Motorcycles are a convenient mode of transportation, offering a sense of power and freedom on the roadways. Unfortunately, on top of the thrill, a motorcycle can make you more vulnerable to injuries than a car-related accident, resulting in severe injuries like road rash, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists were approximately 29 times more likely to die and four times at risk of being injured than motor vehicle occupants in 2019. Irrespective of how cautious you are, you cannot control other road users' actions or stop them from being negligent.
Sustaining injuries following a motorcycle accident can be devastating and quickly result in losses like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Fortunately, you are entitled to compensation for your damages caused by a negligent party under Nevada personal injury law. Hiring a compassionate lawyer from Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm can assist recover your deserved compensation and relieve stress, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Nevada Motorcycle Laws
Nevada law defines a motorcycle as a motor vehicle equipped with a saddle for the driver's use and tailored to travel on less than three (3) wheels on the ground.
A motorcycle on Nevada roadways should meet the following requirements:
- A seat high enough so both the rider's feet cannot reach the ground simultaneously
- Fenders that protect the wheels
- The motorcycle should have a tail lamp, rear reflector, rearview mirrors, a horn, and stop lights.
As a biker, you should always wear a securely-fastened helmet while on the roadways. If the motorcycle does not have a transparent windscreen, you should also put on glasses, face shields, or goggles for eye protection.
You should enjoy the same privileges and comply with the same traffic rules as drivers of cars.
You require a Class M license to operate a motorcycle in Las Vegas. You must be above 16 years and have a social security number and proof of identity to obtain the license.
In many personal injury cases, one of the commonly asked questions is, "Who is at fault?" Once fault is established, the responsible party pays compensation to the victim(s), whether through settlement or civil court trial.
The person that determines fault depends on the case circumstances. If you have legal representation, the skilled personal injury lawyer will investigate your case, identify possible defendants, make the final accountability determination, and present the claim to the defendant or court.
Liable parties with insurance often leave the burden of compensation to the insurance provider. Usually, insurance firms investigate the matter and make their liability decision.
If the involved parties disagree on liability, your attorney can help you bring a lawsuit and allow the civil court to make the ultimate determination.
Most injury claims stem from at least one party acting negligently. Negligence is an act that:
- Falls below the standard of care expected of a cautious and reasonable individual, and
- Results in harm to somebody else.
The facts of negligence that you should prove to hold the defendant responsible for your motorcycle accident include:
- Duty of care — A duty of care is avoiding injuring another person or putting them in danger. For instance, all motorists owe other road users a duty of care.
- Breach of care — It is one thing to understand that there exists a duty of care and another to live up to the legal obligations. If not, the law deems the individual's actions negligent. In other words, a defendant breached the duty of care by allowing or creating a hazardous situation. Breach of care can be either inaction or careless action.
- Causation — The defendant's negligence should be the cause of your injuries or harm.
- Damages — You incurred damages due to the motorcycle accident. It can include medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, lost income, or mental anguish.
There are other possible causes-of-actions that you can have grounds to file a claim, including:
- Negligence per se that apply if the defendant's violation of the traffic law caused your motorcycle accident
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
Typical evidence used to prove fault include:
- Expert medical testimonies
- Video surveillance footage of the driving and road conditions and the incident
- Medical records
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Eyewitness accounts
- Weather reports
Potential Defendants in Your Case
Depending on your case circumstances, you can take legal action against the following:
- The driver who caused your crash
- The manufacturer of a defective motorcycle
- Any mechanic who worked on your bike
- Your helmet's manufacturer
- The county or city if hazardous road condition caused your collision
- At-fault rider's parent if the biker is a minor child
Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
In 2019 alone, while motorcycles accounted for three percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists made up 14% of traffic-related fatalities. Also, approximately 84,000 bikers sustained injuries that year.
Discussed below are common causes of motorcycle accidents:
A Motor Vehicle Making a Left-Hand Turn
Typically, vehicles turning left hit passing or oncoming motorcycles in intersections. Some of the reasons for left-turn crashes include speeding, low visibility, and driver distraction.
According to the left-turn right-of-way law, a driver turning left should yield to other road users. Therefore, a motorist who strikes a biker while turning left can be liable. Nonetheless, you can share liability if you text while operating your motorbike, ride in the wrong lane, or run a red light.
A 2019 NHTSA report revealed that about half of the 5,114 motorcycles involved in collisions included a moving car. In 75% of the crashes, a vehicle hit the bike in front. A head-on collision is a fatal accident for a rider due to:
- the level of impact involved, and
- the absence of safety features on the bike, such as airbags.
You are also likely to collide with fixed substances, such as fences, guardrails, and trees.
Since a motorcycle is less stable and smaller than a vehicle, unexpected objects and irregularities on the road can cause your bike to crash. Therefore, you should be alert for hazards like railway tracks, gravel on pavement, and uneven road surfaces.
Biker Riding Conduct
While you cannot regulate road hazards, you can control your risky riding behaviors. Motorcyclists contribute to their accidents by:
- Riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Riding while distracted
- Failing to put on a helmet
What are the Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
A motorcycle is less visible to motorists than cars and lacks the protection of a motor vehicle should an accident occur. As a result, motorcycle accident injuries are often catastrophic, and any part of the body can be injured.
Lower Extremity Injuries
A motorcycle collision victim is more likely to suffer injuries to their lower extremity due to the exposed nature of their legs. A bike can fall on the rider and injure their legs, calf, ankles, feet, or knees in a severe crash. While these injuries are not fatal, they can lead to long-term disabilities.
The rider can also suffer from road rash. If not properly treated, the injuries can cause permanent scarring, nerve damage, or infections.
Upper Extremity Injuries
In most motorcycle crashes, riders are ejected from the bikes and thrown into the air. It is a reflex to use your hands to break the fall.
A motorcyclist who experiences a hard landing can suffer nerve damage, shoulder injuries, torn rotator cuffs, and broken fingers, elbows, and arms.
All motorcyclists in Nevada should wear a helmet. While putting on a helmet can mitigate injuries, it does not prevent all head injuries.
Common head injuries that riders sustain include traumatic brain injuries, coma, brain damage, brain swelling, paralysis, seizures, hemorrhaging, and concussion. An injured rider can also experience:
- Vision and speech challenges
- Memory loss
- Loss of coordination
Usually, the victim is left with a permanent impairment that requires expensive and lengthy treatment and rehabilitation.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating. Your brain sends motor commands via spinal cord nerves. The injuries can lead to different types of paralysis, including quadriplegia (total paralysis from the neck downwards).
Additionally, the injuries can cause incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and respiratory challenges.
Potential Damages in Your Personal Injury Claim
There are numerous forms of monetary compensation you can recover following your Las Vegas motorcycle crash. They include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Occupational and physical rehabilitation
- Counseling for emotional distress
If your loved one succumbed to the accident, you could receive compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.
The compensation amount you obtain after your accident depends on the case circumstances and the severity of your injuries.
How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim
Knowing how to prevail in your personal injury claim helps you ensure your right to compensation is protected, and you receive the compensation you deserve. While it seems like the process should be straightforward since the defendant should compensate you, protecting your rights is complicated. Here is how to maximize the potential of winning your claim.
Do Not Wait to Seek Medical Attention
Even when you think your injury is not serious, it is wise that you consult with a medical expert. It helps you identify injuries that do not manifest immediately after the motorcycle crash due to adrenaline or confusion. Additionally, it provides documentation that links any health complications or injuries to your collision.
As the immediate medical needs are met and you recover, you should work towards improvement, and it involves seeking the necessary continuing medical care. Continuing care provides evidence for your injury and its impact on different aspects of your life.
Collect Your Evidence
While medical records and bills provide a picture of the funds you paid for your treatment, that is not the entire range of your damages. Ensure you monitor your lost income for the time spent away from your work, medical appointments, and transportation costs incurred.
Pain and suffering does not have an objective statement; hence challenging to quantify. It is also personal, and each motorcycle accident victim experiences it differently. You can prove pain and suffering damages by documenting your experience, including videos, photos, diaries, and journals that demonstrate the difference between your lifestyle before and after your accident.
Be Cautious What You Post on Social Media
Social media posts can significantly damage your claim. Just as with a seemingly innocent statement immediately after your collision, like, "I should have been more careful," the defendant can use your social media content against you in a civil court.
Ensure your statements do not imply that you are better than you are. Also, do not disclose proposed legal strategies or your communication with your attorney.
Know Your Settlement Amount
Before speaking with the insurance adjuster about the settlement demand letter, decide on the least settlement amount you will be willing to accept. Please note that the amount is not something you should tell the insurance company.
You do not have to stick to this figure. If the adjuster highlights facts you have not considered that make the claim weaker, you can lower the amount.
Do Not Accept the Initial Offer
Generally, insurance adjusters will start negotiations by offering a low amount. The insurance adjuster wants to learn whether you know your claim's worth and test your patience.
Once the offer is made, your response should depend on whether it is reasonable or not. If it is too low, request the adjuster to justify the move. Take notes of your conversation and write a letter responding to all the insurance adjuster's highlighted factors. Depending on how strong the reasons are, lower the demand amount a bit and wait to see the adjuster's move before going any lower.
Ensure Your Settlement is in Writing
When you and the insurance company agree on the settlement amount, the insurance provider will send you a release form within weeks. The company will send the settlement check and the release form with instructions to sign and return the form before cashing your check.
Ensure you read and understand the release form before signing it. The settlement agreement is a legally binding contract.
You can have your lawyer review it to ensure all future medical expenses and lost earning capacity are factored in your compensation amount.
Finally, confirm your settlement agreement in a letter to the insurance adjuster. Ensure the letter is short and precise.
File Your Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
Statute of limitations (SOL) is the timeframe a motorcycle accident victim has to file their personal injury claim. In Las Vegas, the SOL is two years from the date of the accident. While many exemptions pause the time frame, victims lose the entitlement to sue for damages that arose from the accident once the SOL passes.
Seek Legal Representation
Personal injury cases are complicated and involve a tedious and lengthy process. Hiring a lawyer immediately after your motorcycle accident can significantly affect your claim. They will offer the help and information you require to fight for your deserved compensation. They will:
- Determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim
- Investigate the claim
- Collect evidence
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Send demand letters to the insurance provider
- Represent you at trial if the defendant fails to offer a fair settlement
You and your lawyer form a litigation team and should maintain constant communication. The attorney should accurately understand the case facts and possible weaknesses. It helps them prepare for the case.
Most lawyers work on a contingency basis and will only take a portion of the recovery amount as their fee, making them more cost-effective.
Self-Represent or Seek Legal Representation?
While some personal injury claims do not require a lawyer's assistance, it is not a smart move. It is beneficial to have an experienced legal expert analyze your case and explain your rights. Discussed below are situations where you cannot compromise the role of a qualified personal injury lawyer in a case.
The Accident's Liability is Disputed
As previously mentioned, you cannot recover compensation if you cannot establish the defendant's liability. If the defendant disputes accountability, consult with your legal counsel immediately.
The lawyer will investigate the matter and collect evidence to determine who is at fault and how your accident occurred. They will also develop legal strategies for establishing responsibility.
The Other Party Blames You for Contributing to Your Motorcycle Accident
The other party can accept fault but argue you contributed to your crash. For instance, an insurance adjuster can claim that you were speeding during your accident, making you partially liable for your injuries, even though the defendant failed to yield right of way.
Generally, insurance providers use tricks to reduce the compensation amount. Your experienced Las Vegas attorney knows how to beat the allegations.
Nevada follows a modified comparative negligence rule where your portion of responsibility reduces your compensation amount. However, if you were more than 50% accountable for your motorcycle collision, you would lose the right to compensation.
Multiple Parties are Involved
While having more parties involved in your accident could mean more compensation money for you, it can also mean a more complicated, challenging, and lengthy process. Your seasoned personal injury lawyer has previously handled cases involving several defendants. As the parties argue about who is accountable for your injuries, the lawyer is busy developing strategies to protect your rights.
Your Claim Involves a Government Entity
Suing a government entity is more complicated than an average personal injury claim.
An injury claim against a negligent Nevada government agency follows a different procedure than claims against private defendants. While the two-year statute of limitation still applies, you should first bring your claim with the state Office of the Attorney General.
The Insurance Provider is Acting in Bad Faith
The defendant and their insurance provider do not have your best interest at heart and, if possible, will try not to pay you. Therefore, the company will act in bad faith.
Some of the ways insurance firms act in bad faith include:
- Dragging your case so the SOL can expire hence losing the right to bring a claim
- Failing to investigate your claim
- Requiring burdensome and unnecessary paperwork before processing your claim
- Failing to compensate a valid claim
- Deliberately misleading you about your constitutional rights
- Raising a false allegation of shared fault
- Misrepresenting insurance policy terms
A knowledgeable lawyer is familiar with different insurance tricks and tactics and understands Nevada personal injury laws. If the insurance company is not willing to negotiate a fair settlement for the claim, your attorney can file a lawsuit in court. Sometimes, a mere lawsuit threat is enough to inspire the insurer to offer a reasonable and fair settlement.
You Suffered a Permanent Disability or Traumatic Injury
Permanent impairment or disability can result in future damages like ongoing medical expenses and lost earning capacity. Future damages can total thousands of dollars over your lifetime, depending on your disability and age.
The insurance provider will aggressively fight to reduce the value of your claim. Your lawyer can engage financial, economic, and medical experts to help place a monetary value on future damages. Additionally, the legal counsel knows how to document and maximize the value of pain and suffering damages, increasing the chances of recovering your deserved compensation amount.
Find a Experienced Carl Injury Law Firm Near Me
You are likely facing substantial medical bills, costs to replace or repair your bike, missed time from work, and other unexpected losses and expenses sooner or later following a motorcycle accident. Regrettably, the insurance provider will try to minimize payment on your claim, especially if accident responsibility is unclear or your injuries are severe. Do not allow the insurer to take advantage of you; you are entitled to compensation and have equal legal protection as other road users. At Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we are dedicated to fighting for plaintiffs' rights and compensation, and that is why we only accept personal injury cases. Schedule your initial consultation by calling us today at 702-576-0010. We can meet you where you are most convenient, whether at your home, hospital bed, or in our office.