How Much is my Motorcycle Injury Claim Worth?
One of the most frequently-asked questions of our motorcycle accident attorneys in Boston is, “How much is my claim worth?” People who scour search engines on this topic often return with a great deal of misinformation.
Accurately calculating your damages and damage awards following any personal injury is not an exact science and it varies tremendously depending on:
- Who was at fault (and whether you were partially responsible);
- How many defendants there are;
- How much liability insurance coverage they have;
- How much applicable insurance coverage you have (health insurance, UM/UIM, etc.);
- Whether a fatal motorcycle accident was the result of defendant(s)’ gross negligence and/ or willful, wanton or reckless acts;
- The extent of your injuries (and how long recovery time is reasonably expected);
- How much time at work you have lost (and whether you can return at all);
- How much your medical bills are and what they are projected to be in the future;
- The degree to which your injury has impacted your daily life;
- The degree to which your injury has negatively affected your spouse and/ or dependents.
Some of these, like past and future medical bills, are relatively easy to tally. Others, like pain and suffering and loss of consortium, aren’t tied to any actual monetary loss, which can make them more difficult to value.
Bear in mind the total amount of damages calculated and the amount you ultimately receive in compensation may be different based on these factors. Courts have a lot of discretion in making those judgment calls. As outlined in MGL c. 231 s. 60F, prevailing plaintiffs in negligence claims are entitled to:
- Reasonable expenses incurred or which will be incurred for necessary medical care and rehabilitative services;
- Lost wages or loss of earning capacity, past and future;
- Compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other general damages now or in the future.
Even if a jury awards a substantial sum, a judge may order it reduced or increased with a remittitur or additur ruling under Civil Procedure Rule 59 (though these can be reconsidered or appealed).
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, we are committed to conducting a thorough and accurate accounting of your motorcycle accident injuries and losses and helping you fight for the maximum amount of compensation.Types of Damage Awards in Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents
There are two basic types of damage awards in these cases:
Compensatory damages are specific expenses and losses incurred or reasonably certain to be incurred by plaintiff because of incurred injury. These include things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Massachusetts law doesn’t set minimum or maximum amounts of compensatory damages that can be paid. This is the primary source of damage awards in motorcycle injury lawsuits.
Punitive damages are only awarded under limited circumstances – and only in wrongful death cases – and while awarded to plaintiff, are based on the alleged egregious conduct of the defendant. It requires proof of wrongdoing that goes beyond ordinary negligence, and it’s intended to penalize bad conduct and serve as a deterrent to any who might be tempted to do the same in the future. We most often see this in cases against large corporations, such as vehicle manufacturers that failed to warn the public of a major defect or trucking companies that knowingly allowed a dangerous driver behind the wheel of a semi or other commercial vehicle.Medical Expenses for Motorcycle Injuries
Damage awards for medical expenses following a motorcycle accident will include those bills you have already incurred and those you may be billed for in the future for reasonable medical care stemming from your injuries.
These can include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) expenses for:
- Hospital stays;
- Ambulance services;
- Follow-up doctor visits;
- Necessary medications;
- Assistive medical devices (i.e., crutches, wheelchairs or prosthetics);
- Rehabilitation costs (i.e., physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc.);
- In-home services you must now pay for because your injuries prevent you from carrying out basic tasks or require advanced medical care.
Each expense must be carefully itemized, so it’s best from the very beginning to keep track of all medical bills you receive after the crash. Many defendants will try to dispute these calculations, challenges the medical necessity of your care or try to pay a fraction of such costs. Accurate documentation will be key. Medical expert witness testimony may also be necessary.Lost Wages
Wage losses are claimed in almost all motorcycle injury lawsuits because riders are often prevented from immediately returning to work – if they can return at all or in the same capacity. This is money you would have earned had your injury not occurred.
The best way to begin calculating this estimate is with supporting documents to show your medical condition prevents you from working. From there, we need a physician’s opinion on your degree and length of disability. This will indicate how much time off you need to recover – or even if you’re expected to fully recover.
We’ll gather evidence confirming your employment, recent pay stubs and tax information revealing your regular pay, salary and benefits. Calculations will vary depending on whether you are a salary or hourly wage worker. We will also look carefully at regular overtime you worked and potential losses of wage increases, promotion opportunities, sales commissions and bonuses.
If you are self-employed (i.e., sole proprietor or independent contractor), we’ll claim lost income rather than lost wages. The process is a bit different, but we still have the same goal, which is to gather records identifying the amount of earnings you would have received but for the injury.
With the help of a forensic economist and medical and financial expert witnesses, we may also be able to assert future income loss (lost earning capacity), which considers your employment skills and history, age and extent of ongoing disability.Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to a broad range of negative impacts the motorcycle accident had on your life. It is the physical pain you endured, but also mental and emotional trauma you have suffered. The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be devastating and extraordinarily painful, and Massachusetts law does allow you to seek a damage award for such claims. However, it is not always easy to quantify the extent and nature of such losses.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for calculating these damages, but experienced injury attorneys in Massachusetts know how to argue for maximum compensation in such cases. We examine the severity of injuries (as demonstrated by medical records and physician opinions), the extent of ongoing disabilities and the impact this has had on your everyday life and personal relationships. If you were once an extremely active, happy person with close family ties and are now dependent on a wheelchair, increasingly isolated and suffering depression, there is likely a strong argument for significant pain and suffering damages.Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is an injury claim in negligence cases available to certain loved ones of a person killed or injured by the wrongful acts of someone else. Claims center on both functional and sentimental losses. Loved ones depend on each other for practical things, but also for emotional support and intimacy. Deprivation of these “services” is compensable. Before 1989 and the introduction of MGL c. 231 s. 85x, loss of consortium claims in Massachusetts were limited to spouses. That statute opened the door to claims for loss of consortium by parents of a minor child or an adult child who is dependent on his/ her parents for support.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident in Boston and need information on how to pursue a successful negligence claim for damage awards, our long-time personal injury attorneys can help. No attorney can promise you a certain outcome in your case (be wary of any who do!) but we can often give you a good idea of the potential viability and value of your claim after reviewing the facts and circumstances of an accident. Initial consultations are free, and claims are accepted on a contingency fee basis (meaning you aren’t responsible for attorney’s fees unless we win compensation on your behalf).
NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL