicle occupants, who are surrounded by metal frames and airbags, motorcyclists are more exposed and have limited protection. In a collision, they may be thrown off the bike and onto the road or into other objects, causing serious injuries.
- Smaller Size and Weight: Motorcycles are smaller than cars, which means they may not be as visible to other drivers on the road. This can increase the likelihood of a collision, and when an accident occurs, the motorcyclist is at a disadvantage due to the difference in size and weight.
Motorists sometimes downplay their responsibilities to motorcycle riders by branding motorcyclists thrill seekers who intentionally operate their bikes in a reckless manner. Not only is this not true, but it’s also beside the point: motorists have a duty of care to anyone who shares the road with them, including motorcycle riders.
Possible Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident in Michigan
The motorcycle accident damages you can seek will depend on factors like your actual financial losses, the severity of your injuries, and their anticipated impact on your future. In Michigan, compensatory damages are categorized as economic or non-economic.
Economic Damages Recoverable in a Michigan Motorcycle Accident
Economic damages provide accident victims with compensation for their direct, out-of-pocket losses. Here are some verifiable and calculable losses you may be able to recover:
- Medical Bills: Current and future medical expenses incurred due to the accident. This includes, but may not be limited to, ambulance fees, doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medication, and transportation costs.
- Past Lost Wages: Coverage for lost wages because of time off work from the crash.
- Future Income Loss: Compensation for loss of income you may suffer in the future due to your injuries.
- Rehabilitation: Includes physical, occupational, speech, and other types of rehabilitation.
- Assistive Services: If you are unable to care for yourself after your motorcycle accident, you may need to hire help.
- Property Damage: Recovery for personal property damaged in the crash, and the cost of the motorcycle.
- Other Costs: Out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident.
Noneconomic Damages Recoverable in a Michigan Motorcycle Accident
You can seek compensation for less tangible types of harm resulting from your motorcycle accident. It can be challenging to estimate noneconomic damages because they aren’t typically accompanied by receipts, invoices, or pay stubs, but an experienced Kalamazoo motorcycle accident attorney will know how to determine how much compensation you should receive.
- Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical and emotional pain you have experienced due to the accident. This could include the trauma and stress of the accident, long-term emotional distress, and any physical pain.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Covers losses when you can no longer participate in activities you enjoyed before the accident.
- Loss of Consortium: Compensates you for changes in your relationship due to your injuries.
- Disfigurement: Compensation for disfigurement or permanent scarring caused by your injuries.
It is important to note that the modified comparative fault rule in Michigan prohibits victims from collecting noneconomic damages if they are more than 50% at fault for the accident.
Does Michigan Allow You to Sue for Punitive Damages?
In other states, punitive damages are awarded for egregious, malicious, or despicable behavior on the part of the defendant. They are not an option in Michigan. However, victims who claim the defendant acted maliciously or in disregard of their rights may be awarded exemplary damages.
There is only a slight difference between the two: exemplary damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the defendant’s misconduct rather than deter or punish anyone. Your attorney may seek these motorcycle accident damages if the defendant had the chance to avoid hurting you and didn’t take it or if you suffered humiliation or a loss of dignity.
Does Michigan Law Cap Settlement Values in Motorcycle Accident Cases?
Michigan is one of the few states that doesn’t limit or cap damage awards. Damages of any type, including exemplary damages, are subject to this stance unless product liability or medical malpractice is involved. Thus, juries in this state can award any amount to motorcycle accident victims, with damages undergoing a potential reduction if you share blame for the accident.
Get a Free Consultation From a Kalamazoo Motorcycle Accident Attorney
The days, weeks, and months following a Michigan motorcycle accident can be overwhelming. If you can’t work due to excruciating injuries, you might face a financial crisis. Insurers, however, won’t just hand you a check that covers all your losses. If you want more than a lowball offer, you’ll have to fight for it.
That’s where Conybeare Law Office can help. We have been representing injured motorcyclists across Michigan for nearly 40 years. We also understand the pain you are experiencing and how important a financial recovery is to you. When you contact us, we’ll fight to secure a meaningful award for you. To schedule your free consultation, call 269-769-BEAR or fill out this contact form. Remember: if it’s not fair, call the Bear!