Texas is a big and beautiful state. With all the beautiful space comes the opportunity to jump on your motorcycle and enjoy the breeze of a good ride. But motorcyclists know that the open road can be just as treacherous as enjoyable. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 1,800 motorcyclists suffered serious injury in 2019, and 412 died.
If you suffer a motorcycle accident injury in Texas and another driver is at fault, understanding how the average motorcycle accident settlement works can help you adequately resolve your case.
What Should Your Motorcycle Accident Settlement Include?
A motorcycle accident settlement should include all the damages you could receive at trial. A motorcycle accident can cause damage in many areas of your life, including your health, finances, and quality of life. You should carefully examine all areas of your life when determining how much you will accept in a settlement.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code identifies four kinds of damages you can receive after a motorcycle accident. There are economic, non-economic, future, and exemplary damages. Exemplary damages are very different from the first three categories. A good way to determine your entitlement to the first three categories of damages is to answer the following questions:
- What have you already lost since the accident occured?
- How did the accident change your life?
- What will your needs be after the accident?
Motorcycle accident compensation amounts are unique to each injured rider or passenger. The average motorcycle accident settlement amount may not apply to your unique case. However, organizing and examining the details of your case using the questions above can help determine your case’s settlement value.
What Have You Lost Since the Accident?
Texas law states that you can recover any actual economic loss you have suffered from a motorcycle accident. This should be the easiest part of your settlement to estimate because it is in your receipts, paystubs, and work schedules.
Immediately after your accident, you should collect all documents showing everything you paid for your medical care, everything you paid for repair or replacement of property, and all wages or benefits you lost because of the accident.
Motorcycle injury costs and settlement amounts
Though the circumstances of each motorcycle accident are unique, the average economic impact of an automobile accident can be a good settlement reference point. According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a 2019 motor-vehicle crash with evident injury was $28,000. The economic cost of a crash with a disabling injury can be more than $98,000.
How Is Your Life Different?
Before negotiating a motorcycle injury settlement, you should think of all the ways the accident changed your life. A motorcycle accident settlement should compensate you for any intangible setbacks you suffer. Texas law allows for these intangible, non-economic damages, including:
- Physical pain and suffering,
- Mental or emotional pain or anguish,
- Loss of consortium,
- Physical impairment,
- Loss of companionship and society,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Injury to reputation, and
- All other non-pecuniary losses.
While your pain and suffering may be hard to quantify with a dollar amount, take them seriously. Your non-economic damages are an important part of your motorcycle injury compensation.
What Will Your Needs Be After the Accident?
Texas law also allows damages for your future economic losses. These include future loss of income, wages, earning capacity, and inheritance. Accident-related medical needs can take a significant toll on your time, future finances, and livelihood.
A common medical need after a motorcycle accident is traumatic brain injury treatment. Unfortunately, symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may not appear for months post-accident, and their effects on your life can be long term. According to the Texas Brain Injury Alliance, traumatic brain injuries cause more years of lost productivity than any other injury.
A motorcycle injury attorney can help you forecast your accident-related needs and reclaim any productivity you lose in the future.
What About Exemplary Damages?
In some cases, Texas law will allow you to separately collect on an at-fault motorist’s particularly bad behavior. These damages are called exemplary damages or punitive damages. For these damages, you must prove the at-fault motorist acted with malice, committed fraud, or was grossly negligent. The standard of proof for exemplary damages is high, and you must prove more than ordinary negligence to receive them.
Can Damages Be Limited?
A motorcycle accident can cause a seemingly limitless list of complications, but your access to compensation is limited. During settlement negotiations, you may face the limitations of an insurance policy, the limitations of an at-fault motorist’s finances, or recovery limitations under Texas law.
What Limits a Settlement from an Insurance Company?
Texas requires drivers to have liability insurance that includes only $30,000 of coverage for each injured person with a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 to cover property damage. These limits can exclude the first $250 to $500 for injury and the first $250 for property damage.
An at-fault motorist may not have funds to pay the difference between your losses and the policy limits. Thus, it is important to identify all individuals responsible for your motorcycle injury to maximize your settlement potential. Gathering as much information as possible immediately after your accident can be helpful in identifying all responsible parties.
What Limits Motorcycle Injury Settlements Under Texas Law?
Under Texas law, you cannot recover compensatory damages in a motorcycle accident if you are more than 50% responsible. If you are 50% responsible or less, the amount of your recovery can still be reduced by your percentage of responsibility.
The Best Opportunity for a Good Recovery
Accidents are painful, stressful, and complicated. You should be compensated for every lost penny and every inconvenience an at-fault motorist causes you. There are many factors that can hurt your chances at receiving your due in a motorcycle accident, but a good attorney can maximize your recovery.
At The Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., we pride ourselves on providing zealous representation tailored to your personal needs. We have successfully represented thousands of clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, and we are fellow central Texans.
Contact us if you need help navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. We want to help you maximize your recovery in trying times.