I have always felt that one of my greatest strengths as a Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer is the fact that I’m also an avid rider. This passion gives me two big advantages when it comes to fighting for the most favorable recoveries possible for my clients.
Get the Best Recovery Possible After a Motorcycle Accident
First of all, I understand the dynamics of riding a motorcycle. Facts and physics are unforgiving when the rubber leaves the road and you take a spill. A deeper understanding of the complex interplay of gravity, forward momentum, friction, and centrifugal force comes in handy when trying to understand and explain what went wrong.
Secondly, I feel the same intense attachment to my bike that you feel toward yours. I know that many of my clients are more upset about damage to, or the loss of their bike than they are about the injuries their very bodies sustain. And I totally get that because I’ve been riding the same custom Harley for almost 13 years!
It’s more like an extension of my body at this point than a separate machine.
So I know how important it is for you to obtain the most favorable recovery as quickly as possible.
My broken leg and road rash will heal over time. I need to get my bike fixed now!
You would think recovering property damage would be one of the more straightforward tasks involved in Pennsylvania motorcycle accident settlements. Your bike is damaged; it wasn’t your fault. You get the bike repaired and the insurance company reimburses you.
Not necessarily. Here’s a quick primer to help you get ready to fight for the best property damage recovery possible, and to understand how the process works.
Repair or replace the bike?
Sadly for those of us who develop emotional attachments to our bikes, the decision to repair, replace, or reimburse isn’t up to the owner.
It’s up to the insurance carrier. They get to decide whether or not it is economically practical to repair your bike, or whether it makes more sense to reimburse you the “Fair Market Value,” of the bike.
Now that sounds pretty good on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you realize that this means that a paper pusher in a cubicle somewhere gets to decide the Actual Cash Value (ACV) your motorcycle held on the day of the accident.
If they determine that it will cost more to repair the bike than the so-called ACV, they will reimburse you for your damaged bike. In essence they will buy the bike from you. Your only option should you wish to keep the bike is to get a salvage title and pay them the salvage value of the bike.
Furthermore, many insurance companies will automatically total a motorcycle if the appraised damages equal 80% of the bike’s ACV because once repairs are initiated, additional “hidden damages” are often found which would push the repair cost higher than the ACV.
How is this so-called Fair Market Value determined?
Fair Market Value is calculated by using newspaper and craigslist ads, Auto Trader and other similar sources to determine what your bike, or one similar to it, is currently selling for on the local retail market.
The bottom line is that the insurance companies will be trying to minimize their outlay by minimizing the cash value of your bike.
Can they repair the bike with used parts?
The insurance carrier’s obligation is to return your bike to its pre-accident condition. So if your bike is 5 years old, the mechanic can use refurbished or reconditioned parts for the repairs.
If the mechanic is using newer parts, the insurance carrier may not be liable for this so-called “betterment,” and you will have to pay any difference in cost for the newer parts. This holds even if the issue is simply that no older parts are available.
Do not use the insurance company’s recommended a mechanic.
An insurance adjuster will recommend that you use one of their trusted mechanics to repair your bike. Remember, in this situation, the mechanic is trusted by the insurance company, not you! That’s because the insurance carrier’s mechanic will be trying to save the company’s money anywhere he can, which can lead to corner cutting and lingering mechanical and cosmetic problems.
Remember, insurance companies cannot force you to use a particular mechanic. Find someone you trust to make an honest assessment of your motorcycle’s condition.
When should a motorcycle accident attorney get involved in a claim?
This one is a no brainer: ASAP. If it is a relatively serious accident – for example if your bike is trashed and you are injured – we’ll want to get started gathering evidence almost immediately, because some of it will disappear over time as skid marks fade, witnesses forget what they saw, and so forth.
I certainly recommend that you contact a motorcycle lawyer BEFORE making any recorded statement.
An insurance adjuster has one job: to keep you from getting the full settlement you’re entitled to if you were not at fault. This is not to say that they are bad people, or out to get you, or that it’s personal in any way. In fact it is exactly the opposite. It’s just business to them.
If they feel they can prove that you have admitted fault or partial fault (which you should never, ever do before speaking with counsel), they will do what they can to reduce the payout on property damages (as well as medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
My job is to help you demonstrate that you were not at fault and are therefore entitled to full damages.
Keeping insurance companies on the up and up
My years as one of Pennsylvania’s most trusted motorcycle accident lawyers, my involvement in the motorcycle community, and my experience in riding, repairing, and maintaining my own bike has given me the knowledge and contacts to help keep the insurance companies in line when it comes to determining what your bike is worth.
For more information about how to get the most favorable property damage recovery on your bike, call my Pennsylvania motorcycle accident law firm and speak with me, Lee Gaber, Esquire at 1-888-292-5352 24/7.
Consultations are free for Pennsylvania and NJ accidents.