No matter how safely you drive and how many precautions you take while on the road, there’s always the chance that you’re involved in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of other drivers.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were about 83,000 motorcyclist injuries and 5,579 fatalities in 2020 alone. Bikers need to know what to do after a motorcycle accident to comply with the law, avoid liability, and get the compensation they deserve to pay for their medical bills and other damages.
From what to do at the scene of an accident to how to file a lawsuit, we've provided a step-by-step guide on what you need to do after a motorcycle accident.
What To Do at the Scene of a Motorcycle Accident
No one expects motorcycle accidents to happen, but unfortunately, they do. Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident is essential for riders to protect their rights and ensure everyone involved is cared for. While at the accident scene, you should take the following steps to ensure everyone’s safety and begin building your case.
Stop and move to safety
The law requires the driver of any vehicle, including a motorcycle, to immediately stop after an accident that involves any property damage, injury, or fatality.
If your motorcycle is still operable, you should move somewhere nearby to remain near the scene of the accident without stopping traffic. If your bike isn’t operable, leave it and move somewhere safe.
Don’t remove your gear
Most motorcycle riders wear a helmet and other protective gear while on the road to protect against injuries. After an accident, take care not to remove any of your protective gear.
Removing your helmet, for example, could exacerbate neck or spinal injuries that you sustained after the accident. While you may not notice these injuries at first due to adrenaline, that doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Check for injuries
Once you are safe, you should check for injuries on yourself, your passenger, and the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. Even minor accidents can result in significant injuries, so take the time to make sure everyone is okay.
If there are any injuries, prioritize seeking medical attention for the injured parties as soon as possible. Delaying medical attention could result in the worsening of injuries.
Call emergency services
You should call 911 immediately and request an ambulance if there are any injuries.
Even if there are no injuries, you should still call the police as, in some cases, you’ll need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company. Notify the police of any injuries and tell them your name and the location of the accident.
When talking to the police, do not admit fault or negligence. It’s common for people to apologize for the accident or admit wrongdoing, even in situations where they weren’t at fault. Doing so could hurt your chances of receiving compensation for your damages, especially if you plan to take your case to court.
The police will likely ask you for your version of the events that led to the accident. Be sure to tell the truth and explain exactly what happened to the best of your ability.
After a motorcycle accident, you must gather evidence as soon as possible to ensure you document it before it is altered.
One of the best ways to support your claim is to take pictures and videos of the accident scene from multiple angles. Take pictures of vehicle damages, skid marks, and other physical evidence that can support your claim.
You should also take the time to collect the names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. Additionally, write down the license plate numbers and vehicle registration numbers of the vehicles involved.
If witnesses are nearby, ask them for their contact information. This may come in handy if you need to file a lawsuit at a future date.
Call your insurance company
While still at the scene of the accident, you should call your insurance company after gathering all details related to the accident.
Answer your insurance company's questions and provide them with the details you collected. Most insurance companies require full and immediate cooperation, so delaying your report or providing inaccurate information could lead to your insurance provider rejecting your claim.
What To Do After Leaving the Scene of a Motorcycle Accident
Knowing how to proceed after leaving the scene of a motorcycle accident will help ensure that you receive compensation for all of your damages and get the treatment you need to recover from your injuries.
Here are some of the most important steps you should take in the days and weeks following a motorcycle accident.
Seek medical attention
If you did not require immediate medical attention at the motorcycle accident scene, you should still seek treatment as soon as possible.
Not all injuries are immediately apparent; if your injuries go undetected, they could worsen over time, turning a minor injury into a major one. You should also ask the doctor to note the date and time you visited, as this will help in your insurance claim process.
Seeking medical treatment after an accident will create a record of your injuries and the cost of treatment, which will be important for your insurance claim and a lawsuit, should you choose to file one against the other party involved in the accident.
If you were taken to the hospital immediately after the accident due to suffering serious injuries, you should tell your doctor and care team exactly what happened during the accident and where you feel pain. This can make it easier for them to determine your injuries and treat them effectively.
The police and your insurance company may contact you to provide a statement after receiving treatment. Recount your version of the events as accurately as possible, and ensure to answer all questions truthfully.
Your insurance company may arrange to have your motorcycle towed to a repair shop if it has been totaled. However, if it is still operable, you should take it to a body shop to check for external and internal damages. Like injuries, vehicle damages aren’t always immediately noticeable.
If there are any damages, report them to your insurance company and keep copies of receipts for repair costs so that you can get reimbursement.
Consult an attorney
If you suffered a serious injury and other damages after a motorcycle accident, you should consider consulting an attorney to evaluate your options for pursuing compensation.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages related to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
An attorney can also provide guidance when communicating with your insurance company to increase your claim's chances of success.
While going through the claims process, you should continue to keep up-to-date records of your personal injuries, recovery timeline, medical bills, and emotional state. It may be a good idea to document how your injuries are affecting your personal life in a journal. Make sure to note any emotional distress, daily pain and discomfort, and inconveniences that you endure due to your injuries.
These records can help support your insurance claims and your case if you pursue a civil lawsuit.
To ensure you receive compensation for your medical bills, you must continue pursuing treatment according to your doctor’s instructions.
Make sure to attend any follow-up appointments with specialists and physical therapy sessions. Not only will continuing your treatments help you recover more quickly, but it will also serve to support your claims when arguing in court about the severity of your injuries and their impact on your daily life.
How to Start a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
After a minor motorcycle accident, insurance payouts may be enough to pay for all of your damages, especially if you haven’t sustained any injuries that prevent you from working or carrying out your daily responsibilities.
But suppose you sustain a severe injury after a collision, you may be entitled to more damages to help you cover medical bills, lost wages, reduced future earnings capacity, and pain and suffering. In these cases, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve.
Here are the steps you can take to start a motorcycle accident lawsuit after suffering extreme damages due to someone else’s negligence.
Hire an attorney
Before doing anything else, you need to hire an attorney to start a motorcycle accident lawsuit. You should consult multiple attorneys to discuss their rates, experience, and any other information you need to decide whether or not to hire them.
Your attorney will guide you through the lawsuit process, from gathering evidence and filing a complaint to negotiating settlements and going to trial. Be sure to hire a lawyer that you trust and who has a positive reputation.
The success of your personal injury case will hinge on your ability to establish the other party’s negligence.
Your attorney will start by interviewing you about the accident, and you should answer all of your lawyer’s questions honestly.
You should also provide your lawyer with your medical records and any evidence you collected from the accident scene. These documents will help your attorney understand the extent of your injuries and how strong your case is.
The attorney will also likely want to investigate your case in-depth by conducting interviews with witnesses, reviewing police reports, and talking to experts, including doctors, mechanics, and engineers.
Negotiate a settlement
Before filing a lawsuit, your attorney will likely attempt to negotiate a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company. Coming to a settlement agreement will allow you to get compensation for your damages without going to court, which is often a preferable outcome.
Settlement negotiations can often be very intense, making it important to have an experienced attorney on your side to handle this process on your behalf.
File a complaint
If negotiation attempts are unsuccessful, your lawyer will formally file a lawsuit. This starts with filing a complaint, which is a document that includes your allegations, the damages you’re claiming, and the legal basis for these claims.
Serve the complaint
The United States legal system requires plaintiffs to notify the defendant of a lawsuit that they are the subject of a legal proceeding.
To comply with this requirement, you need to serve the complaint to the defendant. There are varying rules for serving a defendant depending on the jurisdiction, including who may serve the defendant, how to serve the defendant, and how long the defendant has to respond. Your attorney will help you understand how your jurisdiction’s rules apply to your case.
After serving the court summons to the defendant, they will need to file an answer and either admit or deny the allegations. The defendant can also set forth their legal defense when filing an answer.
Discovery is a formal process during which both parties exchange information about the lawsuit. This includes information that may lead to the discovery of relevant evidence. Your attorney may request that the other side produce documents and answer written questions (called interrogatories). Depositions also take place during the discovery process.
This phase allows both parties to get a more comprehensive overview of the incident so that they can plan cases. Your attorney will start building an argument based on information that is uncovered during this phase.
Second attempt at settlement negotiations
Before going to trial, there may be another attempt at settlement negotiations. All trials come with risks for both sides, so unless one side feels very strongly about their case, a settlement is often preferable over going to trial.
A mediator may be brought in to help facilitate negotiations. If a settlement agreement is not possible, the lawsuit will go to trial.
Go to trial
Once the case goes to trial, both sides can present their cases. In a typical trial, both sides will give an opening statement, the plaintiff will present evidence, the defendant will present its defense, and both sides will cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.
Before the trial concludes, both sides will present a closing statement to solidify their case. The jury will then deliberate and deliver a verdict. If the verdict is in your favor, the defendant must pay you an award based on your total damages.
Legal Resources for Victims of Motorcycle Accidents
If you’ve suffered a serious injury after a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should start taking steps to recover damages and start the road to recovery.
To help you understand your legal options, here are a few helpful online resources for personal injury victims.
The American Bar Association (ABA)
The ABA provides a wealth of resources to help the public understand their rights and learn more about different areas of law, including personal injury law.
Motorcycle accident victims can find information about personal injury claims, what happens in a personal injury lawsuit, personal injury statutes of limitations, and other important information about personal injury cases.
Free Legal Answers
Free Legal Answers is a virtual legal advice clinic created by the ABA to help individuals get answers to their legal questions.
You can post a question on your state’s page at no cost and receive an answer from a pro bono attorney that is licensed in your state. After receiving a reply, you can ask follow-up questions for more information.
Insurance Information Institute (III)
The III provides information to help people understand more about insurance and motor vehicle laws. The website provides objective, fact-based information about insurance.
Motorcycle accident victims can visit the website to learn more about car accident laws, liability, and topics like no-fault insurance, which can help them better understand whether or not they may have grounds to file a lawsuit after a motorcycle accident.
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