You can expect the payout for a motorcycle accident to be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $1,000,000. The injuries that you have suffered are a primary factor in what to expect. However, the specific facts of your case can substantially increase or decrease your potential settlement or verdict.
What is the average motorcycle accident settlement amount?
It is impossible to say what an “average” settlement amount is for a motorcycle accident case because there is no “average” case. Even similar accidents that produce similar injuries can lead to very different results if the victims have different professional lives. This is why the range of potential payouts is so wide. In some cases, you may only recover a few thousand dollars. In others, you may recover over a million dollars.
The settlement amount in your case should reflect your legal damages. These are all of the ways that you have suffered from the accident. They include your:
- medical bills, including costs of future medical attention, like ongoing physical therapy,
- lost wages,
- lost earning capacity, if the injuries you sustained will hamper your ability to earn a living in the future,
- pain and suffering,
- loved ones’ loss of consortium, and
- property damage.
However, your legal damages can also be reduced if you were partially to blame for the accident. You may also struggle to recover the compensation you deserve if there is inadequate insurance coverage.
Getting the legal advice from a personal injury attorney from a reputable law firm is essential. By establishing an attorney-client relationship with a lawyer, you can file a strong insurance claim. If a fair settlement is not offered, you can file a personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations has run.
How can I calculate an expected payout for a personal injury case?
You can estimate your legal damages by using a settlement formula. A common formula to use is the multiplier method. Insurance adjusters and personal injury lawyers use this method all the time to approximate the value of a case.
The multiplier method uses the following formula: Economic damages + (economic damages x multiplier).
Your economic damages are those that can be easily stated in a dollar amount. They are your:
- medical expenses,
- lost wages,
- reduced earning capacity, and
- property damage.
By adding these losses together, you get the first part of the formula.
The total is also used to estimate your non-economic damages. These are losses that cannot easily be put in a dollar amount. They include compensation for:
- physical pain,
- mental suffering,
- emotional distress,
- loss of enjoyment of life, and
- loss of consortium.
To estimate these losses, the multiplier formula takes your economic damages and multiplies them by a number between 1 and 5. The number is chosen based on how badly the crash impacted your life.
Your economic losses are then added to the estimate for your non-economic losses.
For example: Jordan was driving his motorcycle when another vehicle ran a red light and hit him. He suffered a brain injury in the car accident that affects his memory. His medical treatment and other economic damages from the crash were $500,000. The insurance adjuster uses a multiplier of 4. This estimates Jordan’s non-economic losses at $2,000,000. His motorcycle accident case would then be worth about $2,500,000.
What are some common injuries from a motorcycle crash?
Motorcycle accidents cause some of the most severe injuries on the roadway. Some common and serious injuries suffered by motorcycle accident victims include:
- broken arms,
- fractured wrists or hands from the fall,
- broken bones in the legs, ankles, or feet,
- pelvis injuries,
- hip injuries,
- head injuries,
- concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), especially if the rider was not wearing a helmet,
- spinal cord injuries,
- back injuries,
- whiplash, and
- road rash.
One of the most common conditions that injured motorcyclists suffer is a leg injury. When on a motorcycle, your legs are very exposed. They are also at the same height as the fender on most other vehicles. They often get seriously hurt from the force of the collision. They also frequently get pinned between the vehicle and the motorcycle.
Motorcycle accident injuries are frequently fatal. Motorcyclists are almost completely unprotected from the force of the collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in 2019, alone. That accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. However, motorcycles only accounted for 0.68 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. This made motorcyclists more than 29 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury in a crash than other drivers.1
In these cases, a motorcycle accident attorney can help the family members of the deceased motorcycle rider file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.
What factors can hurt my motorcycle accident claim?
There are 2 factors that can reduce the payout or settlement value that you can expect in a motorcycle accident claim. Those factors are:
- shared fault rules, and
- inadequate insurance coverage.
A motorcycle accident lawyer can help to avoid or overcome these issues in your personal injury claim.
Shared fault rules can reduce your compensation if you were partially to blame for the motorcycle accident.
Different states use different shared fault rules. They fall into 2 general types:
- contributory negligence, and
- comparative negligence.
Very few states use contributory negligence. In those that do, like Virginia,2 you are barred from recovering any compensation if you contributed to the accident at all. Even if you were only 1 percent at-fault, you can get denied any compensation.
Most states use a form of comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, jury verdicts in personal injury trials assign a percentage of fault to all of the parties involved. Your compensation would then get reduced by your percentage of fault.
States that use comparative negligence fall into 2 groups:
- pure comparative negligence states, like California,3 which always reduces your compensation by your share of fault, no matter how high, and
- modified comparative negligence states, like Texas,4 that reduce your compensation by your share of fault, but bar all recovery if you were more than half at-fault.
Because your share of responsibility would reduce your award at trial, injury settlement offers would reflect that reduction. If you were partially to blame for the motorcycle accident, you can expect the payout to be less than your total legal damages.
In serious motorcycle accidents, the policy limits of any applicable insurance coverage can keep you from being fully compensated. This can reduce your settlement amount and hurt your claim.
An insurance policy’s limit is the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay out. In severe motorcycle accidents, you might be entitled to more than the policy limit. However, the driver’s insurance company will no longer be responsible for compensating you once the limit has been reached. This can leave you with no other sources of compensation other than the motorist who hit you. Holding them personally liable still may not recover very much.
- NHTSA, “Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycles – 2019 Data” (September 2021).
- Coutlakis v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 796 S.E.2d 556 (2017).
- Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 13 Cal.3d 804 (1975).
- Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 33.001.