By Motorcycle Attorneys Russ Brown and Chuck Koro
In past articles, we have discussed the important issues that you should be aware of if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a motorcycle accident. Here’s a quick checklist.
The most important thing is the health of the involved parties. Make sure medical personnel are summoned to the scene of the motorcycle accident or seek treatment as soon as practical if there is even a remote chance that you sustained injuries. Some injuries are not obvious and a precautionary examination may be advisable.
Summon the police to document the events and party and witness statements. They may refuse to respond if no injuries are evident. In either case, make sure you get all license, vehicle and insurance information from the other party.
The events of the motorcycle accident cannot be reversed. There is no point in arguing with the offending driver or the responding police officers. In fact, when the fault issue is unclear, arguing may taint the police analysis in favor the other party.
Get Detailed Witness Information
Even if the other driver concedes fault for the motorcycle accident, he may tell a different story later. Make sure you obtain the identifying information of all favorable witnesses no matter how clear-cut the accident seems to be.
If it is at all practical and safe to do so, take photographs of the scene or enlist a friend to assist you. Take photographs of the damage to your motorcycle and damaged gear not only to document the actual damage, but the photographs may provide evidence of how the motorcycle accident occurred. Photographs of the injuries are also extremely helpful when it comes time to resolve the case.
Be Careful Who You Speak To
You should give your version of the motorcycle accident to police only if you can think clearly. If not, just give a general summary and ask that you be contacted later. If you are under the influence of medication or in pain, you may not be able to recall all of the details and may give inaccurate information. You should report the motorcycle accident to your own insurance company. However, if you are planning on retaining a lawyer, do not speak with the other party’s insurance company without your motorcycle lawyer’s permission, other than to provide identifying information.
Get Your Motorcycle Out of Storage
If you have collision insurance, your own motorcycle accident insurance company should arrange for the motorcycle to be inspected and retrieved. If not, and your bike is left at an impound or tow yard, you may be charged exorbitant storage fees. Enlist the aid of friends to remove it as soon as practical. Once the storage charges get too high, the bike may be sold at a lien sale. Check local laws for maximum permissible storage charges.
Most states have reporting requirements after a motorcycle accident in which someone is injured and/or the vehicle damage exceeds a certain amount. If it’s a hit and run accident, report it to the police immediately. Check the local laws for reporting requirements. Failure to comply could result in penalties.
Save Your Damaged Gear
Resist the temptation to throw out your damaged gear. You may be able to recover for its value and it also may be evidence of how the accident happened.
Medical and Missed Work Documentation
If you intend to assert a personal injury claim, you will need to document your injuries and treatment. Although home remedies sometimes work, it will be difficult to prove your claim. Similarly, if you are making a lost income claim you will need documentation. If your doctor orders you off work, ask him or her to include that instruction in your medical records and/or provide you with a disability slip.
State and Federal Disability; Workers’ Compensation
If you are unfortunate enough to be seriously injured, you should check all your options through the County, State and Federal agencies. If you do not have health insurance, some states and counties provide for charity aid. If the accident happened while you were on the job or on your work premises, discuss your options with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer.
Legal Representation: Find a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
In any type of case, motorcycle crashes or otherwise, if you decide to retain a motorcycle lawyer, choose one that practices in the appropriate field. Resist the temptation to choose a lawyer simply because he or she is a friend or neighbor. If you choose someone who dabbles in different fields, you may end up with a compromised settlement.
Communicate and Cooperate With Your Motorcycle Attorney
Once you are medically stable and back to work, discuss the general objectives of your claim with your lawyer, so your expectations are realistic. If there is something you don’t understand or are not pleased with, don’t let it fester. Discuss it with your lawyer as soon as practical. It is important that you and your lawyer are on the same page. Otherwise, settlement negotiations may be thwarted or stalled. Cooperation is equally as important, especially after a lawsuit is filed, because you and your lawyer will have to meet certain statutory deadlines and requirements. If you don’t cooperate, you’re not only sabotaging your case, but you’re sending the message to your lawyer and the other side that the case is not that all that important to you.
Brown & Koro, LLP
BAM – Bikers Helping Bikers®
By Motorcycle Attorneys Russ Brown and Chuck Koro