What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle?

February 22, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle?

Many motorcyclists can't get enough of riding. They love the wind in their face and the feeling of freedom. But when a wreck occurs, they feel lost if the collision destroys their beloved bike. What happens when the insurance company totals your motorcycle? How do you fight back if you feel the insurer treats you unfairly? This article will answer both questions and show how a motorcycle accident attorney can fight for your rights.

What Does it Mean to "Total" a Motorcycle?

What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle

When the insurance company totals your motorcycle, it declares it a total loss. The bike's repair cost will exceed its cash value (ACV). If you take your motorcycle to a mechanic, you must pay for repairs.

Several factors contribute to an insurance company declaring a motorcycle "totaled." Here are just a few:

  • The severity of damage – The main factor will be the extent of damage sustained by the bike. The insurance company will assess whether repairs are feasible or cost more than the bike is worth. Repairs not only include the cost of fixing damaged parts but also labor.
  • Age – Age will be another essential factor when the insurance company totals your motorcycle. Insurers will be far less likely to deem older motorcycles viable for extensive repairs. New motorcycles can lose nearly 30 percent of their value after two years.
  • Pre-accident condition – The condition of the motorcycle before the accident will serve as a baseline for assessing whether or not to total the machine. If your bike was pristine, the insurer may not be as quick to declare it a total cost.

Making the Decision

When the insurance company totals your motorcycle, that decision comes from the adjuster assigned to your case. More than likely, the adjuster first looked at all the motorcycle's structural components to determine the extent of the damage. For example, they closely looked at the integrity of the frame. The adjuster likely decided repairs weren't practical if the wreck compromised any frame portion.

The Valuation Process

Once they made that decision, the valuation process began, where the insurer determined the amount of the check they'd cut to you. It might seem like this is a straightforward process, but it has challenges.

Depreciation is one significant challenge. The insurer might rely on market depreciation rates that can inaccurately reflect your motorcycle's ACV. This potential for undervaluation can become a critical concern for motorcycle owners looking for fair compensation.

When the insurance company totals your motorcycle, that can be a meaningful event. Many riders view their bikes as old friends and want to do whatever they can to fix them. But if the insurer says it's a loss, what can they do?

The Critical Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

The Critical Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you're trying to grapple with the aftermath of an insurance company totaling your motorcycle, you should consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible. Getting legal help will be particularly critical if you've suffered an injury and the accident wasn't your fault,

A motorcycle accident attorney can investigate to show you weren't to blame for the wreck and can also help convince the insurance company to provide the equitable compensation you deserve.

Determining Fault – The Motorcycle Accident Investigation

Your lawyer's investigation will be one of the most critical components of your case. Once you hire an attorney and provide your side of how the wreck happened, they'll immediately get to work gathering the evidence necessary to prove your case.

In most instances, an attorney will get to the accident scene to start piecing together the puzzle of why the wreck happened and who was to blame. This part of the investigation usually involves taking pictures of the road and any visible damage, such as bent signs or caved-in guardrails.

Why will a motorcycle accident attorney take photos of the road surface? The at-fault driver may have been speeding when they hit you. They may have slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting your bike. If they did, they likely left fresh skid marks. Pictures of those skid marks can help prove the motorist should bear the blame for the accident.

However, you must know that time is crucial in an accident. You must hire a lawyer immediately so they can collect evidence before it disappears. The next heavy rain can wash away those critical skid marks, and road crews can remove damaged guardrails and signs and replace them.

Other Evidence Your Attorney Can Obtain

Pictures only tell part of the story of how the wreck occurred. Video can also be powerful evidence backing up your account of what happened. There's a high likelihood there was a surveillance camera near the accident scene. Your lawyer will request that footage to see if it captured the collision.

Your attorney will also speak with witnesses, getting their version of the events surrounding the accident. If the investigation shows the at-fault driver was distracted due to texting or talking on their phone, your attorney can obtain that driver's phone records.

Not just anyone can get video footage or phone records. That's another reason why you need to hire a lawyer. They can obtain subpoenas, if necessary, to secure the evidence needed for you to receive the compensation you deserve.

Fighting the Insurance Company

So, what happens when the insurance company totals your motorcycle, and you're also injured due to the accident? You must replace your bike and pay mounting medical bills and other accident-related expenses (legally known as damages). You do not deserve any of this stress, yet you have it.

If you're in this situation, you need the skill and experience of a motorcycle accident lawyer. They will be your ally, helping you navigate the complexities involved with your case. As importantly, they'll actively challenge the insurer to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Assessing Your Damages

Once your attorney finishes their investigation to determine fault, the next thing they'll do will be to assess the value of your damages. The following are a few factors they'll consider when determining how much to demand from the insurance company.

  • The long-term consequences of your accident – Your attorney will collaborate with medical professionals to understand the long-term impact of your injury. This involves analyzing your immediate and future medical needs, complications, and ongoing treatment costs. They will also work with professionals to assess long-term rehabilitation and therapy needs.
  • Emotional distress – The emotional toll of a motorcycle impact can often be just as devastating as the physical consequences. Your attorney will consult with mental health professionals to quantify the psychological distress you may be experiencing. 
  • Lost quality of life – If you've suffered a debilitating injury, you cannot participate in the activities you love. When assessing your damages, your motorcycle accident lawyer will also consider how the accident has impacted your quality of life.
  • Lost income – You may be losing income because you can't work. There's also a possibility you cannot return to your old job and will have to find a new one that doesn't pay as well. By collaborating with vocational and financial specialists, your attorney can determine the accident's impact on your financial future. They'll work to recover not only your current lost income but also your lost potential income.

Overcoming Insurance Company Tactics

Overcoming Insurance Company Tactics

The average American pays more than $700 a year for motorcycle insurance. You will think insurers will do the right thing and pay riders fair compensation. The hard truth is that's rarely the case.

Like any business, an insurance company exists to make a profit. Unfortunately, they will often do this by denying legitimate insurance claims or doing everything they can to minimize the amount of money they pay out. But an experienced motorcycle accident attorney will know how to defeat whatever tactics insurers use to keep you from obtaining the compensation you deserve.

One tried-and-true tactic is stalling. Insurers have many tools at their disposal to continue delaying the claims process. The point of this tactic is to wear down a claimant, continuing to stall until they get tired of fighting. However, motorcycle accident lawyers have several legal avenues to ensure a timely resolution to a claim.

Another strategy the insurer, in your case, may use is purposely undervaluing your damages. The insurance company may, for instance, claim you caused the accident or argue you're not as badly hurt as you say. But a motorcycle accident attorney will have solid evidence to defeat that argument.

Dealing With an Unreasonable Insurance Company

Skilled lawyers use their deep understanding of the law to counteract insurance company tactics to reduce payments. They anticipate insurance company maneuvers and use their extensive legal tools to protect your interests. They can challenge denial and work to prevent unjust practices such as delays or attempts to shift blame to you.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement

In most personal injury cases, neither side wants to go to trial. It can take a lot of time, and it can also be very expensive. That's why more than 95 percent of cases settle out of court.

Your motorcycle accident lawyer will do all they can to negotiate a fair settlement so you can get the money you deserve and move forward with your life. These are just a few of the ways attorneys aim to maximize compensation.

  • Maximizing your damages – Attorneys use their knowledge to comprehensively quantify economic damages such as medical bills, lost income, emotional distress, and property damage.
  • Presenting a compelling case – Lawyers also meticulously compile evidence supporting your case. This evidence includes medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and professional opinions, creating a compelling argument that you deserve the compensation you're seeking.
  • Understanding insurance company tactics – Skilled attorneys know insurers will try to undervalue claims. They counteract this tactic by keeping calm and using the strength of evidence to convince the insurance company to offer a fair settlement.

Litigation as a Last Resort

Again, the chances are your case will settle out of court. But because those chances aren't 100 percent, you must be prepared if your case is in the minority and goes to trial.

Your legal representative will guide you through the process every step of the way. They will keep you informed through all phases of the legal process and always work in your best interests.

Trials can be very complex, and attorneys on both sides must follow strict court protocols and meet all deadlines. Your lawyer will adhere to all protocols and meet all requirements. They'll also make a compelling argument to the judge or jury hearing your case, backing up their points with hard evidence.

Remember to note that even if your case goes to trial, that doesn't necessarily mean a long, drawn-out process. Both sides can agree to a settlement at any point. But if that settlement isn't forthcoming, your attorney will continue to fight for every dollar you deserve.

Please Speak to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer as Soon as You Can

When the insurance company totals your motorcycle, you will likely be frustrated and angry – especially if the insurer doesn't give you what you believe is the actual value of your bike. If you have suffered an injury, your levels of frustration and anger will be even higher.

However, if you have an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer, you'll be on a level playing field. The insurance company cannot overwhelm you with high-priced lawyers and other professionals. You'll have someone working on your behalf with just as much knowledge and skill.

Please don't try to take on this formidable opposition by yourself. Unrepresented claimants virtually never win against insurance companies. Even if they prevail, they rarely get the compensation they might have obtained with legal representation.

Hiring a Henderson personal injury lawyer will be one of the best decisions you've ever made. They will work diligently to secure the money you deserve, allowing you to move past this unfortunate event.

Case evaluations are free with no obligation, so there is no risk to scheduling your initial meeting with a trusted attorney today.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.