Common Challenges in Motorcycle Accident Cases
The Aloha State is one of the best places to ride a motorcycle. Many residents and tourists enjoy motorcycles as a primary mode of transportation. These lightweight, eco-friendly vehicles are excellent for navigating Hawaii’s narrow mountain roads and winding coastlines.
But the popularity of motorcycling sometimes comes at a steep price. Motorcycle accidents frequently occur throughout the state, causing tragic deaths and serious injuries. And even when riders have valid legal claims, they may struggle to recover the fair compensation they need to get medical treatment, recoup lost wages, and move on with their lives. Let’s look at some of the most common challenges motorcyclists face after a crash.
The percentage of U.S. households with one or more motorcycles recently soared to a record eight percent. While it’s safe to say motorcycles are used more widely than ever, public attitudes and prejudices still often cast motorcycles and their riders in a negative light when it comes to legal claims.
Popular culture traditionally paints the image of a motorcyclist as an impulsive hothead. Though we should know better, these outdated stereotypes still influence rational thinking among insurance adjusters, judges, and juries. Motorcyclists who file injury claims run up against assumptions they are reckless thrill-seekers.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can call out insurers and other parties who use this type of unfair bias as a tactic during settlement negotiations. At Recovery Law Center, we will collect solid motorcycle crash evidence to support your claim and level the playing field.
Expensive Crash Injuries
Motorcyclists have far less protection than vehicle occupants in any crash scenario, even when wearing all the proper protective gear. This means motorcycle riders tend to sustain more severe injuries in a collision. Serious injuries make motorcycle accident claims more complex for two reasons.
First, more severe injuries take longer to heal. And often, insurance companies refuse to settle until the claimant reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is simply a shorthand way of saying your condition is unlikely to improve with additional treatment. Depending on your injuries, it could take months or even years to reach MMI.
Second, more severe injuries require intensive medical care, which drives up the value of motorcycle accident claims. Insurance companies will fight against making a fair payout whenever more money is on the line.
Insurance Policy Limits
Hawaii is a no-fault state for auto insurance. Motor vehicle drivers must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and turn to their insurers to cover medical bills and lost wages after a crash. But this requirement does not extend to motorcyclists.
PIP coverage is an optional add-on for motorcyclists in Hawaii. You must purchase liability insurance coverage, but that won’t pay for you or a passenger’s expenses after a crash. Without PIP insurance, your only option for compensation would be to file a negligence claim against the at-fault party (if possible) or rely on your health insurance to cover your accident-related costs.
Remember that even if you purchased PIP coverage, your costs are only covered up to your policy limits. The same is true in a personal injury claim against a negligent party. Your ability to recover compensation will be restricted to their policy limits, which may not be enough to cover the total costs of your injuries. A knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer can evaluate your case and identify all potential sources of compensation after an accident.
Insurance Company Disputes
Insurance companies want to make a profit, not provide fair payments to you. Adjusters are trained to settle for less or deny claims outright to protect the company’s bottom line. An insurer may try to undervalue your claim by saying:
- “There’s not enough evidence.” Every motorcycle accident claim requires proof. The insurance company may argue you didn’t provide enough to show the at-fault party was responsible for the wreck.
- “You didn’t get prompt medical treatment.” Not all injuries show up right away. If you failed to seek medical care immediately, the insurer might say you made your condition worse by delaying or suggest that another incident — not the crash — caused your motorcycle accident injury.
- “It’s a preexisting condition.” If your injury is similar to a condition you already have, the adjuster may say the injury is not due to the motorcycle accident. To shield yourself from this tactic, never sign any release forms for the insurance company before talking to a lawyer. They are only entitled to the records related to the accident, not your whole medical history.
These shady strategies can leave motorcyclists with substantially undervalued claims after a traffic collision. The motorcycle accident attorneys at Recovery Law Center can represent you in all talks with the insurance company to prevent unfair practices from undermining your claim.
Comparative Negligence in Hawaii
If you were partially at fault for the motorcycle accident, Hawaii’s comparative negligence rules might impact your right to claim compensation from the other driver. The law says you can only recover compensation from another party if your share of responsibility for the accident is less than 51 percent. However, the amount you recover will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
Suppose a jury determines that you are 25 percent at fault for a motorcycle crash that left you with $100,000 in medical costs and other losses. Factoring in your percentage of fault, the most you could recover would be 75 percent of the total amount, or $75,000.