Due to the lack of physical protection on a motorcycle, motorcycle accident victims often incur very serious physical injuries, even in relatively low-speed impacts.
Establishing whether or not a person is entitled to recover financial compensation for their injuries is not always clear-cut, particularly in North Carolina where our ‘contributory negligence’ laws make determining liability a major concern. To this end, it’s important to work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, one who is licensed and experienced in the state of North Carolina and understands accident law, intimately.
So how do you find a good motorcycle accident attorney?
We recommend that you start by talking with friends and family who might have some useful suggestions and recommendations. But avoid engaging an attorney whose area of practice is something other than accident law. A divorce lawyer isn’t going to have what it takes to understand the legal complexities involving insurance stacking, defenses to contributory negligence, and how to represent your best interests should your case go to trial!
Once you have one or two possible recommendations, perform due diligence by checking out some of their online reviews. Try to find a few cases they’ve handled that look similar to yours – accident cases involving motorcycles, cars, trucks etc.
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, perhaps to one or two local law firms, arrange your first meeting for a case review with a lawyer. This first meeting should be free of charge and it should be used to determine the path forward with your case and also to determine whether or not your are going to be comfortable with representation from this specific lawyer and law firm.
At your meeting, don’t be concerned about asking questions, and certainly don’t apologize for any questions you might have as to the procedure and the likely outcome.
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURY ATTORNEYS
Motorcycle accidents are often considered catastrophic, in terms of the physical injuries sustained by riders of the motorcycle. These rider injuries will always be more severe than those of the driver and passengers in the car simply because the motorcycle does not provide the same physical protections as a car and there is the potential of being thrown some distance on impact. Even with the use of helmets and protective riding gloves and clothing, the motorcycle operator always risks the potential for serious bodily injuries – unfortunately, our motorcycle accident lawyers here at Kellum Law Firm can attest first hand to some of the life-changing injuries suffered by our motorcyclist clients.
Sadly, many people have the wrong opinion that motorcycles are too risky and that any injury that a person receives when riding a motorcycle is their own fault, purely because they understood the risks involved yet chose to ride anyway. This is particularly true in states where it is not required to wear a safety helmet while riding, which, we’re thankful to say, North Carolina is not included.
Insurance adjusters and even accident investigators often blame the motorcycle rider for accidents, even when it is clearly not their fault. Because of this bias, it is always beneficial for anyone injured in a motorcycle accident to seek legal representation and engage the services of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
How A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
North Carolina law requires that a person cannot seek compensation for their injuries in an accident if there is shared responsibility for the cause of the accident.
The first thing that your accident attorney will do is try to establish fault for the accident through information contained in the police reports, eye witness accounts and possibly through the use of an accident reconstruction service.
Once there’s a high degree of confidence on the part of your attorney that you had no contributory fault or negligence in the accident, then your attorney will begin working to protect your rights as an injury victim and begin legal proceedings against those at fault.
Your injury lawyer will ensure that you are receiving all of the medical care you need to make a recovery. Too often insurance companies deny medical care due to the cost, even if the treatment is recommended.
The next thing that your attorney is going to do, with your input, is to begin calculating the extent of your financial losses. This will cover a variety of areas including:
• Cost of medical care present and future for the injury
• Loss of wages current and future
• Over the counter medical items
• Cost of services such as house or lawn maintenance that you cannot do because of your injury
• Lost benefits from your employer such as retirement and health insurance contributions
• Mileage for trips to doctor or therapy sessions
• Personal property damages
• Pain and Suffering
If the injuries you received have caused you to suffer a disability, your motorcycle accident attorney may seek additional compensation for any disabilities and disfigurements. Your attorney may also seek punitive damages on your behalf based on the specific details of your case. In North Carolina, punitive damages are generally only awarded if the negligent act was done with malice or intention or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
PERSONAL INJURY LAW
Once your attorney has gathered all the necessary facts and figures about your losses, they will begin the negotiation process. Your attorney should be aggressive with the insurance company, working on your behalf to secure adequate compensation for your losses.
Motorcycle Accidents Are Serious And Need Serious Legal Representation
When you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have many obstacles to face. You must manage your injuries, deal with any financial hardships resulting from the accident, and deal with an insurance company that is often uncaring and unresponsive to your needs.
It is imperative that you seek legal representation from an experienced attorney, one who is knowledgeable about the issues a motorcycle accident victim and one who can work within the law to protect your rights and best interests.
As a rule of thumb, try to come away from the first consultation knowing something about the following:
1. Client-involvement in decision making
Avoid lawyers who seem like they will want to make decisions on your behalf without any consultation. A good lawyer to help with your motorcycle injury claim is one who understands that the client should make all the major decisions after listening to the lawyer’s advice.
2. Experience and track record
Talk with the lawyer about his or her track record in handling similar cases to your own. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents happen all too frequently on North Carolina’s roads and highways, so your attorney shouldn’t have any problem recalling similar cases and talking about their outcomes under his/her counsel.
3. Lawyer’s demeanor
Do you get a sense that the motorcycle injury lawyer you’re talking with is going to aggressively pursue your case via whatever means are at their disposal, or are they too laid back and passive?
4. Accessibility to your lawyer
What paths are open between yourself and your lawyer for ongoing communication throughout your case? Will you be handed-off to a paralegal or office assistant and forgotten, or will the door always be open for direct lawyer contact?
5. Lawyer’s Fee Structure
How is the attorney paid? Will your injury lawyer be working for you on a contingency fee or an hourly rate or some combination of the two? Who will cover your attorney’s out of pocket expenses in relation to your case? Will your lawyer handle your property damage claim free of charge?
Many law firms are paid a contingency fee, meaning that they charge a percentage of the money recovered or awarded as compensation for the damages caused. Some law firms charge an hourly rate which will need to be paid should they win a settlement for you, or not. Also, many lawyers are happy to handle your bodily injury claim, but expect you to go it alone when it comes to handling your property damage.
6. Lawyer’s plan and strategy
You are well within your rights to ask how the lawyer will approach your case and how the procedure might flow from now until the point of receiving a settlement. You should be clear at the first meeting what the lawyer’s opinion is on the likelihood of being awarded a settlement or not. Does he or she think your case may go to trial? if so, have them explain why.
At Kellum Law Firm, we’ll have no issues with answering all of your questions and outlining the way your case will be managed from start to finish. And, of course, your initial case review with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer won’t cost you a penny, nor will our assistance with settling your motorcycle damage claim.