Dealing with the other driver’s insurance company following an accident is stressful enough. However, it’s often more challenging when you’re riding a motorcycle. Despite what the at-fault driver’s insurance company wants you to believe, they aren’t on your side.
They have one goal—to reduce their overall payout. Don’t be intimidated by the motorcycle claims process and consider walking away, as you could be giving up a lot of money that is rightfully owed to you. Instead, hire an experienced Birmingham motorcycle claims attorney to represent you. Then, you won’t have to speak with the insurance company at all.
At Fob James Law Firm, LLC., we have years of experience assisting injured motorcycle victims with filing their claims. We understand the tactics that insurance companies use when dealing with accident victims. When you retain us immediately following an accident, we will deal with the other driver’s insurance company directly, so you don’t have to.
If you are on the fence about hiring an attorney, here’s what you need to know about filing a motorcycle insurance claim in Alabama on your own.
What Type of Claim Do You Need to File?
There are two main types of claims when you are looking to collect compensation from the other driver. These are property damage and personal injury claims.
Your property damage claim is for the damages sustained to your motorcycle. If you were at fault or you hit a stationary object, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company if you have applicable coverage. First-party property coverages are collision and comprehensive.
Collision would apply when you strike a fixed object or hit someone else, and the accident is your fault. Comprehensive is for non-collision damage, such as dropping your bike. These coverage types typically have a deductible that you need to meet before the insurance company pays your claim.
When someone else is at fault, you will present a third-party claim to their insurance. If a shop can repair your motorcycle, the at-fault driver’s insurance company might cover repair costs. If the auto shop cannot fix it, the insurance company may pay for the value of your motorcycle minus salvage.
A third-party personal injury claim is for your injuries. Before you can receive compensation in a personal injury claim, you have to prove liability against the other driver. You could be entitled to recover compensation for your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, your physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.
Preparing for Filing a Motorcycle Insurance Claim
The most important thing to have for your claim is preserved evidence. Provided you can do so safely, try to obtain as many photos as possible before moving your motorcycle or the other vehicles from the accident site. You want to capture all the damage to your motorcycle and the other car. Include pictures of skid marks and anything else that could be an essential part of your claim, such as road conditions, weather, etc.
Be sure to exchange information with the other driver and ask to see their identification. You also want to contact the police and wait for them to arrive, especially if you are injured.
If you do not require transport to the hospital from the accident scene, it’s crucial to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. If you delay treatment or skip appointments, the other driver’s insurance may use that against you to claim your symptoms aren’t related to the accident.
Motorcycle Insurance Claim Process
If you are filing a claim with your own insurance company, you may need to contact your agent (if you have one) or contact the claims number for your carrier. You may need to sign a proof of claim form, which you need to verify is correct. When presenting a first-party claim, your insurance company must act in your best interest or you could accuse them of bad faith.
If you are making a third-party claim, you will need to contact the other driver’s insurance company to file that claim. This insurance company owes you no duty, which is why you need to be cautious of what you say. They will want you to provide a recorded statement. You should not do so without legal representation. When an insurance company wants you to make a statement without your lawyer present, they are hoping you will say something they can use against you. Then, they can use your own words to deny your claim outright or reduce your overall claim value.
Once they process the claim, an adjuster is assigned. The adjuster opens an investigation and asks you to send all supporting information, including the police report, photos of the damage, medical records, employment records, and more. They use this information to decide whether your claim has merit.
Please be advised that the insurance company’s primary goal is to reduce their own exposure. You can expect the adjuster to place as much fault on you as possible and argue that your medical bills are excessive or that you were treated longer than you should have been for this type of injury.
Insurance companies rely on the fact that you are inexperienced in the legal process and negotiations. That is one reason why having an attorney represent you is beneficial. We know what to look for, and will not let the insurance company undervalue your claim or unfairly deny it.
Settling a Motorcycle Claim
Once you have presented a demand letter and engaged in negotiations, your claim may settle. You should speak with an experienced Birmingham motorcycle accident attorney before agreeing to the settlement and signing a release of all future claims. Once you sign the release, you cannot return to the insurance company for additional compensation if you need further treatment down the road.
Insurance companies may also include tricky language in the check memo, noting you forfeit the right to any further claims, which could be problematic if you resolve your property damage and bodily injury claims at separate times.
Statute of Limitations
When presenting a liability claim, you need to be mindful of the statute of limitations. This date is the deadline for filing a lawsuit, and it applies to personal injury and property damage claims. In most cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim for personal injuries. Property damage claims must be filed within six years. Missing the deadline could result in the court barring your claim entirely. Even if you are in negotiations with the insurance company, you still need to file a lawsuit.
Contact a Birmingham Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Don’t let fear over the motorcycle insurance claim process deter you from going after the compensation owed to you. Let the skilled Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyers at Fob James Law Firm, LLC, assist you. We have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies.
Our priority is to protect your rights and help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.