There’s no easy way to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one. Feelings of depression and guilt can consume your life and make every day feel like a struggle. You may also be facing medical bills, funeral costs, and lost financial support if the deceased was a primary source of family income.
If someone you love has been killed in a motorcycle accident and you intend to file a wrongful death claim, you can expect the insurance company or opposing party to do everything in their power to reduce their liability. They might try to convince you to accept a low settlement or to provide a recorded statement. They may even blame the deceased for the crash and argue that your claim has no merit.
A seasoned personal injury attorney can make sure the insurance company treats you fairly. Your lawyer should handle all correspondence with the claims adjuster and help you avoid critical mistakes such as accepting a settlement too early, missing deadlines, or overlooking important evidence.
Read on to learn five ways an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help after a fatal motorcycle accident:
1. Gathers Evidence of Liability
You will need strong evidence of liability to win your claim. The best personal injury lawyers take the time to interview eyewitnesses, search for dashcam and surveillance footage, and compile other evidence to gain an edge during negotiations.
If liability is disputed, your attorney may need to bring in an accident reconstruction expert to corroborate your version of events. If any evidence is being withheld, such as surveillance recordings or cell phone records, your attorney may be able to file subpoenas to obtain it.
As you can see, proving liability after a motorcycle accident can be a complicated process. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the less likely it is that the insurance company will dispute liability. A seasoned attorney will help you gather evidence that you might have overlooked and will know when to bring in experts to assist with the investigation and provide testimony.
2. Calculates Your Settlement
Many people underestimate the financial impact of losing a loved one. When the breadwinner of a family dies, survivors may have to find another way to make ends meet overnight. The lost income can add up quickly, and if the deceased received emergency medical treatment, you might also have steep hospital bills to pay.
If your financial security is at stake, it is especially important that you hire an attorney to protect your interests. Besides medical bills and lost income, you may also be owed compensation for loss of services the deceased provided; loss of care, comfort, advice, and guidance; loss of consortium; and pain and suffering.
Calculating these damages is complicated, and the insurance company may not account for all of them when determining your settlement. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will know the types of damages to pursue, the kinds of evidence needed to prove your damages, and how to approach settlement negotiations.
3. Helps You Identify All Potential Avenues to Recover Compensation
If the person who caused your family member’s death had liability insurance, your attorney can help you file a third-party claim. Unfortunately, about 1 in 8 drivers in California is uninsured, and the coverage limits of a basic liability policy are often too low to pay for the damages caused in a fatal accident.
If a third-party claim won’t cover your losses, another option is to file a medical payments coverage (Med Pay) claim. Med Pay provides funds for medical care and funeral costs and might be applicable if you, the deceased, or someone else in your family carries such a policy. Also, if the deceased had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it might provide benefits if the at-fault party was uninsured or did not have enough coverage. Your attorney should also explore the possibility of a Government Entity Claim arising out of a possible road design defect. That is often a long shot, but should be explored when there are insufficient avenues of recovery.
Your attorney might recommend filing a lawsuit directly against the liable party, but this is only worth doing if the defendant has the finances or assets to pay for damages.
Depending on your circumstances, there may be other potential avenues for recovering compensation. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer can evaluate your options and devise a strategy to help you pursue the maximum payout possible.
4. Helps You Avoid Mistakes That Would Harm Your Claim
If you intend to file a wrongful death claim, it is important that you are careful about what you say and do while your case is ongoing. The insurance company will look for any possible reason to challenge your case and reduce their liability.
Your attorney can explain the steps you should take and the mistakes you must avoid to give your claim the best possible chance of success. Here are just a few errors that might end up hurting your case.
- Making a Recorded Statement: If you or someone in your family says anything that might imply your loved one was liable for the accident, this may be used by the insurance company to dispute your case. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators who know how to coerce claimants into making compromising statements. This is why you should never provide the insurer with a recorded statement. In fact, it is best to leave all correspondence to your personal injury lawyer.
- Posting on Social Media: After the death of a loved one, it’s tempting to publish optimistic posts and photos on social media; however, the insurance company might use these posts to dispute your damages. You should consider setting your profiles to “private” and limiting your use of social networking websites until your case has been resolved.
- Missing Deadlines: There are strict time limits for filing wrongful death lawsuits in the state of California. Depending on the circumstances, you might have only a few months to begin the process. Your lawyer can explain the relevant deadlines that apply to your case and help you avoid any administrative errors.
- Overlooking Damages: It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to overlook non-economic damages and future damages when calculating a settlement. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of care, and loss of consortium. Although these losses are subjective, they can make up a significant portion of a wrongful death settlement or verdict. A skilled attorney can make sure your claim accounts for all potentially recoverable damages.
5. Litigates Your Case If It Goes to Trial
If you represent yourself, the insurance company might assume that you would not be willing to file a lawsuit if they refuse to cooperate. Simply hiring an attorney sends a message to the insurer that you are prepared to go to trial if necessary. In some cases, going to court is the best course of action, and you’ll feel a lot more confident doing so if you have an experienced litigator by your side.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Speak with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we have a track record of success helping motorcycle accident victims and their families take on some of the largest corporations and insurance companies in California. Attorney Michael Waks has more than 30 years of experience in legal practice. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call (562) 206-1939 or use our Contact Page to reach us online.