One of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle accident lawsuits is how long they take to settle. Generally, it may take as little as six months or, in more complicated cases, upwards of two years. However, there are many steps that all motorcycle accident cases share that may shorten or lengthen the process.
The Overall Steps in the Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Process
While the amount of time a claim takes varies from case to case, they all share a similar procedure. So, how long does a motorcycle accident lawsuit take in CA? Well, it depends. So let’s look at the steps you can expect to take place during your motorcycle accident claim and how they affect settlement and judgment timelines.
1. Investigating the Incident
After you receive medical care and contact a lawyer, your claim begins with investigating the incident itself. Since California follows a pure comparative negligence law, the share of fault attributed to each involved party greatly affects the outcome of the case. During this step, your attorney searches for all evidence related to the accident, including but not limited to:
- Photographs of the scene;
- Traffic or security camera footage;
- Medical diagnosis and treatment;
- Repair or replacement costs for damaged property; and
- Accident reports were filed by the responding police department.
They use all of this information to help build a timeline of the events leading up to the accident as well as the aftermath. The goal is to show the fault of the driver responsible for your injuries.
2. Calculating Damages
While putting together the evidence for your case, your lawyer may also calculate your total damages. A damage calculation determines the value of your case based on a variety of losses. Typically, California splits these losses into two categories: economic and non-economic.
In short, economic damages are the direct financial losses you incur due to the accident. This includes things like medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages. Non-economic damages refer to your intangible, non-financial losses. Essentially, these are the physical and emotional costs of your injuries and include pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, disability, or disfigurement.
3. Sending the Demand Letter
Once your attorney gathers enough evidence and calculates damages, they will submit a demand letter to the insurance company. In this letter, the attorney outlines the extent of your damages and demands payment from the liable party. If the responsible person and their insurance company refuse, you may need to file a lawsuit.
4. Negotiating the Settlement
In many cases, the insurance company doesn’t want the trouble of a lawsuit, so they try to negotiate a settlement instead. Unfortunately, the first few offers are often lower than the amount requested in the letter, and reaching an agreed-upon number can lead to long negotiations. In some cases, these negotiations may last as little as a few months. However, more complex claims may not settle for a year or more, if at all. If settlement negotiations fail, your attorney might suggest filing a lawsuit depending on the circumstances.
5. Filing a Lawsuit if Settlement Demands Aren’t Met
After several failed negotiations, your attorney may draft a legal complaint against the liable party in California court. If you plan on pursuing a lawsuit, you must file this complaint before the statute of limitations expires. In California, plaintiffs have two years from the date of injury to bring an action.
Other Factors That May Affect the Timing of Your Case
So, how long does a motorcycle accident lawsuit take in CA? Ultimately, it depends on how confident the insurance company is. If they know a lawsuit will make things worse, they may settle within six to eight months. However, if they don’t believe their party is at fault, they may go all the way to trial. Some cases that go to trial take upwards of one to two years, sometimes even more.
While there’s no way to predict how long your case may take, there are a few signs that it may take longer. For example, if there are any questions about liability, the case may very well go to court. And if your injuries are severe, you may not know the full extent of your losses until a year or more into recovery.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
Among all types of automobile collisions, motorcycle accidents are among the most dangerous. Riders often sustain severe, life-changing injuries that reduce their quality of life. At Silva Injury Law, we know the impact these injuries can have on motorcycle accident victims. To us, our clients are family, and we believe they deserve justice. To schedule a free consultation, please give us a call or send us an email.