Is Motorcycle Accident Law the Same as Car Accident Law?
While there are nuances and differences in the investigation of a motorcycle accident compared to the investigation of an automobile accident, motorcycle operators and passengers are awarded the same legal protections and rights as an occupant of an automobile.
How Will an Attorney Investigate My Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Before anything else, your attorney will advise you to get adequate medical attention. Any pain or discomfort need to be brought to your doctor’s attention as injuries may not be immediately evident. Getting proper medical attention and having your injuries diagnosed in a timely manner is not only essential to your physical recovery, it will also help build your personal injury case.
While you focus on your physical recovery, your attorney will do the work of investigating your accident, building your case, and dealing with the insurance companies and opposing parties. This may include filing a temporary restraining order to preserve evidence, obtaining witness statements, gathering photographs of the accident and scene, and reviewing official reports. The goal is to gather whatever evidence is necessary to verify how the accident happened and establish who was at fault.
Your attorney may also consult with an expert witness to better establish the events leading up to your accident. Expert witnesses, also called judicial experts, are individuals recognized by the judicial system for their specialized knowledge in a particular subject. For you motorcycle accident, expert witnesses could include:
Automotive Forensic Consultants
Human Factors Forensic Science Experts (reaction time, fatigue and distracted driving)
Once your injuries have been diagnosed and your condition is considered stable, your attorney will get in touch with your medical provider and begin assembling medical reports, records, and bills. They will also seek out employment records in order to evaluate damages related to lost wages and loss of earning potential.
Once all the evidence of your accident, injuries, and damages have been thoroughly reviewed, your attorney may begin to solicit an offer from the insurance company of the person responsible for your accident.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycles accident can be caused by a number of factors; however, most will involve some type of human error. When that human error is the result of negligent or reckless behavior, then you can pursue a claim against the person responsible.
Some examples of negligence that can result in a motorcycle accident are:
Speeding – Motorists traveling at a high speed can mistake how fast a motorcyclists is traveling, resulting in a rear-end accident.
Not allowing for a safe following distance – A motorcycle can stop much more rapidly than an automobile or commercial vehicle. By following too closely behind a motorcycle, motorists greatly increase the risk of a rear-end accident.
Failure to maintain proper lookout – Because motorcycles are smaller and more easily hidden by objects or blind spots, other vehicles are less likely to see them. Many automobile drivers claim they “never saw” the motorcycle before a collision. This is an example of not maintaining proper lookout.
Distracted driving – Distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use, though that is perhaps the most common example. Whenever a motorist is engaged in an activity that removes their attention from the operation of their vehicle, they are committing distracted driving. This can include looking after children, texting, talking on the phone, eating, reading, or watching videos.
Drunk driving –Drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic-related deaths and is estimated to be a factor in roughly one-third of all Texas traffic deaths.
Mechanical issues – A defect in a motorcycle’s design or manufacturing can easily cause an accident; this could be the basis for a product liability case.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Crash?
There are important steps you can take following an motorcycle accident that can help ensure the safety of you and your loved ones and protect your legal rights as an accident victim.
Steps to take after a motorcycle accident include:
Stop immediately after the crash – Even if a collision is minor, it is important to remain at the scene. Never flee from the scene of an accident as it is illegal and will only make matters worse.
Assess the situation – Car crashes can be disorientating. It is important that you take a moment to assess the situation. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Refrain from moving anyone who has suffered a back, neck, or spinal injury if at all possible.
Make the accident visible – Accidents are an unexpected disruption to traffic flow, and numerous accidents occur by drivers crashing into the site of a previous collision. You can prevent further accidents and hazards by turning on your vehicle’s warning lights, setting out reflectors, or activating road flares. It is also smart to keep a flashlight in your car – should an accident occur at night, you can carry the flashlight after exiting your vehicle to make yourself more visible.
Notify the police – If there is an emergency, contact 911. Otherwise, contact your local police department – even if there are no serious injuries. A detailed police report will go a long way when you file a claim with your insurance company. If there is an injury, be sure that paramedics are called to the scene as well. If there is any confusion whether or not an injury has occurred, err on the side of caution and have an ambulance respond to the scene.
Record the facts – Speak with the responding officers and be as accurate and forth coming as possible. Do not feel like you have to have all the answers. Do not speculate at the facts of the accident or whether you sustained an injury. If you are unsure how the accident occurred or unsure if you have sustained an injury, it is okay to respond with “I don’t know.”
Take pictures – A major benefit that has come with the popularity of cell phones is that the vast majority of people have a camera with them at all times. Take photos of your vehicle, any visible damage, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that you or a passenger may have suffered.
Gather and exchange information – More often than not, the responding officer will obtain insurance information from all drivers involved. If this does not occur, gather the name, phone number, and addresses of all persons involved in the accident, including passengers and witnesses. You should also obtain the insurance information of all driver involved by requesting to see each vehicle’s insurance card.
Seek medical attention – Pain and injuries may not be immediately evident following an accident. In fact, much of the pain will occur a day or two following the crash. Again, if there is any uncertainty whether you have sustained an injury, err on the side of caution. There is no harm in getting a check-up at your local emergency room or in making an appointment with your primary physician. Let them have the final say, even if only for peace of mind.
Report the accident to your insurance – Contact your insurance company as soon as you can following a crash – most policies actually require immediate reporting of an accident. This will also let you discuss your medical benefits as well as get your claim under way. As your claim is process, keep a detailed log of any medical bills, updates, changes in health, and crash related expenses such as rentals.
Contact an experienced car crash attorney – The role of your attorney is not simply to file a lawsuit. An attorney is responsible for protecting your rights and for making sure insurance companies are acting in your best interest. A good attorney will help you obtain and protect valuable evidence, provide legal advice before you provide a statement to the insurers, ensure you receive the medical attention you need, and press insurers to process your claim in a timely and fair manner. Should your rights be infringed upon, the best attorneys are those who are willing and ready to go to trial.
What Should I Do If I was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced motorcycle injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to hear your claim. We can visit you wherever you reside, whether it be at your home, workplace, or at the hospital. Call us today for a free case review.