Evidence in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Friday, September 29, 2023

Evidence in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Following a motorcycle accident, the last thing you may think of doing is gathering evidence. Sometimes, victims of motorcycle accidents do not realize that they will need to prove their case to receive compensation.

To have a successful claim, you will need to provide convincing evidence. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, Malman Law is here to assist you. Keep reading to learn about establishing negligence and what types of evidence may be needed to receive the settlement you deserve.

Establishing Negligence

Individuals who cause an accident or any personal injury are known as tortfeasors. In a motorcycle accident claim, you will need to prove that the liable driver, or tortfeasor, acted carelessly behind the wheel.

Negligence can only be established when you can show that the tortfeasor did not take proper care in doing something.

In a motorcycle accident claim, this would break down as the following:

Duty of care

The first element of negligence requires you to show that the at-fault driver owed you a duty of care. In a vehicular accident, this means that the at-fault driver has a duty to adhere to traffic regulations to keep you safe.

Breach of duty

The second element of negligence requires you to prove that the other driver breached his or her duty of care. When the at-fault driver does not follow traffic regulations, the individual has violated the duty owed to you.

Causation

The third element of negligence requires you to show that the liable driver’s negligence caused your accident. In a successful personal injury claim, both proximate and factual cause must be proven.

Proximate cause infers that it would be foreseeable that the tortfeasor’s actions would have caused your injuries. For example, you may anticipate that a speeding driver would cause an accident. Proximate cause is also referred to as legal cause because the other driver is legally responsible for your injuries.

Factual cause, on the other hand, implies that your accident would not have occurred “but for” the tortfeasor’s actions. The “but for” test asks: would your injuries have occurred “but for” the at-fault driver’s actions? If the answer is no, then factual cause has been established.

Injury or Loss

The last element of a negligence claim requires that the claimant demonstrate an actual loss due to the accident. This loss could be financial, physical, or both.

Without demonstrating actual losses, known as damages, you will not be able to collect on your motorcycle accident claim.

Types of Evidence

Evidence is something that establishes a fact. In a motorcycle accident claim, the evidence that will be used may be categorized into two groups: physical and testimonial evidence.

Physical evidence

Physical evidence is any tangible item that can be presented in court. Physical evidence is also called “real” evidence because it is usually an actual object taken from the accident scene or a representation of such evidence (i.e., photo or video).

Examples of physical evidence in a motorcycle accident may include a shredded tire, debris, damaged property (i.e., a fence, guardrail, or tree), or vehicle wreckage.

Testimonial evidence

Testimonial evidence is any statement that a witness makes under oath. Testimony evidence is also known as prima facie evidence. Prima facie means “at first sight.” This is evidence that establishes a fact by its own merit.

In a personal injury claim, prima facie evidence would prove that the other driver caused the crash without the need for further evidence to back it up. Regarding a motorcycle accident, if an eyewitness testifies that another driver did not yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist, this would be sufficient evidence to establish that the driver broke the law.

However, testimonial evidence cannot stand on its own if there is other evidence that contradicts a witness statement.

Evidence in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

When you file an insurance claim, an insurance adjuster will look at the strength of your evidence. The stronger the evidence you provide, the more likely insurance will accept your claim.

In a motorcycle accident claim, evidence may include:

  • The motorcycle, the helmet, and any protective gear
  • Photographs of the accident scene, which may include traffic signals, accident debris, skid marks, and vehicle damage
  • Video footage: footage may be taken from surveillance cameras, dashcams, body cams (usually if a police officer is wearing one), and even cell phone videos
  • Eyewitness accounts: this testimonial evidence will provide an account of the events that unfolded from an impartial observer
  • Police report: in Illinois, each driver in a crash must contact law enforcement if there are injuries, fatalities, or more than $1,500 in property damage when all drivers are insured. If a police officer does not arrive on the scene, you only have ten days to report the accident to the Illinois State Police.

Assuming a police officer responds, the officer will file a crash report that will detail the date/time/location of the accident, information regarding the accident, and who the officer believes caused the accident.

Types of Damages

In 2022, 1,270 people died in motor vehicle accidents, with 146 motorcyclists suffering fatal injuries in Illinois. Those who survive a motorcycle accident will likely suffer severe injuries, while others who suffer fatal injuries may have family members decide to pursue compensation.

In a motorcycle accident claim, you may be eligible to receive both economic and non-economic damages. Both types are compensatory damages, which reflect actual losses that you sustained. Let’s discuss the differences.

Economic damages are direct financial losses that can be easily calculated. Economic damages may include:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Ambulatory services
  • Prescription costs
  • Cost to repair your motorcycle

In contrast, non-economic damages are losses that do not have inherent value but have affected your quality of life. Non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Disfigurement

Calculating these damages will determine the amount of your claim. Be aware that if you are asking for a large settlement, you may need to go through several rounds of negotiations in order to receive the compensation you deserve.

It is important to have an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to calculate your damages to prove the worth of your claim.

Contact a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

A motorcycle accident can impact your life for months or even years. Although you may be entitled to compensation, the claims process is never simple. You may have to go back and forth with insurance before you are offered a fair settlement. Don’t try to negotiate on your own. Let the attorneys at Malman Law work on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

 

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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