Motorcycle accidents are on the rise. Due to cell phone usage while driving, coupled with the national increase in traffic, motorcycle riders have a higher statistical probability of becoming seriously injured or killed in a traffic collision than they did ten years ago. The failure of motor vehicle drivers to see motorcycle riders continues to be the leading cause of motorcycle accidents.
All too often, the motorcyclist is held liable for the accident, even though it was not their fault. The myths and prejudices many have against motorcyclists contribute to these unfair accusations. Motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges on the road as other motorists. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is extremely important that you follow some basic rules beginning at the scene of the accident in order to protect your legal rights.
* Call the police if you can. If you can’t make the call, have someone else do this. Stay at the scene of the motorcycle accident and wait for the police to come and make a full report of your accident. The existence of a police report will strengthen your case. The police will reconstruct the accident by examining all physical evidence at the scene of the accident, and by taking statements of all parties and any witnesses. The existence of a police report can also prevent someone from trying to blame the accident on you at later time. It is not uncommon for the wrongdoer to apologize at the scene of the accident and then later change their story and blame the accident on the motorcyclist.
* If you have not been transported to a hospital via ambulance or otherwise, seek medical attention immediately if you are injured. Obtaining a complete examination from a doctor as soon as possible will serve two purposes. First, the doctor can often detect injuries that you may not have noticed until several days after the accident and will be more easily treated if caught early; and second, a doctor’s examination will automatically create a complete medical record of any injuries you sustain during the accident and will strengthen your case. If you do not seek immediate medical care for your injuries and you unreasonably delay, it will be difficult to relate your injuries back to the motorcycle accident. To be sure, the insurance company will try to blame the cause of your injuries on something other than the motorcycle accident if you wait too long to be seen by a medical provider.
* Get complete information from everyone at the scene of the motorcycle accident. Obtain the name, address, telephone number, email address, driver’s license number and insurance information of all drivers involved in the accident, as well as any emergency personnel and witnesses.
* Do not admit fault or sign any statements without talking to a lawyer first. Be cooperative with the police, other drivers and emergency personnel at the scene of the motorcycle accident, but don’t say anything that can later be used as evidence to prove that you were responsible for an accident that was not your fault.
* Take photographs of your injuries and damage to your motorcycle. The photographs work best as evidence when they are taken at the scene of the motorcycle accident, but they can also be taken after the fact if you are severely injured and need immediate hospitalization. If you are unable to take photographs, ask someone to take them for you.
* Never accept compensation from the at-fault party at the scene of the accident in lieu of making a claim against their insurance company.
* Keep complete records of medical expenses and other costs related to your motorcycle accident, which can later be used as evidence to help you verify these damages.
* Contact your insurance company and report the accident so they can begin processing your claim. Make sure you give this information to your insurance company with an attorney’s assistance at the time you give your statement in order not to prejudice your claim. The insurance company has well trained adjusters and defense lawyers whose number one goal is to pay you as little as possible and even nothing if they can get away with it. If you give them a statement without the assistance of a lawyer, they will view it in the light most favorable to them and try to use it against you when you present your claim.
* If your motorcycle has been towed from the scene of the accident to a location other than your home, contact your insurance company immediately and advise them of the name, address and telephone number of that location. Your insurance company should be advised to get your motorcycle out of storage immediately and take it to a location where it can be safeguarded and not tinkered with. Doing this serves two purposes. First, the motorcycle will not incur unreasonable storage charges, which can later become your responsibility. Second, until liability is established in your favor by the opposing insurance company, the motorcycle should not be inspected by anyone. If the opposing insurance company attempts to blame the accident on you, in whole or in part, preserving the motorcycle in it’s original damaged state will allow an expert to inspect the motorcycle and determine liability issues. If the motorcycle has been tinkered with and/or repaired, it is then “tainted” and the expert may not be able to give an opinion as to any issues whatsoever.
• Contact Susan Handel immediately.
Susan Handel is a lawyer who specializes in serious personal injury accidents, with an emphasis on motorcycle accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Visit her on the web at www.handellaw.com or call Toll Free Nationwide 800.564.1164 for more information.