An injured motorcyclist faces extensive financial harm after an accident. They may have medical bills, lost wages, and likely will have to have damage to their bike repaired. They also may have depression, pain, or other symptoms which harm their quality of life. The financial, emotional, and mental toll of an accident can be extreme.
You can sue for compensation if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident because of another person’s negligence. However, you may wonder, what damages can you sue for? Can you sue someone for the loss of enjoyment of life if your quality of life is impacted by the accident? Below, the personal injury attorneys at TonaLaw explain the damages available in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Motorcycle Lawsuits and Insurance Claims
Motorcyclists are excluded from New York’s no-fault insurance laws. This means that rather than being able to go to your own insurance company to cover the damages you incur in an accident without finding fault, you must file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company or file a lawsuit for damages.
The idea of filing a lawsuit is daunting. If you’re a motorcyclist, you may wonder, what damages can you sue for in a personal injury claim? The upside of a motorcyclist being exempt from the no-fault system is that they can sue for every penny of their damages. In a car accident claim, on the other hand, the only way a car accident victim can sue the responsible party directly is if they have a serious injury as defined under New York law. A motorcyclist has no such limitations in a lawsuit.
What Damages Can You Sue for if You’re a Motorcycle Accident Victim?
If you’ve been the victim of a motorcycle accident, you may wonder, specifically, what damages can you sue for after an accident? To understand what damages you can sue for, you must first understand damages.
Damages are the law’s way of making someone who’s been harmed whole. The person legally responsible for the harm must pay the victim damages once they’re proven to be at fault.
There are three primary types of damages a motorcycle accident victim can recover from an at-fault party. These are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. We describe these damages and their differences below.
All actual, quantifiable losses related to the accident are generally considered economic damages. Economic damages are essentially losses that have a relatively straightforward dollar amount attached. Below are some common types of economic damages.
The costs of medical treatment after an accident can be overwhelming. If you had to stay a night or several nights in the hospital or undergo surgery, these expenses could quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Under New York law, you can sue the responsible party for these damages. These damages are considered economic damages because they usually have an exact dollar amount, as reflected in medical bills.
You can sue for the cost of any motorcycle repairs you may need due to the responsible party’s actions. If your bike is totaled, you can sue for the full value of the bike or a replacement. Property damages all have relatively precise numbers attached to them.
Lost Past and Future Wages
If you’ve been out of work due to your injuries from the motorcycle accident, you likely have lost wages. Fortunately, you can sue the at-fault party for your lost wages. Plus, if your doctor believes you still have some time to recover before you can return to work, the responsible party can be liable for lost future wages.
A rider may experience mental, physical, or emotional harm from an accident. These harms do not have a clear or straightforward dollar amount attached to them, yet their impact on the life of the injured rider can be great. Compensation for these intangible losses after an accident is called non-economic damages.
Some common forms of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Sometimes, to support a case for non-economic damages, your attorney may need to speak with your therapist, family members, or friends. Those closest to you can describe your behavioral differences before and after the accident. This will help your attorney calculate a fair dollar amount for your non-economic losses.
Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for their losses. Rather, they punish the at-fault party for particularly bad behavior that the law wants to deter. Specifically, you can seek punitive damages if you can prove, with clear and convincing evidence, that the at-fault party was:
- Willful or wanton, or
- Acting with complete disregard for the safety of others.
The standard for proving punitive damages – clear and convincing evidence – is much higher than other damages. There are some instances, however, when courts are more likely to award punitive damages. For example, if a drunk driver injured you, a court is much more likely to award punitive damages.
Can You Sue Someone for Loss of Enjoyment of Life?
Yes, you can sue someone for the loss of enjoyment of life after your motorcycle accident if you can prove that you’re entitled to these damages. The loss of enjoyment of life is generally under the category of non-economic damages.
In order to determine if you can sue someone for the loss of enjoyment of life, you must first understand what this term means. Many understand the loss of enjoyment of life as losing the ability to take pleasure in things that used to bring you pleasure. However, you may also sue for loss of enjoyment of life if you can no longer participate in tasks you did before the accident or you cannot do regular daily tasks.
Remember that the loss of enjoyment of life is not necessarily a separate category of damages. You and your attorney will typically come up with a total dollar amount for your non-economic damages, including pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
TonaLaw Can Fight for Your Motorcycle Accident Compensation
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Long Island, you can turn to the trusted personal injury attorneys at TonaLaw to fight for the compensation you deserve. Our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorneys can investigate your damages claims, estimate your potential compensation, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you get a fair settlement. Plus, if the case doesn’t settle, our attorneys are ready to go to trial in court if that’s in your best interests. Contact our client-centered practice to experience the TonaLaw difference today.