motorcycle accidents

You went through a lot to be able to hit the road on two wheels: obtaining a motorcycle license, completing safety training, purchasing expensive gear, and bringing home the bike of your dreams. However, it only takes a split second of negligence from someone else to shatter those dreams. Motorcycle accidents are among the most devastating, impacting 1 in 100 riders annually. Catastrophic injuries are far more common when motorcycles are involved, leaving thousands with devastating injuries. Knowing what steps to take after a motorcycle accident can feel daunting, especially when insurance is involved. That’s why it’s essential to know what to do to get fair compensation for your insurance claim and who to call when you need help.

Fault and Motorcycle Insurance Claims and Lawsuits

Statistics show that motorcycle riders don’t cause most motorcycle accidents. Often, the driver of a car, truck, SUV, or other vehicle causes the accident or crash. Proving fault isn’t always easy, even in motorcycle accidents where it seems clear that the rider isn’t the one who caused the accident. Evidence plays an enormous role in helping insurance companies assign fault in an accident. Essential evidence, such as police reports, traffic cameras, and witness statements, is key when filing an insurance claim. Understanding how to address improper bias against motorcycle riders is also essential to protecting you and your case against someone who negligently harms you and their insurance company.

Since Montana uses comparative negligence to assign fault and determine compensation, you should tread carefully when speaking to insurance companies. If you wrongly admit fault—even accidentally or through an insurance company’s trickery—you may drastically reduce the compensation you are offered and receive. A motorcycle accident attorney is a great resource who can talk to insurance companies on your behalf and help you avoid common mistakes when dealing with insurance.

Montana Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Montana law does not require motorcyclists to carry minimum liability insurance or other insurance to cover motorcycle wrecks. However, before you are ever in a motorcycle crash, you should seriously consider purchasing underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. If an uninsured or underinsured driver later hits you, this insurance will likely be highly beneficial. It may even be the difference between receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries and being left with a mountain of debt and damages. 

Motorcyclists are at a much higher risk for severe injury or death caused by a collision, some of which are hit-and-runs. If you don’t have insurance coverage for your motorcycle and are a victim of a hit-and-run, that means that you are left alone to cover your own medical bills. If you suffer a significant injury and miss work, there is no recourse for recovering lost wages. Even if the at-fault driver has insurance, it may not be enough. Montana law only requires passenger vehicle drivers to carry $25,000 of bodily injury coverage. This minimal amount is often too little to cover even the medical bills that result when a car or other passenger vehicle driver hits a motorcyclist.

Unfortunately, insurance coverage alone doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive full and fair compensation for your injuries or losses after a motorcycle accident. Insurance companies are out to make money and pay as little as possible. Too often, even when the law requires the insurance company to pay a claim or damage, the insurance company doesn’t willingly follow the law. They may offer you a less-than-fair or less-than-legal settlement. That’s true when pursuing a claim with your own insurance or with the at-fault driver’s insurance. They may offer you an unfair lowball settlement amount. They may try to improperly use Montana’s comparative fault rule against you to place the blame on your shoulders, reducing your claim amount. Or they may misrepresent what they are supposed to pay for under Montana law.

So, what do you do if your settlement offer doesn’t cover the total amount of your losses, or if you are concerned it might not do so? Your best action is to consult with a motorcycle accident and insurance dispute attorney before talking with the insurance company or as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can give you guidance moving forward. If we take your case, a skilled lawyer can negotiate with insurance to get the full and fair compensation you’re rightfully owed. Not having to deal with insurance personally can afford you the peace of mind necessary to focus on yourself and heal from your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to pay, your lawyer can sue the negligent driver and force their insurance company to defend the case in court. 

Bozeman attorney Anthony Jackson of AFJ Law Firm has firsthand experience as a motorcycle rider himself and represents clients across Montana as they seek justice after motorcycle accidents. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your case and learn more about your best course of action.