Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident can save lives and help victims to receive compensation for their injuries.
Motorcycles make up only 3% of vehicles on our California highways, but account for approximately 10% of all traffic related fatalities in the United States. Riding on a bike on the open road puts the driver and his passenger at a serious risk for injury or death.
A motorcyclist is facing a number of scenarios while driving that can lead to a collision. One of the most common are left hand turn accidents, when a motorcycle is struck as a car attempts to turn left at an intersection. While this happens to vehicles, the small size of a bike makes them more vulnerable.
In fact, it is the size of a motorcycle that is responsible for many of the collisions they are involved in. Cars fail to see them and make maneuvers that they would otherwise hold off on if they knew another vehicle was in close proximity. As the rate of distracted driving continues to rise due to the popularity of text messaging, you can expect to see these types of motorcycle accidents occurring with more frequency.
What To Do At the Scene
The moments after being struck by another vehicle are going to be confusing for a motorcyclist. The first thing you will need to do is get to safety immediately. Unlike a collision involving two cars, there is nothing in the road that will immediately alert oncoming traffic to your presence. Leave your bike where it is for now and get yourself out of the path of traffic as fast as you can.
- Check yourself and if applicable, your passenger for injuries. Whether you are hurt or not, call 911. You will want a police report on file for your insurance company. It will also be a vital piece of evidence if you need to recover damages for your bike or any injuries sustained.
- Once it is safe, move the vehicles off of the road and to a safe location. Use flares or warning triangles if the remnants of your collision are a hazard to other drivers.
- Gather as much information as you can from the other driver and any witnesses. This will be difficult if you are hurt. If that is the case use your cell phone to call a family member or friend and have them go to the scene to help you. You can also use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene. Photograph any skid marks, traffic signs and the location of the damage on both of the vehicles. If they have not yet been moved, take a picture of their position as well.
- Get as many witness statements as possible, or at the very least their name and contact information. You will need to get their version of events as soon after the collision as possible before the memory of what happened fades.
- Beyond getting contact and insurance information, avoid talking to the other driver or any of their passengers. Especially don't admit fault, even if just to say that you are sorry. The cause of the collision has yet to be determined, but your comments immediately following it could have serious consequences later if you have cause to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- How well you are able to gather any information will of course be dependent on how seriously you have been hurt. Don't put your health and safety in further jeopardy, you should seek medical help immediately if you have been seriously hurt and worry about the details of the collision later.
What to Do Afterwards
- Even if you feel alright, you should still get checked in an emergency room after a motorcycle crash. Some injuries do not always present themselves immediately, but experienced emergency room physicians know what to look for.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer who has specialized experience with California motorcycle accidents. These are vastly different from a car accident claim and require special attention that only a lawyer with prior experience will be able to provide.
- Do not speak with any insurance adjustors. Beyond filing the paperwork for a collision required by your insurance company, you should direct any further inquiries to your attorney. Especially those coming from the opposing driver's insurance company. As nice as the adjustor may seem, and interested in your recovery, their main objective is to find a way to apply fault to you. Any comment you make about the collision and your recovery will be noted and used against you if possible.
- Keep an accurate account of any medical expenses that result from the motorcycle accident. If you do file an accident claim, you are going to need an accurate record of your monetary damages, illustrated with receipts. Don't forget about prescription medications and out-patient visits.
- If you miss any time off from work recuperating from a motorcycle accident you will want a record of this as well. Ask your employer for a detailed statement outlining the wages lost for your missed work.
- Before you begin to make any repairs on your bike, make sure that all of the damage has been duly recorded. Also make sure that you keep all of the receipts and estimates associated with its repair.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Expenses
Whether or not you have cause to file a personal injury claim against the other driver will be dependent on the events leading up to the collision. California laws allow for comparative liability, so even if you were partially at fault for the accident you can still recover damages.
For example, an accident investigation reveals that you were driving 10 mph over the posted speed limit when the other driver struck you. You may still receive compensation if you can prove that the other driver was negligent by not checking carefully for oncoming traffic before making a left-hand turn. The percentage of fault will be either be decided during negotiations or by a jury if the case goes to trial.
Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident is critical if you have any hope of receiving compensation. Put your health and recovery first, but as soon as possible speak with a motorcycle accident attorney about the details of your case and your options. Having an attorney to take care of the accident details for you allows you the time and space needed to fully recover.
Those in need of a motorcycle accident case evaluation in Southern California are encourage to contact our law firm at (800) 838-6644 today to obtain a no obligation case evaluation from a skilled attorney with no obligation to retain our services.