How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Claim Take to Settle?

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When dealing with any personal injury claim, regardless of the type of accident that triggered it, victims and their loved ones will encounter a lot of unknowns. One major unknown, and a point on which most motorcycle accident victims will want clarity, is how long it will take to reach a fair settlement. Unfortunately, as is also typical of personal injury claims, the answer depends on several factors, most of which are unique to each individual case.

An Overview of the Motorcycle Accident Settlement Process

Some accident victims can reach a fair settlement with their or the at-fault parties’ insurance companies within a few short weeks. Others must wait months, while yet others will wait years. That said, though the timeframe for motorcycle accident claims can vary considerably, most cases will follow the same process. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand the process, advise you on what you need to do at each step and help you move through it as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

File Your Motorcycle Accident Claim

The time from injury-to-settlement does not, and cannot, start ticking until you file an actual claim. How long you have to file an insurance claim after an accident depends on state laws. For instance, in Michigan you have one year to file a claim with your own insurance company and up to three years to file a claim against the at-fault party, if applicable. However, you have the right to file your claim immediately after the accident — as in, hours or days afterward. The sooner you report your losses, the sooner you stand to recover.

When filing a claim for damages, it is important to provide evidence that demonstrates a) that the other driver was wholly or mostly at fault and b) the value of your damages. Ideally, you will submit evidence that demonstrates both when you submit your initial notice for a claim, if not shortly afterward. Types of evidence that can help to support your claim are as follows:

  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Proof of medical expenses
  • Proof of lost wages
  • Photos of your injuries, damage to your motorcycle and the scene of the accident
  • Eye-witness reports
  • Receipts for repair estimates

If you provide all the proper documentation up-front, it becomes very difficult for the insurance company to delay or deny your claim. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can advise you of what evidence you need to help your claim go as smoothly as possible.

The Initial Response and Settlement Offer

Once you file your claim, you must then wait for your insurance company to acknowledge and respond to it. How long insurers have to take to respond to a notice of a claim varies from state to state. For instance, in California, insurers have up to 40 days to either accept or reject a claim and another 30 days to issue payments. In Texas, insurers have up to 30 days to accept or reject a claim and another five days from then to issue a payment.

In Michigan, your insurer must respond to you within 30 days of receiving your claim with a request for the additional information it needs to handle your claim. It has another 30 days from the date it receives proper supporting documentation to pay you your personal injury benefits. For every day after that 30 days that it fails to issue payment, it must pay simple interest at a rate of 12%. Your insurer has up to 60 days from the date of receipt of documentation to pay a claim for vehicle damages, otherwise, it must pay interest at a rate of 12%.

Regardless of state laws, know that most motorcycle accident claims are resolved during these initial stages. At some point during the response period, your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer will do one of two things: Approve your claim and make an offer or deny your claim. Once the insurer makes the first move, the ball is in your court.

Negotiations and Settlement

If you do not like the insurance company’s response to your claim for compensation, you have the right to refuse it. Though doing so is likely in your best interests, as insurers are notorious for offering lowball settlements the first time around, know that this decision will likely extend the claims process timeframe considerably.

A skilled attorney can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf quickly and efficiently. However, it may still take another six weeks to several months for you and the opposing team to come to an agreement. How long negotiations will take depends on the complexity of your case and what further evidence either party requires to strengthen its case.

Assuming the negotiations process goes well, meaning your attorney presented a solid argument that leaves little room for contesting. Your insurer or the at-fault party will make another settlement offer.

Accepting the Offer

Once your legal team and the opposition reach a settlement you consider fair, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release to settle your claim. Once you sign this release, you forfeit all future rights to sue the insurer or at-fault party for additional damages.

If you choose to sign the release, the personal injury claims process comes to an end. State laws, again, dictate how soon after coming to an agreement insurers must issue checks. However, the standard timeframe is within five to seven business days. If you negotiated a settlement on your own, the check will arrive at your address and in your name. However, if you partnered with a personal injury lawyer, the check will likely go to your attorney’s office, which will disburse payments after it pays itself.

If Your Claim Goes to Trial

Most motorcycle accident injury claims settle out of court and during the aforementioned process. However, there are some cases in which insurers and injured parties cannot come to an agreement. In these situations, one or both parties may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. As with the claims process, the lawsuit process occurs in stages, beginning with the filing of the lawsuit:

  • Discovery
  • Alternative dispute resolution (more negotiations)
  • Trial
  • Verdict

Though you stand to gain a lot if your personal injury lawsuit is successful, going to trial is rarely favorable to settling a claim out of court. Trials are risky, as they result in an all-or-nothing outcome. They are also costly and time-consuming, with each phase taking months to complete. Before you deny the opposition’s final settlement offer, consider whether going to court will be worth the time, money and headache it will inevitably cost you.

Consult With a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

A motorcycle accident can result in extensive damages and severe, life-altering injuries. Understandably, you need the money from your motorcycle accident claim to recover and move forward with your life sooner rather than later. While a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help you move quickly through the claims process and to a fair settlement, it is important that you do not rush the process, as doing so could undermine your interests. For the best shot at recovering the maximum amount of compensation in little time, connect with our team at Mike Morse Law Firm today. Schedule your free initial consultation to get started.

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