After a motorcycle accident injury, to protect your legal rights, you will want to take these steps. First and foremost, you must ensure your own safety and the health and safety of others involved in the accident. Afterward, you can worry about alerting emergency responders, assessing your injuries and damage to your property, and gathering evidence at the accident scene.
There are a variety of precautions that both motorists and motorcyclists can engage in to help prevent accidents when sharing the roadways.
Easy Steps to Keep Motorcyclists Safe
All drivers can follow a few easy precautions to keep motorcyclists safe while driving, for example:
- Drivers should thoroughly check their surroundings—especially before entering or exiting lanes or making a turn.
- Check for motorcyclists in your rearview and side-view mirrors, and
- Make sure your blind spots are clear.
- Allow motorcyclists to occupy an entire lane.
- Leave ample space between your vehicles and a motorcycle.
What Happens After a Motorcycle Accident
What should I do after being involved in a motorcycle accident?
Individuals involved in an accident should remain at the scene of the accident at least until law enforcement officers arrive to compile an accident report. Fleeing the scene of an accident may form the basis for criminal charges against you. After speaking with the police about the accident, you should gather contact information from the other drivers and passengers, as well as any witnesses to the accident before leaving the accident scene.
If you aren’t sure whether it is appropriate to leave the scene of the accident, ask yourself:
- Have I received medical care?
- Have I sought and obtained medical care for other injured parties (if relevant)?
- Have I filed a police report?
- Have I documented relevant evidence (if possible)?
Make Sure You’re Safe
If you’ve been involved in any kind of road accident, it’s important to ensure that your own health and safety are not further compromised. If necessary, move your vehicle to a safe location close to the accident and remain inside the vehicle. If your injuries require immediate medical attention, call 9-1-1.
Make Sure Others Involved In the Accident Are Safe
After ensuring your own health and safety, if you can, check on others involved in the accident and assess whether they need emergency medical assistance. Only after confirming that everyone is involved is being taken care of, should you worry about gathering evidence at the scene of the accident.
Contact Emergency Services and/or Authorities
Officers that respond to the scene can assist you in collecting any evidence that might be useful in demonstrating how the accident occurred. Police officers will speak with everyone involved in the accident to compile an accident report. An official police report is necessary should individuals later seek compensation for any damages caused by the accident. Accident victims may file an accident report online following a collision, but are not required to when an official police report has been filed.
When contacting 9-1-1, you should request that emergency medical services respond to the scene of the accident to ensure medical attention is available for all injured parties.
Even if you feel your motorcycle accident and injuries are only minor, you should still contact emergency services. Many severe and even life-threatening injuries may not immediately exhibit symptoms. It is important to undergo a professional medical evaluation to prevent worsening injuries that you may not know you sustained. In addition, the accident report will note whether you received medical attention at the scene.
Exchange Information With Other Drivers
You should exchange contact information with all other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Gathering this information at the scene will make it easier to pursue legal action in the future, if appropriate.
Don’t forget to share your own information, too. In the aftermath of an accident, you should be forthcoming and easy to work with.
However, you should always avoid apologizing for the accident because it may be construed as an admission of fault. Information you should gather and provide includes:
- Phone number and contact information;
- License plate numbers;
- Driver’s license information; and
- Insurance details.
Speak to Witnesses Briefly
If witnesses are nearby and available, speak with them briefly and inquire whether they are comfortable proving their names and contact information. When necessary, an attorney may contact witnesses later to obtain a statement about how the accident happened.
Seek Medical Treatment
Even if you think you are not injured, it’s important that you pursue medical attention as soon as possible after your motorcycle accident.
People who suffer serious injuries in a motorcycle crash will likely receive emergency medical treatment and/or emergency transportation to the hospital. Accident survivors may spend days, weeks, or even months in the hospital while recovering from their injuries. Even if you received emergency medical care after a motorcycle accident, you should still follow up with your primary care physician.
A physician who is familiar with your health and medical history before the accident can evaluate how you have been affected by accident-injuries. In addition, a follow-up examination may reveal injuries with delayed symptoms that were initially undiagnosed.
If you declined an evaluation from emergency responders following your motorcycle accident, it’s even more important to seek a medical examination with your primary care physician. As mentioned, they may discover injuries with delayed symptoms, but also a doctor’s visit provides important documentation of your injuries should you file a claim later.
Reach out to Your Insurance Provider
Most insurance policies require insured individuals to notify their provider when they are involved in an accident. When contacting your insurance company, keep the correspondence brief and simple. In most cases, individuals’ own insurance providers will not pressure them into revealing more information than necessary about the accident. However, working with an experienced attorney can ensure your rights remain protected during communications with insurance representatives.
Don’t Communicate With Other Drivers’ Insurance Companies
Although you might need to notify your own insurance provider of an accident, there is no requirement for communicating with other driver’s insurance companies. It is best to avoid speaking with other insurance providers involved to prevent providing information that they could use against you to discredit your claim.
Insurance representatives employ tactics to lessen their financial exposure after their insured causes an accident, and you may end up agreeing to something that is not in your best interests.
In general, accident victims should remember:
- It’s best not to speak to at-fault parties’ insurance companies, and
- If you do talk to insurance agents, don’t agree to anything or sign any statements.
Other drivers’ insurance companies have one goal when their insured causes an accident: to pay injured victims the least amount possible. Insurance representatives frequently try to induce injured victims into accepting a low settlement amount by enticing them with quick cash in exchange. Avoiding communication with the other driver’s insurance company can help injured victims receive adequate compensation.
Consult a Qualified Motorcycle Accident Attorney
As soon as you are able, after prioritizing your own health and safety, speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can ensure your legal rights remain protected throughout the claims process.
Did You Lose a Loved One in a Motorcycle Accident?
If a motorcycle accident took the life of a loved one, eligible family members may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. Of course, no amount of money will ever fill the void created by your loss, but compensation may reduce the financial burden that the accident left behind.
Contact an attorney with experience in motorcycle accident cases and wrongful death cases to determine whether you are eligible to file a claim for compensation.
Important Things Motorcyclists Should Know
How to Talk to Insurance Company Representatives
Our clients consistently report feeling as if they are being hounded by insurance companies following a motorcycle accident. Our lengthy experience in the field has allowed us to collect some tips for communicating with insurance agents.
If you notice any of the signs explained below, you may want to obtain legal representation to communicate on your behalf.
- The insurance agent is being pushy and trying to move the call too fast: Oftentimes, insurance agents try to force accident victims to provide information quickly. Representatives employ this tactic to try to convince victims to accept a settlement offer before they have time to fully think about what is being offered. Upon agreeing to accept a settlement offer, individuals waive their right to pursue additional compensation for their injuries in the future.
- The insurance agent is dragging the call out and trying to keep you on the phone: Insurance agents can also employ another approach, which involves keeping injured parties on the phone and delaying the process. Representatives hope to confuse or frustrate accident victims, which may influence their decision to accept a low settlement. After becoming confused and tired, some people may agree to inadequate settlements.
Motorcyclists Are at Higher Risk of Injury Than Car Passengers
Generally, motorcyclists have a higher risk of serious injury in an accident than passengers in motor vehicles. An average passenger car provides occupants with much more protection than a motorcycle offers a rider. Having four metal walls for protection can make a big difference.
Motorcycle accidents are particularly dangerous for a variety of reasons, including:
- Motorcycles lack seatbelts or airbags;
- Motorcycles lack exterior doors or walls;
- The small size of a motorcycle compared to virtually all other vehicles;
- Motorcycles are difficult to see (especially in busy places and at night);
- Other drivers are known to forget to watch for motorcyclists and sometimes they accidentally overlook them;
- Many people underestimate motorcycles’ speed and don’t understand how they maneuver;
- Many drivers fail to show motorcyclists respect on the road.
The average motorcycle weighs 400 pounds, while an average passenger vehicle weighs around 40,000 pounds. Even more dangerous, a fully-loaded cargo truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles permitted for operation on roadways, and as a result, they are at risk for serious damage in the event of an accident.
You May Collect Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, a legal professional may assist you in seeking compensation for expenses you’ve incurred as a result.
After a motorcycle accident, injured victims may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical bills: Oftentimes there are significant medical bills associated with a motorcycle accident. Through a motorcycle accident claim, injured victims may recover compensation for past, present, and future medical bills incurred as a result of accident injuries.
- Property damage: Motorcycle accidents often cause significant property damage, and victims may be entitled to compensation for necessary repairs or replacement of personal property.
- Lost wages: When accident injuries prevent victims from returning to work, they can generally recover wages that they missed out on during their recovery.
- Reduced earning capacity: Reduced earning capacity damages are similar to lost wages damages; but, instead of paying you for the time you’ve missed earning money, these damages help pay for future income you’ll lose due to altered earning capacity. Individuals who never return to work in the same capacity as before the accident may recover damages to compensate for their reduced earning capacity.
Road Rash Is a Common Injury in Motorcycle Accidents
Road rash is an extremely common injury suffered by motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accident victims. Road rash develops when an individual’s skin is dragged or scraped across asphalt or concrete without any protective barrier in place to minimize contact. Many motorcycle passengers are thrown from the bike during an accident, and oftentimes they sustain road rash injuries as a result.
Severe cases of road rash can lead to degloving, shock, and even death. Mild cases of road rash often involve the skin being torn from the underlying tissue causing bleeding and bruising.
A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Answer Your Questions
If you have additional questions about your motorcycle accident or your legal rights, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help.
Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer today for additional information about:
- Affording your medical bills;
- Missing time at work;
- When you should expect compensation;
- What to do if a liable party tries to deny responsibility; and
- What to do if an insurance company tries to lower your claim value.