Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by the negligent or wrongful conduct of another motorist, manufacturer, designer or municipality, then you must file a claim with the appropriate insurer or other party or a lawsuit in the appropriate court in order to recover compensation.
There are time limits for filing claims. These limits, or statutes of limitation, vary from state to state and usually run from 2 years to 6 years. If the victim is a minor or has some other certain disability, the statute will not run until the victim turns 18 or the disability ends.
For claims against municipalities, you have to follow that state’s tort claim act for notifying the appropriate agency or department, which often require filing within 6-months of the accident. In most instances, your written claim must include the facts of the accident, where and when it occurred, the parties involved, why the municipality was at fault and your damages to date. If you fail to file this notice on time, you could lose your right to file a lawsuit against the government entity unless you can demonstrate that you had a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline.
In other cases, there is no requirement that you first file a claim with the responsible party or its insurer before filing in court though this is done in the vast majority of cases. Most people would like to avoid litigation because of its costs, discovery requirements and its perils and time it takes to resolve or get to a courtroom. If the case appears to be one of clear liability, the injuries are severe and damages extensive, then such cases usually resolve before the statute of limitations runs for filing a lawsuit.
In fatal injury or catastrophic injury cases, a plaintiff may elect to file a lawsuit immediately. A summons and complaint is prepared and filed and then served on the defendant parties. The court will generally send out a schedule for discovery, the disclosure of experts, arbitration, pre-trial motions and meetings and a trial date. In most cases, these dates may be extended.
Discovery is the linchpin of any accident lawsuit. This consists of:
- Interrogatories to the parties – questions about the party’s employment, insurance, residences, education, facts of the accident, allegations or defenses, claimed injuries and medical providers
- Request for documents – employment and school records, police reports, medical records and reports, expense statements, damage estimates, photographs, diaries, witness statements and any other documents relied upon to support or defend the lawsuit
- Depositions – direct questioning under oath of the parties, witnesses and medical providers
There are other forms of discovery as well. The purpose is that all parties have access to the same information and that no party be able to surprise the others with undisclosed evidence that was not subject to scrutiny or cross-examination before trial. Once discovery is concluded, the parties await a trial date or attempt settlement.