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What Is a Fair Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident in Georgia?

There’s no substitute for the feeling of absolute freedom that comes from riding a motorcycle. For some, it’s a thrill. For others, it’s a form of meditation. But it can be dangerous—even if you do everything right.

If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s critically important that you don’t settle for any less than the full payout you deserve. While a personal injury settlement can’t undo the harm you suffered, it can (and should) provide you with financial peace of mind, giving you the support you need for as long as your injuries affect your life.

But figuring out how much is “fair” compensation for your motorcycle accident claim is not a simple calculation, and you only get one shot at it. Once you settle with an insurance company, there’s no going back for more later. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer on your side.

RELATED: Five Things Everybody Needs to Know About Motorcycle Accidents

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

What Is the Average Motorcycle Accident Settlement Amount?

It’s important to understand that no two motorcycle accident cases are the same. Many factors can affect your case’s settlement value:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Your age
  • Your occupation and wage-earning capacity
  • The amount of insurance coverage available to you
  • The circumstances of the crash itself (including whether you share some degree of fault)

So, talking about an “average” settlement for motorcycle accident cases really isn’t very useful. Some cases are worth “only” a few thousand dollars. Others are worth millions. Without knowing exactly what your situation is, we can’t really tell you what a “good” or “bad” settlement is going to look like. (And to do that, you really need to speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer.)

What we can talk about in this article is what a fair settlement should cover—and tactics the insurance company uses to reduce your compensation.

RELATED: How Your Insurance Adjuster Determines Your Settlement Offer

motorcycle accident settlement
motorcycle accident compensation payouts

What Should a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement Cover?

At the most basic level, a successful personal injury case is about recovering damages. Your accident has caused you to suffer physically and financially, and very often mentally and emotionally as well. Your accident settlement should provide fair compensation for these very real losses.

Damages can be classified into three broad categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages (also known as “special damages”) compensate you for the quantifiable economic costs due to the wreck. This includes things like:

  • Medical expenses associated with your wreck, including ambulance, hospital, and doctors’ bills
  • The cost of medication and medical devices (like wheelchairs and ramps)
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation services
  • Nursing care and long-term care services
  • Wage loss and reduced earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Cost of necessary household services (like housecleaning and lawn care)

Economic damages cover not only your current losses (bills you already have), but those that you are reasonably expected to have in the future—such as future surgeries, chronic pain management, long-term care, and wage loss due to permanent disability.

Because motorcycle accidents are frequently catastrophic and often require ongoing care, it’s extremely important that these future damages are estimated accurately. Accepting a settlement that’s too small might provide for your needs for the next 5, 10, or even 15 years, but will eventually lead to unnecessary financial hardship.

At The Brown Firm, we frequently consult with doctors, economists, long-term care planners, and other expert witnesses. Armed with this information, we can fully understand your long-term needs and stand up for you in negotiations with the insurance company, and if necessary, in court.

There is no cap on economic damages for a motorcycle accident in either Georgia or South Carolina.

RELATED: What Are Special Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Non-Economic Damages

Also known as “general damages,” non-economic damages compensate you for losses that don’t have an obvious financial cost associated with them, but still significantly affect your lifestyle and quality of life. Common examples include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress (post-traumatic stress, anxiety, embarrassment or shame, depression, and other conditions)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life (for example, no longer being able to perform your favorite activities or hobbies)
  • Loss of companionship (for example, no longer being able to enjoy the benefits normally associated with marriage or parenting)

Because non-economic damages are relatively subjective, the amounts awarded can vary significantly even for seemingly similar cases. The skill and experience of your personal injury attorney can make a difference in terms of what you are likely to recover from a settlement or jury.

There is no cap on non-economic damages for a motorcycle accident in either Georgia or South Carolina.

RELATED: Do I Need a Lawyer For Pain and Suffering?

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are relatively rare, but juries and judges will sometimes award them in a motorcycle accident case. They are intended to punish an at-fault party for extreme negligence or recklessness, rather than to compensate you directly for your losses.

For example, say you were stopped at a stoplight, and were rear-ended by a speeding drunk driver. In addition to paying your economic and non-economic damages, the court might add punitive damages to punish the defendant, since their actions went far beyond a “simple” mistake.

In Georgia, there is normally a cap of $250,000 on punitive damages for motorcycle accidents. However, there is no cap in cases where the at-fault driver either:

  • Was under the influence of alcohol or drugs (other than those legally prescribed), or
  • Acted intentionally to injure another person.

In South Carolina, punitive damages are limited to either $500,000, or three times the combined amount of economic and non-economic damages awarded—whichever is greater.

Additional Factors That Can Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Settlement After a Motorcycle Crash

As you research your legal options, you might run into discussions about settlement “multipliers.” Personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters often use this term when estimating or calculating your non-economic damages (like pain and suffering).

However, there’s not a hard-and-fast settlement calculator that will accurately estimate your case’s value. There are simply too many factors that can affect your case.

For example, suppose you were in a motorcycle wreck with a distracted driver. You suffer a traumatic brain injury and a broken leg. The at-fault driver was a commercial driver—and his employer has a million-dollar liability policy. In this case, you might not have to worry about being undercompensated for your losses.

However, let’s change one variable. If that at-fault, distracted driver was uninsured, you’re going to have to rely on your own Med Pay and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) policies for compensation—and you might receive a lot less money.

Some other basic, pre-existing factors that might affect your settlement could include:

  • Your age and life expectancy. Younger people tend to get higher settlements, since they will likely require care over a greater time frame.
  • Your occupation. If your injuries leave you unable to work, you will be able to claim greater wage losses if you have a higher-paying job.
  • The amount of insurance coverage you have available. This is huge for bikers, since treating motorcycle injuries is frequently much more costly than the minimum liability coverage limits carried by other motorists. We strongly urge all motorcycle riders to purchase as much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UIM) and no-fault Med Pay insurance coverage as they can reasonably afford under their auto insurance policy.
  • The determination of fault. If the other motorist was clearly at fault, you are in a much stronger negotiating position. If, however, fault in the accident is shared or disputed, settlement offers will be lower. Additionally, any damages you claim will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you are determined to have. And in both Georgia and South Carolina, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover anything.
  • Whether you wore a helmet that meets safety standards. Motorcycle helmets aren’t just there to protect you from severe injuries or death. If you weren’t wearing one at the time of the crash (particularly in Georgia, where helmets are mandatory for all motorcycle riders), the insurance company might argue that your own negligence was a major factor in causing your injuries.
settlement for a motorcycle accident
motorcycle accident settlement

Can Bias Against Motorcycle Riders Affect My Case

Without the protection of an enclosed vehicle, bikers are far more vulnerable in a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on a per-mile basis motorcyclists are 4 times more likely to be injured and an incredible 29 times more likely to be killed on the road than those driving or riding in cars. Bikers who survive often suffer serious injuries (broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, etc.) that require extensive medical care, and potentially cause lifelong impairments.

However, many people have subtle biases against bikers. They see motorcycle riders as irresponsible and reckless—even if you followed all the rules of the road. These implicit biases can negatively affect your case’s settlement value—especially if you’re trying to handle it yourself.

Our team doesn’t make assumptions about your case just because you were riding a motorcycle. Instead, we carefully investigate our clients’ cases, collecting evidence like surveillance footage, eyewitness testimony, and even GPS-based vehicle data to pinpoint the exact cause of a wreck. Then, we work hard to explain these complicated concepts to insurance adjusters, judges, and juries, helping people get the compensation that they truly deserve.

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

Practical Tips for Maximizing Your Settlement

The ultimate value of a case isn’t 100% predetermined by the conditions that were present at the time of the crash. There are several steps you can take to protect your legal rights and ensure you have the strongest possible case when negotiating a settlement.

Some of the most important tips include:

  • Keep detailed records. Document everything—your medical expenses, travel costs to and from appointments, the physical pain and suffering you’re experiencing that day, etc. The more detailed and accurate your records are, the less room the insurer will have to dispute your personal injury claim.
  • Avoid social media. At a minimum, do not post about the accident on any of your social networks. But it might be even better to avoid social media entirely until your case is settled. Even something as innocent as a status update or a photo of you engaging in a physical activity could be used by the insurance company as evidence that you’re not as injured as you say you are.
  • Seek medical treatment right away, even if your symptoms seem minor. Symptoms can worsen over time, including for very serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries. Seeking a doctor right away is not only a smart decision for your health, but also for your accident case. If wait several days (or longer) to get medical care, the insurance company will use that to argue your injuries are not that bad.
  • Don’t take the first settlement offer. How often do you think the first offer the insurance company makes is a fair one? In our experience, almost never. They are trying to settle your insurance claim as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible. The insurance adjuster is not your friend.
  • Before you talk to anyone at the insurance company, talk to a motorcycle accident attorney. Again: the claims adjuster is not your friend. Don’t admit fault, don’t give any statements, don’t even talk to anyone at the insurance company before you seek out legal advice. A personal injury lawyer can help protect you from making simple yet all-too-common mistakes that can weaken your case.

RELATED: Why You Should Not Represent Yourself In Your Motorcycle Accident Case

how much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident
how much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident

The Brown Firm: Fighting for Injured Bikers in Georgia and South Carolina

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, your first priority should be making sure you get excellent medical treatment and focus on your healing. Recovering from motorcycle injuries is no simple task. You shouldn’t have to deal with defending your legal rights against the insurance company, too.

At The Brown Firm, our team of attorneys have represented injured motorcyclists in negotiations with insurance companies for years, and consistently win great settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. We work closely with top experts in the medical world, accident re-constructionists, and more to build our clients the strongest possible cases.

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a motorcycle accident in Georgia or South Carolina, contact our law firm today for a free consultation. Dial (912) 324-2498 or complete our online contact form to get started.

References

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycle Safety. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles

O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 (2010)

S.C. Code § 15-32-200 (2005)

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

motorcycle accident
motorcycle accident settlement

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