When a motor vehicle and a motorcycle collide, the damages suffered by the motorcyclist are almost always severe. If the motorcyclist can prove that the driver involved was to blame for the crash, then they can hold the driver (through their liability insurance policy, most likely) for their damages. If you’re someone who has been injured and you are waiting for your settlement, you surely have questions about how long the motorcycle accident claims process takes. Here’s an overview of what you should know--for more information, please reach out to our experienced California motorcycle accident lawyers at the office of Cutter Law, P.C. for your free consultation.
The Settlement Timeline Can Vary
The first thing that you should know about the timeline of the motorcycle accident claims process is that it can vary dramatically. Some claims are simple and may be settled within a matter of weeks or a few short months; other claims are more complex and take multiple months, or even more than a year, to resolve. Don’t be fooled by promises from an attorney that your claim will be finished quickly or that you’re guaranteed a certain amount of money. There are multiple factors that can impact the timeline (and how much you are able to receive).
Factors that Affect the Motorcycle Accident Claims Process & Timeline
Everyone hopes that their case will settle quickly but, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Factors that can affect the process timeline include:
Severity of injuries and MMI. The more severe a motorcyclist’s injuries, the longer it will likely take them to reach MMI--Maximum Medical Improvement. Maximum Medical Improvement is the fullest extent to which a doctor expects the motorcyclist will heal. It’s important that a claimant waits until reaching MMI before filing a demand letter or accepting a settlement offer, as it will be difficult to accurately calculate damages until MMI has been reached.
Disagreements about fault. Another thing that may impact the settlement timeline is a disagreement about how the accident occurred or who should be held liable for it. This is often the case in claims where evidence is sparse or more than two parties are potentially at fault. Sometimes, the investigatory process itself can take months to conclude.
Disputes about the value of a claim. The more severe a motorcyclist’s injuries and the more that they are demanding in damages, the more pushback there will be from an insurance adjuster, whose primary job is to save the insurance company money. If both parties cannot agree about how much a claim is worth, then the settlement negotiations process can drag on for many months. In some cases, reaching a settlement that both parties think is fair might prove impossible, in which case the case may go to trial. This can extend the process by up to another year.
The Motorcycle Accident Claims Process
The above touches on some of the things that impact the settlement process, but doesn’t outline what to expect along the way in terms of how the process unfolds. Here’s what the average claims process might look like:
Report the accident to the police. The first thing you’ll need to do is report the accident to the police. This is absolutely necessary in order to have a valid claim with the insurance company.
Seek medical care and wait to reach MMI. You should always seek medical care after a motorcycle accident, even if you don’t initially think that your injuries are serious. As mentioned above, you’ll need to wait until reaching MMI before you can move forward with requesting compensation.
Notify the insurance company. Notifying the insurance company of the crash is a step that you should take as early on in the process as possible--within 24-48 hours of the accident occurring. The insurance company cannot begin its investigation until it has received notification.
Investigatory process. Once the insurance company has received notification of the accident, it will open an investigation. The investigatory process can take weeks or months, depending on various factors and the complexity of the case. As an insurance company investigates, so too should your lawyer. Your lawyer can travel to the scene, hire accident reconstruction experts, talk to eyewitnesses, and more. This process is necessary in order to make a determination about negligence and causation.
Issue a demand letter. Once an investigation has been completed, you have reached MMI, and you have worked with your attorney and experts to calculate the value of your claim, you will file a demand letter against the insurance company of the at-fault party. Your demand letter will request compensation for the full value of your economic and noneconomic losses.
Enter into settlement negotiations. Once the insurance adjuster receives your demand letter, they will likely offer you a settlement. Proceed with caution, though: the offer may be for much less than you deserve. You have a right to reject a first settlement offer and negotiate. As mentioned above, the negotiations process can drag on depending on the complexity of your case and how much you’re asking for.
Accept a settlement or file a lawsuit. At the end of the negotiations process, you can either accept a settlement or file a lawsuit. It’s important to know that if you file a lawsuit, litigation could take about a year.
Work with an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney in California
At the office of Cutter Law. P.C., our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in California are passionate about providing representation for injured motorcyclists and their families. If you have been involved in a crash caused by the fault of someone else, let our law firm advocate for your right to your full settlement award. Please call us today or send us a message online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.