Last Updated on August 10, 2021 by Theodore Spaulding
As an Alpharetta motorcycle accident lawyer, I want to give you guys some legal tips to think about when handling motorcycle property damage claims. Typically, we handle these cases free of charge as part of representing the injury side of a motorcycle wreck.
We will get involved when the client can’t resolve the property damage claim on their own. We see a lot of the issues that arise with the property damage claim and specifically with motorcycles, which are often treated differently than four-wheeled vehicles.
Who’s Insurance Should I Use When Filing A Property Damage Claim?
The number one question that I always get is whose insurance should I use? Should I file the property damage claim and pursue it with the at-fault party’s or mine?
That question is a difficult one because you can do either, but I always suggest to give it a week or two to try to work with the at-fault party’s insurance company. You need to see if they’re going to treat you right.
The reason I say that is because it can save you some money up front. If you go with your insurance, you’re going to have a deductible that you’re going to have to pay and then you’re going to have to wait six months or more for your insurance company to go after the at-fault insurance and get your deductible back.
You’ll be out that money going with your insurance company. So, try the at-fault party’s first. See if they’re going to treat you fairly, and what I mean by that is if they’re going to respond to you quickly.
They’re going to get out, look at the vehicle, and decide whether it’s a total loss or not, and then work with you on a proper valuation. If at any time you’re not getting phone calls back and it’s been a week or two, they haven’t gone out and looked at the vehicle, and you can’t wait any longer, then switch to yours and, and move forward. It will go much smoother, and then it’s worth losing that deductible for now.
What Do You Have The Rights To In A Motorcycle Property Damage Claim?
If it’s repairable, you have a right to the full repair with actual OEM parts. Be careful and don’t allow them to use used parts to save money, make sure they’re using OEM. You can use your repair a shop, you don’t have to go with one of theirs.
If you’ve got somebody that you prefer, go with them. If it’s a total loss, what you have a right to is the exact market value of that bike one second before it was damaged in the wreck.
You take it as it is and its condition with the mileage that it had on it and the year and make of the vehicle, and what you could have sold it to your neighbor.
That’s what you want to do. You want to use full value. You don’t want trade in value or any of those lower valuations, you want that full number out in the marketplace.
Make Sure Your Bike Is Valued Properly
Adjusters are not used to motorcycle property damage claims, so they are not experts on motorcycles. Therefore, when you add custom parts, they don’t understand that in their evaluation.
They plug it into a little formula, and it spits out a number. It’s much more difficult with a bike than with a four-wheel vehicle that they see every single day.
The variations in the valuation they come up with can be much greater than when you’re dealing with a four-wheeled vehicle and property damage. Anytime you’re adding custom parts to your bike, keep the receipts, that’s the best way to show the added value that you’re adding to your bike in a quick and easy format.
If you are building your own custom bike, same thing. You want to keep track of all of the parts that you ordered. That way between buying the salvage bike, whether it’s just the frame or you’re buying a full bike, you want to keep all the receipts of that.
Ultimately, if there are still issues with valuation, you may have to turn to a dealer or someone else in the industry that can give you that valuation, because it’s custom.
For instance, I had a client that was working for years on a bottler, and he would slowly buy new parts and, and add to it as he was going along. Obviously, the bobber market is kind of a hot market right now.
The prices are higher for them because there is more of a desire for that style of bike. You have to go and get these custom bikes looked at by experts that can say this is what I think he could get out in the marketplace for that bike. So, keep that in mind.
You don’t want to just take their random number, especially when you have customized parts because that number’s probably going to be much lower than what the true value is.
Keep all that mind, protect yourself by keeping good records, even logs of what things you did to the bike would be good. Certainly, it’s better than nothing if you don’t have receipts for parts, at least having a log of what you did and what is valuable. Having both is even better.
You may be able to save the cost of hiring someone to come look at the bike and give them give you their opinion.
For over 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.