Motorcycle accidents are far too prevalent. Nationwide in 2015, there were 4,976 motorcycle crash fatalities, which is 8.3% more than the previous year. Over 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents in 2015, with motorcyclists being 29 times more likely than a passenger in a car to die in a crash, and five times more likely to be injured. In fact, nationwide, motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities.
In our beautiful state of California, the California Highway Patrol reported that there were 484 motorcyclist fatalities and 11,784 injuries in 2015. Sacramento County saw 22 motorcyclist fatalities and 385 injuries.
It's clear that while riding a motorcycle is a fun and exhilarating hobby, it's also a potentially dangerous pastime. But, taking risks is part of life, isn't it? So what happens if someone else's carelessness and negligence cause an accident while you're out riding? What are your rights and responsibilities as a victim of a motorcycle accident?
What You Should Do After An Accident
There are certain actions you should take immediately after being involved in an accident. Of course, we're discussing motorcycle accidents, but you can use these tips in any accident situation, such as a car or truck accident, slip and fall accident, or bicycle accident. First, let's take a look at some of the things that you're responsible for if you’ve been in an accident on your motorcycle:
- If you are physically capable, make sure that everyone involved in the accident is okay. Call 911 immediately and report the accident, as well as any obvious injuries to those involved. You shouldn’t give first aid unless you are specifically trained to do so, as this may cause more harm than good.
- When the police arrive, give a facts-only account of the accident as you experienced it. Answer any questions they have, and report your obvious injuries to them. They will document the circumstances surrounding the accident, injuries, fatalities, and property damage. They may also ask for witnesses and interview those people who saw the accident happen. The resulting police report will be a vital piece of evidence used to prove who was at fault for the accident.
- Share your contact information with the other drivers that were involved in the accident. Your name, phone number, address, insurance company information, and driver’s license information are the things you should share, and also the information you should receive from the other drivers. Takedown this information yourself, if at all possible.
- Ask around at the scene for witnesses of the accident, and record what it is they saw happen. If possible, get their contact information as well. Each witness you can identify will become critical to proving your case, and will help you recover damages for your injuries should you bring a lawsuit against the negligent party.
- Take as many photographs as you can as visual evidence. Photograph property damage to your motorcycle as well as the other vehicles involved, the accident scene right after the accident occurred, injuries of yours and of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. After you’ve received immediate treatment, take pictures of your injuries in the days that follow. If you can’t take the pictures yourself, have someone else take them for you.
- As soon as possible after your accident, contact your insurance company to let them know that the accident occurred. If you do not contact your insurance company right away, it may affect your coverage, so it's important that you do this promptly. When you do contact your insurance company, do not admit fault and only tell them the facts surrounding the accident. Remember that anything you say could be used against you to reduce the amount of compensation you get.
What You Should Not Do After An Accident
Of course, there are also some things that you should not do after you've been involved in a motorcycle accident, and these are just as important as the things you should do. Remember to use your common sense, and use these tips as a guide:
- You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you do, by California law, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony for hit and run driving. Always remain at the scene of the accident until law enforcement arrives to investigate, and only leave when they have given you the okay to do so.
- Be aware of what you are saying. Do not admit fault, and do not apologize. Remember that anything you say can potentially be used against you if you decide to file a lawsuit. The only people you need to describe the accident to are the law enforcement officers. Be factual, and try not to become emotional. The most important thing, though, is to not admit fault for the accident.
- Do not talk about the accident with anyone who is not the attorney representing you, your insurance company, or the police. Do not talk with other drivers or their insurance company. Anything that you say about the accident could very well be used to reduce the amount of money you’re able to recover for your injuries.
- Never simply accept a settlement from the insurance company without first discussing your case with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney, such as those at The Sevey Law Firm. We know that the insurance company will try to take advantage of you and your situation, and the financial stress you are feeling. The insurance company will deliberately try to undervalue your claim and pressure you into accepting it. Let one of our attorneys do the negotiating with the insurance company to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for the damages you’ve suffered.
At The Sevey Law Firm, we are experts in personal injury law. When you take advantage of a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, you'll see that we have your best interests in mind. Call us at (916) 788-7100, or contact us through our webpage and let us assess your case for you so that you know exactly where you stand.