Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit In California: Essential Steps

motorcycle accident lawsuit

To date, California has the highest number of registered motorcycles in the country. With nearly 800,00 registered motorcycles, it is not surprising that motorcycle accidents are a regular occurrence. 

Due to the pandemic, motorcycle sales have seen exponential growth because of their ease of access. In 2020, 3,723 fatal motorcycle accidents were recorded in California, a slight increase from the year before. 

Oftentimes, motorcycle accidents are caused by other motorists on the road. A negligent driver could be the cause of these accidents, sometimes resulting in severe injuries. Due to the lack of protection, motorcycle accident injuries such as brain injuries, leg injuries, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, or amputation can drastically change a person’s quality of life. In worst-case scenarios, certain types of motorcycle accidents could result in fatal injuries.

So, what can an accident victim do to remedy their situation?

Definition of a Lawsuit

The purpose of a lawsuit is to hold the negligent party financially responsible for their actions. According to the Legal Information Institute, a lawsuit is defined as “a civil legal action by one person or entity (the “plaintiff”) against another person or entity (the “defendant”), to be decided in a court”. 

In cases wherein a motorcycle driver is involved in an accident caused by the negligent actions of an at-fault driver, the motorcycle accident victim may file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their injuries and property damage.

With the guidance and legal advice of a personal injury attorney, a plaintiff may file a motorcycle accident claim against the defendant and their insurance company. 

If the defendant refuses the claim or offers a settlement lower than their insurance policy limits. Then the plaintiff may be able to file a lawsuit. So before a claim becomes a lawsuit, the motorcycle injury claim or property damage claim must undergo the due process with the concerned parties for it to be deemed worthy in court. 

Main Steps in Filing a Lawsuit

Every claim and personal injury lawsuit may vary from person to person, depending on the details of the case. But the following are the most common steps taken in a personal injury lawsuit:

Step 1: Filing a Complaint & Summons

A complaint is considered the first document filed in most personal injury lawsuits. An effectively filed complaint marks the beginning of the lawsuit. 

A complaint usually includes the following information:

  • The identities of the involved parties
  • The legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction over the personal injury lawsuit
  • The insurance claim/motorcycle accident injury claim
  • The facts related to the claim/s

At the end of the complaint is a section entitled: “prayer for relief”. Sometimes this section may contain the amount of damages the plaintiff is seeking from the defendant. 

The plaintiff must also ensure that the defendant is aware that they are being sued. In order to do this, a “summons” is issued to notify the defendant (“served to”). 

Both the complaint and summons must be filed with the court and the defendant. The plaintiff must be certain that the defendant is properly served, to avoid the lawsuit from being dismissed due to insufficient process. 

Step 2: Defendant’s Answer

After the complaint is filed and the summons is served, the defendant must respond within a certain amount of time. The defendant’s response is called the “answer”. This is the defendant’s opportunity to address the allegations in the complaint. 

The answer may also contain the defendant’s defenses as to why they should not be held liable for the plaintiff’s damages or injuries. In some cases, the defendant may want to contend their own claims against the plaintiff. This is called a “counterclaim”, which can be included in the answer. 

Step 3: Discovery

Once the complaint, summons, and answer have been filed, the process of obtaining evidence from the opposing parties may begin. This procedure is the “discovery”. Discovery allows both parties to have access to all information. 

Step 4: Motions

A motion is a legal document filed in a lawsuit that requests the judge to make a decision on the case before trial proceedings begin. The defendant could file a motion instead of filing an answer if they believe the plaintiff’s claims are invalid. In the motion, the defendant can request the judge to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. 

Step 5: Pre-Trial Negotiations

Oftentimes to avoid the expense, burden, and mental pain of a trial, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will try to resolve a case before going to trial. A lawyer may accomplish this in either of the three ways: through a settlement, a mediation, or an arbitration. 

Step 6: Trial

If the case does go to trial, a judge or a jury is called in to examine the details and evidence presented to decide whether or not the defendant is liable for the injuries and damages brought forth by the plaintiff. 

Step 7: Collecting the Judgment

Once liability has been established, and the judge has issued a court order and awarded the plaintiff financial damages, the plaintiff’s legal team may begin the process of collecting fair compensation.

Step 8: Appeal

In the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may file an appeal. Once an appellate court receives a brief on the appeal of the decision, the appellate court will review the decision of the trial court. Soon after, the appellate court will release an opinion that will either affirm the court’s decision or reverse the verdict or order a new trial.

Average Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Settlement in California

Not every motorcycle accident case is the same. For that reason, not all settlement amounts are the same either. There is no exact calculation for the amount of settlement a victim may receive. The settlement for a motorcycle accident in California can vary depending on the details of your case. 

Here are the following factors that may impact a motorcycle accident lawsuit settlement:

  • Liability – Because of California’s at-fault insurance laws, if a careless driver is found to be at fault for a motor vehicle accident, they are liable to pay for the damages of the affected party. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney will be able to prove that the driver was either partially or fully responsible for causing the accident by examining traffic collision reports, witness statements, photo evidence, accident scene investigation, and other details of the case. 
  • Damages – The extent or severity of injuries can greatly affect the outcome of a reasonable settlement. Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic in nature and can lead to permanent injury and cause the Plaintiff to incur economic and non-economic damages. An injured motorcycle rider can be compensated for:
  • Medical care
  • Future medical expenses (i.e., physical therapy)
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Other economic damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Special damages 
  • And more
  • Defendant’s insurance policy – Settlement negotiations will also rely on the policy limits the defendant has acquired from their auto insurance company.

Ultimately, a settlement for a motorcycle accident case may range from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the factors we have mentioned. This is why it is important to hire an attorney with an experienced team of case handlers, doctors and other professionals who will know the value of your case and will be able to get you the medical treatment you need and the money you deserve.

Who is At-Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

There are many factors that could cause a motorcycle crash. Factors such as poor road maintenance, defective motorcycle parts, speeding, and reckless driving are just a few common reasons why motorcycle accidents happen. 

Investigating the cause of the accident will help determine liability. California operates under the rules of Comparative Negligence, which means that victims may still recover proper compensation even if they have a percentage of fault in the accident. 

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call us Today!

Have you or a loved one been the victim of a motorcycle accident? As the injured party, you are within your legal rights to seek compensation or file a motorcycle accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver for negligence. 

At Farahi Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience litigating lawsuits for motorcycle accident victims.

Not only will our motorcycle accident injury lawyer fight to get you a fair settlement for your personal property damages and injuries, but our team will also handle all of your paperwork and ensure you get the treatment you deserve from a reputable medical provider — and you won’t have to pay any expenses out of your pocket. 
We work on a contingency basis, which means no fees unless we win! You won’t have to pay us a single cent unless we win your case. Contact us now or call us at (844) 824-2955 for a free consultation.

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