Bagen Law Firm | January 9, 2023 | Motorcycle accident
Motorcycles account for only three percent of all registered vehicles and only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled across the U.S. However, in a recent year, motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 18 percent of all occupant fatalities, and four percent of all occupant injuries.
These accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, no matter how safe a motorcyclist tries to be. One minute you are riding your motorcycle and enjoying the freedom of the open road, and the next, you are on your way to the hospital in an ambulance.
If you own a motorcycle, you know the freedom of the open road and the escape your bike can provide. You also likely know that with this freedom comes the responsibility to drive safely, obey traffic laws, and obtain insurance on your bike. However, even when you do everything right, unfortunately, accidents can still happen.
If you were recently in a motorcycle accident, you might be wondering what steps to take. Should you call a motorcycle accident lawyer? Should you seek medical care if you don’t have symptoms? Should you let the at-fault party’s insurance company handle your claim? You’re not alone; this guide can help you know what to do next.
What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Crash?
The steps you take after a motorcycle crash will significantly impact your health and well-being, as well as your legal rights and financial future. By working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, you can ensure that you protect your interests by taking the proper steps.
Seek Medical Attention
Your potential injuries should be paramount to anything else immediately following a motorcycle accident. Be sure to get the medical attention and treatment you need right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms or feel like you have injuries, you should always seek care from a licensed medical provider after being involved in a motorcycle accident. For example, you could have potentially severe or fatal internal or other injuries that don’t have symptoms immediately.
In addition, follow through with the advice and recommendations of your medical providers. Not only is this best for your health, but it is also best for your legal claim. If you don’t adhere to their instructions, you may unintentionally give the impression that you aren’t as injured as you say you are or aren’t willing to do what it takes to get better.
Gather Important Evidence
If possible, take pictures of your injuries and your motorcycle. Save any torn or bloody clothes you might have or your helmet, riding boots, and gloves. This will all serve as evidence of your accident and injuries.
Keep Detailed Records
Proving your injuries and damages requires a detailed paper trail. Keep your injury and accident records in a specific file or location. Your accident-related medical bills, medical records, and correspondence from insurance companies and your employer related to your time off due to the accident should all remain together. This way, you know where everything is, and records are accessible when you need them. You should also provide copies to your motorcycle accident attorney.
Take a Social Media Break
Limiting whom you talk to about your accident and injuries and what you say is imperative. This includes what you say on your social media accounts. It can be tempting to post about your accident, injuries, and recovery on social media platforms.
It’s an easy way to let all of your friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances know what happened to you and how you are doing, but it can be detrimental to your injury case.
Lawyers for insurance companies often hire people to be social media sleuths. For example, suppose they see a picture of you at your company’s holiday party or on vacation with your family. In that case, they can use it as evidence against the significance of your injuries. Or, if you post about the accident, they can twist your description and use it to claim you caused it. While it can’t be difficult, it’s best just to avoid social media altogether while you have a pending injury claim, as it’s not worth the risk.
Report the Accident to the Insurance Company
Most motorcycle insurance companies require that you report any accidents or claims to them as soon as possible. You should hire an attorney right away who can take care of this for you. People who try to communicate with insurance representatives without a lawyer often fall into traps that hurt their claims.
Of course, their agents will likely seem sympathetic, concerned, and helpful. They may put you at ease, but remember that their goal is to pay a minimum on your claim. You always want to tell the truth about your accident but be mindful of how you describe the circumstances. Often, they will try to blame the accident on your actions to avoid their own liability. Be cautious not to provide information that the insurance company can twist for their own interests. Instead, describe only the facts of the accident. Making additional statements or commentary can work against you.
One common mistake that many motorcycle accident victims make is providing simple yet damaging statements to the insurance company, such as “I am okay.” It’s in your best interest to let your treating medical professionals or attorney communicate information about your injuries since you are likely not a legal or medical expert. If they ask you to sign a release for medical records, be sure to discuss it with your attorney before doing so.
When it comes to injuries, always remember that:
- They can linger, which means you will need to understand their full extent to seek fair compensation in the future.
- You should seek compensation not just for your medical expenses but also for your lost wages, travel expenses to medical appointments, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Settlements for your injuries are final, and you cannot reopen the claim once you accept an offer and sign on the dotted line.
To avoid serious mistakes when communicating with the insurance company, many injured motorcyclists hire a lawyer first who can manage communications with them instead. Should they need to speak directly to the injured party, their lawyer must be present to protect their interests.
Receiving a fair settlement requires someone who understands your motorcycle insurance coverage and your damages. It also requires someone confident and experienced in injury settlement negotiations.
Since most people don’t have the confidence and lack the knowledge and experience to be their own advocates, it’s time to hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can maximize your settlement for you.
Hire a Seasoned Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you do nothing else after your motorcycle accident, hire a motorcycle accident lawyer who will guide you in the dos and don’ts of this often complicated and lengthy process. Your lawyer can assist you in seeking the compensation you need for your injuries. Individuals who hire an attorney to represent them regularly receive more compensation than those who do not, even after they pay their attorney and legal fees.
Insurance companies know they cannot play hardball with experienced injury lawyers, so they often increase their offers. Since most motorcycle accident attorneys offer complimentary consultations, you have nothing to lose by meeting with one to determine your next steps.
Do You Have an Injury Case?
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash that another driver or party caused, you likely have a valid personal injury case. If you aren’t sure if you have a valid legal claim, it’s best to schedule a case evaluation with a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney who can help you make this determination. If you do have a case but don’t receive sound legal advice, you might be leaving money on the table that you could use to pay for your damages.
Generally speaking, personal injury claims, including motorcycle accident ones, have the following elements of negligence that your motorcycle accident attorney can prove:
- Duty: The other driver or another party, such as a government entity, owed you a duty of care, such as yielding the right of way, obeying the speed limit, or ensuring the roads are safely maintained. This is usually the easiest element to prove since laws establish duties of care in many vehicle accident situations.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party failed to uphold their duty or act with reasonable care. If you or your attorney can prove these first two elements, you have established that the at-fault party is to blame for their actions. However, you must go further to prove what they are liable for.
- Injuries: Their breach of duty directly or proximately caused your injuries. You or your attorney must establish that the at-fault party’s actions led to your injuries, which can be surprisingly complex in some cases. For example, if a distracted driver hits a curb, which kicks up a rock, causing another driver to hit you, the distracted driver didn’t directly cause your injuries. Proving this element may require witnesses or expert witnesses to connect their actions to your injuries.
- Damages: You have compensable damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from your injuries. Your attorney will need to prove all the different types of harm you’ve sustained and translate each type into monetary amounts, called damages.
What Compensation Can You Get for a Motorcycle Accident?
When you meet with a skilled motorcycle accident attorney for a consultation, you can discuss how much your case might be worth. The compensation received in a motorcycle accident settlement or court award depends on your specific damages.
Damages represent the losses and inconveniences you sustained due to your injuries. For example, economic damages include property damage, medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages and income.
Non-economic damages are those that don’t have an inherent value; as such, they can be challenging to calculate a value for. They include things like pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The following points are considered in determining the value of non-economic damages:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- Your mental and physical pain and suffering
- If you were kept from taking part in your regular life activities due to your injuries
- Your scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment in your life
- How likely your injuries are to continue to impact your life, and for how long
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Suppose you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident. In that case, discussing the circumstances and your injuries with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney is wise. An experienced attorney can determine if you have a claim worth pursuing under the civil laws of your state.
- Identify who might be liable for your injuries.
- Calculate the damages you deserve.
- Negotiate a full and fair settlement with insurance companies or their attorneys
- If necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Always speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer before agreeing to any settlements with insurance companies. Insurance companies often try to contact victims as soon as possible after an accident. With this strategy, they might get them to settle immediately for much less than their claim is worth. So don’t be fooled by their antics. Discuss your case with an attorney before negotiating with any insurance company.
Selecting the Right Attorney
Hiring the first attorney that comes across your computer screen or the one with a huge billboard by the highway isn’t always beneficial. It helps to consider the law firm or attorney’s reputation. Read reviews and speak to colleagues or clients. Find out how easy they are to get a hold of and how they handle client questions and requests. Ask about their results, especially if you have a significant injury.
You should be confident in the law firm that you choose to represent you. When you research, you can feel assured that you hired the right lawyer for your case. Don’t settle your motorcycle accident claim without scheduling a consultation with a seasoned attorney.