Written by Attorney Edgar Snyder, Edgar Snyder & Associates
No matter how safe you ride, it’s true that motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other vehicle drivers on the road. You have to pay attention to not only controlling your own bike, but you also have to watch out for dangerous riding conditions, distracted drivers, and drivers who just don’t know how to share the road.
Even if you’ve ridden for years, you can still be in a motorcycle accident. Whether a driver, road hazard, or another situation is to blame, an accident always catches you off guard. You’ll probably be shocked and overwhelmed right after the accident, so it’s important to be prepared and to know what to do in case you’re ever involved in a collision.
Here’s what to do after a motorcycle accident:
1) Call 9-1-1 and get immediate medical attention for all those involved with the accident. Even if you feel fine, you may have an injury and not even know it.
2) File an accident report with the police, even if the accident wasn’t serious. Use basic facts to tell them exactly what happened, but don’t blame anyone.
3) Preserving evidence is crucial to a potential case. If you’re able, take photographs and video of the accident scene (cell phones come in handy for this). Be sure to get photos of any damage to your bike, any resulting injuries, and the area around the accident. The road you were riding on is important—were there any potholes, pooling water, malfunctioning or confusing traffic signs and signals, or adverse weather conditions? If you’re injured, try to get a friend or family member to take photos for you. Evidence disappears quickly, and photos of exactly how the accident occurred could hold the key to proving your case.
4) Exchange contact information from everyone at the accident scene, including any witnesses. Be sure to record the following information:
• Make, model, year, license plate number, and VIN of any other vehicles involved
• Name, address, birth date, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance information from any other drivers involved (If the driver isn’t the owner of the vehicle, try to get the owner’s information as well.)
• Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any involved passengers
• Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
5) Remember to write everything down, detailing exactly how the accident happened, the weather and road conditions, what you saw, etc. Don’t rely on your memory: if you remember something happening one way, you don’t want to second guess yourself later on. Writing information down immediately will prevent doubt and accidentally falsifying information.
6) Call your insurance company and notify them that you were in an accident. Pass along all the contact information you obtained, but never agree to giving a recorded statement, whether it’s for your insurance company or someone else’s. Your words could be taken out of context and hurt your case.
7) Don’t agree to any insurance company settlements or sign any papers until you’ve spoken to an experienced attorney. Insurance companies often try to give you a cheap settlement right away (even while you’re still in the hospital and potentially unable to make reasonable decisions due to injuries, medications, etc.). It sounds appealing to have a quick settlement, but by doing this, insurance companies give you less than you deserve and keep the money in their pocket. Once you’ve cashed that check, you’ve signed away your rights to any future compensation.
Motorcycle accidents do happen, and it’s not always the rider’s fault (unfortunately, riders often get blamed when it’s not their fault!). Over a one-year period in Pennsylvania alone, there were 3,746 motorcycle accidents that resulted from many different causes. By continuing to ride safely and defensively, you can help protect yourself from accidents. But if you ever happen to be in an accident, being prepared can help you protect your legal rights.
Attorney Edgar Snyder has over 45 years of experience helping injury victims. He founded Edgar Snyder & Associates, a Pennsylvania law firm that has represented hundreds of motorcyclists and is active in the motorcycle community. Learn more at EdgarSnyder.com.