Motorcycle crashes happen when you least expect them. One minute, you are riding your usual route to commute, and the next, you are on the ground in pain. Most people assume they will know what to do following an accident, but it can be a chaotic and confusing time when one happens.
While we hope you are never in a motorcycle crash, remember the following tips if one happens. If you have already suffered injuries, do not wait to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer, and remember the following steps to take.
Seek Medical Attention
Motorcycle accidents can be extremely dangerous, and even a seemingly minor accident can result in serious injuries. Some injuries will be apparent, and many motorcyclists need ambulance transportation from the scene. However, you should get a medical evaluation at the emergency room even if you don’t need an ambulance.
Always seek medical attention immediately after a motorcycle accident, even if you don’t have any visible injuries.
- Life-saving treatment: Some motorcyclists have internal injuries and organ damage that can be life-threatening without immediate treatment. Often, only medical professionals can discover and diagnose such injuries, and you want to ensure you get the life-saving treatment you need.
- Hidden injuries: Many injuries may not be immediately visible, and the symptoms may not appear until several hours or even days after the accident. A medical professional can detect these injuries through a thorough examination, and early detection can lead to better treatment and recovery.
- Preventative measures: A medical professional can also provide preventive measures to reduce the risk of long-term complications of your injuries. For example, if you have suffered a concussion, the doctor may advise you to rest and avoid activities requiring mental concentration to prevent further brain damage.
- Trauma and PTSD: Motorcycle accidents can be traumatic and may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for some individuals. Seeking medical attention can help you address any mental or emotional trauma that may have resulted from the accident.
- Insurance claims: Getting medical attention also helps in filing an insurance claim, as it provides documentation of the injuries sustained during the accident and can help you receive the compensation you deserve. An immediate medical assessment creates a record of your injuries that will be critical evidence in any legal proceedings.
Whether it is immediately apparent that you have severe injuries or you only feel pain, stiffness, disorientation, or similar usual sensations, don’t hesitate to get the medical help you need right after a motorcycle accident.
Follow Up with Medical Treatment and Rehabilitation
Once you have a medical treatment plan for your injuries, always stick to it. Medical treatment can be inconvenient and costly, but if someone else caused your crash, you can seek compensation for these losses later.
Staying on top of your medical treatment and rehabilitation is critical for multiple reasons. First, it helps you achieve the best possible physical recovery from your injuries. While not everyone will completely recover from motorcycle injuries, they might reach a better maximum medical improvement with the right treatment.
Further, following the doctor’s orders demonstrates that you are taking your injuries seriously and doing everything possible to recover. On the other hand, if you ignore appointments or stop doing physical therapy earlier than recommended, the insurance company will assume your injuries are not that serious, and you are not feeling their effects. The insurer might even accuse you of worsening your injuries due to failing to keep up with your treatment.
Consult a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
While recovering and undergoing medical treatment, the last thing you might want to do is add legal concerns to your plate. However, consulting with a motorcycle accident attorney is imperative as soon as possible.
Do You Have a Claim?
First, a lawyer can evaluate what happened and advise whether you have a valid injury claim. You want to know this quickly following your accident, as it can influence your financial choices moving forward. A motorcycle accident lawyer has specific knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply to motorcycle accidents. They can determine who should be liable for your losses, so you can be confident that you deserve compensation. This can relieve stress immediately.
Building Your Case
A motorcycle accident lawyer can investigate the accident to identify all liable parties and gather evidence to support your case. This can include gathering witness statements, obtaining police reports, and reviewing medical records. You should not have to worry about gathering evidence while you are already dealing with serious injuries; they will handle this for you to build the strongest possible claim.
Calculating Your Compensation
The right motorcycle accident lawyer can help you calculate the compensation you need to cover any injuries, damages, or losses resulting from the accident. This can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other expenses. Injured motorcyclists regularly underestimate how much their claim should be worth, so a professional should always handle these calculations so you are not shortchanged.
Handling Your Claim
Your attorney will also handle the entire legal process for you. You do not have to navigate the claims process or deal with adjusters. This is highly important because insurance companies regularly take advantage of unrepresented claimants.
If you don’t have an attorney handling your claim, insurance companies might:
- Get you to make a recorded statement that they can twist to use against your claim.
- Make a quick settlement offer that is far too low in hopes you will accept it and end your claim, saving the insurer money.
- Delay your claim so you become more desperate for compensation and might accept less than you deserve.
Avoid speaking with insurance adjusters at all following an accident, as one wrong comment can hurt your claim. If an adjuster reaches out to you, politely tell them you are hiring a lawyer, and then all communications will go through your attorney. This eliminates the risk that you might say the wrong thing. Insurance companies also know they cannot use the same claim-minimizing tactics on an experienced injury attorney.
Overall Peace of Mind
Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer will give you peace of mind during a stressful and difficult time. They can handle the legal aspects of your case while you focus on recovering from your injuries. This alone makes it worth it to hire an attorney as soon as possible following your accident. You don’t need unnecessary stress when you already face so many physical and mental struggles from your injuries.
You want to begin reaping these benefits of legal representation right away. Get medical attention and then find the right motorcycle accident attorney to handle your case.
File an Insurance Claim or Lawsuit to Seek Compensation for Damages and Injuries
Even though many motorcycle accident victims deserve compensation under the law, they cannot expect to simply get a check in the mail. Instead, they must follow the proper process of seeking compensation.
Your attorney will figure out which insurance companies should cover your injuries. They must then prepare and file a claim with these insurers, providing as much evidence as possible to support your claim. They will demand a certain amount to cover your losses.
The insurance company will likely make an offer that is lower than your demands. Your attorney will then negotiate with adjusters to obtain the highest offer possible and will advise you if an offer seems fair. Many motorcycle accident claims conclude when the injured rider accepts a settlement from one or more insurance companies.
If you do not reach a fair settlement agreement directly with the insurance company, your attorney can file an injury lawsuit in civil court. They will follow all procedures for exchanging evidence with the insurance company, which will need to defend against the lawsuit on behalf of the policyholder.
Your attorney can continue negotiating a possible settlement during pretrial litigation, and many cases end with an out-of-court settlement. However, your case might require a trial if the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer or disputes liability. You need a skilled litigator to represent your case in court.
Common Motorcycle Injuries
Knowing what to do to obtain compensation is critical because motorcycle accidents often result in serious and costly injuries for the riders. One of the most common injuries that riders experience in a motorcycle accident is road rash. This injury occurs when a motorcyclist gets thrown from their bike and slides along the pavement, causing abrasions, burns, and cuts to the skin. Road rash can result in severe damage that requires skin grafts and surgical treatment.
Another common injury in motorcycle accidents is broken bones. When a rider is in a collision, the force of impact can easily cause multiple bones to fracture. Broken bones can be particularly serious in the legs, feet, or spine. Many motorcyclists also break bones in their faces, jaw, pelvis, and ribs.
Head trauma is also a common result of motorcycle accidents and can cause traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures, and other serious conditions. Even motorcycle riders who wear DOT-approved helmets are at risk for head trauma, as a helmet cannot protect the head 100 percent of the time.
Motorcyclists might sustain internal injuries, such as damage to organs and the neck, back, and spinal cord. These injuries can be particularly devastating and require a medical evaluation to identify and treat.
No matter what injuries you suffered, you should always look into your right to seek compensation from a liable party.
Who Can You Hold Liable for Your Injuries and Losses?
In a motorcycle accident, liability or responsibility for the accident typically lies with a negligent driver, though other parties might share liability.
Driver errors are a common cause of motorcycle crashes, which can include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Improper change lanes
- Improper merging
- Failure to yield
- Turning in front of a motorcycle
Many drivers fail to follow traffic laws or pay close enough attention to motorcyclists, causing a collision.
Additionally, governmental entities responsible for maintaining roads may be liable if a road defect, such as a pothole, caused the accident. If construction crews left debris on the road, failed to properly warn or direct drivers, or made other errors, you can hold the company liable.
In some cases, multiple parties can share liability. For example, in a crash involving a multi-vehicle pileup, several different drivers might be partially at fault for the accident. If a driver was working when they hit the motorcyclist, their employer can also be vicariously liable.
Motorcyclists often get a reputation for being reckless and thrill-seeking, so insurance companies regularly try to pin the blame for crashes on riders. In reality, many accidents happen due to others on the road - not motorcyclists.
Ultimately, the determination of liability in a motorcycle accident will depend on the case’s specific facts. Never assume the insurance company’s assessment of liability is correct. Always seek legal advice to determine your rights and options for pursuing compensation.
Do Not Delay in Seeking Help From a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
While you might want to take time to focus on your injuries and treatment, never wait to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer. First, every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which range from one to six years, depending on where your accident happened. Most statutes of limitations are around two years from the date of the injury.
You cannot pursue a successful lawsuit after this deadline passes. Further, your attorney needs time to build your case and negotiate an insurance claim, which can take considerable time. Give your attorney adequate time to present the strongest case possible.
The longer you wait to begin the legal process, the more likely evidence might weaken or disappear. You can also feel significant unnecessary stress about your financial situation if you do not know your legal rights. Consultations with motorcycle accident lawyers are free, so you should never put off hiring someone to evaluate and handle your case.
Besides getting medical care, hiring a personal injury law firm in Chicago is the most important thing you can do following your accident.