If you asked the average motorcycle owner why they choose to forego the relative safety of a vehicle that surrounds them in a steel cage and is equipped with seatbelts, airbags and other safety features to ride what is essentially a seat mounted atop an engine, you’d be surprised at the answers. People ride to experience the exhilaration and fun of being out on an open road with the ability to see and hear everything around them. From a more practical point of view, motorcycles are generally more affordable to buy and operate than other types of motor vehicles.
Of course, ask that same question of a personal injury attorney, and you may learn that motorcycles, which make up only 3% of all registered vehicles, account for 14% of all fatal traffic accidents. This is not to say that you should give up riding and sell your motorcycle.
Wearing a helmet and jeans to protect your head and legs, enrolling in a course to learn how to properly ride and control a motorcycle, and being aware of the dangers posed by other drivers can go a long way toward keeping you safe while enjoying the pleasures of motorcycle riding. If you become the victim of another driver’s negligence, here is how to strengthen and pursue a motorcycle accident claim.
When an Accident Happens, Call the Police
If you or someone riding with you is injured in an accident, call 911 and report it. Call the police even when the only harm done was to your motorcycle.
When police respond to a traffic accident, they gather information that may be useful as evidence to prove your claim for damages. The accident report that police prepare from the information they gather at the scene typically includes the following:
- Names and contact information of all drivers and other parties involved in the accident.
- Names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Vehicle information, including make, model and registration information for all vehicles involved in the crash.
- Statements from witnesses and accident participants.
- Diagram of the position of the vehicles when police arrived, including a description and location of damage each incurred.
- Names and contact information of police, fire, and emergency medical personnel at the scene.
- Police at the scene will tell you when and where a copy of their accident report will be available to you and your personal injury attorney.
Document the Accident Scene With Photographs and Video
The position of your motorcycle in relation to other vehicles involved in an accident may be critical to proving that another motorist was at fault, but accident scenes change as soon as tow trucks arrive. Preserve the scene by using the camera on your phone to take photos and video of the scene from all angles, including the following:
- Position of all vehicles involved in the crash.
- The condition of each vehicle including visible damage.
- Debris, including vehicle parts, on the ground.
- Tire and skid marks on the ground.
- Traffic control devices, including stop signs and traffic lights.
- Painted road markings, including lane markings.
- Buildings, street lights and other structures in the immediate vicinity of the accident.
Photos or video of the buildings and other structures in the immediate area may reveal the presence of surveillance or traffic cameras that may have recorded the accident as it was taking place.
Immediately Seek a Medical Evaluation and Treatment
Even if you do not believe that your injuries are serious and require medical care, a physical examination and diagnosis by a physician is essential to the success of your claim for compensation. If you delay seeing a doctor, you increase the likelihood that the insurance company or defense lawyer for the person who was at fault will claim that your injuries were caused by something that happened subsequent to the accident.
It is important to follow any treatment plan, including taking prescribed medications and following physical therapy recommendations made by the doctors who are treating you. Failing to follow a treatment plan may cast doubt on the severity of the injuries.
Equally essential to the success of your claim for damages is going to your doctors when your medical condition worsens. Your medical records are crucial to proving the relationship between the accident and your physical and mental health, so getting any decline in your medical condition noted by your medical providers is evidence that can only add to the strength of your claim.
Gather and Preserve Evidence
The clothing and helmets worn by you and a passenger should be preserved for use as evidence to support your claim for damages. For example, damage to the helmet that you wore during a crash may be useful in proving the cause of a head injury.
Do not repair damage to your motorcycle without first talking to your attorney. The damage to your motorcycle may be evidence to prove elements of your claim against the person at fault in causing the accident.
For example, if a driver denies bumping into the rear of your motorcycle when you were stopped at a red light, it could be your word against the other person.
However, the damage to your motorcycle, including paint from the other car, can be used as evidence to support your version of the event.
Get Advice and Representation From a Personal Injury Attorney
A motorcycle accident may prevent you from working and earning a living while receiving medical care and attempting to recover from your injuries. The last thing you need to be doing is taking calls from claims adjusters and investigators for the insurance company handling the claim for the person whose negligence caused you to be injured.
An experienced personal injury attorney is committed to looking out for you. The attorney knows the law and what it takes to build and present a strong claim for damages and aggressively fight while giving you the time that you need to rest and focus on recovering from your injuries.
If you need financial assistance to replace lost earnings while awaiting the settlement of your motorcycle claim, a lawsuit loan is an option to explore. The attorney handling your motorcycle claim can advise you about the terms a lawsuit funding company offers.
If you have the misfortune of being in a motorcycle accident, following the steps outlined for you in this article protects your right to seek compensation from the person whose negligence caused it. What you say and do in the minutes and hours after a motorcycle crash can affect whether you recover the maximum compensation allowed under the law.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Content Marketing Manager
Steve Howards has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the personal injury attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.