It’s no secret that insurance companies have a bias against motorcyclists. Insurers treat motorcycle riding as a high-risk activity, charging riders inflated premiums to match. But even worse, motorcyclists who get injured in accidents often struggle to get fair treatment, let alone full payment, from the at-fault party’s insurance carrier.
Motorcyclists who get hurt in wrecks can combat insurance company bias by getting a lawyer right away. Skilled motorcycle accident attorneys know how to push back against the unfair assumptions and stereotypes insurers use to reduce or deny injured riders’ claims. They also understand the ins and outs of insurance laws that bar insurance companies from treating injured bikers unfairly.
Why Insurance Matters After a Motorcycle Crash
Motorcyclists who sustain injuries in crashes often turn to their motorcycle insurance to help pay for some unexpected expenses. When the crash is not their fault, they frequently also have the right to seek financial compensation from the party who bears the blame. By law, the party at fault for a motorcycle crash typically must pay damages for the injured motorcyclist’s medical care, crash-related expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Drivers of cars and trucks, for example, often owe money damages for causing a crash that leaves a biker badly injured.
Other parties that can face liability to an injured motorcyclist might also include:
- A car or truck driver’s employer, if the crash involved a work vehicle;
- An automotive or motorcycle manufacturer, if a dangerous defect in a vehicle or bike caused the accident; or
- A local government agency that failed to build or maintain roads safe for motorcyclists, leading to a crash.
Although the law says at-fault parties owe this money to an injured biker, in most cases, it’s the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy that writes the check. Obtaining monetary damages for motorcycle accident injuries often involves convincing or forcing insurance to pay for the harm their policyholder caused.
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The Problem of Insurance Company Bias Against Motorcyclists
Insurance companies do not enjoy paying large motorcycle accident liability claims. That’s why the insurance industry exhibits two distinct forms of bias against motorcyclists.
injuriesEconomic Bias Against Bikers
The first is what you might call an economic bias. Insurance companies charge premiums to reflect the risk of a policyholder suffering a covered event. Because motorcyclists bear a higher risk of getting hurt and suffering severe injuries in an accident, insurance companies charge bikers relatively high premiums.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists have little choice but to live with this economic bias. But they can often lower their premiums by taking precautions to avoid crashing or getting seriously hurt in a wreck.
Common measures motorcyclists can take to limit the financial impact of insurers’ economic bias against them include:
- Taking a motorcycle safety certification course;
- Always wearing a motorcycle helmet and other protective gear;
- Maintaining a clean riding record; and
- Investing in a bike with ABS brakes.
Blame Bias Against Bikers
The second form of insurance company bias against motorcyclists-the one which we’ll spend the rest of this article discussing-is what you might call a blame bias. Insurance companies frequently assume, without evidence, that a motorcyclist bears the blame for any crash that results in personal injury. Based on this assumption, insurers frequently treat injured motorcyclists as wrongdoers (or worse) and deny their valid claims seeking financial compensation from at-fault parties.
The blame bias against motorcyclists often means that injured bikers will need to fight to have insurance companies take their accident injury claims seriously. In our experience as lawyers for motorcycle accident victims, we’ve found that insurance adjusters often investigate motorcyclists more aggressively than other motorists, and they tend to recommend partial or total denials of injured motorcyclists’ claims more frequently than claims from other crash victims.
For injured bikers and their loved ones, insurance company blame bias takes a devastating toll. The difficulty motorcyclists face in securing compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company can lead to severe financial strain and even personal bankruptcy. It also places them under heavy physical and personal strain. Bikers frequently struggle to afford the medical care they need to treat their crash-related injuries, which all too often translates into job loss, turmoil in personal relationships, and mental health struggles.
Why do insurance companies have a blame bias? The distressingly simple answer is: Because it pays. Injured bikers frequently suffer severe injuries that need intensive medical treatment and long-term financial support. Liability insurers know that if they can shift even part of the blame for a wreck onto a severely injured motorcyclist, they can often save hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in claim awards.
In short, insurance companies have a blame bias against motorcyclists like you because they don’t want to pay you for the harm their policyholder caused you in an accident.
Here’s Why Getting a Lawyer Is the Best Way to Fight Bias
Blame bias against motorcyclists is hardly a secret, and that’s just how the insurance companies like it. They want you, the injured motorcyclist, to have low expectations for the process of seeking financial compensation after getting hurt in a crash. That way, you’re less likely to fight when they offer you a settlement far below the amount you deserve.
But here’s the good news: it’s easy to fight back against insurance company blame bias. All you need to do is hire a skilled motorcycle accident injury attorney to handle the process of seeking payment for your injuries and losses. Here’s how the right lawyer can help you stand up to insurance companies and their bias against motorcyclists like you.
Lawyers Focus on Facts, Not Assumptions
The tendency of insurance companies to blame motorcyclists for accidents rests on a set of generic assumptions about motorcyclists and motorcycle riding, including that:
- Motorcyclists are risk-takers, adrenaline junkies, or otherwise prone to dangerous on-road behaviors that lead to accidents;
- Motorcyclists should avoid accidents more easily than drivers of cars and trucks because motorcycles are more maneuverable than other vehicles; and
- Motorcyclists “ask for” their injuries by riding motorcycles, which lack the safety features of cars and trucks.
Of course, these broad assumptions have nothing to do with the specific details of any particular motorcycle accident. But that doesn’t stop insurance companies from relying on them as generalized to doubt a claim.
What does stop them, however, is an attorney who insists on sticking to the facts. Experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyers investigate the crashes that injured their clients. They gather detailed evidence to show exactly how a crash happened and who should bear the blame for it. This intense focus on what occurred leaves no room for insurance companies to fall back on stereotypes and generalizations to deny an injured biker’s claim.
Lawyers Speak Insurers’ Language and Know Their Tricks
The facts of a motorcycle accident may combat insurance company bias if insurance companies have no choice but to face up to them. A skilled lawyer knows when and how to present the details of a crash, with supporting evidence, in a way that forces insurance companies to accept them as true.
Even then, an insurance company may try to avoid liability for a motorcyclist’s injuries by relying on the terms and conditions of the at-fault party’s insurance policy. Insurers dealing directly with an injured motorcyclist like you will often use industry jargon like “single occurrence,” “policy exclusions,” or “subrogation” to justify their refusal to pay what they owe. The point of this is to confuse and intimidate you so that you will give up fighting.
Insurance companies will also often use tactics to trip you up and undermine your claim. They may pressure you to give a recorded statement to an investigator who asks misleading questions to get you to say something that damages your legal rights. Or they may offer you a quick cash settlement for far less than you have the right to receive, hoping to avoid their financial responsibilities by taking advantage of a vulnerable moment in your life.
Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer protects you from all of this. Attorneys speak the language of insurance. They know what the jargon means and how to cut right through it to hold insurance companies to their obligations. They’ve also seen all the tricks insurance companies pull, and can prevent you from falling victim to them by serving as your representative in all interactions with the at-fault party’s insurer.
Lawyers Know When Insurance Company Bias Violates the Law
Skilled motorcycle accident attorneys can also help you make sure that you receive fair treatment from all insurance companies who may owe you compensation for your injuries, including your own motorcycle accident insurance.
State insurance laws and regulations require insurance companies to follow fair claims adjustment and processing practices. Insurers can violate those laws when they make it unnecessarily difficult for their policyholders and others to file and pursue claims, or they refuse to pay valid claims promptly. In many states, a violation can make the insurance company liable to you for extra damages.
In most cases, hiring an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney will ensure that you receive the minimum fair treatment from an insurance company that the law requires. But if an insurance company insists on engaging in illegal practices, with an attorney’s help you can pursue a claim for damages in addition to the amount the insurance company owes you for your accident-related injuries.
Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer is Easy and Affordable
Virtually all reputable motorcycle accident lawyers offer injured motorcyclists like you free consultations so that you can learn about your rights without spending a penny out of your pocket. In a consultation, a lawyer can often give you an initial evaluation of your case and options for seeking financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Even if you decide not to hire the lawyer after a consultation, it still costs you nothing.
But it’s not just the initial consultation that’s affordable. Most motorcycle accident lawyers also represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. That’s an arrangement in which the lawyer works in exchange for a percentage of any money recovered on the injured motorcyclist’s behalf. You pay nothing upfront, and nothing as the case goes along. The lawyer only gets paid if you get paid by the at-fault parties and/or their insurance companies.
Steps You Can Take Today to Combat Insurance Company Bias
Did you suffer injuries as a motorcyclist in an accident? Do you worry about getting taken advantage of by biased insurance companies? If so, here are some steps you can take today to protect your rights.
Do Not Delay or Ignore Medical Care
Injured motorcyclists sometimes put off getting the medical treatment they need out of worry about the potential cost. But although it’s understandable to feel concerned about your finances after a crash, delaying or ignoring medical care can cost you far more in the long run.
Seeking prompt medical care, and following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, protects your health. It also creates important records of your injuries that a lawyer may need in proving your claim to the at-fault party’s insurance company. And finally, it protects you from an insurance company arguing that you made your injuries worse by not caring for yourself.
Do Not Trust the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company
As mentioned above, the insurance company representing the party at-fault for your motorcycle accident may contact you directly to discuss the accident, your injuries, and your potential claim for damages. Be very careful if this happens, and if possible, decline to speak until you have an attorney representing you. The only reason the insurance company reached out to you is to confirm its bias against you and find reasons not to pay you what you deserve.
Contact a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Attorney
After getting hurt in a motorcycle accident, contact a motorcycle accident attorney in your area right away. The sooner you have an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer on your side, the better your chances of combating the bias insurance companies have against motorcyclists like you.