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The rambling desert roads of Nevada and the crowded streets of Las Vegas attract motorcyclists who enjoy the open roads and can zoom around traffic. Yet congested highways and rural roads aren’t always safe for motorcyclists. Other drivers, dangerous roadway obstacles, and hazards unique to motorcyclists put riders at risk. Las Vegas motorcycle accident attorneys at Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, we’ve represented clients with serious to catastrophic injuries from motorcycle accidents. We know how to fight for maximum compensation in any accident situation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to run them by our motorcycle accident attorneys, they will give you and your family a free consultation and help you proceed with your claim.
When it comes to determining the defendant in your case, you must consider all factors that may have contributed to your crash. This may be another driver, a bicyclist or pedestrian, debris in the roadway, a defective part on your motorcycle, a broken traffic light, or unsafe weather conditions. You may have more than one defendant. For example, another driver may be responsible for running a red light, but the City of Las Vegas may be at fault for poorly maintaining the road, making it impossible for you to stop on time to avoid a collision.
Motorcycle accidents, like car accidents, can occur at any time in any weather conditions. Although motorcycle accidents are not more common than car accidents, motorcyclist accidents are more likely to kill or seriously injure someone in an accident. Motorcycle enthusiasts must understand safety issues and learn the circumstances that increase the likelihood of an accident. Many situations can make the road more dangerous for motorcycle riders.
Motorcyclists are much more prone to injury and death compared to people in vehicles. The lack of protection surrounding their bodies leaves them vulnerable to accident and injury. There are five common motorcyclist injury types.
The Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is an initiative that aims to improve the safety of Nevada’s roadways. Researchers analyze crash data to discover the most common reasons and areas for accidents. They then use this information to spread awareness and make improvements. The long-term goal is to eventually see zero fatalities on Nevada’s roadways. Data from the most recent SHSP report show 238 motorcyclists died and 968 suffered serious injuries in Nevada from 2011 to 2015. In 2015 alone, there were 43 deaths and 206 injuries – a decrease from the previous year.
The most common type of motorcycle accident is an “angle crash,” with 93 deaths and 381 serious injuries from 2011 to 2015. The second most-common type is non-collision, followed by rear-end, head-on, and sideswipe accidents. Motorcyclists are at the highest risk when other vehicles are going straight, followed by vehicles turning left. Male riders 26 to 45 years old are most likely to be in motorcycle accidents that result in injuries and death in Nevada. Daylight is the most dangerous time for motorcyclists, with 63% of fatalities and injuries occurring during daylight hours.
The first question on your mind after a motorcycle crash may be, “Who will pay for my damages?” You may have hospital bills, lost wages, property damage, and other accident-related expenses, on top of personal damages such as physical pain and emotional suffering. There may be an individual or entity legally responsible for compensating you. Nevada is a fault state, meaning the person at fault for the accident is liable to pay for damages. Yet the question of fault is not always black and white.
In many motorcycle collision claims, the defendant (the party allegedly responsible) may argue the motorcyclist contributed to his or her own injuries. For example, speeding, weaving through traffic, or unlawfully not wearing a helmet can contribute to an accident and/or injuries. If you were partially at fault for the crash or your resultant injuries, don’t assume you’re ineligible for financial recovery. Nevada abides by contributory negligence laws, which enables plaintiffs to recover as long as they are less than 51% responsible for the accident.
It’s important for any plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case to know the difference between the settlement value of the case and the potential trial value. Many personal injury lawsuits end before they even reach trial; the two parties conduct settlement negotiations to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the issue. If the two parties cannot agree, then the case proceeds to trial. Defendants typically wish to settle these matters quickly and avoid trial if possible, and a plaintiff has the incentive to work through negotiations to avoid the risk of losing in a trial.
The settlement value of a case is likely much lower than the potential trial value, but the plaintiff must have a solid case before proceeding to trial. If not, the plaintiff runs the risk of absorbing some fault for the accident. Nevada follows a pure comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff loses a portion of his or her settlement or case award equal to his or her percentage of fault for the incident in question. For example, a plaintiff found 10% at fault in a $10,000 claim would lose 10% of the case award for a final total of $9,000 instead.
Damages in motorcycle accident lawsuits fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are generally easy to prove and involve things like repair or replacement costs of damaged property and medical expenses. The plaintiff must provide documentation that not only proves the extent of his or her economic damages, but also proof that those damages were the direct result of the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Non-economic damages work differently in motorcycle accident cases. These can involve things like pain and suffering, or loss of affection or consortium in a case for a fatal accident. Since there is no firm way to calculate the monetary value of things like physical pain and emotional suffering, most courts use the plaintiff’s claimed medical expenses and other economic damages as a starting point.
For example, a plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries in a car accident resulting in $50,000 worth of medical expenses and permanent disability, preventing the plaintiff from working again. In this case, the jury may decide to multiply the plaintiff’s economic damages by a factor of three, resulting in $150,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Other courts may use a “per diem” rule for pain and suffering. In such a case, the jury will assign a certain value per day the plaintiff experiences pain and suffering after an accident, and the plaintiff recovers compensation for every day until he or she reaches maximum recovery.
Many Nevada motorcycle accidents result in serious injuries that prevent victims from returning to work during recovery. Accidents resulting in permanent disability can prevent a victim from returning to work at all. In these cases, the court will determine a fair amount of compensation based on the plaintiff’s typical regular wages. For example, a plaintiff could provide past pay stubs that show he received about $2,000 per week in regular wages over the past year. If his injury required ten weeks of recovery, this would equal $20,000 in lost wage compensation.
Calculating lost future earning capacity is a bit more complex. The plaintiff’s attorney may need to consult with economic or financial experts who can testify as to the plaintiff’s total lost earning capacity if he or she cannot return to the same job or work at all following the accident. These experts will calculate how much the plaintiff would have received for the duration of his or her work life expectancy, or the amount of time one could reasonably estimate the plaintiff would have been able to work in the future had the accident not occurred.