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How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim?

A motorcycle accident, just like a car accident, poses long-lasting physical, emotional and psychological consequences to its victims. The accidents are often more serious than those of car accidents as motorcycles offer little protection to their passengers. Depending on the accident’s magnitude, the victim can take weeks, months or years to fully recover from the accident. Insurance and legal issues that arise from the accident equally have to be dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner.

One is required to approach the Los Angeles civil courts and file a personal injury suit in respect to the motorcycle accident. In court, the accident victim is required to prove the following four elements for their claim to succeed:
• The motorcycle driver at fault had a duty of care to ensure the safety of the victim;
• The motorcycle driver breached the said duty of care;
• As a result of the breach, the victim suffered damages and financial loss arising from the occasioned motorcycle accident; and
• The degree of negligence of both the driver and accident victim. The driver may not always be 100% at fault. It can be contributory negligence of both the driver and victim that caused the accident.

Time Limitations

The law in Los Angeles has a statute of limitations that duly prescribes the time within which a motorcycle accident claim can be filed. It limits the time given to victims to file their claims so as to avoid the filing of frivolous, vexatious and scandalous claims long after the accident has occurred. A victim is given a maximum of two years to file a claim. However, in cases whereby victims are seeking for loss of consortium, they are given four years to file their accident claims. This is because the dependents of the deceased victim will require a grant of letters of administration to file the suit.

The time starts running from the date on which the motorcycle accident occurred. Both weekends and public holidays are counted in either the two or four year timelines. The claim is made against any driver that is proven to have been at fault during the accident.

In as much as the claim is filed in court, the law allows for an out of court settlement. Hence, the victim of the motorcycle accident and their lawyer can opt to settle the matter out of court with either the driver at fault or the driver’s insurance company. Insurance companies are included as third parties in the claims filed as the law requires that each motorcycle is insured against accidents, amongst other matters. An amicable settlement is afterwards filed in court as consent of the parties and it is adopted by the court.

An early settlement with the insurance company is not always encouraged as the injuries of the victim can worsen. In worse case scenarios, the victim can succumb to their injuries and hence, the family will require a higher compensation. Nonetheless, one should be careful not to engage in out of court settlements without having filed an accident claim in court within the determined timelines. It ensures that the statute of limitations does not run out of the victim and therefore, protect their interests.

It is important to keep oneself abreast with the time limitations so as to obtain their rightful compensation such as medical expenses, costs of lost wages, damage to property and pain and suffering. As it is often said, “Equity favors the vigilant and not the indolent”. Therefore, if you sleep on your rights to file the claim within the prescribed timelines, you will only have yourself to blame. The court has the discretion to refuse to hear and determine any claim filed out of time. Definitely you do not want to be caught up in such situation of being at the mercy of the court’s discretion.

The time limits make it possible to collect and preserve evidence necessary to ensure the success of the claim in court. Whenever you fall victim to a motorcycle accident, remember to always act quickly, meet the set deadlines, file your file and benefit from the compensation you justly deserve. You are also encouraged to contact a motorcycle accident attorneys in LA to help you in filing the claim and obtaining the necessary compensation.