Being in a motorcycle accident can make you feel a multitude of emotions, all of which are negative. Because of this, you are probably overwhelmed and have trouble thinking clearly about what you should do next.
At least you are conscious though, which is already an absolute positive considering the life-and-death situation you have just been in. What you should try to do now is focus and muster all the strength you have left to make sense of what just happened.
But how do you do it? What should you do next after a motorcycle accident?
Seek immediate medical attention
Paramedics are almost always at the scene of a motorcycle accident to assess a victim’s injuries and give first aid, but it is not enough. Some people may feel that the accident was not that bad and refuse to be brought to the nearest hospital for treatment, but seeking medical attention is a must even if you think the injuries you sustained are not serious.
The adrenaline rush can prevent you from immediately feeling any pain during and after an accident, so just because you are not hurting does not mean the accident did not do any damage to you.
Some injuries do not show right away, so it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. Take traumatic brain injuries for example. Wearing a helmet does not guarantee safety, so a head injury is highly likely after a motorcycle accident regardless if the rider was wearing a helmet or not.
While it can lessen the impact, a helmet will not be of much help when your head hits the concrete badly in a fatal crash. So minor or not, any head injury from a motorcycle accident can cause damage that may take hours, or even days, for you to see or feel.
Broken ribs and internal bleeding are also injuries that may not be immediately visible and felt, so the sooner you get proper medical care, the better.
Some drivers leave the scene as soon as they can, especially if they are fully aware they are the cause of the accident. So before the other party vanishes into thin air, try to get as much information as you can from the people involved and witnesses who saw the accident.
Names, addresses, contact information, plate numbers—all these details will be important later on. Sure, the police will gather these things, but law enforcement does not respond quickly all the time. You cannot risk losing the other party before you can even hold them accountable, right?
Take photos of the scene
Pictures have more reliability than a handwritten account, so taking as many photos of the scene as possible can work to your advantage. This is important because the scene of the accident may have clues that will help investigators and insurance companies identify liability. Again, the police will do this, but there is no harm in taking extra photos just in case the evidence gets tampered with.
Take a shot of the damage to both vehicles involved, license plates, and injuries. You may also want to take a photo of the road condition to see if some road hazards contributed to the accident. Any photo that could support a lawsuit or insurance claim will be helpful later on, so do your due diligence and do not completely rely on authorities for visual proof.
Sort your insurance
In a way, filing an insurance claim is one step towards recovery. If your motorcycle is insured, the first thing you need to do to recover damages is to file a claim with your insurance carrier. Even if you are not at fault, you will need to report the accident.
No two insurance policies are the same, but most insurance companies can cancel their clients’ policies or deny their claims if they fail to report the accident. However, if your motorcycle is not insured and you are not at fault, the first thing you should do is to notify the insurance company of the other party, if they have one.
Oh, and remember when you went to the hospital for treatment? Your insurance carrier will have a hard time disputing your claim if you present them medical records that prove the injuries you sustained from the accident.
Not only that but those documents can also serve as evidence should the situation escalate into a lawsuit and you intend to seek compensation later on. You can also use your medical records to negotiate a settlement with the other party.
Account for every single penny
Motorcycle accidents are costly, so if you want to triumph over a lawsuit or get a fair and full settlement, keep every single receipt. Those pieces of paper will prove that the accident has caused you substantial financial losses. From damage to property which may require your motorcycle to undergo extensive repairs or be completely replaced, to medical expenses like treatment, medication, and visits to therapists—everything must be accounted for.
Wage losses are also factored in when it comes to computing your damages. After an accident, you will certainly be unable to work for weeks or even months. To get the fair equivalent of what you lost, you need to provide your legal counsel a proof of your income, as well as any paid time off that had to be used as a result of your accident.
Even the amount you spent on domestic replacement services (e.g. laundry services) to help with things you did on your own before the accident and home modifications (e.g. installing handrails on the wall) to help you comfortably move around the house must be tracked. Leave no stone unturned.
Do not give too much information
You will likely be interviewed by the other party’s insurance company about the accident. But while you want to help with the investigation in any way you can, telling everything may only do more harm than good.
Insurance investigators have a way with words, and they can make you say things that can devalue your claim to relieve the insurance company of financial responsibility for the accident.
They will also try to reach out to your family and friends. While you want to reassure your loved ones about your condition and update them about your recovery, the best course of action is to avoid sharing any information with them until your claim has been settled or litigated.
Lay low on social media
Social media is a great platform for insurance investigators to look for anything that will dispute your case, so until your claim has been settled or litigated, try not to post anything on it.
The interactions you make on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can be used against you if the investigators misinterpret any of your posts. They can use pictures to downplay your injuries, suggest that you are recovering better than you reported, or invalidate your case by making up evidence that your injuries are from a different accident.
Insurance investigators will do everything they can to not make the insurance company responsible, so just minimize your online presence if you want to win.
Never accept offers of early settlement
Even if the investigation proves that the other party is at fault, their insurance company will still not pay your claim straight away. In cases where an insurance carrier cannot deny a claim, an attempt to pay out as little as possible is typically their next course of action.
The strategy of most insurance companies to avoid paying court-awarded damages is to offer an early settlement. Since motorcycle accidents are expensive and can provide serious financial challenges, insurance companies take advantage of this and try to convince you to take the money.
Accepting their offer is essentially waiving your right to a lawsuit. What you should rather do is treat their early offer as a starting point for negotiations. But do not negotiate on your own; make sure you have a lawyer who can hammer out a better offer for you.
Get a skilled lawyer
Being seriously injured is difficult enough, and the additional stress of the legal intricacies in a lawsuit is not exactly helpful. But it is necessary to hold someone accountable.
This is where a lawyer comes in. You are already suffering enough from the financial burden, physical pain, and trauma brought about by your accident, so give yourself a break and let an expert do the talking.
A lawyer is responsible for investigating your accident and uncovering relevant information to boost your case and determine liability. But make sure you get a skilled one because your lawyer will also be deeply involved in negotiations with the insurance company to fight for fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
In simple words: if you want the best offer, get the best lawyer.