According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 76,000 motorcycle accident injuries were reported in 2004 and that number has soared to over 103,000 in 2007 and over 5,000 fatalities. These accidents frequently involved collisions with another vehicle and were the result of negligence by the automobile driver. Personal injury law allows litigation to be brought against a negligent driver. In most states, motorcycle accident insurance is required.
What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, even where it appears only minor personal injury or property damage has occurred, you are required by law to stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Not remaining at the scene could result in driver’s license sanctions and possible charges for leaving the scene of an accident. When injuries are involved, call 911 and request an ambulance and the police. When making statements to the police after an accident, it is usually best to limit what you have to say and only provide the most important facts of what happened, especially those that support your perspective on how the accident occurred.
Even if you may not appear to be seriously injured, you should obtain the following information:
In many instances, only after leaving the scene of a motorcycle or automobile will a person realize that he or she has suffered injuries and/or damages. For example, a driver may not feel the effects of whiplash until the following day after an accident. A car owner may not realize that a bumper was damaged in an accident at dusk but will notice the problem the following morning when there is more light to better inspect the vehicle. In the event a lawsuit becomes necessary due to personal injury or property damages, you will want to provide all of the above information to your personal injury lawyer.
- Name, address, driver’s license, insurance information and license plate number of the other vehicle involved
- Name, address and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Contact information and incident number from the responding police officer
- Location, road conditions, speed limit, weather and lighting should be jotted down for future reference as well as other pertinent information
Always Get Needed Medical Care
Most motorcycle accidents result in a serious personal injury but, on occasion, there may seem to be no injury at the time of the accident. Sometimes injuries may not reveal themselves for an extended period of time, such as whiplash and head injuries, which can take a longer period of time for symptoms to show such as dizziness, tinnitus, disorientation, nausea and others. Even if you think you are not injured from a motorcycle accident, you should still seek a medical evaluation for the same reason you collected driver and witness information. Personal injury claims can be made for lost wages, loss of consortium, personal pain and suffering, medical bills, rehabilitation and physiological counseling for emotional problems due the accident or injury. Some states have no fault insurance laws that will prevent you from being treated at a later date. If you decide to obtain treatment at a date significantly later than the date of the accident, the insurance company and other driver or defendant may argue that you were not injured as a direct result of the accident because you did not seek immediate medical care. They will claim that you were more likely injured at a later date due to some other unknown incident.
Statute of Limitations (Time Restrictions) on Filing Suit for Personal Injuries
State statutes of limitations will set a time period after a motorcycle accident within which an injured person must file a lawsuit. Depending on the state, the general limitation is within one or two years from the date of the injury. Minors who are injured can generally file for suit until they turn 18 plus the two year statute of limitation. A personal injury lawyer can provide the exact time limit for you, which makes it important to speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Liability Insurance Concerns
Almost all states require motorcyclists and automobile owners to carry insurance. However, in the event that another driver does not have insurance coverage, it is best to purchase an “uninsured driver insurance” policy. Having such a policy means that if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you will be able to be compensated by your own insurance company even if the other driver does not have insurance. While it may cost more, underinsured driver insurance policies are offered to protect motorcyclists from other drivers who have insufficient or no insurance coverage.
Many insurance claims are settled and paid without significant problems. When there is extensive damage to the motorcycle and/or substantial personal injury, opinions can differ greatly with regard to the damages that should be awarded to an injury victim. Sometimes a lawsuit may need to be filed in order to arrive at an amount that the court finds fair and adequate compensation for the injuries suffered. It’s also not always a simple proposition to figure out how to calculate damages. If you are found to be partially at fault in the accident, your settlement claim may be reduced by an amount that represents your own contributing negligence. In the case of a wrongful death due to a motorcycle accident, a wrongful death suit may also be filed. It is always best to speak with a good personal injury attorney to understand the factors and your potential liability and award for damages.
Products Liability and Manufacturing Defect
Motorcycle accident lawsuits can also involve product liability laws. For example, a manufacturer could bear liability if they produced new motorcycles with faulty brakes that were defective coming off the assembly line but not discovered because there were no reasonable inspection procedures in place. Manufacturers may also be liable for “design defect.” In such a case, a motorcycle manufacturer may hire an unlicensed engineer who designs an unsafe braking mechanism. While the motorcycle may come off the assembly line exactly as specified, the manufacturer could bear liability if they should have known that their braking system was inherently unsafe and they did not take any reasonable care to make sure that it was effective. A personal injury attorney will likely perform research and have studies concerning defective products and vehicles and be able to advise you as to whether such a case exists.
- Accident & Injury Law:
- Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle Accident What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident
By Michael Wechsler |
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