7 Factors That Affect a Motorcycle Accident Settlement - AA Law

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What Is the Average Settlement for Motorcycle Accidents in California?

January 10, 2024 Alan Ahdoot
Home » Blog » What Is the Average Settlement for Motorcycle Accidents in California?

Exploring California on a motorcycle provides an exhilarating, efficient, and cost-effective means of transportation. Despite the inherent benefits of motorcycle riding, there has been a concerning upward trend in traffic fatalities over the years. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), death rates surged by 29% from 2011 to 2021. In light of these statistics, it becomes crucial to consider the legal aspects surrounding motorcycle accidents. In California, the average motorcycle accident settlement stands at $21,000. However, it is important to note that this figure can vary significantly based on the unique circumstances of each case.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Motorcycle or Vehicle Accident in California?

While every motor vehicle accident is unique, building a compelling case typically involves establishing the four fundamental elements of negligence:

Duty To Drive Safely

The plaintiff must demonstrate that the other driver had a duty to operate their vehicle safely. This duty is a foundational expectation that all drivers owe to one another on the road.

Breach of Duty

It must be proven that the other driver breached this duty, indicating a failure to uphold the expected standard of safe driving. This breach could result from actions like reckless driving, failure to yield, or other violations of traffic laws.

Plaintiff Suffered Injuries

Establishing a connection between the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries is essential. Medical records, expert testimony, and other evidence may be presented to demonstrate the nature and extent of the injuries sustained.


The plaintiff must establish a direct link between the breach of duty and the injuries suffered. It is not merely enough to show that injuries occurred; there must be evidence that the other driver’s actions directly caused these injuries.

Successfully proving these elements provides a solid foundation for a negligence case in a motor vehicle accident, demonstrating that the other party’s failure to drive safely resulted in tangible harm to the plaintiff.

The Factors that Affect Motor Vehicle Accident Settlements

The Severity of Injuries

The extent of injuries significantly shapes the settlement amounts, with more severe injuries typically correlating with higher medical expenses and heightened pain and suffering. 

Consider a victim grappling with traumatic brain injury; their hospital stay alone might incur costs of up to $29,000. Similarly, individuals contending with spinal cord injuries could face medical care expenses surpassing $1 million. The enduring repercussions of such catastrophic injuries often translate to larger settlements, reflecting the profound impact on the victim’s life.

Conversely, less severe injuries tend to yield smaller settlements. Take, for instance, the treatment of bone fractures, which may require a comparatively modest sum, around a few thousand dollars. 

Minor injuries are characterized by lower medical costs and a diminished impact on the injured party, contributing to the correlation between the severity of injuries and the size of settlements.

Economic Damages

Economic damages encapsulate concrete financial losses and encompass various facets, including:

  • Medical Expenses: This category encompasses the comprehensive cost of medical treatment, spanning surgeries, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. It serves as a pivotal component within economic damages, reflecting the financial toll of the injuries sustained.
  • Property Damage: Covering the repair expenses for the motorcycle or its components, property damage forms another integral aspect of economic damage. This addresses the tangible fiscal repercussions incurred due to damage to personal property.
  • Lost Wages: Encompassing more than just regular wages, lost wages extend to include overtime pay, bonuses, and commissions that the victim would have earned had the accident not occurred. This category quantifies the direct impact on the individual’s income.

To substantiate economic damages, the presentation of the following documentation is imperative:

  • Medical bills.
  • Receipts for prescriptions.
  • Documentation of property damage.
  • Repair costs.
  • Pay stubs.
  • Employment contract.
  • Expert opinions regarding future economic losses.

This meticulous documentation and presentation, serve as a robust foundation to establish and validate the economic damages incurred as a result of the accident.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages play a pivotal role in shaping motorcycle accident settlements, encompassing subjective losses that are challenging to quantify precisely. These intangible losses include:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. 

Assessing non-economic damages involves a nuanced examination of the severity of both physical and emotional trauma experienced by the victim. 

The court and insurance entities consider factors such as the duration and intensity of pain and its broader impact on the victim’s overall quality of life.

To substantiate claims for non-economic damages, the following documentation is crucial:

  • Mental health records.
  • Journal entries.
  • Photographs and videos.
  • Expert testimony.
  • Statements regarding the accident’s impact on the victim’s life.

The combination of these elements forms a compelling case for non-economic damages, acknowledging the intricate and subjective nature of the losses experienced by the victim.

A fair and equitable settlement can help ease the financial burden of an accident.
The average motorcycle accident settlement depends on various factors.

The Extent of Liability

California adheres to the pure comparative negligence system, a legal framework where compensation is proportionally diminished according to the percentage of fault assigned. This means that even if the plaintiff bears a degree of responsibility, they can still pursue damages, albeit adjusted for their share of the blame. 

For instance, consider a total settlement of $120,000. If the court determines that the motorcyclist is 50 percent at fault, their compensation is capped at $60,000, with the remaining $60,000 deemed inaccessible.

The pure comparative negligence system embodies a balanced and adaptable approach to settling accident cases. It ensures injured parties can seek compensation even when they bear a significant portion of the blame, fostering a system that accommodates shared responsibility. 

Importantly, this method promotes fairness by aligning settlements with the respective degrees of negligence exhibited by each party involved, contributing to just and equitable outcomes in the aftermath of accidents.

Availability of Insurance

The payout for an accident is typically determined by the insurance policy of the at-fault party, setting the financial limit for compensation. The negotiation dynamics between involved drivers often hinge on the available insurance funds.

In cases where the coverage proves inadequate, the injured motorcyclist may resort to filing a civil case against the responsible driver. Additionally, various insurance policies play a pivotal role in shaping the average insurance settlement for a motorcycle accident, including:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Bodily injury liability.
  • Medical payments coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage.

Consider a scenario where the at-fault driver’s limit is $30,000. The injured motorcyclist incurs medical expenses and property damage to $50,000. With insufficient cover, the injured party can pursue a civil claim.

However, if the injured party has underinsured motorist coverage, an additional $30,000 can be accessed. Consequently, the injured individual stands to receive a maximum compensation of $60,000, emphasizing the crucial role of various insurance policies in shaping the final settlement amount.

Pre-existing Conditions

Navigating pre-existing conditions adds complexity to the evaluation of damages in the aftermath of an accident. Both insurance adjusters and courts carefully consider whether the incident exacerbated existing health issues. 

Should the injuries sustained in the accident contribute to the worsening of a pre-existing condition, the settlement will typically factor in the augmented medical costs. To establish this linkage, expert medical opinions and comprehensive health records become instrumental in delineating the extent to which the accident aggravated the pre-existing condition.

Consequently, for a successful claim, the plaintiff must not only demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty but also establish a clear causative link between this breach and the resultant injuries. 

For instance, in the case of a motorcycle accident caused by a speeding driver, the plaintiff’s legal representation bears the responsibility of substantiating a direct connection between the act of speeding and the specific spine injuries suffered by the plaintiff. This intricate process requires thorough documentation, expert testimony, and a compelling narrative to tie together the breach of duty and the consequential impact on the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition.

Quality of Legal Representation

Engaging a proficient attorney possessing a spectrum of essential skills significantly bolsters the prospects of securing an optimal settlement. The following skills are particularly crucial:

  • Investigation.
  • Negotiation.
  • Oral advocacy.
  • Research and writing.

Furthermore, opting for an attorney specializing in personal injury law proves advantageous. Such specialization equips them with the expertise to assess the value of both economic and non-economic damages, ensuring their client receives fair compensation. 

Additionally, a seasoned attorney can strategically argue to mitigate their client’s degree of liability, safeguarding against unjust reductions in damages. This comprehensive approach maximizes the potential for a favorable outcome in the legal proceedings.

Speak to a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident in California

If you’ve experienced a motorcycle accident in California, seeking the guidance of Adamson Ahdoot’s attorneys can be a strategic move to navigate the complexities of your case. 

Our legal professionals are adept at handling motorcycle accident cases, equipped to negotiate with insurers on your behalf, compile compelling evidence, and provide clear guidance through the intricacies of the legal settlement process.

At Adamson Ahdoot, we prioritize accessibility by offering consultations in both English and Spanish. Our firm boasts over 100 years of collective legal experience, providing you with the assurance that your claim is in the hands of seasoned professionals.

Contact us at (800) 310-1606 or visit our website for a free consultation.

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