Motorcycle accidents in Baltimore are some of the most severe kinds of crashes that can happen on the roads. Bikers are exceptionally vulnerable because of their close proximity to the crash and their lack of safety equipment to keep them out of harm's way. The result is often the same: severe injuries that require extensive and costly medical treatment.
In the aftermath of a motorcycle crash that was caused by someone else, injured motorcyclists deserve to be compensated for their losses. The amount that they deserve in compensation is equal to their legal damages from the crash.
The Two Types of Damages from a Motorcycle Accident
Your legal damages from a motorcycle accident encapsulate all of the ways that you have been hurt, suffered, or endured losses from the crash. However, this number can be broken down into two parts:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Each of these categories can be further broken down into a handful of even smaller and more precise types of losses that are common in motorcycle accidents.
The first types of legal damages that you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident are your economic damages. These losses are relatively easy to distill into a dollar amount and are often reflected in either bills that you have already paid or are likely to pay, or in wages that you have lost while you recover or that you are likely to lose, in the future. Your economic damages in a motorcycle accident typically include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Home modifications
Perhaps the most common and obvious way that you deserve to be compensated after being hurt by someone else while driving your motorcycle, your medical expenses frequently form the bulk of a personal injury lawsuit. After all, you would not have had to pay these bills, were it not for the other driver's negligence and the crash that it created.
Importantly, the cost of your medical expenses that is recoverable in a personal injury suit includes both the amount that you have paid, in the past, and also that you are likely to have to pay, in the future. This is crucial for injuries that have long-term debilitations and recovery times that run well past the statute of limitations.
For example, one of the more common injuries that motorcyclists can suffer in a motorcycle accident is a broken pelvis. These injuries are severe and can also be complex, requiring numerous surgeries to fix over a period of several years.
Under Maryland's personal injury law, though, you are entitled to recover the costs of all of those medical expenses, regardless of when they occur because they are all reasonably necessary to fix a medical condition that was the result of the crash that you did not cause. It is just a matter of totaling the past expenses and adding to that number an estimate of the future medical costs that you are likely to accumulate.
Another significant kind of economic damage that many motorcyclists suffer in a motorcycle accident is a loss of wages. Recovering from the crash can take a long time, and many bikers—especially those who work in physically-demanding lines of work—are held out of work while they recover.
This loss of an income only happened because someone else was driving negligently and caused a crash, so there is no reason why you should not be compensated.
Loss in Earning Capacity
Many motorcycle accidents are severe enough that the injuries that a biker suffers can be debilitating over a long period of time. These disabilities can prevent a biker from working in jobs that he or she was aiming to obtain, and can even make it impossible to work in the same position that they had, before the crash.
For example, imagine a motorcyclist who works as a roofer. He gets into an accident, though, and suffers back injuries that are so serious that they leave him paralyzed from the waist down, effectively confining him to a wheelchair. This prevents him from continuing his job as a roofer, eliminating his earning capacity.
Because he would have still been able to make a living as a roofer, were it not for the negligence of the driver that hit him, the biker in this example can recover the loss he has suffered in his capacity to earn a living in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Nearly all motorcycle accidents involve some sort of legal damages, even if they do not result in the motorcyclist getting physically hurt. These come in the form of damages to your motorcycle or other gear that you were wearing when the accident occurred. In some cases, these damages can be minimal or even trivial—a small tear in your leather jacket, a punctured tire, or a scratch in the paint on your bike. In other accidents, though, the property damage that you can suffer can easily be in the thousands of dollars, especially if your motorcycle was totaled in the collision.
Contrary to popular opinion, personal injury lawsuits do not only recover compensation for your physical injuries—they can also recover compensation for the property damage that you suffered, as well.
Home Improvements Necessary for Your Recovery
Finally, you can also recover the costs of altering your home to facilitate your recovery or adapt it for a disabling injury that you suffered in the motorcycle crash.
In the example of the motorcyclist who worked as a roofer but was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle crash, he would likely need modifications made to his home that allow him to get around in a wheelchair—like a wheelchair ramp and support bars in his shower. If he did not own his own home, and he lived on an upper floor in an apartment building that did not have an elevator, he might even need to move to a new place.
Again, the costs of these changes would not have been incurred, were it not for the other driver's negligence. Putting the cost on the victim of the motorcycle accident would be unfair.
Non-Economic Damages You Can Suffer in a Motorcycle Accident
In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages are not easily distilled into a dollar amount because they reflect non-physical losses or injuries. While non-economic damages cannot be replaced or repaired by simply paying someone to fix them, like you can with your motorcycle, that does not mean that they are trivial. In fact, some cases see the compensation for non-economic damages far outpace the recovery for economic damages.
Pain and Suffering
The most common and well-known example of the non-economic damages that you can recover after a motorcycle accident is for the pain and suffering that you have been put through by the other driver's negligence.
Despite the impossibility of putting a dollar amount on it, there is no reason why you should not be compensated for the pain that you have dealt with, both during and after the motorcycle accident. These payments are meant to ensure you receive some sort of compensation for the pain that your injuries have wrought, and are meant to increase if the injuries that you suffered were especially painful—whether over the long-term or just intensely painful in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
Your legal damages for the suffering that you have endured are similar but distinct in an important way: while your legal damages for pain are limited to the painful feelings that come with severe injuries, your legal damages for suffering are meant to compensate you for your loss of any of life's enjoyments.
For example, imagine a motorcyclist who suffers a severely broken pelvis in a motorbike crash. This injury is incredibly painful in its immediate aftermath and is very uncomfortable during the recovery stage. These factors increase the amount of damages that the victim should recover for his pain. Additionally, if the broken pelvis is deformed in such a way that it cannot be properly fixed, and the biker thoroughly enjoyed playing softball and coaching baseball, he might no longer be able to participate in these activities after the crash. The loss of this enjoyment also increases the amount of suffering damages that he should recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
Many motorcycle accidents are traumatizing for the biker who was involved. They often saw the crash develop and then happen right before their eyes. The memories from the crash and from the emergency care that they needed in its aftermath are often disturbing enough to lead to additional medical complications, as the victim struggles to sleep or eat.
This is particularly true if the physical injuries that you suffered are visible reminders of the accident. Many of the most severe motorcycle accidents lead to injuries that leave scars or permanent disfigurements on a biker's body. Some even involve a biker losing body parts during the crash or through amputation after it. The continued sight of these injuries add to the emotional distress that you suffered from the crash, itself, and make it even more difficult to move on from the incident that changed your life.
The emotional distress that a crash can instill in a victim is not trivial, especially if the crash was severe or particularly graphic, or if your injuries serve as visual reminders of the accident's horrors. Because these mental troubles are things that you would not have had to deal with, were it not for the other driver's negligence and the crash that it caused, you deserve to be compensated for them.
Loss of Consortium
People do not live in a vacuum, and motorcyclists are no exception. Bikers have loved ones and families that count on them for financial and emotional support, love, and affection. But a motorcycle accident can change all of this by throwing a motorcyclist onto a harsh road of recovery that causes both the biker and their loved one's pain, stress, and uncertainty.
Recall the example of the motorcyclist who worked as a roofer, but who was paralyzed from the waist down during a motorcycle crash. If he has a family of a wife and several children, their lives will also be thrown into turmoil from the fact that he can no longer work in his chosen profession and will no longer be able to support the family. Suddenly, his wife will have to scramble to find work until he can recover enough to re-enter the workforce, throwing the entire family dynamic into disarray and straining the relationship between everyone involved who has to change the course of their life.
Once again, these sudden and drastic changes in family life would not have happened if the other driver was not acting negligently enough to cause a motorcycle crash. Therefore, it would be unfair to expect you to bear the costs of the strain that the crash puts on your relationships with your loved ones.
This is why the personal injury law of Maryland allows motorcycle accident victims to recover damages for the loss of consortium that their family has felt from the crash and their recovery.
Baltimore Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Motorcycle accidents cause a lot of problems—physical, mental, and emotional—for a lot of people, not just the injured biker. The costs of these problems go far beyond just the cost of the medical bills that you have accumulated, already: as shown by the breadth and depth of the legal damages that you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit, there are a wide variety of ways that you have been hurt and deserve to be repaid.
That is where the personal injury and motorcycle accident attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. By representing your rights and interests both in and outside of the courtroom, we fight for your future and your ability to make a full recovery. Contact us online to get the help you need.