People often search for an “accident attorney near me” which will produce results for attorneys that are geographically in an office nearest to the location of the searcher. It is not wise to believe that the attorney nearest your location is the best for you. Many attorneys claim to be the best motorcycle accident attorney without realizing the intricacies and special circumstances associated with motorcycle involved accidents. Simply put, a car accident lawyer doesn’t necessarily have the superior knowledge and experience that a motorcycle lawyer needs to be the best. At Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law, we have nearly 50 years of experience helping motorcycle accident victims.
What is My Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
Motorcycle accidents often result in severe injuries. Even though only 4% of the vehicles on Kansas roadways are motorcycles, they account for being involved in at least 11% of all accidents. Statistics show that motorcyclists are 32% more likely to be killed in a collision than drivers of passenger vehicles.
The value of a case involving a motorcycle accident has much in common with a case involving a passenger vehicle accident in that the core elements are medical bills, economic loss and noneconomic loss or pain and suffering. How much a motorcycle accident case is worth will depend on those factors and others. Where motorcycle accidents differ significantly from car accidents is when taking into account the comparative fault of the motorcyclist. This is where inexperienced motorcycle accident lawyers can damage a case. The dollar value of a case is reduced by the fault of the driver. For example, if a jury awards $100,000 but a jury assigns 25% of the fault for causing the accident to the motorcyclist, the jury award is reduced by 25% to $75,000.
Before any rider ever gives a recorded statement to an insurance company, the rider should discuss the accidents with us by calling for a free consultation. A common insurance defense tactic is to blame the motorcyclist for causing the accident by asserting that the rider failed to meet his or her responsibilities. The Kansas Motorcycle Operator Manual has multiple pages of safety tips and procedures that are used by the insurance companies to try to place blame on the rider. For example, there is a section titled “Know Your Responsibilities” which states “[a]s a rider you can’t be sure that other operators will see you or yield the right of way.” This arguably places a higher and sometimes unrealistic duty on riders. Furthermore, the Manual outlines multiple safety precautions that the motorcyclist needs to consider before giving a statement such as being visible, communicating your intentions, maintaining adequate space, scanning your path, identifying and separating hazards and being prepared to act.
Was it a No Fault Accident and What is a No Fault Accident?
Many injury accident victims tell us in their initial free evaluation that the police officer or insurance company told them that Kansas is a no fault state. Often times this leads to incorrect conclusions that nobody was at fault for the accident and there is no case. That is not the meaning of “no-fault” and insurance adjusters intentionally confuse motorcycle accident victims when discussing the issue. It is improper to describe an accident as a no-fault accident. People involved in a crash can almost always assert some responsibility against the other driver for what takes place in an accident. As such, even if a no-fault claim is made, there is still a claim against the other driver and the at-fault insurance company.
Is Kansas a No Fault State?
Yes, Kansas is a no-fault state. According to the Insurance Institute, there are currently only 12 states that have mandatory no-fault laws as follows: Kansas, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Generally, no-fault means that regardless of the fact that you are not at fault for causing a motorcycle accident, the first place you look for payment of medical bills and other benefits is back on your own motorcycle insurance under a portion of it called Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance. In Kansas, while PIP coverage is mandatory on all auto policies, it is not mandatory on all motorcycle policies. When applying for insurance, a motorcycle owner can elect to disclaim PIP coverage which will reduce the insurance rates.
PIP Insurance Coverage on a Motorcycle
While not mandatory, we highly recommend you get PIP coverage on your motorcycle policy. If you think about it, the only reason the insurance industry pushed the legislature to carve out and permit motorcyclists to disclaim or elect not to get PIP coverage is because motorcycle injuries are often very serious and the insurance industry doesn’t want to pay out on no-fault insurance. PIP includes benefits such as payment of medical expenses up to at least $4,500; payment of wage loss at 85% up to at least $900/month for one year; payment of essential services up to $25/day and funeral expenses. The at-fault insurance company will only pay one lump sum to close out and settle the case against the driver who caused the accident. PIP allows the injured rider to obtain some financial help while treating and recovering from the accident and prevents having to settle early for less than the full value of the case. Even though the PIP insurance carrier gets paid back out of the settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance, it is still beneficial to have PIP coverage.
Where to Find a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
There are several things to consider when searching for a motorcycle attorney. You can search Google for the best motorcycle accident attorney Wichita or add another city you are searching for such as Hutchinson, Garden City, Topeka, Kansas City, Lawrence or Salina. You should check out the Google reviews for those firms to see what other clients have said about their experience. Also, ask a friend or relative, “Do you know a personal injury attorney near me?” Personal injury lawyers are often known in your community and those close to you likely know one or have heard their names before.