What to Expect After a Motorcycle Accident
A motorcycle accident can be very disorienting. They usually happen very quickly, and it can take a moment to get your bearings and process what just happened.
The first two things you should do are check yourself for injuries and look to see where you are. If you’re still on the road, you should move to a sidewalk or safe place nearby if possible – but if you’re hurt, proceed carefully to avoid making your injuries worse.
If you can’t move because of your injuries, turn on your bike’s flashers (if you can reach them) and call 911. A smartwatch or Bluetooth headset that allows you to make calls when you can’t reach your phone can be very helpful in these situations.
Preserve Evidence of the Accident
If you aren’t seriously injured, take pictures of the accident scene, including where your bike ended up, the other vehicle that hit you, and any debris on the road.
Try to cover everything from all angles if possible. Additionally, we recommend taking pictures of your injuries.
Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
You should also exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. In these situations, parties to an accident often argue about who was at fault.
We understand why, but we encourage you to avoid talking about fault with the other driver. You never know what they’re going to repeat to the insurance company or how accurate they might be when quoting you.
Even if they manage to repeat what you said verbatim, the insurance adjuster might misinterpret your words to fit with the idea that you were at fault. The best thing you can do in this situation is to say as little as possible.
This strategy should continue when the police arrive. Answer their questions honestly, but don’t say any more than necessary.
If a “yes” or “no” will answer the question, leave it at that, and never volunteer information they didn’t directly ask you about. Most importantly, don’t speculate about fault, and definitely don’t say that you think you were responsible.
We’ve met a number of people who told us an accident was their fault when the evidence showed that it wasn’t.
Get Medical Attention for Your Injuries
Sometimes, after a motorcycle accident, riders are inclined to brush off their injuries as “nothing” or insist they don’t need medical care. Unfortunately, this can lead to several problems:
- Your injuries may be more serious than you think. The rush of adrenaline following a stressful experience like a motorcycle accident can mask symptoms like pain. At the same time, some injuries feel worse once the body begins the healing process and the injured area becomes swollen. You don’t want to miss a potentially serious injury that needs prompt treatment, so we recommend seeing a doctor or healthcare provider shortly after your accident. If you don’t think an ambulance is necessary, have a friend or family member drive you to an urgent care clinic or hospital.
- If you need healthcare for your injuries later on, you may have difficulty getting the insurance carrier to cover it. Your health insurance company should cover your care regardless of when you seek treatment, but frequently, health insurance doesn’t cover everything. You may find that a specialist was “out of network,” a test or treatment isn’t covered at all, or your policy may only pay some percentage of the cost. In these cases, the next step is usually to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, which is where you might have a problem. The insurance adjuster might consider your claim and decide that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident because you didn’t seek treatment for several days. Your lawyer will do their best to refute these claims, but it’s more difficult to show your injuries were caused by the accident if you wait to seek treatment.
Talk to a Lawyer
Many people think they don’t need a lawyer after a motorcycle accident. Here are some common reasons why:
- “My insurance will cover everything.” No insurance policy will cover everything, regardless of what you were led to believe when buying the policy. Even “full coverage” insurance often isn’t – every policy has a limit, and there are always exclusions. Also, if the other driver caused the accident, their insurance should cover your damages. If you file a claim yourself, the two insurance companies will negotiate over blame and who pays for what. Both will be concerned with saving their company money and are likely to undervalue your claim.
- “The other driver’s insurance will pay for everything because it’s their fault.” The same problems from the last example apply here, plus the other insurance company’s adjuster is likely to blame you for the accident – even if the other driver was ticketed or admitted fault. Utah uses modified comparative negligence statutes in personal injury cases, which means that both drivers can be partly responsible for an accident. If you are less than 50 percent to blame, you can still collect damages from the other driver’s insurance, but your percentage of fault will be taken off your final award. That means the insurance company could save 10, 20, or 30 percent – or more in some cases – simply by claiming you were also at fault.
- “I’ll just call the insurance company adjuster and explain what really happened, then they’ll understand.” Please don’t talk to the insurance company without seeking legal advice first. In most situations, this will only make things worse. As we discussed earlier, the insurance adjuster is going to look for any opportunity to blame you – and they will almost certainly record your phone call. They may seize on a random comment or something you said to make a point about the other driver’s guilt and insist it shows you did something wrong. Your attorney will gather evidence to show the other driver is at fault and skillfully negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
- “My injuries and property damage were minor, I’m sure it won’t be hard to recover that amount from the insurance company.” Most people have more damages than they realize after a motorcycle accident. What looks like minor damage to your bike could end up costing hundreds of dollars when you receive an estimate from the shop. Injuries that seem minor may still be bothering you weeks or months later, and some people develop chronic pain or other conditions after a motorcycle accident. As a result, there might be more medical bills on the way. You could also be overlooking damages like lost income (if you had to miss work) and pain and suffering. Your lawyer will go over all these potential damages and ensure nothing is missed.
- “An attorney is too expensive.” Your personal injury lawyer shouldn’t charge you anything for the initial consultation or ask for any upfront fees. At Valley Law, we work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t have to pay anything until we win or settle your case. On the other hand, if the insurance company denies your claim, reduces your damages because they think you’re partly responsible, or undervalues your damages, that could be very expensive.
Unfortunately, there are many difficulties involved with making an insurance claim after a motorcycle accident. Having the help of an experienced attorney will improve your chances of recovering a fair settlement for your damages.
What if You Were in a Hit-And-Run Accident on Your Motorcycle?
Getting hit by a car or other vehicle while on your motorcycle is bad enough, but if the other driver keeps going, you may have difficulty pursuing damages. However, there are still options in some cases:
- Tracking down the driver. If you can, try to get the vehicle’s license plate number and a description of the vehicle. The police will look for the driver, but if there are no new leads, the case may go cold. We often conduct our own investigation, and if we find any new evidence, we turn it over to the police. When the driver is found, we can pursue compensation from their insurance.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If our efforts don’t turn up anything new, we will consider other possibilities. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for your bike, MedPay, or Collision insurance, then we may be able to recover compensation from your own insurance company. Uninsured/underinsured motorist policies are also helpful if your damages exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy, which can be as low as $25,000 for bodily injury liability and $15,000 for property damage.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a motorcycle collision, please contact Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free, confidential consultation. We’ll read the police report, answer your questions, and clarify your options so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
If we do take your case, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle it.
Valley Law was founded by attorney Brigham Richards, who vigorously advocates for his clients. He considers responsibility to be the basis of his practice and always works tirelessly to help injured people and their families get the assistance they need to recover.
Mr. Richards is also fluent in English and Spanish. Work with Valley Law today by calling 801-810-9999.