Motorcycle accidents are a common cause of serious injury and death every year in New Jersey. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to statistics obtained from police reports, in 2016, out of the 570 fatal crashes in New Jersey, 68 of the fatal accidents involved a motorcycle. Most of the drivers in fatal accidents were over age 40, and the vast majority of the individuals who lost their lives were drivers.
The top contributing driving factor in fatal accidents was inattentive driving followed by driving at an unsafe speed.
Common injuries after a motorcycle accident include the following:
- Head trauma – Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering. After a severe head injury, a person may need to re-learn many of the activities that he/she used to be able to do easily, like speaking and walking.
- Spinal cord injuries – Depending on the location of the injury and damage to the spinal cord, a person may become completely or partially paralyzed.
- Fractures – Simple fractures can heal within weeks, while compound fractures may require surgery and physical therapy.
- Contusions, sprains, and strains – Sprains and strains are usually minor compared to other types of injuries but can still take weeks to heal and require medical care.
- Skin abrasions – Contact with the road and other objects in a crash can cause road rash, cuts, and scrapes.
Medical Treatment after a Motorcycle Accident
After a minor accident, some people may only need to go to the emergency room and follow up with their primary care provider. It is a good idea to request a medical exam as soon as possible after an accident even if you do not feel that you were injured. You may feel very sore a couple days after the accident, which is typical after a crash. If you wait to seek medical treatment, insurance companies may claim that your pain was not from the accident or that it was not very severe since you waited to be seen by a doctor.
It is important for you to follow your doctor's directions after an accident and schedule an appointment right away if a doctor refers you to a specialist. Usually, your medical coverage will be covered initially either by your health insurance or personal injury protection on your own car insurance policy.
Serious injuries may require surgery or lengthy time spent in rehabilitation. This is especially true for brain and spinal cord injuries, which are also called catastrophic injuries in the medical community. After a person has become paralyzed or wheelchair-bound, he/she may need to have modifications to their transportation and housing to help them live independently.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, which means that after many accidents, your own insurance will cover the costs of your medical bills. You may be able to sue the driver responsible for an accident if you sustained serious injuries.
Filing a Claim with the At-Fault Party's Insurer
Filing a personal injury claim usually starts with notifying the at-fault party's insurer. The insurance company may request information about your medical condition. If the insurance company contacts you directly, do not make a statement to their representative. Also, do not sign paperwork from the at-fault driver's insurance company without speaking to an attorney. It is best to allow your lawyer to handle speaking with the insurance company since you do not want to make statements against your own interests or unintentionally waive any of your rights.
Filing a Lawsuit against the Insurer and the At-Fault Party
If the insurance company does not offer an acceptable settlement, the next step is to file a lawsuit. In some cases, a lawsuit does not need to be filed if the company agrees to settle right away. A lawsuit is initiated by filing a complaint in the proper court with the names of the parties, a description of the accident including the defendant's conduct, and the relief sought by the plaintiff.
After a lawsuit is filed, both sides will have the opportunity to participate in a process known as “discovery.” This is an exchange of information through depositions, interrogatories, and requests for admissions so that the attorneys can examine the evidence that is expected to be introduced at trial.
Settling a Motorcycle Accident Personal Injury Case
It is important to keep in mind that most cases don't settle quickly. The best time to accept a settlement is after you have reached maximum medical improvement. When an insurance company wants you to settle quickly, they may be wanting you to take less money than the case is really worth. This is why it is important to have a personal injury lawyer on your side.
When injuries are particularly severe, a case may take longer to settle than the average claim. For one thing, damages are more difficult to calculate when a severe injury is involved because it is important to consider the costs of future medical care. Insurance companies may also invest more resources in defending cases where there is more money at stake.
Many cases proceed to mediation before a trial. Mediation is a chance for the parties to discuss settlement. Rather than presenting evidence to a judge, each side presents their case to a neutral, third-party mediator who tries to assist the parties to reach a settlement agreement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
It is important to contact an attorney right away after a motorcycle accident since your claim may be time-barred if you wait too long. The statute of limitations in New Jersey for filing a personal injury claim is two (2) years which means that personal injury claims filed after two years will be dismissed.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in New Jersey, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. Contact Kim & Feliz, LLC by filling out our online form or calling us at (201) 585-2250.