Driving a motorcycle is one of the most exciting ways to hit the road. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous.
Should a motorcyclist get into an accident, they would have to act quickly.
By taking specific actions immediately after your accident, you can ensure that you get the help you need and also protect your legal rights.
Interested in learning more? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what to do after a motorcycle accident.
The Risks Associated with Driving a Motorcycle
There are certain risks that are unique to motorcycle riders that both the drivers of motorcycles and those of closed vehicles should be aware of.
Drivers are less likely to see motorcycles because they are smaller, and they can be easily hidden by objects that are on or off the road. This can especially lead to dangerous circumstances at intersections.
There is also no barrier between a motorcycle rider and the road. Motorcycles do not come with seatbelts, airbags, or any kind of border between the rider and the outside.
Motorcycles can also encourage high-risk behavior. Operating sport bikes that are lighter and smaller than standard motorcycles may encourage riders to drive more carelessly.
The Common Causes of a Motorcycle Accident
The majority of motorcycle accidents are head-on collisions. In fact, some cautious riders have even started wearing airbag suits for protection.
Rarely does a closed vehicle hit a motorcycle from behind. The head-on accidents also tend to have much more severe consequences for the motorcyclist.
The most dangerous situation for a motorcycle operator is when closed vehicles are making left-hand turns.
The turning car may very well strike the motorcycle when the motorcycle is attempting to:
- Overtake the car
- Pass the car, or
- Go straight through an intersection.
These are common reasons for accidents that involve all types of vehicles but the motorcycle’s size makes it even more susceptible to this kind of incident.
Cars may also feel more emboldened to cut off motorcyclists, which can be a dangerous move.
Lane splitting is another common cause of motorcycle accidents. This is when a motorcycle is driving between two lanes of slowly moving or halted cars.
Currently, lane splitting is only legal in California but it’s not explicitly prohibited in several other states. It is explicitly illegal in Florida, however.
What to Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident
Now that we have given a background to how motorcycle accidents occur, we will now discuss what to do immediately after one. The initial steps are similar to standard car accidents.
Get off the Road
The very first thing you should do after being involved in a motorcycle accident is to move away from oncoming traffic. You should move yourself and your bike to the side of the road.
This way you can keep yourself safe from moving vehicles and you won’t interfere with traffic, which can lead to another accident.
Call the Police
A motorcycle accident is a serious affair. This is not the time to work it out with the other driver.
Either you or the other driver needs to call the police. The police will help to clear the scene of the accident and make sure that all of the necessary information is gathered.
You should never apologize to the other driver or say the words “I’m sorry.”
Apologizing can be implied as accepting responsibility for the accident and it can completely ruin your chances of bringing about a successful claim or lawsuit.
In fact, you should keep communication with the other party to a minimum. It is best to make sure that everyone is okay and then to wait for the police to arrive.
Check Yourself for Injuries
If you are seriously injured then you should get medical attention immediately. If you or anyone else is hurt, call an ambulance and get to a hospital as soon as you can.
If you do not need to go to a hospital, then you should go ahead and take as many photos as you can.
Take photos of any injury you might have sustained. You also want to take photos of the damage to your motorcycle and the other vehicle. You will also want to get pictures of the accident scene.
All of this can come in handy when you are filing your claim.
Speak With the Police
When the police arrive, you will have the opportunity to give them your side of the story. You want to be as specific and detailed as possible as this information will go into the police report.
You also should make sure that they get all of the details correct. If you believe you were going 50 miles per hour, you should double-check that they got the number right.
Errors in reporting can lead to major problems down the road.
For their report, the police will gather information from you and the other driver. That information includes:
- Contact information including names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses
- Vehicle information including license plate numbers and make and models of the vehicles
- Insurance information
- Contact information for witnesses
You want to make sure that you get the names and badge numbers of the officers on the scene. You will also need to write down the police report number.
Contact Your Insurance Company
You should call your insurance company and explain to them what happened. Give them all of the necessary information and explain your answers succinctly.
You want to be careful though when speaking with an insurance representative. You do not want to assume that they are on your side simply because they are your insurance company.
Be careful to ensure that you do not say anything that can misrepresent the situation or undermine your case. You will need to be just as careful if you end up speaking with the other driver’s insurance company as well.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, retaining the services of a personal injury attorney can be extremely beneficial to you.
The process of filing a lawsuit or a claim can be complicated and confusing. An experienced personal injury attorney is going to help you get the most amount for your damages.
A lawyer can do this because they understand the ins and outs of the legal system.
Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced attorney can look at your case and tell you from the start if it is worth pursuing legal action. It is helpful to know from the beginning if you have a good chance of winning the case so that you don’t end up wasting precious time and resources.
A good attorney also knows how to work with investigators and get evidence that other people may not know how to obtain. The lawyer may also revisit the accident scene, take measurements, survey the road conditions, and recreate the collision by using drawings and other information.
Your lawyer will also be the primary means of communication with the insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for using tricks to get clients to settle right away.
A personal injury attorney, on the other hand, will fight for you to get you everything that you deserve. They know how insurance companies operate and are well versed in how to best communicate.
Visit a Doctor
In the days following the accident, you should visit your primary care physician. Explain the accident to them and have them check every part of you that you feel might have been affected.
Anything that the doctor notices should be documented in your medical records. These will most likely come in handy during your claim.
For many people, the effects of a vehicular accident are not felt until days or even weeks after. This is why it’s so important to visit a doctor even if you feel fine.
As more time passes, it will be harder to prove that the pain you start to experience was from an accident that happened weeks ago. This is especially true if you never went to the doctor.
Understanding Helmet Laws
Helmets are kind of like the seatbelts of motorcycles. They provide a measure of safety and if you weren’t wearing one while in an accident, their absence can hurt your case.
If you were in an accident and suffered from neck or head injuries and were not wearing a helmet, it could be difficult for you to recover from your injuries. This is true even if your state does not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
And if your lack of wearing a helmet at all contributed to the severity of your injuries, you could be found to be “comparatively negligent“. This means that you could be found to be partially responsible for your own injuries.
An insurance adjuster is likely to present an overwhelming variety of documents that show how helmets can greatly reduce head injuries. The burden will then be on you and your legal team to prove that you would have suffered neck or head injuries, whether or not you had worn a helmet.
If the insurance adjuster still believes that wearing a helmet would have reduced the injuries, then they will reduce your compensation accordingly.
Be very careful if is illegal in your state to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. If you happen to sustain a neck or head injury when not wearing one, you are going to have a very hard time recovering damages. The fact that you did not wear a helmet, even though it is the law in your state, establishes that you are comparatively negligent.
However, you might still be able to recover damages for injuries in other areas.
When You Do Wear a Helmet
If you were wearing a helmet during the accident and you still suffered from neck or head injuries, then this could indeed help your claim. Having worn a helmet shows that your injuries were not made any worse due to your own negligence.
It also shows that your injuries could have been much worse and helps to establish just how dangerous the other driver’s actions were.
Florida Helmet Laws
In Florida, the helmet laws are a bit complicated. In one sense, all motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. There are two major exceptions, however.
The first exception is that you do not have to wear a helmet if your bike’s top speed is less than 30 miles per hour, the bike has two horsepower or less, or the engine has a 50 cubic centimeter displacement or less.
The second major exception is that if you are over the age of 21, you do not need to wear a helmet as long as you have an insurance policy that covers $10,000 or more in medical benefits.
The Importance of Knowing What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Immediately following a motorcycle accident, you are likely to feel disoriented, frustrated, angry, and traumatized. In this state, you could very easily do or say things that will undermine your case.
This is why it is so important that you know beforehand what to do after such an accident occurs. It also underscores the importance of having an experienced and objective personal injury attorney on your side.
They can help you navigate the complex process of filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit.
If you were recently in a motorcycle accident and want to learn more, contact us today for a free case evaluation.