Fort Wayne Motorcycle Injury Lawyer: Helping You Fight for The Damages You Deserve
Thousands of people use motorcycles as their mode of transportation every day. Unfortunately, motorcycles offer minimal protection to their riders, leaving them more vulnerable to injuries in an accident. Allen County has one of the highest rates of motorcycle accident injuries in Indiana, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. But injured motorcyclists are not without rights. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another, an experienced Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for injuries and losses sustained in an accident.
Why Do You Need a Fort Wayne Motorcycle Injury Lawyer?
Motorcycle accidents can result in serious injuries or, in the worst case, a fatality. The driver of the vehicle could be liable for damages. However, the insurance company controls how the responsible party’s attorney handles the defense, including making settlement offers. Further, there is a chance other people’s actions, including your own, also contributed to the accident. Proving your case against the responsible party or parties—or negotiating a settlement with their insurer—requires particular skill, knowledge and experience.
Fighting for compensation in a personal injury claim requires a specific skillset, especially if you have to fight to be made whole. A motorcycle injury lawyer in Indiana is a powerful ally who can represent your interests when dealing with the insurance company and during litigation, helping to maximize the compensation or damages you can recover. Below is an overview of the process in a motorcycle injury case.
Indiana Accident Laws on Proving Fault
Before you can recover damages for your injuries, you must prove the accident is the fault of the other party. The most common way to prove fault is to show that the other driver acted negligently and their negligence caused the accident. To prove negligence, you must establish that the other party:
- Owed you a duty
- Breached that duty
- Caused the accident that resulted in injury
Generally, all motorists owe a duty to others on the road to act in a manner that avoids causing an injury. A driver breaches this duty when they unreasonably operate their vehicle. Their actions are judged based on what a reasonable person would have done in similar circumstances.
Once you establish that a driver’s actions breached a duty to you, you must establish the accident and the accident alone caused your injury. There can be no prior or intervening cause of your injury. Once the defendant’s breach of duty is proven, you must prove that actual damages resulted from their actions or negligence. Your resulting losses constitute actual damages, which can include property damage and physical and emotional injuries. Without actual damages, you may not be allowed to recover monetary damages.
A common defense deployed by defendants in injury cases is to claim your actions also contributed to the accident. Under Indiana Code chapter 34-51-2, Indiana accident laws apply modified comparative fault to negligence actions, which prevents a plaintiff who is 51 percent or more responsible for the accident from recovering any compensation for injuries or loss. In determining comparative fault, the law considers the plaintiff’s conduct using the same negligence standard applied to other parties to the accident.
An individual who is determined to have been 51 percent or more at fault for the accident cannot recover monetary damages from other responsible parties. However, an individual who is 50 percent or less at fault may seek to recover damages in proportion to their fault. For example, when a plaintiff is found to be 15 percent at fault, he or she can only recover 85 percent of any damages awarded.
When Other Parties are at Fault
Responsibility for a motorcycle accident is not limited to another driver. You can also hold a third party who was not directly involved with the crash responsible if their actions led to the accident. Other parties you can hold responsible include:
- Employers of other drivers who caused or contributed to the accident, if the driver was on the road in a work capacity
- Maintenance personnel, if the accident was caused by negligent maintenance of your motorcycle or another vehicle and the poor maintenance contributed to the accident
- Government agencies, if roadways have not been properly maintained or repaired
Regardless of the party at fault, a motorcycle injury lawyer in Indiana can help you recover the damages you deserve. Experienced Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers can help minimize your exposure to contributory negligence and employ strategies for proving the accident is entirely the fault of a party or parties other than yourself.
A Fort Wayne Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Can Help You Deal with Insurance Companies
In most cases, you must interact with insurance companies to recover compensation for your injuries. Once the accident occurs, you must submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance company. The insurer will then open an investigation into the accident through an insurance adjuster. The investigation likely includes an interview of all parties involved in the accident for their account of the event. Having an attorney at this early stage can be critical to protecting your rights by helping prepare you for this interview and ensure your statement represents your best interests and supports your claim.
In addition to the interview, the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim will review the police report, accident photographs, and medical and repair records. Once you start medical treatment, keep your medical records on hand, so the insurance adjuster has all your medical records and is not missing information critical to your claim.
After reviewing all relevant information gathered in the investigation, the adjuster may decide to make an offer to settle your claim. Often, the insurance company initially makes a very low offer. However, rejecting the offer doesn’t remove your ability to recover damages at a later time. A motorcycle injury lawyer can help you determine if the offer you receive is appropriate in your case or if you might fare better by taking your claim to court.
How an Experienced Fort Wayne Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Represents Your Interests in Litigation
If you do not receive an acceptable offer to settle your claim, the next step may be to file a lawsuit. Indiana motorcycle laws are similar to personal injury laws generally, including the deadline for pursuing legal action for compensation. Specifically, Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4 allows you only two years from the accident to file a complaint. Even if you are timely in filing, litigation is a complex process that requires specific skills and legal knowledge to successfully navigate. In Allen County, it is wise to have an experienced Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer represent your interests.
File the Lawsuit and Serve the Defendant
To initiate a lawsuit, you must file a complaint with the appropriate court and pay a filing fee. Under Rule 75 of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, the correct court for the accident is generally the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant lives.
Once you file the complaint, you must serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons. Someone other than yourself must serve the defendant with the complaint, but the documents can be served by hand delivery or through certified mail.
Discovery and Negotiations
After the lawsuit has been filed, the parties begin the discovery phase, during which they gather information and records relating to the accident and then exchange all such information in their possession. Discovery may include attending a deposition, which is a recorded interview in which another party’s attorney asks you questions regarding your account of the accident, your injuries, and how the injuries impact your daily life. Having representation by a Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer at the deposition can help protect your interests and prevent questions meant to harass you.
Following discovery, the parties to the case usually have enough information to evaluate their positions and begin negotiating a settlement. Your attorney will handle all negotiations, but you have the final say on rejecting or accepting any offer.
Final Stages of Litigation
Should settlement be unsuccessful, the lawsuit proceeds to trial, the adjudication stage, although the parties may continue settlement negotiations or engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods at the same time.
In mediation and arbitration, two types of ADR, a neutral third party works with the parties to resolve the dispute in a less formal process than a trial. Mediation involves an objective, neutral third party negotiating a settlement between the parties. Mediation may be helpful in resolving your claim, but it is not always binding. Arbitration is more like a less formal trial, and you may have to testify regarding your account of the accident, your injuries, and how your injuries impact your life. An arbitrator’s decision is usually binding as is a trial court judgment.
Whether you use ADR or go to trial, you need skilled counsel to help you present appropriate evidence persuasively for the best chance of success.
The Insurance Company during Litigation
Throughout litigation, the real party preventing payment of compensation is the insurance company and not the other driver. The insurance company is the one who decides how to handle the defense of the lawsuit, and it must approve any offer made to the plaintiff. Still, the insurance company is not the correct party to name in your lawsuit, and you should name the person who caused the accident as the defendant.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with, and getting a fair offer is often an immense challenge. Communicating with the insurance company regarding your case is frustrating and best left to experienced Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
While the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident vary from one motorcycle accident to the next, there are several injuries commonly seen by a Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer. These include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal and disc injuries
- Broken bones
The severity of the injury and the impacts on your life are important factors in how much you can recover from the defendant.
Because injuries vary, it is difficult to know exactly what damages you may receive. However, an experienced Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer can review the facts and evidence in your case to estimate potential damages and use that evidence to help establish that your injuries arose out of the accident.
Contact a Fort Wayne Motorcycle Injury Lawyer
While navigating the litigation process for a motorcycle accident injury is challenging, you can recover the damages you deserve with an attorney’s assistance. Keffer Hirschauer LLP serves clients in Allen County and across Indiana. When you need a Fort Wayne motorcycle injury lawyer, we are ready to help you fight to hold the people or businesses responsible for your injuries liable and get the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, contact our Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers by calling (317) 455-4043 or complete our online contact form.