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Recovering Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases: What You Need to Know

Recovering Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases: What You Need to Know

Jun 06, 2024

The most recent data published by the North Carolina Department of Transportation shows that in 2022, there were 3,743 motorcycle crashes in our state. Of those, 2,869 motorcyclists were injured, and 206 individuals lost their lives in those motorbike wrecks. While these statistics don’t speak to the extent of the impairments that the riders who survived sustained, the probability that they suffered catastrophic injuries is high. It goes without saying that the surviving family members of deceased motorcyclists suffer profound losses.

Whether you personally suffered injuries or lost a family member in a crash, you are likely curious about recovering damages in motorcycle accident cases. Below, we’ll describe what you need to know about compensation you may be eligible to recover in legal matters like these.

Damages Available to NC Motorbike Accident Victims

There are two primary sources of compensation available to accident victims, motorcyclists included. Those types of compensatory damages include:

  • Economic losses: Included in this category are medical costs and lost wages (both present and future), property damage, and any other tangible, accident-related costs
  • Non-economic losses: Loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, emotional distress or mental anguish, loss of capacity (to perform household responsibilities), etc.

While not applicable in all cases, a Court may impose punitive damages with the intention of punishing an at-fault party for particularly serious cases of recklessness. Our state laws limit punitive damages to no more than three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000 (whichever amount is the highest).

Who You Can Pursue for Damages After a Motorcycle Crash in NC

North Carolina is an at-fault insurance state, meaning you, as an injury victim, can file a claim with the auto carrier of the person who struck you, causing you to get hurt or a civil lawsuit against any other party who played a role in causing you harm (i.e., an auto manufacturer). It’s by taking either type of legal action such as this that you can potentially recover compensation for your losses. 

Elements of Negligence You Must Prove To Secure Compensation for Your Losses

In order to secure compensation for motorcycle accident-related losses, you must prove that the defendant was liable for what happened. To do this, you must establish a few elements of negligence, including:

  • That the other motorist (or other type of defendant) owed you a duty of care
  • The other driver (or entity) violated the duty of care they owed you
  • You suffered harm because of the prospective defendant’s breach of duty
  • You sustained documentable damages because of the harm you suffered

Provided you’re able to prove the elements of negligence above, you generally have valid grounds for filing a claim or lawsuit. However, one notable exception applies.

Pure Contributory Negligence and How it Impacts Your Ability To Receive a Settlement

North Carolina is also a pure contributory negligence state. What this means is that if you can be shown to have contributed to causing your crash, you wouldn’t be eligible for any damages you would have otherwise been entitled to. In other words, if you shared any fault in causing your motorcycle accident, North Carolina law would prohibit you from being able to recover any compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages you amassed through your involvement in the wreck.

Why Get an Attorney Involved if You’re Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident in Hillsborough, NC?

Motorcyclists, unfortunately, are much like pedestrians and bicyclists if they’re involved in crashes. If they’re fortunate enough to survive a wreck, the probability that they’ll be left with serious injuries, leading to significant accident-related losses, is high. 

You might have heard an attorney warn prospective clients to be careful what they say and do after a crash before. This likely occurred for a reason. As you probably noted when reading over the pure contributory negligence doctrine that applies in NC, you could very well jeopardize your ability to secure any damages if you make a misstep in the handling of your case. That’s why it’s best to consult with an attorney so you know what to do and say to best protect your rights. Your initial meeting with one of our attorneys is free, so reach out to us at Paynter Law. We’ll put you in contact with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers to discuss your case.