- Practice Areas
You were riding your motorcycle and you were hit by another driver. Do you need a lawyer? In almost all motorcycle cases, the answer is, “yes.” Very rarely, the answer is, “no.” Motorcycle law is complex and motorcycle accidents tend to cause significant injuries. For those two reasons alone, you probably want an advocate on your side.
This chapter covers the following:
If you’ve been in a very minor accident and there’s only property damage – you weren’t injured at all – and if you have the right insurance, you probably don’t need a lawyer. Perhaps you even spilled your own bike, nobody else was involved, and you are physically fine. You can probably handle the property damage claim with your insurance company on your own.
Essentially, if you caused the accident, no one else was involved, or there’s no physical injury, you probably don’t need a lawyer.
Let’s face it: it is a rare motorcycle accident that doesn’t involve another driver and physical injury. When those two pieces of the puzzle come into play, you definitely need an attorney. Think about all of the parties involved in that kind of case: the other driver, police, the other driver’s insurance company, witnesses (hopefully), your motorcycle insurance company, the tow company, the hospital, your medical team, your health insurance company… the list goes on.
When you get all of those parties wrangling over one case, it can literally be impossible for an injured person to advocate for him or herself. And then there is one more big element to consider: Colorado’s complex motorcycle laws. Chances are very good that you won’t even know what your rights are and where there may be money for you to access to help you heal and to cover your damages.
Mike was riding his Harley when a car driver pulled out in front of him, crushing his leg and throwing him off his bike. Mike spent the next 38 days in the hospital fighting for his life, but he didn’t have health insurance. Luckily, his family quickly hired The O’Sullivan Law Firm after the accident and we were able to retroactively get Mike on Medicare. (See Chapter 5.) This step meant that Mike’s bills would be around $100,000 instead of over $1 million.
Additionally, we found that the other driver had outstanding insurance. After putting together his complicated case, we were able to secure $2.75 million for Mike from the other driver’s insurance company. The settlement was enough to cover all of Mike’s bills, save his home, replace his lost income and assure that he can afford the medical procedures that he’ll require into the future.
Derek was riding his motorcycle and got hit by a pickup truck. The at-fault driver’s insurance company knew that Derek’s injuries were extremely bad and would easily cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Very soon after the accident, they approached him and said, “Here’s $50,000.” It was tempting to Derek because his bills were piling up as he tried to heal, but he was smart enough to say “no” and he hired the O’Sullivan Law Firm. Not only did we secure another $150,000 for him, but we were able to reduce his medical bills, as well. This meant that more of the money from the settlement went into his own pockets, not into the hospital’s.
Also, if you don’t have health insurance, an attorney can help reduce your medical bills by large amounts.
Finally, there are all kinds of confusing laws that you may be entirely unaware of. Some of these laws were designed to make sure that you – the injured party – get an adequate amount of money to heal and recover all your damages.
We represented a motorcyclist, Steven, who received serious injuries in an accident. The person who hit him only had $50,000 in coverage and his insurance company quickly offered Steven the $50,000 saying, “This is all you’re going to get from us.” If Steven had taken that $50,000 he would have unknowingly waived his right to another $200,000 that he had available from his own insurance company due to his Underinsured Motorist Coverage. (See Chapter 1.)
Colorado has something called a “make whole law.” Under this law, if you’re able to demonstrate that you have accessed all of your insurance policy limits from the at-fault driver and from your own insurance company, and yet it isn’t enough to treat your injuries, the health insurance company can be forced to reduce its claims upon you to nothing. In other words, if you’ve received all the money that you can get from any insurance available, and if your injuries still require care, then the health insurance company can be forced to reduce all of its subrogation interest to zero.
Many, many accident victims are entirely unaware of these laws and they risk losing money that they desperately need if they don’t hire an advocate to help them.
Think of it this way: if you’re injured, your first priority should be healing. Hiring an attorney means you hire a staff of seasoned professionals who lift all of the tedious, confusing, frustrating elements of a legal case off your shoulders so that you can concentrate on getting better.
If you hire a legitimate personal injury attorney, it shouldn’t cost you anything for them to take your case. Not a dime. If they win a settlement for you, they will take a percentage of the gross amount collected plus any costs related to your case. This is called a “contingency fee” because their payment is contingent upon their winning your case. Costs related to pursuing your case are separate and in addition to the attorney’s fees.
One more note…
You need someone who practices personal injury law exclusively. You may have a well-intentioned buddy who is a lawyer, but if he or she practices any other area of law, chances are they don’t know all of the best ways to advocate for your case. Hopefully the examples above prove this fact.