Even the most alert and prudent motorcycle rider can be involved in a collision. Sometimes, even riders who take all the suggested safety precautions cannot avoid an accident. Our goal is to give you the tools you need to remain safe in dangerous situations, gather the evidence you need to in order to pursue an insurance claim or legal action, and emerge from the ordeal with a favorable outcome.
InjuryBoard.com designed this article to help you gather the correct evidence in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Hopefully, you will never have to use this information. However, you cannot control the actions of other riders and drivers on the road and sometimes accidents are inevitable. Thus, we have provided you with a checklist of how to proceed at the scene of a motorcycle accident and what action you should take in the following weeks or months. We have included some helpful information in terms of gathering and preserving the evidence required for future insurance claims or law suits, and we have supplied a guide as to how you can develop effective medical, insurance, and legal plans.
What to do at the Scene of the Accident
Remain Calm – Naturally, you may become emotional after being involved in a motorcycle accident. You may experience an adrenaline rush, anxiety, or pain from an injury. It is extremely important to remain calm in spite of the inevitable chaos surrounding the accident. If you are unable to compose yourself, not only may your anxiety become infectious and frighten others, but there will be little chance that you will be capable of effectively assessing the situation and gathering the evidence you will need in the upcoming weeks. If you feel yourself beginning to panic, try to calm yourself by taking deep breaths.
Assess the Situation -- Before you act, take a brief moment to gather basic information from the scene. Are you or your passengers injured? Are there any dangers present, such as fire, leaking hazardous material (such as gasoline), or oncoming traffic? Take whatever measures are necessary to secure the safety of every person at the scene of the accident.
Establish Communication with Victims and Call Ambulance If Necessary – If someone is injured in the accident, assess the injury and call paramedics if necessary. If you know the techniques, attempt to administer CPR or rescue breathing if the victim so requires. Otherwise, leave the victim’s helmet on, immobilize the injured person, and attempt to keep him or her conscious and reassured until the ambulance arrives. If possible, document personal information about the victim such as full name, date of birth, next of kin’s name and phone number, medical allergies, and physician information. This will help if the victim is unconscious when the paramedics arrive.
Remember that any statement you make after an accident can be used against you in future law suits, so you should be careful to provide accurate information.
- CLICK HERE for detailed information about what to do at the scene
Get Witness and Driver Information – Record the names, phone numbers (business, home, and mobile), and addresses of all accident victims and witnesses. Obtain the insurance information and driver’s license numbers of all accident victims. Also write down detailed information about each vehicle involved in the accident, including model, make, color, and year. Note the license plate number for each vehicle and describe the damage to the vehicle.
Try to Make Sure the Police Report is Accurate – Although some experts disagree as to the importance of the accuracy of the police report, a prudent person will try to verify the report’s accuracy. Police officers can make mistakes, and a police report that slightly veers from the truth may hinder you from efficiently resolving you claims. Get the full name, badge number, and police report number (along with a copy of the report, if possible) from the officer in charge at the scene. If, for some reason, the police report does not accurately reflect your account of the accident, be sure to consult your attorney.
Preserving Evidence after an Accident
Maintain the Condition of Your Motorcycle – Although many motorcycle enthusiasts may be tempted to repair their prized vehicles, it is advisable to refrain from doing so. The condition of your motorcycle may be used as evidence.
Preserve Clothes Worn During the Accident – Rips, tears or stains on clothing material may provide insight into the events that took place during the accident.
Take Pictures of the Scene of the Accident – If you have a built-in camera on your cell phone or access to another camera or recording device, use it to take photos / video of the entire area from varying distances, including all skid marks, street signs, visual obstructions, road abnormalities, and close-up shots of all property damage.
Write a Detailed Account -- As soon as possible after the accident, write a detailed report of what you remember of the event. Include details that you recorded at the scene. Be sure to include the time of day and weather and road conditions at the time of accident in your report. Remember, the longer you wait, the more details you are likely to forget.
Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for tips, brochures, guides, publications, and studies pertaining to motorcycle safety.
KEY STRATEGY – After an accident, a good rule to remember is to maintain the condition of all items and clothing involved in the accident. Make records of all information as quickly as possible following the accident.
Developing Your Plan
Motorcycle accidents may expose you to many agencies, issues, and bureaus you have never encountered. You may have to cooperate with law enforcement officers, deal with insurance companies, speak with physicians and health care providers to address medical problems, and deal with attorneys who may handle your law suit or represent another driver or person injured in the accident. With all these post-accident issues to resolve, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. By developing a sensible plan, you can quickly conquer your problems one step at a time.
Medical – Obviously, you should seek immediate treatment for serious or life-threatening injuries you sustain from a motorcycle accident. After the emergency medical treatment phase, you will likely need to interact with multiple medical professionals for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and insurance purposes. You should initiate the “medical” portion of your post-accident plan prior to the accident. By regularly visiting a trusted physician, you can eliminate the problem of being forced to scramble around to find a doctor after your motorcycle accident. Your regular physician should already have your basic information and medical records, saving you time and stress. If you sustain a serious or specific injury, however, it is advisable to seek treatment from a doctor who specializes in treating patients with your injury.
Insurance – Although we provide information about obtaining proper motorcycle insurance in several other articles on this topic, we cannot emphasize this point enough: It is crucial to have the proper insurance coverage for your motorcycle BEFORE an accident occurs. If you wait until after your accident to obtain the correct amount of insurance, it will be too late. Our experts recommend a Comprehensive Umbrella Coverage that not only covers you, but also protects you from under-insured and uninsured motorists with whom you might have a collision. The policy should provide coverage for at least one million dollars. While this amount may seem extreme, the million dollar policy usually costs only ten to fifteen dollars per month more than you’re already paying for insurance. When you consider property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages, ten or fifteen dollars per month may be a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing that you and your family will be financially stable following a serious accident.
- CLICK HERE - for information about types of motorcycle insurance
- CLICK HERE - for frequently asked questions about motorcycle insurance
- CLICK HERE - for tips and insurance spending guides
Legal – The potential legal issues attached to a motorcycle accident are diverse. They range from merely cooperating at the scene of the accident with law enforcement officers to enduring law suits that may last for years. These law suits can involve other drivers, product manufacturers, or insurance companies.
The more serious the accident, the more likely you will need to involve an attorney. Attorneys are specially trained legal experts who are experienced in dealing with complex medical issues, insurance issues, and questions as to who is at fault for the accident. The attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and explain to you how to proceed.
If you are injured in an accident, it makes sense to be interviewed by an attorney as early as possible. There are several reasons for this strategy. First, it allows you to gather information about your specific questions and circumstances. General information is important and will help you see the “big picture” elements of your accident, but nothing compares to personalized counsel and strategy from a profession.
Next, if you’re considering a lawsuit (or think you might one day), then it makes sense to contact an attorney early in the process. This strategy of early contact has to do with how they are paid. Personal Injury attorneys almost always work on a contingency basis, meaning that they get paid a percentage of your settlement and only if you win your case. The bottom line is that if you ever hire an attorney to represent you or your injured loved one, you will pay the same amount whether you hired them immediately after the accident or waited all the way until trial. Hiring an attorney early in the process allows you to get the most of their fee and them the greatest chance of having the time to prepare and try the case properly.
Finally, no matter how many attorneys you speak to, you are not obligated to hire any of them. Interviewing them is a good way to get answers to your questions and learn what an attorney may be able to offer to your case.
KEY STRATEGY – You can save yourself time and energy by getting your affairs in order and knowing how to proceed before an accident occurs.
Read the next article: Motorcycle Accidents and Medical Issues