Riding a motorcycle can be a profoundly exhilarating experience, the embodiment of our freedom as Americans to be who we are and act as we please within the confines of the law. However, this freedom comes with the risk of serious, potentially debilitating, or even lethal injuries, caused by another motorist’s carelessness. Although there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent other motorists from driving carelessly, or even recklessly, there are measures you can take to maximize your ability to recover compensation for the consequences of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, you should consult a motorcycle accident lawyer who can fully represent your interests with the expertise derived from years of success in handling personal injury accident claims. At Slater & Zurz LLP, we have handled countless motorcycle-related personal injury claims and are familiar with all the issues unique to motorcycle-related claims. One of our attorneys is an avid motorcyclist! Call our team of battle-tested professionals for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your claim and answer your questions. If we take your case, you have no obligation to pay us unless we win for you.
Here are some things you should—and shouldn’t—do after a crash:
- Leave your motorcycle where it is.
If possible (and not unsafe), leave your motorcycle where it landed after the accident, to aid in any investigation.
- Comply with the law and cooperate with law enforcement.
After an accident, you must share your insurance and driver’s license information with the other driver and any law enforcement officers at the scene. Cooperate with law enforcement officers, but don’t agree with any officer’s suggestion that you may have been at fault. Law enforcement officers are not lawyers, and may not be aware of all the factors relevant to determining legal fault.
- Gather as much information as you can at the scene.
Talk to any witnesses immediately after the accident, and get their names, phone numbers, email and physical addresses, and any other pertinent contact information. Take down the license plate numbers of any potential witnesses who can’t or won’t talk to you. If you can, take photos of the scene, all vehicles involved, and anything else that appears relevant. Be sure to get the other driver’s license and insurance information, as well as the identity of the owner of the other vehicle if different from the driver.
Examine the road in the vicinity of the crash. Any irregularities in the road surface, or obstructions blocking important signs (“yield” or “stop,” for instance), may have played a role in your accident, for which the state, county, or city may be liable to you.
- After a crash, don’t admit fault.
The fault usually depends on both the facts and the law. After an accident, you may be so relieved that your injuries appear treatable that you don’t think about the financial consequences of the crash. Sometimes, compassion for the other driver may spur some people to acknowledge, directly or indirectly, some share of the blame. Don’t do it! There will be plenty of time to determine who was at fault, and to what degree, after you’ve recovered from the shock of the crash after you’ve seen a doctor and obtained an assessment of your injuries, and after you’ve had an opportunity to talk to a motorcycle accident lawyer.
As long as the other driver was at least as responsible as you were (equal to or greater than 50% in a two-vehicle accident), you are entitled to recover a fair share of your medical and personal care expenses, lost wages, and other costs, in proportion to the other driver’s percentage of fault.
- See a doctor!
A doctor can determine the nature and extent of your injuries, and get you on the path to recovery. Without a doctor’s report or testimony, it will be difficult for you to prove the extent—and likely costs—of your injuries.
- Don’t sign any papers presented by the other driver’s insurance company.
Within days after the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you and may suggest a quick settlement. Remember: the insurance company has a much greater interest in limiting its financial obligation than in ensuring your complete recovery.
- Medical release forms
The insurance company may ask you to sign medical release forms giving the company unlimited access to all your personal medical records, including
records with no bearing on your accident-related injuries. The company may later use these records—psychological or psychiatric records, records of medications prescribed for you, substance abuse treatment records, records of suspected self-harm, records of HIV or other STDs, and records of treatment arising from domestic abuse, among others—against you. Usually, these matters are none of the insurance company’s business!
- Settlement papers
You may not be aware of all your injuries right after the crash, as it may take time for all symptoms to appear. Don’t accept a settlement covering only the superficial injuries that you can detect immediately. See a doctor and a lawyer before signing your rights away.
It’s best to refer any papers that you’re asked to sign to an experienced personal injury law firm with expertise derived from decades of handling motorcycle accident claims. At Slater & Zurz LLP, we can investigate the probable cause of your accident, using experts if necessary; evaluate the degree to which you or the other driver was at fault, and assess whether any settlement proposal from the other driver’s insurance company is reasonable. Call us and speak with a top motorcycle accident lawyer to schedule a free consultation. We’re on your side!
Motorcyclists risk injuries that are much more severe than those sustained by drivers of cars and trucks.
The injuries that motorcyclists sustain tend to be more severe and life-threatening than the injuries sustained by those traveling within the protective cocoon of a car or truck:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Using a helmet may reduce the risk of death by approximately 40%. TBI may result from a direct blow to the head when the biker’s head collides with a stationary object or another vehicle, or
when his or her head hits the ground after being ejected from the motorcycle, or “whiplash,” when the head is thrown forward or backward with great force. In either case, the brain may collide with the skull, which in turn may cause brain damage.
Even mild TBI, such as a concussion, can result in permanent and total disability. Symptoms can worsen over time. If you suffer any head injury, you should see a doctor—the sooner the better!
- Neck and spinal cord injuries are common in motorcycle crashes. Neck pain may result from injuries to the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and nerves) as well as to the bones and disks of the spine. Neck injuries can cause pain in the upper back, shoulders, or arms; severe injuries can cause paralysis. As with TBI, if you suffer injuries to the neck, back, or spine, see a doctor!
- Road rash is the most common injury in motorcycle crashes. Road rash is caused when bare skin contacts pavement or when thinner clothing is scraped away by rough pavement, baring the skin. Failure to treat road rash can result in permanent nerve damage, skin infections, and permanent irritation.
- Fractures (broken bones) are not uncommon after a motorcycle accident. These injuries can be disabling, even when promptly treated.
- Biker’s arm may occur when a biker uses his or her arms to lessen the impact of a fall. At worst, permanent damage or paralysis may result.
- Permanent disfigurement and amputations may also result from a motorcycle crash, typically arising from burns or the injuries described above.
Because so much is at stake after a motorcycle crash, don’t rely on the other driver’s insurance company to do what’s best for you.
The other driver’s insurance company may use high-pressure tactics to force a quick settlement. Soon after the accident, the insurer may offer thousands or tens of thousands of dollars less than your claim is worth before you know the full extent of your injuries, lost earnings, and
other damages. An attorney can obtain your relevant medical records and, when necessary, arrange for expert assessments of your medical condition and your long-term vocational prospects: The other driver’s insurance company may use high-pressure tactics to force a quick settlement. Soon after the accident, the insurer may offer thousands or tens of thousands of dollars less than your claim is worth before you know the full extent of your injuries, lost earnings, and other damages. An attorney can obtain your relevant medical records and, when necessary, arrange for expert assessments of your medical condition and your long-term vocational prospects:
- When are you likely to fully recover?
- Are your injuries permanent?
- What kind of treatment will you need, and for how long?
- How will your injuries affect your ability to work, and for how long?
- How will your injuries affect your ability to engage in other life activities, such as
caring for your family, playing sports, or pursuing other interests?
While an insurance company may offer a quick payout when you’re strapped for cash as a result of the accident, an experienced attorney can help you weigh the need for immediate cash against the security of knowing that you will be able to pay for your future needs. Once you’ve agreed to a quick settlement, you can’t get more money later if it turns out that your injuries are more serious than you thought.
Place Your Trust in an Established Law Firm with a Proven Record of Success in Handling Personal Injury Cases
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you owe it to yourself to reach out to an established law firm with a proven record of success in handling personal injury cases involving motorcycle crashes. An insurance company faced with the prospect of having to compensate you for your injuries is not likely to tell you if you have a strong case or advise you to consult a lawyer before attempting to negotiate on your own.
At Slater & Zurz LLP, we build relationships with our clients one at a time through honesty, commitment, perseverance, and trust. Like so many others who have placed their trust in us, you can count on us to fully assess your personal injury claim, answer your questions, and advise you concerning the best way to proceed. There’s no obligation on your part—and you won’t owe us anything unless we succeed in winning a judgment or a favorable settlement for you. Call to speak with one of our leading motorcycle accident attorneys on our team for a free consultation. We’re here to serve your legal needs with unwavering dedication and the drive to win for you.