How can I ensure I will be able to cover the cost of my recovery from severe injuries from a motorcycle accident?
Motorcycle accident injuries can be devastating, both physically and mentally. There are some steps you can take to reduce the 80% chance of injury or death in the event of a motorcycle accident in North Carolina, like riding carefully and wearing a helmet. (Helmets reduce the risk of death by about 37 percent.) However, serious injuries can still occur. You may spend time in the hospital, requiring surgery, medication, physical therapy, or some combination of the above. Medical bills can add up fast, and you may be out of work for some time due to your injuries. Unfortunately, in some situations you may even suffer a permanent disability that may prevent you from returning to work at all.
Some of the more common motorcycle injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury. Concussions and brain damage may happen if you hit your head during a motorcycle accident. Again, helmets reduce the risk but serious injury can still occur. Some riders recover from head injuries, but others may have permanent symptoms such as debilitating headaches, memory problems, cognitive impairment, epilepsy or seizure disorder, sleep issues, and other neurological difficulties.
- Broken bones, especially at or around joints – elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, wrists, fingers, spine, pelvis, and neck. Sometimes spinal injuries can lead to chronic pain and/or permanent paralysis.
- Soft tissue injuries in these areas are also common, although these are often prevented with protective gear like leather or Kevlar jackets made for motorcyclists.
- Biker’s arm. The nerves of the upper arm may be damaged in an accident, in some cases leading to permanent paralysis of the arm.
- Facial disfigurement. This is usually prevented with a full-face helmet, but without a helmet or with an open one, the rider may suffer significant damage if their face hits the ground or another solid object.
- Mental health effects. Physical injuries aren’t the only kind of trauma that can happen in a motorcycle accident. The experience may lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, or PTSD.
Treatment for even one of these serious injuries can be very expensive, and many riders have multiple injuries following an accident. Your health insurance may cover some of the expenses, but even the co-pays can be high. Or your insurance company may find a random reason not to cover your care at all.
How Else Can I Cover the Cost of My Recovery?
Fortunately, there may be other options depending on the nature of your accident. If another driver was at fault, you may be able to get coverage from their insurance company. If the accident occurred on private property, there may also be some liability with the property owner. If you were riding your motorcycle somewhere to run an errand for your job, you might be covered under worker’s compensation.
Which of these options applies to your situation? This is often hard to figure out on your own, especially if you’re in pain or trying to secure treatment. The best thing you can do is speak with a personal injury lawyer before you make any decisions. Most attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation and explain your options.
What If I’ve already Been Offered a Settlement From One of the Involved Insurance Companies?
Don’t accept anything until you’ve had the chance to talk with an attorney. It’s not unusual for insurance carriers to make an offer quickly after an accident. Often their first offer is a lowball one that may not even begin to cover all the costs you’ll be facing in the coming days. This is complicated by the fact that insurance adjusters have a very good idea of what your future care will likely cost – but most patients don’t. Your insurance carrier, for example, may know the average cost of treating a concussion in the ER. Do you? Do you know how much of the total cost will be covered by your health insurance, if any of it?
Because most people dealing with an injury don’t know these numbers, it’s a good idea to hold off on accepting any offers until you receive qualified legal advice. In fact, it’s better not to speak with the insurance company yourself at all. Insurance companies regularly record calls, and may ask all sorts of questions when you’re in pain, on prescribed narcotics for pain, or otherwise distracted by your injuries. You don’t want to be answering questions in such a state, especially from an insurance adjuster who may be trying to twist your words to find an excuse to deny payment. If you say the wrong thing, you can hurt your otherwise legitimate and potentially valuable case.
So what should you do? Call a lawyer and don’t talk to the insurance company! If an insurance company calls while you’re in the hospital, tell them you can’t talk right now and hang up. If they call back, let it go to voicemail. You can also ask a friend or relative to handle screening your calls while you recover. As soon as you’re feeling up to it, contact a North Carolina motorcycle accident attorney like Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers and ask for a free consultation to understand your options for covering the cost of your recovery.