As a Louisville personal injury attorney with over 30 years of experience, I’ve handled many Kentucky motorcycle accident claims. However, people have many questions about the process. I’ll use an example of a complicated motorcycle wreck to illustrate the complexities of personal injury law when it comes to motorcycle accidents.
If you have ever wanted to learn everything there is about motorcycle wrecks, the personal injury claims that arise from them, then the pages below are for you. Below are pages describing what happens when you have a motorcycle wreck in Kentucky and how motorcycle insurance law applies to a personal injury claim. Essentially, the motorcycle accident I am describing, resembles a law school exam wherein every possible aspect of the law is addressed. I have separated the issues into separate sections and pages for easy access but, these facts will apply to every section.
Elements of a Personal Injury Claim Arising from a Motorcycle Crash
Assume, my client was a passenger on a motorcycle so immediately we know she does not bear any fault in causing this motorcycle crash. Let’s refer to her as Mary. There are potentially three motorcycle riders who can be at fault for this wreck. Let’s call them Smith, Jones and Johnson. Also, we are dealing with a serious motorcycle wreck involving broken bones and surgeries for at least two of the four people injured. Mary was hospitalized and had over $79,000 in medical bills in the first weeks following the motorcycle accident. It is worth noting that the value of Mary’s personal injury claim is not known until a client has completed all their treatment and you can review all of their medical records/bills. However, with Mary already having $70,000 in medical bills, it is a fair statement to say that the value of her personal injury claim was already between $150,000 to $300,000, assuming we can find that much insurance.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
To recover on any personal injury claim, we must show that an at-fault driver was at fault or to use the legal term, negligent. To prove negligence, we have to show four elements. First, the person had a legal duty pursuant to the law or statutes. When it comes to motorcycle riders, one of the most basic duties is to keep their motorcycle under proper control. That brings us to the second element of negligence, we have to show they breached that duty. The third element of negligence is that we have to show that breach caused damages. That’s the fourth element of negligence, damages. Those damages, include but are not limited to her lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. To put it all together, we have to show negligence to show fault on another driver. This means that we have to show that other driver breached his legal duty, in regard to rules of the road, and that breach was the cause of my client’s damages.
Also, Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. This issue is important to understand with Kentucky motorcycle accident claims. The easiest way to understand comparative fault is to understand that you could be 95% at fault for a wreck and still recover 5% of your damages. Essentially, in a pure comparative fault state, the fact that you were the majority at fault for causing a motorcycle wreck, does not prevent you from recovering the damages you were not at fault for. However, recall in my example, Mary is a passenger on a motorcycle and since she has no control over the driving of the motorcycle, she can’t be guilty of any comparative fault. Consequently, there is no basis for reducing her damages.
Steps to Investigating a Motorcycle Wreck
So, as a personal injury lawyer, my first step was to get a copy of the police report. I was able to do so online, just a couple of days after the date of the wreck. The police report is rather crucial to my investigation as it lists where the motorcycle wreck happened, the officer’s theory as to how the wreck happened and the drivers involved in the wreck. Also, most of the time, it lists the insurance carriers for the drivers. If it does not and the motorcycle is registered in Kentucky, I can run that license plate with the County Clerk and find the insurance carrier for the last time that vehicle was registration was renewed.
I started investigating the facts of the motorcycle wreck, by looking for video and talking to witnesses, to determine who was at fault for the crash. I sent an investigator to the scene of the motorcycle wreck to look for skid marks and video of the crash. With the onset of Ring doorbells, it has become easier to find video that captures a car wreck or motorcycle accident. Several times over my career, finding such video has been crucial to the success of recovering on the personal injury claim.
Once I know the insurance companies involved, I open an injury claim with each of them through a letter of representation.
Now, proceed my page on the topic of my Letter of Representation to continue with my example and how it relates to Kentucky motorcycle accident claims.
Listen to Attorney Jim Desmond’s 2-part series about motorcycle accidents and insurance issues. Click here to listen to Episode 9.