Beyond the Crash: The Unseen Journey of a Biker from Accident to Courtroom

Beyond the Crash: The Unseen Journey of a Biker from Accident to Courtroom

Introduction

Imagine this: you’re cruising down a scenic road, the wind in your face, a sense of freedom pulsating through your veins. Suddenly, a car swerves unexpectedly into your lane. In a split second, your world turns upside down. This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario—it’s a reality many bikers face. 

As a seasoned biker and a personal injury attorney with four decades of experience, I’ve seen the aftermath of such incidents and the unique challenges bikers encounter from crash to trial. In this article, we’ll take a look at three things many people don’t consider after an accident, but should.

TL;DR Summary:

  • Psychological Impact: Discusses the often-overlooked emotional and mental trauma bikers face after an accident.
  • Legal Complexities: Explores the specific legal challenges and biases bikers may encounter in the court system.
  • Insurance Negotiations: Sheds light on the complexities and hurdles in dealing with insurance claims post-accident.

Psychological Impact in the Aftermath of a Crash

Image of a man sitting alone in a dark garage. This image illustrates the psychological impact a crash can have on a motorcyclist.

After a motorcycle accident, the physical injuries are often visible, but what many don’t see is the psychological impact. Bikers can experience a range of emotions from shock and disbelief to anger and depression

In some cases, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop, making it difficult to get back on the bike. This emotional toll can affect personal relationships, work, and the overall quality of life. Seeking professional help is crucial in these situations. These types of non-economic damages are the kind of thing riders need to know they should talk to their lawyer about.

Legal Complexities of an Accident

Image of a scroll that says personal injury next to a gavel and a law book

Navigating the legal system post-accident can be daunting, especially for bikers. There’s a prevalent stereotype that bikers are reckless, which can unfairly influence a case. Understanding your rights and the nuances of motorcycle law is critical. 

This is where having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, familiar with the biases and intricacies of biker cases, becomes invaluable. They can help level the playing field, ensuring your side of the story is heard and represented fairly.

Insurance Negotiations

Decorative image of the word Personal Injury Claims

Dealing with insurance companies after a motorcycle accident is another hurdle. Often, these companies are more concerned with minimizing their payouts rather than providing fair compensation. Understanding policy details, liability, and the extent of coverage is crucial. 

A common mistake bikers make is accepting the first settlement offer, which is usually far below what they are entitled to. Having an experienced attorney negotiate on your behalf almost always makes a huge difference in the outcome of these negotiations.

Conclusion

Image of a motorcycle helmet that has been destroyed after an accident

The journey from a motorcycle crash to the courtroom is filled with challenges that go beyond physical injuries. Emotional trauma, legal complexities, and tough insurance negotiations are part of the reality many bikers face. As bikers and as seasoned attorneys, we understand these challenges intimately. If you’re going through this journey, you don’t have to do it alone. Contact The Biker Lawyers for a free consultation and let us help you navigate these uncharted waters.

Handle Insurance Adjusters Like a Pro After a Motorcycle Accident

Handle Insurance Adjusters Like a Pro After a Motorcycle Accident

God, I love this time of year, don’t you? Look, we’re going to talk about how to deal with insurance adjusters after a crash in a second but let’s just take a moment to appreaciate how great it is to ride in Minnesota and Iowa in the fall.

Seriously, there’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road, the wind in your face, the roar of your bike beneath you. The beauty of the changing colors of the trees as autumn sets in… there really isn’t anything like it.

Image of a motorcycle rushing down an open highway in the Autumn

 Unfortunately, not all roads are smooth.

When the unexpected happens, and you find yourself picking up the pieces after a motorcycle crash, all that freedom can feel like it’s been replaced with a mountain of stress and uncertainty. Suddenly, you’re thrust into a world of insurance claims, repair costs, and medical bills. 

watercolor splash representation of a motorcycle accident on a highway. The motorcycle is seen toppled and the fluid strokes and splashes of color spread away from the crash

And as if that’s not enough, you’re now faced with the daunting task of dealing with an insurance adjuster. Sure, they might seem friendly, but remember, their job is to save their company money, not to make your life easier.

It’s a tough situation, especially here in the Midwest where most of us were raised being “Iowa (or Minnesota) Nice.” It can feel like it goes against our nature to not be as helpful as possible, especially in stressful situations.

Yeah, it’s a tricky road, but with the right knowledge and guidance, you can navigate this challenging time and get back on the road where you belong (without accidentally screwing yourself over in the process).

So you’ve been in a crash?

Watercolor splash style paining depicting a motorcycle accident on a highway

It’s time for some straight-talking advice on how to handle insurance adjusters after a motorcycle accident.

Remember, no matter how friendly they may be, the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. Their job is to settle your claim for as little as possible. 

6 Essential Tips for Dealing with Insurance Adjusters After a Motorcycle Accident

Watercolor splash image of a greedy insurance executive and a pile of money

1. Don’t Feel Pressured to Give a Statement

After an accident, you might get a call from the other party’s insurance adjuster. Remember, you’re not obliged to give a statement right away. You might still be rattled by the accident, and that’s not the best time to be giving details that could be used against you later. It’s okay to wait until you have a lawyer by your side.

2. Keep It Basic

If you do decide to talk to the insurance adjuster, stick to the basics. Be very accurate and “to the point” in answering questions. Answer their questions, but don’t offer any details beyond what they specifically ask you. Do not tell the adjuster the crash was your fault, even a percentage. Those details could be twisted and used against you when it comes to settling your claim.

3. Stick to the Facts

When you describe the accident, keep it factual. Don’t make assumptions or guesses. Do not make guesses about speed, distance, or time. Guesses of this nature are usually wrong, and can only hurt you.  The more detail you give, the more chance there is for the adjuster to twist your words. Answer their questions truthfully, but don’t embellish or go into more detail than necessary.

4. Don’t Admit Fault

After a crash, it’s easy to say things that might imply you were at fault, especially if you’re confused or finding it hard to express yourself. If that’s the case, it’s best to wait until you’re feeling better before talking to an insurance adjuster. And of course, don’t admit fault for an accident you didn’t cause.

5. Track Your Expenses

Keep a record of all your expenses related to the accident, like medical bills, bike repairs, and lost wages. Provide copies of these documents to the insurance adjuster when they ask for them. These bills will need to be paid, either by you or the person who caused the accident, so make sure they’re part of any settlement.

6. Don’t Sign Anything Without Legal Advice

Do not agree to any settlement or sign any documents or agreements without talking to a lawyer first. Insurance adjusters might try to get you to sign away your right to sue or accept a settlement offer that’s less than you deserve.

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into the things you need to know.


Understanding Insurance Policies: Terms to Know

Watercolor Splash image of a greedy insurance adjuster sitting in piles of cash

Navigating the world of insurance policies can be tricky, especially when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. Insurance companies use lingo every day that the average driver may not fully understand. They can (and often do) use this to their advantage, so let’s level the playing field.

Here’s a quick rundown of some key terms you’re sure to hear and what they really mean:

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV): This is the value of your property, based on the current cost to replace it minus depreciation. In the case of a total loss, the insurance company might pay out the ACV of your motorcycle.
  • Adjuster: An insurance adjuster is a representative of the insurance company who investigates and evaluates insurance claims to determine the extent of the insurance company’s liability.
  • Claim: A request made by the insured to the insurance company to cover an incurred loss. In the context of a motorcycle accident, this could be for damages to the motorcycle, medical expenses, or other costs related to the accident.
  • Coverage: The extent of protection provided by an insurance policy. Coverage can vary greatly from one policy to another, and it’s important to understand exactly what your policy covers.
  • Coverage Limits: This is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for a covered loss.
  • Deductible: This is the amount you’ll need to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in.
  • Exclusion: Certain conditions or circumstances for which the insurance company will not provide coverage. Exclusions are detailed in the insurance policy, and it’s important to be aware of them.
  • Liability: This refers to the legal responsibility for one’s actions or omissions. In an insurance context, liability insurance covers the policyholder’s legal liability in the event of damage or injury to another party.
  • Policyholder: The individual or entity who owns the insurance policy. This is the person who holds the contract with the insurance company and pays the premiums.
  • Premium: The amount of money that an individual or business pays for an insurance policy.
  • Replacement Cost: Unlike ACV, replacement cost coverage will pay the cost to repair or replace the damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality, without any deduction for depreciation.
  • Subrogation: This is a term often used in the insurance industry to refer to the right of the insurance company to recover the amount it has paid for a loss from the party that caused the loss.
  • Umbrella Coverage: This is a type of insurance coverage that goes beyond the limits of regular insurance policies, such as homeowners or auto insurance. It provides an additional layer of security to those who are at risk for being sued for damages to other people’s property or injuries caused to others in an accident. It also protects against libel, vandalism, slander, and invasion of privacy.
  • Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This type of insurance coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with a motorist who does not have sufficient insurance coverage or no insurance at all.

Understanding these terms can help you know what to expect when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.


Documenting the Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide

A step-by-step infographic with information on maximizing a personal injury claim after an accident.

Proper documentation can make a world of difference when it comes to filing an insurance claim. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Call the Police

Image of police at an accident scene with text: "Step 1 Call the cops"

The police are a vital part of the process as they gather information and help generate a timeline of events. Also, as soon as you can, write down everything you remember about the accident. This can be crucial evidence if there’s a dispute about what happened.

Step 2: Take Photos 

Image of a man taking pictures with his phone at the scene of an accident with text: "Step 2 take pics"

Capture images (or video) of the accident scene, your motorcycle, and any injuries you sustained.

Step 3: Gather Information and Medical Records

An infographic showing the sources of medical records

Collect the other party’s contact and insurance information, and note down the details of the accident while they’re still fresh in your mind. Then in the following days, weeks, and months, keep track of (document) every doctor’s visit, physical therapy appointment, testing, or other medically related activity.

The Importance of Immediate Medical Attention

image of a motorcyclist rubbing his neck showing the strain of rider fatigue

Photo Credits – Physio Inq Sutherland

Even if you feel fine after an accident, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Not only is this important for your health, but it also establishes a record of your injuries, which can be vital when you’re filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.


Why You Should Consider Hiring a Lawyer

A watercolor splash painting of a motorcycle crash with mostly grayscale capturing the somber mood, but red around the motorcycle crash site indicating the physical and mental toll of the crash

Dealing with insurance adjusters can be daunting, especially when you’re recovering from an accident. A lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, ensuring that you’re treated fairly and that you get the compensation you deserve. They can handle the paperwork, deal with the insurance companies, and let you focus on your recovery.


What’s next?

If you’re unsure about how to handle the insurance adjuster or feel you’re not being treated fairly, consider hiring an attorney. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf and help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Don’t navigate this process alone. If you’re dealing with an insurance claim after a motorcycle accident, contact The Biker Lawyers for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We’re here to help you ride through this tough time. Call today or click here to get started.

Watercolor splash painting of a motorcycle on a highway with the biker lawyers logo and text.

Ride safe, and remember, we’re here for you.

Uncovering the Truth About UM/UIM Insurance

Uncovering the Truth About UM/UIM Insurance

Uncovering the Truth About UM/UIM Insurance

Posted on January 25, 2023 at 3:39 PM by The Biker Lawyers

The full story from Iowa’s best motorcycle injury lawyer

What do the rich know that you don’t? Are you really covered?

 

Biker Rebellion Podcast, Episode 2

Time to break the silence about a secret of The Rich and why they always carry a specific type of insurance and dive deep into the Hidden Truth: Uncovering Insurance Companies’ Secrets About UM/UIM Insurance.

Welcome to the Rebellion. We’re cutting through the BS and legal lingo to get straight to what you need to know BEFORE you need to know it.

The Biker Rebellion is a new Podcast-style video series where we answer the legal questions that every motorist should know. Speaking truth to power by saying things that other law firms won’t!

If you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe on the platform of your choice.

Feel free to hit play to watch Episode 2, or follow along with the transcript below.

Biker Rebellion Podcast Episode 2 (Transcript)

Ginger Jansen: Do you know if your insurance is paying you fairly? let’s find out. Welcome to the Rebellion. I’m your host Ginger here with the founding member of the Biker Lawyers, Pete Leehey. Pete, you’ve been a lawyer for, God, almost four decades now, is it?

Pete Leehey: Yep. Coming up on 38 years. If you wanna be precise about it.

Ginger: And you’ve been, in personal injury for most of that time, if not all of it, right?

Pete: All of it in varying degrees.

Ginger: And in all that time, would you say that insurance companies pay out fairly or do you think that, uh, not so much.

Pete:  Fairly rhymes with rarely.

Ginger: Truly. What can you do when you’ve been injured the other side’s insurance just isn’t gonna pay you out. Only offers to pay you a small amount.

Do you, do you settle for the scraps? What do you do?

Pete:  You basically have two choices. Choice number one is tuck your tail between the legs, take the crumbs and walk away from it. Choice number two is hire a lawyer and go to battle with them.

Ginger: We’ve talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating.

How does insurance factor into these cases? Are you able to sue them? And if not, how do they play in these cases?

Pete:  In almost every case, you can’t name the insurance company directly. So most cases that go to trial, it might be against John Brown, but behind John Brown stands the insurance company.

Ginger: Sure.

Pete:  You just can’t name them. You can’t talk about insurance at the trial. Basically, what the jury hears is the case is against John Brown, except in extremely rare circumstances.

Ginger: So, we’ve not really covered this, but, you do get to name insurance companies if they’re underinsured or uninsured carriers for your policy, correct?

Pete:  Correct. That’s the exception. So the two scenarios, one of ’em is John Brown has $20,000 of insurance, but you’ve got, say, $500,000 in medical bills. So John Brown’s $20,000 isn’t enough, and hopefully you’ve got a good underinsured motorist policy. And in that case, you get to directly name your own insurance company in the lawsuit.

Same thing with an uninsured, maybe John Brown that caused the crash. Doesn’t have any insurance at all, which is true for one out of 10 drivers, believe it or not. But if somebody has no insurance at all, then it’s just a direct action against your own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits.

Ginger:  And that’s only if you manage to buy that policy ahead of time.

Pete:  Exactly.

Ginger:  And that’s a policy that insurance companies don’t often. sell you. They don’t often even mention, from what I understand, at least from personal experience, I don’t think I ever had an insurance agent tell me “You need underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage”.

Pete:  Let me put it this way. I just helped walk through somebody that was buying insurance online recently, and the first thing it asks is, “How much coverage do you want?” And it says, “We recommend $20,000.” I’m thinking Bullshit! So we get the right amount of coverage for liability. Then it moves into uninsured, underinsured, and it says,

“Do you want uninsured, underinsured? We recommend, no.”

It’s unbelievable. And I’m not saying it’s that way in every case, but this was a major insurance company that sells policies nationwide and, and this is what they’re prompting people in their online forms.

Ginger:  To clarify here, if you don’t have underinsured, uninsured motorist coverage, how does that open you up to, uh, not being able to recover?

In the case of, let’s say you, you know, you get into a serious collision, you’ve got a hundred thousand in medical bills, you’ve had major surgeries. The person on the other end, let’s say they have 20-40. uh, limits, you know, $20,000 to $40,000 per incident. Right. And that’s the state minimum in Iowa if I remember correctly.

Pete:  Correct. And, so $20,000 per person is what that is, and $40,000 per crash. So, for example, if you got a passenger, there’ll be up to $20,000 for each of you and a max of $40,000 for the whole crash, which in the scenario you just described, which is really quite common, you’re screwed unless you have underinsured motorist coverage.

Ginger:  So how does, how does that come into play in this instance? Let’s say, you know, you get into this scenario and it’s 20,000 is what you can get. It’s, you know, you’re by yourself. There’s no other passenger. So it’s just you major surgeries, 20 thousands on the table and the insurance company is coughing it up- policy limits immediately. Does. Where does UIM now factor in?

Pete:  So to properly bring an underinsured motorist claim, there are some legal hoops that have to be jumped through, and those hoops are defined in your insurance policy. The typical situation is you can’t just take that 20,000 and call it good and then sue your own insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits.

You have to show them that the person, “John Brown,” that hit you, that has 20,000 in coverage, you have to show him that that’s all you realistically can get from him. So, for example, the 20,000 insurance coverage, yeah, that’s the most you’re gonna get from Insurance, but now we gotta make sure that John Brown doesn’t have assets that might be able to cover a trial verdict, because if he does, and you take the 20,000 without consulting with your own insurance company and showing them John Brown’s assets, you’re gonna get shut out on your underinsured motorist benefits as well.

Ginger:  So, let’s talk a little bit more about the assets, because I know it’s a common misconception that when we are, uh, suing somebody that we’re going after their personal assets and not the insurance policy necessarily. And that’s definitely the way that I, I feel like the trials have been structured to make the jury believe that because you’re not allowed to talk about the insurance, uh, company, typically in trial from what I understand.

Pete:  Correct.

Ginger:  So are we going after assets? At what point do you go after assets?

Pete:  It’s extremely rare that you have a case where it makes sense to try to go after the assets of John Brown, because typically, let’s just go back to the, John has bought a minimum insurance policy of $20,000 per person. That’s a pretty good indication that John Brown doesn’t have a lot of assets to protect, because if he does, he’s gonna be thinking about it.

You’d like to think, and my experience has shown me this to be. Almost a hundred percent of the time, true. If John Brown has assets to protect, he’s gonna have a bigger policy than $20,000. So almost always, when you’ve got somebody with a $20,000 policy, and the way that you prove that they don’t have additional assets that can be satisfied for a judgment is you require them to fill out a financial statement to disclose all their assets and income as well as liabilities, and then you show that to your insurance company.

I mean, we’re literally talking hundreds, if not thousands of cases that I’ve seen over the years that I’ve been doing this. It almost never happens that somebody who has significant assets doesn’t have a big insurance policy.

Ginger:  So as a general rule, if you’ve got wealth, you’re gonna protect it. Insurance policies tend to be able to do that nicely, as long as you have the money to do so.

Pete:  The, the only scenario really where personal injury attorney is advocating, let’s go after assets, is where there is substantial assets on the other side, but they for some reason decided not to protect it with a proper insurance policy. Again, that’s super rare because people who have substantial assets typically are smart enough to know that if they get into a situation where they cause a serious injury to somebody, their assets are at risk.

So they almost always are gonna. A substantial insurance policy to protect those assets. However, in the extremely rare case where somebody doesn’t have enough insurance to protect themselves, in the case of a, a serious crash, you can go after their assets if they have things that they can’t protect in bankruptcy.

Ginger:  And to clarify some of the things that get protected in bankruptcy, I, I believe there’s a homestead exempt.

Pete:  Yeah, there’s all kinds of stuff. Some of it is really logical, some of it, uh, doesn’t make a lot of sense. But the bottom line is there are things that are protected in bankruptcy, including your house, a vehicle, tools of the trade.

Um, a, a big one is retirement accounts. You, you can’t put your hands on those. What you’re looking for is a situation where somebody has assets that they cannot protect in bankruptcy that you can legitimately go after. And again, as I sit here right now, I can think of one case I’ve seen like that in 38 years.

Ginger:  Okay. And, and to clarify, uh, some of those exemptions in, in case the viewers are wondering, I believe it includes a musket…

Pete:  That’s why I said somethings are kinda goofy…

Ginger:  But I, I remember a few weird ones being in there and laughing pretty heavily at how outdated some of the terminology was. If you need to protect your assets, you can buy a very nice Musket.

Pete:  Exactly.

Ginger:  So, I think it’s worth clarifying- Practically speaking, we’re not really going after defendants after a crash. We’re, we’re just going after insurance policies.

Pete:  That’s almost 100% true.

Ginger:  Okay. And does, does the defendants, uh, get to choose their own attorney to defend their insurance policy?

Pete:  The typical answer is no.

Ginger:  So how do they get an attorney?

Pete:  When John Brown gets sued, John Brown contacts his insurance company. His insurance company has a list of insurance defense lawyers that they use When their policyholders get sued, they pick the lawyer to defend John Brown and, and really themselves.

Ginger:  And does the defendant have to pay for this attorney?

Pete:  I’ve never seen a policy where somebody that gets sued in a crash has to pay for the lawyer. It’s the insurance company that’s footing the bill.

Ginger:  Which I suppose in a way, you’ve paid for it already because you’ve been paying on that insurance policy for however long it’s been in effect.

Pete:  Yeah. It’s in essence a prepaid insurance policy to cover the cost of a lawyer if you end up getting sued for crashing into someone.

Ginger:  So are there downsides as a defendant, let’s say, you know, you’re, you’re negligent, you’re on your phone and you accidentally hit somebody. And so the insurance company, they, they send you an attorney to defend.

Uh, you ostensibly, but more importantly, it seems like they’re defending the insurance policy a little bit more heavily.

Are there any downsides, uh, for John Brown as a defendant in the scenario to not being able to choose their attorney and having that scenario?

Pete:  Well, you hit the nail on the head there.

The insurance company’s obligation is to defend the case. But really what they’re doing is defending up to their policy limits. So if it’s a case that has the amount of damages are larger than the policy limits, then John Brown really doesn’t have protection for his personal assets if he has ’em beyond the amount of the insurance policy.

And when that does come up, I don’t know what insurance defense lawyers do, but I know what they’re supposed to do, And that is they tell John Brown, “Hey, you’ve got coverage for $20,000, but there’s excess liability exposure and you need to have your personal lawyer giving you some advice as this thing moves into negotiations.”

Ginger:  So when we get to the legal strategy, John Brown, does he get much of a say in the legal strategy for his defense?

Pete:  No. No. The case is controlled by the insurance company. The insurance company’s making the decisions. Some of them are more responsive than others. Again, I don’t have much experience or knowledge about this, but, but some of them are, are better than others as far as keeping the insured informed, but the overwhelming way that it works- by far- is the insurance company makes the decisions. They tell their lawyer what to do, the lawyer reports to the insurance company, and that’s how the decisions get made.

Ginger:  So does John Brown get much say in whether something settles, doesn’t settle, and how much money is being offered to the plaintiff? Any of that?

Pete:  We’re talking about standard. Collisions involving cars, motorcycles, and trucks, and the universal rule is almost always no. John Brown doesn’t have a say. The insurance company decides. So

Ginger:  Whether it’s your fault, or somebody else’s fault, a crash occurs. What do you think is the overarching message that people need to hear when it comes to those crashes and insurance companies?

Pete:  If you’re the guy getting sued, you just need to realize that the insurance company is out there protecting themselves and not necessarily you. And again, that’s why people in that situation sometimes are wise to at least. Personal lawyer that they consult over the thing, but the insurance company’s out there for themselves.

Ginger:  I’ll leave one final note for our viewers. Don’t you think it’s strange that an insurance company has to spend billions of dollars annually to inform you that they’ll help you when you need them? Until next time, speak Truth to Power.

Brought to you by the biker lawyers.

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