Motorcycle crashes can be life shattering—or even life ending—for the bikers involved. In fact, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that more than 80 percent of reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death for the rider or passenger.
Unfortunately, the close association with such serious crashes has caused some people to assume that motorcyclists are particularly reckless drivers who bear the responsibility for their wrecks and injuries.
After a motorcycle accident, this kind of bias can hurt a motorcyclist's chances of receiving fair compensation for their injuries and other losses—even though it isn't true.
A 2013 study conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research analyzed 10 years of motorcycle crash data and found that it was other motorists—not motorcyclists—who were at fault 60 percent of the time.
What motorcyclists do right after an accident and in the days and weeks that follow can either help or hinder their ability to collect the compensation they deserve. Injured motorcyclists have enough to worry about after an accident without adding their own post-crash mistakes to the mix.
If you're a motorcyclist who was injured in an accident caused by a negligent motorist, avoiding these costly mistakes can stop you from inadvertently undermining your case.
Discussing the Accident With Someone Other Than Your Attorney
The moments that follow an accident can be extremely confusing, as everyone is usually shaken and trying to figure out exactly what happened. In this disoriented state, it's particularly important to avoid reflexively apologizing and inadvertently admitting fault for the accident, as such statements can later be used against you by insurance adjusters and defense attorneys.
At the scene, only discuss the accident with the investigating officers. Answer their questions honestly, but don't speculate about speeds, distances, and other factors.
Also, while you should notify your insurance provider of the accident, it's wise to decline if its representative—or someone with the at-fault motorist's insurance company—asks you to provide a written or recorded statement.
Agreeing Not to Report the Accident
Reporting an accident to the police and going through the insurance claim or personal injury litigation process takes time, so if the accident and resulting injuries and property damage are minor, it can be tempting to just let the whole thing go.
However, this is a terrible idea. You may not yet be fully aware of your injuries and your motorcycle may have sustained more damage than you initially realized. If you don't report the accident and get it on record, you may be completely out of luck if you decide to pursue compensation later on.
Delaying or Refusing Medical Attention
The adrenaline that courses through the body after an accident can make it difficult for victims to gauge the severity of their injuries. Additionally, some injuries may not become apparent to crash victims until hours or days later.
Seeing a doctor as soon as you possibly can ensures that your injured are on record and allows you to start receiving the care you need to heal. Delaying or refusing medical attention leaves the door open for insurance adjusters and defense attorneys to doubt your injuries.
Assuming the Other Party Will Admit Fault
After an accident, the other motorist may be just as convinced of his innocence as you are of yours, so don't expect the other party to just roll over and admit fault.
Instead, strengthen your case with evidence, such as photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage to your motorcycle. Make sure to also gather contact information for any witnesses so your attorney can contact them, if necessary.
Trying to Handle Your Own Claim or Case
Deciding against hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you is one of the biggest mistakes motorcyclists can make. Attorneys with experience handling motorcycle crash cases understand the challenges and biases that injured bikers face, and can use their advanced knowledge of the legal system to your advantage.
Let McGartland Law Firm help you fight for the recovery you need and deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation review of your motorcycle accident case.