You just suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault. Now, what do you do? This page outlines the critical steps you should take after a motorcycle accident.
Read on to learn how you can take action to protect your rights and interests after someone else’s wrongdoing injured you in a crash.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
By now, you are probably at home recovering from your injuries after receiving an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment protocol from a medical professional. It is essential that you follow your doctor’s instructions thoroughly and consistently. First, your doctor possesses the requisite knowledge and experience to know precisely how to treat your condition. Following their instructions improves your chances of healing properly and avoiding further complications.
Second, failure to follow your doctor’s instructions could jeopardize your chances of recovering compensation. The insurance company will use any deviation from your treatment protocol as evidence that you’re not as hurt as you claim or deserve partial blame for your poor physical condition.
Therefore, always listen to your doctor and follow their instructions. Schedule a follow-up visit if you have questions or concerns about something your doctor instructed you to do.
Build an Evidence Record
After a motorcycle accident, begin building an evidence record immediately. Evidence is essential to proving fault in motorcycle accident cases, and some evidence can be hard or impossible to capture if you wait too long to collect it.
After a motorcycle accident, hire a lawyer to collect evidence for you:
- Photos and videos. You probably already snapped a few pictures of the accident scene and the damage to your motorcycle at the time of the accident. Take pictures of your injuries and their progress, too. You may want to return to the accident scene to look for surveillance cameras at nearby businesses, residences, or traffic lights. Surveillance camera footage could be extremely compelling evidence if it captured the accident as it occurred.
- Witness statements. Contact eyewitnesses who observed the accident and ask them to provide a statement about what they saw.
- Police report. If a police officer did not respond to the accident scene and make a crash report, call the police to report the accident. The police officer’s crash report will include important details about the accident, including all parties’ names and contact information.
- Medical records. Retain all medical records related to treating your injuries.
- Bills and pay statements. Gather any record documenting a cost or expense related to the motorcycle accident. For example, keep the invoice if you paid for motorcycle repairs after the accident. If you missed work due to your injuries, keep your pay statements showing your loss of income.
If the thought of collecting evidence while recovering from your injuries stresses you out, do not worry. A personal injury lawyer can gather critical evidence in your case. Personal injury attorneys are highly experienced investigators who know where and how to look for important, case-making evidence.
Stay off Social Media
According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans who use Facebook do so daily. Similarly, 59 percent of users of Snapchat and Instagram utilize those platforms daily.
If you are one of these Americans who frequently uses social media, you should stay off your accounts while recovering from a motorcycle accident. What you post on social media could turn into evidence against you. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys scour social media, looking for posts that could contradict your claims of injuries and accident-related losses. Even an innocent picture of you smiling at a family gathering while doing no activities yourself could become evidence that you were not as injured as you said.
To be safe, stay off social media while you are recovering from a motorcycle accident.
Do Not Accept Blame
After a motorcycle accident, it is important to avoid accepting blame. Many people impulsively apologize when upsetting situations occur, either to comfort another person or to avoid conflict. Whether you know you are not at fault or think you may be partially to blame, do not apologize or accept responsibility for the accident. An insurance adjuster could use even the simple act of saying, “I’m sorry,” to a person injured in the crash as an admission of your guilt.
Fault is a complex matter. Many factors can help determine fault, including driver attentiveness, road conditions, inclement weather, and vehicle conditions. Immediately following a motorcycle accident, you may not fully understand all the factors that contributed to the accident. You need to investigate the case before you know conclusively who or what is responsible for the crash.
Therefore, admitting fault before fully understanding the situation could harm your ability to receive compensation.
You can check on the health and safety of other drivers and passengers involved in the accident as long as you do not, under any circumstances, accept blame or apologize.
Watch out for Insurance Companies
If you receive a call from an insurance company, do not talk to them. Instead, refer them to your attorney. It does not matter how nice the insurance adjuster seems or how concerned they say they are about your condition. The insurance company is not your friend. Rather, insurance companies are for-profit entities that aim to maximize their bottom line by diminishing claim payouts to accident victims. That means they will look for any reason to deny your claim after a motorcycle accident, including manipulating you when you are vulnerable.
That friendly agent who called you is actually trying to get you to say something they can use against you to deny your claim. In another tactic often deployed, insurance agents often pressure accident victims to accept an early settlement offer before fully understanding the extent of their injuries and accident-related losses.
If the thought of dealing with insurance companies worries you, a motorcycle accident attorney can handle all those interactions on your behalf. Personal injury lawyers know the insurance company’s playbook and are highly effective at negotiating maximum settlements.
Remember Your Rights
As a motorcycle rider, you have the same rights as every other driver to enjoy the road safely. Unfortunately, too many people harbor biases toward motorcycle riders, including police officers and insurance agents. Some of them might have bought into the media’s representation of motorcyclists as dangerous dare-devils who drive too fast and take too many risks. These biased individuals may blame a motorcyclist for getting into an accident and suffering injuries, even when another driver is clearly at fault.
You may find difficulty overcoming biases against motorcycle riders without the assistance of a motorcycle accident lawyer. Personal injury attorneys who handle motorcycle cases dedicate their careers to protecting their clients’ rights.
If you experienced an accident while riding your motorcycle that was not your fault, you have the right to pursue the at-fault driver for compensation.
Hire a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this list of critical steps to take after a motorcycle accident, hire an attorney. This type of attorney represents accident victims who suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence. They can handle your case while you focus on your recovery.
Look for the following attributes in an excellent motorcycle accident attorney:
Do Not Delay
After a motorcycle accident, you may need a few days to seek medical attention, get some rest, and calm your nerves. But do not wait too long before taking action to protect your rights. Florida law sets a four-year deadline for legal action against a negligent driver.
While you might think four years is plenty of time, legal cases take longer than you think to prepare. If you delay too long, you lose the upper hand in negotiations with the insurance companies. As your window of opportunity to file a lawsuit narrows, the insurance company will have little incentive to offer a generous settlement. However, if you take swift action, the insurance company may attempt to avoid several years of litigation and make an appropriate and fair settlement offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the questions motorcycle accident victims frequently ask us that might be helpful as you consider what to do after a crash.
What if the Other Driver Blames Me?
If the other driver blames you for the motorcycle accident, you may encounter challenges in recovering full compensation for your accident-related losses without the assistance of a lawyer. In Florida, multiple entities can share fault for an accident, and each at-fault injured party could receive diminished compensation as a result. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can fight for your right to maximum compensation.
What if I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
The fact that you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident did not give the other driver permission to hit you. That was their fault, and you should not have to suffer financially because of their negligence. However, not wearing a helmet could complicate your case. Insurance companies will almost certainly try to use this fact against you. You may find it difficult to recover sufficient compensation without the assistance of an experienced, aggressive attorney.
How Much Money Is My Case Worth?
The value of your case will depend on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and the extent of your losses. To understand how much compensation you might recover, consult a motorcycle accident attorney.
An attorney can assess the value of your case by quantifying your accident-related losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Loss of future income due to long-term disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
What if the Driver Has No Insurance?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida ranks sixth among all states for the highest percentage of uninsured drivers at 20 percent. Therefore, there is a one in five chance that the driver who hit you has no insurance.
If your insurance policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. However, without the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, recovering compensation from an uninsured or underinsured driver can present many overwhelming challenges.
You should explore your legal options with an experienced personal injury lawyer. One option may be to explore other parties that could be liable for the accident.
For example, you may find that negligence by one of the following entities also contributed to the accident:
- Another driver (besides the uninsured one)
- Your motorcycle’s manufacturer
- A car manufacturer
- A mechanic
- A government agency
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer?
You should consult a personal injury attorney before accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer, especially if it’s only been a few days since the accident occurred. The full extent of your injuries and financial losses may take several weeks or months to become evident. If you accept a settlement too soon, you may leave significant compensation on the table—compensation you may desperately need during a prolonged recovery.
Am I Alone?
No. You’re never alone after a motorcycle accident.
For one thing, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 8,649 motorcycle crashes occurred in the state during one recent year, resulting in 5,406 injuries. In Miami-Dade County alone, 1,197 motorcycle crashes resulted in 912 injuries. That’s approximately three crashes occurring every day.
For another, a motorcycle accident lawyer near you can take the burden of seeking compensation off you, and with a successful claim, provide the financial security you need to treat your injuries and recover as much as possible.
Protect Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident
If you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, you should take immediate action to protect your rights and interests. After seeing the doctor and arriving home to rest and recover, follow the steps outlined on this page. If you feel too overwhelmed by these instructions, get help. Legal cases present many challenges that a personal injury lawyer can overcome. You can get through this with the right approach and support.