Motorcycle accidents are especially dangerous, as they are disproportionately more likely to result in fatalities and injuries. The moments after a crash are crucial in impacting your future legal rights and claims. Here are the nine most important steps you should take immediately following a motorcycle accident.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
- Check yourself and others for injuries. The first thing you should do after an accident is to check everyone involved, including yourself, for injuries and ensuring that all passengers are out of harm’s way.
- Call the police immediately. Whether you, passengers, other drivers, or everyone is hurt, getting the police to the scene allows them to take statements from everyone and create a record of the incident. Placing the call for help will not implicate fault for the accident. If anyone has been injured, request medical attention.
- Take photos. First, ensure the scene is safe enough to take pictures, so you do not cause further damage or put anyone in further harm. Take photos from a variety of angles documenting the motorcycle, other involved vehicles, and the surrounding environment.
- Move your bike off the road. First, look around to make sure that it is safe to move. Debris and unexpected vehicles on the road, especially at night, may cause additional accidents and injury for oncoming traffic, for which you may be liable.
- Gather contact information. You want the information of everyone involved in the crash, as well as any witnesses present. Collect names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, license and vehicle identification numbers, car make and models, and a description of any vehicles of everyone involved in the accident. It’s easy to mix up people’s insurers or vehicles if there are multiple parties involved, so keep these records organized. Record the responding officers’ names and badge numbers, which will allow your attorney to collect any necessary information for your claim.
- Document the scene with written and oral records. This includes where, when, and how the accident occurred. Take note of the location of the accident, directions all involved vehicles were traveling, road conditions, speed limits, weather, and lighting. Talk to witnesses and record their observations, if possible via your phone’s audio recorder. If there appears to be property damage of at least $500, file a police report. This will help you build a case to recover for damage to your possessions or for physical injuries. Collect as much as you can while the incident is fresh in everyone’s memories.
Insuring Your Right to Compensation
- Never admit fault. Whether talking to other parties involved, witnesses, the police, your insurance company, or your attorney, you do not know all the facts, so there is no need to admit fault. The exact cause of an accident is often unclear and you may not recall details until days later. Statements made at the scene of the accident can implicate you for serious legal consequences, so saying less is a better strategy.
- Alert your insurance company. Contacting your insurer helps document the crash similarly to a police report. Provide all of the information you have collected, but once again, do not say anything that implies or admits fault to your insurance agent. This may prevent insurance coverage or cause significant legal repercussions.
- Contact a motorcycle accident attorney. Be prepared to offer them all of the information you have gathered for a streamlined experience. Again, do not admit fault. Wait to provide information about injuries or damages until you have visited a doctor and have had your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. Underestimating your damages and injuries, which may not appear until several days following the accident, can reduce your rightful compensation.
You can protect your legal rights by acting quickly and preserving evidence of the accident, especially if you have suffered physical injuries. Be proactive, and keep a printed copy of this handy pamphlet in your motorcycle. In the event of an accident, you’ll be prepared to take the right steps.