What you do right after a motorcycle accident can be crucial to the results of a subsequent claim for compensation and future litigation. In the moments following the accident, the first priority is to get medical help for the victims. In most cases, witnesses at the scene, not the victims, are the first to call 911, with some of those witnesses remaining on the scene. Other witnesses may just make the call to 911 and continue driving past the accident.
If you are a motorcycle victim, and you are in the roadway but still able to move, get to the side of the road to avoid being struck again. Try to assess your health, including any bleeding, bones out of place (shoulder, knee, or elbow), or other obvious injuries. If you suffer from a serious injury, you will be taken from the scene in an ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
Other important steps after a motorcycle accident include:
Identifying Potential Witnesses
Many times, the driver of the other car involved in the accident will own up to their responsibility at the scene but will later deny they were at fault. Even worse, the investigating law enforcement officers may not document any identifying information about the witnesses. As a result, if you file a lawsuit, there will be no one to support your side of the story. In this situation, the outcome of a lawsuit can rest on which driver a jury chooses to believe.
The best way to avoid this situation is to gather information about the witnesses yourself while you’re still at the scene. When possible, get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident so this information is not lost over time. You may also get the name, badge number, and agency of the investigating law enforcement officer(s). Lastly, try to get contact and insurance information for the drivers involved in your collision.
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Taking Photographs of the Scene, the Damaged Motorcycle, and Any Other Automobiles Involved
In this situation, the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely applies. Memories fade over time, but photographs do not. If you can take any photographs before the vehicles involved in the accident are moved, do so. Also, take photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved. This will help in piecing together the events that led up to the accident.
Be cognizant of the fact that you always need to be respectful to law enforcement officers on the scene. Let them do their job as they secure the area and conduct their investigation.
Trying Not to Speak Too Much
It is common for those involved in an accident to have an “adrenaline rush,” which enters the bloodstream and makes it possible for them to function, even with serious wounds. This may happen to you.
Not only does this “adrenaline rush” mask the pain of your injuries, but it can also make you overly stimulated and talkative. Adrenaline rush aside, you may have a natural instinct to apologize—whether or not you caused the accident. Don’t. As a victim, try to avoid chatting about the accident to anyone in the area. What you say could later be used or misconstrued to reduce your claim for damages by the insurance company.
Getting Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
The adrenaline rush can also mask injuries and pain. After the adrenaline wears off, you may notice neck, back, joint pain, and other injuries. If you did not get transported to the hospital from the accident scene, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. If you don’t, the other side may claim you were not really injured in the accident.
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Notifying Your Insurance Company As Soon As Possible
Not all motorcycle owners have insurance. If you do, it is important to notify your insurance company of your accident. If you do not notify your insurance company, it may try to deny your claim. It’s also important to notify your insurance company so it can explain your options for getting your motorcycle fixed. If your insurance company wants to take a recorded statement, you may be required to do so. However, you do not have to give a recorded statement immediately. You may tell an insurer that you are not feeling up to giving a statement at the moment, and you will schedule it in the future. This will give you time to consult a lawyer and prepare yourself to answer all their questions.
You do not need to speak to insurance companies for other parties involved in the accident unless you want the other party’s insurance company to cover certain losses. Even then, you should not give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first.
How Do You Make a Claim for Your Injuries?
In order to make a claim for your injuries, you generally have to be evaluated by a healthcare professional and follow their advice. You also have to treat your injuries until your doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Each case is different. Insurance companies may cover your accident-related medical care. Whether for insurance, disability benefits, or other processes, it may take time to prove the extent of your injuries and required medical care.
You may need treatment from your doctor for as long as four to six months before your doctor is ready to diagnose all of your injuries, though this timeline may vary. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your doctor will be in a position to predict what medical care you will need in the future.
Such information can be used to make sure you are compensated for all of the medical care you have received in the past, all of the medical care you will need in the future, all of your lost wages in the past and in the future, and any pain and suffering you have experienced.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
You do not technically need a lawyer to make a claim after your motorcycle accident. However, it may benefit you to hire an attorney. A motorcycle accident attorney with years of experience handling these types of claims could be especially helpful. That experience may make the legal process smoother.
Furthermore, it’s time-consuming and stressful to handle a claim on your own. Hiring an attorney may free up your time, reduce your stress, and maximize your recovery. You should be focused on healing from your injuries, not gathering medical records, making sure you’re going to the right doctor, and arguing with insurance company adjusters.
What Should You Seek When Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
When you’re looking for a motorcycle accident lawyer, you may balance objective criteria with your own instincts. On the objective side, you may want an attorney who:
- Works for an established law firm
- Has handled motorcycle accident cases
- Has won judgments and negotiated settlements for motorcycle accident victims
- Has positive reviews from former clients
- Is licensed to practice in your area
- Will pay the upfront costs of your case
Case results and client reviews are particularly important. These are details that every law firm should be able to provide to you. You can compare these results between different firms, providing a clear record of success (or lack thereof).
You may also choose a law firm based on feel. Use your instincts, as you want a law firm that is truly a good fit for you. Free consultations are a prime opportunity to interact with law firms. As you go through your consultations, you may ask yourself:
- Does this firm seem like it cares about my case?
- Is this firm answering my questions directly, or do they seem evasive?
- Will this firm provide my attorney’s direct phone number?
- Do I feel comfortable and confident when I interact with this firm?
What All Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Do?
A motorcycle accident lawyer will lead your case. Though each motorcycle accident victim has different needs, a lawyer will generally:
Establish liability for the accident: Your lawyer will identify those with liability for your accident. Such parties may have been negligent and may cover all your collision-related damages.
Help you make a course of action: Among other decisions, you’ll need to decide whether to file a lawsuit against liable parties. Each decision has benefits and drawbacks, and your lawyer will walk you through your options.
Pursue a fair financial recovery: Whether through an insurance claim, settlement negotiations, or a trial, your attorney will pursue the financial recovery you’re entitled to.
Protect you from harm: Motorcycle accident victims suffer enough. Your lawyer will protect you from exploitation, ensuring you don’t suffer even further harm. Insurance companies and other attorneys are not on your side. Your lawyer will stand between you and these potentially harmful parties.
When deciding whether to hire a lawyer, you may also ask: what do I have to lose? If you handle your case on your own, then you may risk your health and financial recovery.
By handling your case on your own, you’ll be directly exposed to those who would like to reduce, or even eliminate, your financial recovery. You may also face significant stress because of your case. When you hire our lawyer, you choose to avoid such risks.
There is also no financial risk in hiring an attorney from our firm. Our motorcycle accident lawyers receive no upfront fee, and we only get a fee if we secure compensation for you. Payment never comes out of your own pocket.
Motorcycle Riding Can Be Fatal, So Always Think About Safety
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows motorcycle deaths account for 5 percent of all highway fatalities each year, even though only 2 percent of registered vehicles in the U.S. are motorcycles. Serious injury or death occurs in almost 80 percent of motorcycle accidents. Fifty-five percent of motorcyclists, who were killed, died in a multivehicle crash. Speeding, riding under the influence, and weaving in and out of traffic all contribute to the number of motorcycle accidents each year.
Motorcycles are fun to drive and fuel-efficient, but anyone who drives one understands the risks they’re taking each time they go for a ride. In fact, about 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in an injury or death for the motorcyclist. The simple reason for this is that there is very little protection for motorcyclists. Outside of special clothing and a helmet, there isn’t a barrier between the motorcyclist and the other vehicle involved. Being thrown from the motorcycle is almost a guarantee for most accidents, and this significantly increases the risk for injury.
Every motorcyclist should keep the following safety tips in mind at all times:
- Wear the Right Gear: A helmet is by far the most important safety equipment for motorcyclists. Other gear that should be worn when riding includes a jacket, face shield, boots, gloves, and goggles.
- Use Your Best Judgment: Before purchasing a motorcycle, know your limits. Don’t buy a bike that has too much power and is difficult to control. And always ride at a pace and in traffic that makes you feel comfortable.
- Attend a Training Course: Regardless of your riding experience, it never hurts to hone your skills. There are motorcycle safety courses available for riders of all levels.
- Keep Your Distance: Too many motorcyclists don’t allow enough space between them and the vehicle in front of them. Tailgating will significantly increase your risk of being in an accident.
- Be Defensive: As the smallest vehicle on the road, it is a big responsibility to look out for other drivers. Do your best to avoid a vehicle’s blind spot and only change lanes when necessary. It’s also important to use turn signals well in advance because it’s a great way to communicate your intentions with other vehicles on the road.
- Avoid Bad Weather: Motorcyclists should do their best not to drive during rainy weather. You should always check the day’s forecast before riding a motorcycle.
- Limit Distractions: Motorcyclists should avoid using their phones or eating while driving at all times as it is crucial to keep both hands on the handlebars.
Motorcycle accidents are a common occurrence, but keeping these safety tips in mind should help reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. Should you get injured in an accident and sustain injuries, contact the Tampa motorcycle accident lawyers at Distasio Law Firm.