For nearly four decades, attorney Randall “Randy” Sevenish has been an avid motorcycle enthusiast and rider. He is a “Real Motorcycle Lawyer and Real Rider©” unlike others who may have their photo taken while sitting on a motorcycle for a marketing campaign. He knows the physics and dynamics of riding a motorcycle, and he understands motorcycle injury law. He also appreciates the losses that motorcycle riders suffer in a crash.
Please review the following information to learn more about your rights and options after a motorcycle crash. You can discuss the specific facts of your case and learn about working with our accident lawyers. Our consultations are always free and geared towards answering all of your questions.
Damages in an Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you have been injured through no fault of your own while riding a motorcycle in Indianapolis, you can generally seek to recover the following damages:
Common Types of Damages in Motorcycle Accident Claims
Accident victims often wonder what their personal injury cases could be worth. You could recover the following losses:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages (including reduced earning capacity)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages (if the at-fault party’s conduct was malicious).
If the at-fault party’s conduct was malicious, punitive damages may be sought as well.
Wrongful Death Damages
If you lost your loved one in a motorcycle accident, you would file a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury claim. Some of the damages you can seek in a wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of inheritance
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Your loved one’s pain and suffering prior to their passing
- Your loved one’s medical bills related to their motorcycle accident injuries
Please see our section on wrongful death to learn more about damages that may be sought if a motorcycle accident in Indiana has led to the loss of your loved one.
Keep the Indiana Statute of Limitations in Mind
You only have a limited amount of time to file your motorcycle accident claim in Indianapolis before the statute of limitations expires. For most cases, Indiana Code §34-11-2-4 sets the deadline at two years from the date of your accident.
Waiting too long to file your claim in court can mean that you lose the right to pursue compensation, so it’s crucial to ensure that all paperwork is taken care of.
Also, some situations may have different statutes of limitations. For example, if your motorcycle accident involved a government official, you may need to file a notice with the municipality much sooner than two years after the crash. Get help from an experienced Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer so that your case is in good hands and your right to pursue the compensation you deserve is protected.
Insurance Coverage in Indianapolis Motorcycle Accidents
After establishing liability and assessing the extent of damages in a motorcycle accident, the next step will be to determine available insurance coverage. The policies involved in your case may include:
Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability
Indiana motorists are required to have this coverage. It pays for damages that you cause in a crash. So, if an auto driver caused your crash, you would initially turn to that driver’s liability insurance.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
This is coverage you can purchase from your insurance company. You can turn to this coverage if the at-fault driver does not have enough liability insurance to compensate you fairly.
Many Indiana drivers carry only the required minimum amounts of liability coverage ($25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $10,000 per accident for property damage).
Typically, the loss an injured motorcyclist suffers far exceeds these amounts. In that sense, UIM can play an important role in your case.
So, it remains in the motorcyclist’s best interests to carry as much UIM coverage as possible. We recommend purchasing “minimum responsible coverage” with $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident and a $1,000,000 umbrella on your homeowner’s coverage. Call us for more details about this often-confusing coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
This is another form of coverage that you have the option to buy. In fact, you should have UM coverage (unless you have rejected it in writing). This coverage kicks in if the at-fault driver has no insurance at all.
Know What You Can and Cannot Control
When a motorcycle accident occurs, you may be wondering how you could have prevented it and what to do next. There are certain factors within your control and others that are outside of your control. Being proactive involves knowing the difference and taking action where you can.
What You Cannot Control
Many things cause motorcycle accidents (and other vehicle crashes) that you cannot control. You cannot control whether the at-fault driver is a private individual, an employee of a small or large company, or even a government employee. You cannot control if a driver is insured and how much coverage they carry.
And although some private individuals have larger insurance coverage, most at-fault drivers are either uninsured (having no insurance at all) or underinsured, having insurance coverage but not enough to properly compensate you.
No one wants to be in a crash, but if you had to be in one—you would select a driver employed by a large company with plenty of insurance coverage versus someone unemployed with either little to no insurance coverage, right? Since you can’t select who causes your injury, focus on what you can control.
What You Can Control
You can control whether you have insurance coverage and how much you have.
You should assume every driver on the road is either uninsured or underinsured. As such, by utilizing the below suggested “minimum responsible coverages,” you will protect yourself and your family from financial devastation—unless you suffer a catastrophic injury.
You are, in essence, buying insurance coverage for others who are less responsible than you.
These coverages may protect you in the vast majority of crashes you may find yourself in. If this happens, you will be very glad you did as suggested or very sad if you did not. Coverage issues can be complicated.
Don’t hesitate to call the office of a motorcycle accident attorney in Indianapolis with any questions.
Additional Coverage You Can Purchase
Needless to say, the Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorneys with our firm strongly recommend purchasing UM/UIM coverage if you are a motorcyclist or any kind of driver, even a bicyclist, including “excess” or “umbrella” coverage.
It only costs a few dollars in premiums, and it can make a huge difference if you are hurt in a crash. Understand that motorcyclists are more times than not seriously injured when involved in a crash, due to the fact that they are not surrounded by a steel cage.
Additionally, you may be able to recover funds to pay for damage to your motorcycle if you have purchased:
- Collision coverage – covers damage that results from an impact with another object such as a car, tree, pole, or road sign
- Comprehensive coverage – pays for losses caused by factors such as wind, rain, theft, or a collision with a deer or other animal
- Custom parts and equipment coverage (CPE) – covers a portion of damages to any custom parts on your motorcycle
Most insurance providers offer these additional coverages, and you can speak to yours about adding them to your policy. Keep in mind that you must have had these coverages prior to an accident in order to make use of them. Purchasing them after the fact will not help you when making a claim for damages.
Common Causes of Indiana Motorcycle Accidents
A large percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by the inability or failure of an automobile driver to actually see the motorcyclist. Crashes may also be caused by a car driver:
- Following the motorcyclist too closely, or “tailgating”
- Failing to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist
- Attempting to pass the motorcyclist too closely or “share” a lane
- Taking deliberate action to intimidate the motorcyclist
- Allowing themselves to become distracted while driving
If any of the above has occurred in your case, you may have the right to assert a personal injury claim against the at-fault car driver.
When determining liability in Indianapolis motorcycle accidents, comparative negligence means that a person may not recover money damages for the percentage of fault they are. For example, if a claim is worth a certain value and if it is determined by the evidence that the motorcyclist is 10% at fault, they only recover 90% of their claim for damages. If they are 40% at fault, they would only be able to recover 60% of their damages. In Indiana, if the evidence determines that the individual is 51% or more at fault, regardless of their injury they get nothing.
That is why it is important to retain a capable motorcycle injury lawyer who rides, knows the ropes, knows motorcycles, and knows motorcycle injury law. They are going to anticipate the defenses propounded by the insurance company, claims adjuster, and defense lawyer, because there may still be a substantial claim for the motorcyclist that has a significant injury even if they are at fault. It is the lawyer’s obligation and duty to attempt to make sure that their client, the injured motorcyclist, is not assessed with more than 50% at fault.
What compensation can you hold a liable party accountable for?
If another party’s reckless or negligent actions caused your motorcycle accident and road rash, you can pursue compensation for:
- Past and future accident-related medical care
- Motorcycle repair or replacement costs, as well as the value of any other damaged personal property
- Lost wages
- Physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental suffering
You can seek awards through a claim with the liable driver’s automobile insurance provider. According to the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI), drivers must have liability coverage to pay for injuries and property damages they cause. Our team can help you file your claim, prove negligence, and negotiate for the most advantageous settlement possible for you.
Motorcycle Accident Claim FAQs
Who can be sued for a motorcycle accident?
Often, the at-fault party is another motorist who violated traffic laws, thus causing an accident and ultimately your injuries.
However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the appropriate party to name in a motorcycle accident personal injury lawsuit may be someone who wasn’t even there at the time, such as a parts manufacturer, government agency, or social host.
For example, if a defective motorcycle component caused or contributed to your accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the faulty part. If a poorly maintained or unsafe road caused your accident, the municipal, county, or state agency responsible for maintaining the road may be held liable.
Even in cases where the motorcycle crash involved another motorist, determining who to sue may not be so simple. For instance, if the driver of the other vehicle was drunk, he—along with the bartender, establishment or social host who over served them—may be sued for damages.
There are also times when the motorist who caused the accident was borrowing the vehicle from another person. In some such cases, the owner of the vehicle—as well as the personal who was driving at the time of the accident—may be named as defendants in a subsequent lawsuit.
Of course, in some cases, a motorcyclist may be at fault. If you were a passenger on a bike driven by a negligent motorcyclist, you should not hesitate to take legal action and protect your rights with the help of an Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorney.
Fortunately, regardless of the situation, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine exactly who to sue.
What is comparative negligence in motorcycle law?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident and is considering filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, comparative negligence in motorcycle law could affect your compensation. Basically, comparative negligence laws recognize the possibility of multiple parties being at fault, even possibly the victim, and the compensation awarded is reflected by each party’s degree of fault. It is often used as a tactic by defendants who are trying to avoid paying compensation for the accidents they cause. These laws should not discourage you from pursuing a claim.
According to IC § 34-51-2-6, Indiana is a modified comparative negligence state that lets a claimant recover compensation only if they are less than 51% responsible for an accident. So, if you’re found mostly responsible for your accident, you may not be able to recover your damages.
Unfortunately, comparative negligence is used against motorcyclists too often. It’s possible for an insurance company or an opposing attorney to partially or totally blame a motorcyclist, which can lead to a reduced payout.
What is the average payout for a motorcycle accident?
There’s really no way of knowing that. Ethically, if any attorney tells you that they know what your case is worth when the crash just happened, they just committed a legal malpractice. The only way to answer this question honestly, is you have to allow time to go by to let the case run its course.
Once we get to what we call take-or-leave-it offer, then we explain the pros and cons to our client of accepting that and then we leave it to them completely. We don’t pressure a client to settle because this is not about the lawyer, and this is not about the lawyer getting paid, because we’re a client-first office. We go by what the injured rider wants.
Can you sue for pain and suffering after a motorcycle accidents?
You can sue for pain and suffering after a motorcycle accident. If another party caused your personal injuries, which led to mental anguish, loss of consortium, and other forms of pain and suffering, you may qualify to recover financial compensation.
How is pain and suffering calculated in a motorcycle accident case?
Pain and suffering in a motorcycle accident case is calculated using either the multiplier method or per diem method.
The multiplier method is used most often. This method takes the value of your calculable losses (medical bills, lost wages, and more) and multiplies them by a number from 1.5 to 5. Factors that can affect your multiplier include the severity of your injuries, whether or not you suffered a permanent injury, and the strength of your evidence proving your pain and suffering.
With the per diem method, you receive a set dollar amount for every day you live with pain and suffering from your accident. Usually, the insurance company figures the amount based on your current daily wage. This method generally does not work well for cases involving a permanent injury.
How long does it take to settle a motorcycle accident claim?
Depending on the details of your case, your motorcycle accident claim could be resolved in as few as six months to one year. There are many factors that could contribute to the amount of time it will take to settle your case.
The claims process involves the gathering of supporting evidence, filing the insurance claims, and pursuing civil action if necessary. While bringing your case to court means it takes longer to obtain the settlement you deserve, ultimately, going to court could result in you being awarded maximum compensation for your damages.
Randall “Randy” Sevenish Shows up for the Community
As a fellow rider actually seen on the road with other bikers, he and his firm continue to sponsor numerous motorcycle events, helping to raise money for children and slain police officers.
Randy is also a regular speaker at many HOG chapters, clubs, and events, and he is a contributing author for motorcycle publications, including the Road Guardians and Thunder Road Indiana Magazine.
This is why bikers know, like, and trust him as an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer. In fact, the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. is the only law firm in Indiana that has been recommended by the nationally recognized Road Guardians, an organization dedicated to the education and safety of its members.
Road Guardians also offers extensive and certified safety for motorcyclists and occasionally hosts a national convention known as the “Biker’s Betterment Conference” in the Chicagoland area. When doing so, Mr. Sevenish is the lead attorney on the panel and a speaker at these events on legal issues affecting motorcyclists.
FAQs About Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
How can a motorcycle accident lawyer help?
A lawyer will defend you throughout your case and keep you updated as they make progress. If you think that you may need a lawyer for a motorcycle accident, acting to contact a law firm right away will give them time to build a strong case and pursue this compensation on your behalf while you heal. To do so, your attorney may provide the following services:
- A thorough investigation of the collision
- Evidence collection
- Submission of legal paperwork
- Communication with the parties involved
- Settlement negotiations
- Trial representation
How much does it cost to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer?
A motorcycle accident lawyer is initially free if the law firm offers a contingency fee structure. The contingency fee means the lawyer receives a percentage of whatever settlement you receive if they win the case. This percentage ranges between 33.33%-40%, but the standard is usually a third or 33.33% of the total amount awarded.
The contingency fee may also be subject to change depending on the terms of your legal contract with the law firm. For instance, if the case is easily settled out of court, the contingency fee may be lower than usual. These fees can offer an advantage because they help you seek legal counsel even if you do not have the financial means to pay an hourly rate.
The contingency fee is also beneficial in that it motivates the lawyer to have a must-win attitude regarding the case. This is because contingency fees are only applicable if you win the case. In the event, you lose your motorcycle accident case, you pay nothing.
Can you file a motorcycle accident claim without an attorney?
Accident victims who attempt to file on their own may recover less in damages. We strongly recommend motorcycle accident victims work with a dedicated personal injury attorney to recover compensation for their injuries and other damages.
These processes involve ample paperwork and back-and-forth communication with insurers or the liable party. Such tasks can prove time-consuming and tedious. You don’t have to deal with this alone. When you hire a motorcycle accident attorney, they can take this weight off your shoulders so you can focus on your health.
Retain an Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Don’t wait to take action after a crash. Reach out to learn about working with an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer who rides. Randy Sevenish is a known and highly respected motorcycle advocate that truly respects the rights of motorcyclists across Indiana. He can pursue the compensation you deserve.
While you recover from your injury after a motorcycle accident, Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. can work directly with insurance companies and seek a fair settlement in your case. However, if insurance companies fail to make a reasonable offer, Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer Randy Sevenish will be ready to fight for you in court.