Calculating Damages in a Florida Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle accidents can result in injuries that are more severe than those which stem from car wrecks. This is due to the fact that a rider is no match for an oncoming car. Such incidents may result in paralysis, head injuries, and even a wrongful death. While financial compensation cannot undo the harm that has been done, it can ensure that you are protected from the financial fallout of an accident. This article will discuss how damages are calculated in a motorcycle accident case as well as other issues that impact one’s final award. If you are in need of assistance, it is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Damages Will Include Economic Losses, Medical Expenses, as Well as Pain and Suffering
An accident victim is entitled to past and future wages which were lost as a result of the wreck. Determining wages that have been lost to date can be relatively straightforward for someone who works a job with a set salary or who is paid an hourly amount. It is simply an issue of adding up the time that has been missed. Calculating future wages can quickly become more complicated. If someone is permanently unable to work, they will be entitled to what their future lifetime earnings would have been. If they are unable to return to their former career but are able to work in some other capacity, then they will be entitled to the difference between what they would have earned in their former career and what they can be expected to earn in their new one. Projections as to what future earnings would have been will require the use of expert witnesses, which is discussed below.
Determining past and future losses can be more complicated when someone is self-employed or has an income that is highly variable. The defense is likely to argue that the amount that would have been earned is lower than what the injured individual will claim. As with all damages, the determination of any amount will be made by the jury.
Injury victims are entitled to past medical expenses incurred as well as the cost of future care. As with lost wages, determining expenses incurred to date is simply a matter of adding up past bills. Determining the cost of future care when one has been seriously injured will require obtaining a long-term prognosis from a medical professional. One will be entitled to the costs associated with future surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, travel to and from appointments, hospital stays, etc.
Pain and Suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering will include payment for physical pain endured as a result of the accident, ongoing pain that occurs throughout past and future medical treatment, as well as general discomfort. It also includes compensation for the stress and aggravation that one has been through, as well as the time involved in dealing with the situation. Given the level of disruption that can be caused to one’s life by a motorcycle accident, damages for pain and suffering can be substantial. This is especially true in cases involving serious injuries, head trauma, paralysis, etc.
Expert Witnesses are Often Necessary for Proving Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
In cases that involve serious injuries, it will often be necessary to retain experts for the determination of future medical needs as well as lost earnings. This is due to the fact that the rules of evidence require someone to be deemed an expert before they can offer opinions on topics involving specialized training, knowledge, experience, or skill. Calculating future lifetime earnings will typically require the use of an economist and/or vocational specialist. Also, the determination of the type of care that will and will not be needed in the future will require the utilization of medical professionals. The Plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case will retain his or her own experts who will offer their opinions on these issues. The defense will retain its own experts who will offer differing opinions. The amount of weight, if any, given to either side’s experts will be left to the jury in the event that the case goes to trial.
Comparative Fault Will Impact the Award of Damages
We have previously discussed how comparative fault impacts motorcycle cases. It must be understood that a victim’s award will be reduced by any amount to which the jury believes they were responsible for the wreck. If, for example, the jury finds that an injured motorcycle rider is thirty percent responsible for the accident and that they suffered $100,000 in damages then they will receive $70,000 ($100k – 30%). If, however, the victim is found to have been at least fifty-one percent responsible for the accident then they will recover nothing. The allocation of fault is made by the jury and can be highly subjective. It is important that your attorney be experienced in presenting such issues in Court.
The fact that a plaintiff cannot recover damages if they were fifty-one percent responsible for the accident, is due to a recent change in Florida law. Prior to 2023, a victim could recover some level of damages regardless of how much fault they shared for the accident. This change makes it more difficult for a victim to receive at least some level of compensation. This makes retaining experienced counsel even more important.
Contact Us To Speak With a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a family member have been in a motorcycle wreck, the first step is to seek immediate medical care. It is strongly suggested that you then retain a lawyer. Given the serious nature of such cases, it is strongly suggested that you choose a firm with an emphasis on personal injury law. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals over those of insurance companies and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or call us at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida motorcycle accident attorney.