What You Should Know About Motorcycle Accidents – A Full Guide

Motorcycle Accidents 101

What You Should Know About Motorcycle Accidents – A Full Guide

When you get on the road riding a motorcycle, you’ll be faced with different challenges. Many motorcycle riders come face to face with some unique challenges on the road if they have an accident or have to deal with the personal injury system. In this case, they might need a guide for dealing with motorcycle accidents. Below, you’ll find an extensive guide on how to determine who is at fault in a motorcycle accident case, the potential damages you might get as a result, examples of motorcycle hazards, as well as what to do and not to do in the event of a motorcycle accident.

Understanding Who’s at Fault

Just like in any other vehicular accident case, determining the fault is based on standard negligence. As the injured party, you’ll be considered to be the plaintiff, and you’ll have to prove that the defendant, or the party that injured you, was guilty of negligence. Proving negligence involves four main elements, including duty, harm, breach, and causation. 

Every driver on the road, including motorcyclists and passenger car drivers, has a legal duty to drive safely while respecting written traffic laws and the basic safety of the other road users. When a motorist doesn’t drive with the necessary and required degree of attentiveness, caution, and sobriety, they break these safety rules. 

The motorist can be held liable for the damages if another party has been harmed and the motorist is the direct cause of breach of duty. In some cases, the plaintiff will have to prove the defendant’s conduct wasn’t the conduct of a “reasonable person” through what is defined as a reasonable driver. 

In other cases, negligence is easier to prove. Such cases include the plaintiff demonstrating that the defendant broke traffic laws like running a red light or stoplight. This is considered to be negligence. 

In other cases, a personal injury lawsuit can be bigger than just negligence. This can be in extreme cases where the defendant and their behavior lack regard for the safety of others and are charged with recklessness. This can include actions like driving above the speed limit, fleeing police, and street racing.

Potential Damages from a Motorcycle Accident

Similar to the situation with other vehicular accidents, you can get different types of damages in motorcycle accidents. Three common types of damages include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages: these include losses that can’t be quantified. For example: 

  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Cost of rehabilitation therapy

Non-Economic Damages: these include less quantifiable costs. For example: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent injuries like disfigurement and disabilities
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium (for a partner or victim’s spouse)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages: The jury sometimes awards these damages to punish an egregious offender such as a drunk driver or another reckless driver.

Motorcycle Hazards

While on the road, a motorcyclist will face all kinds of risks that other passenger car drivers are less likely to encounter. Since motorcycles are smaller in size than standard cars, they can be harder to see. A motorcyclist can easily get into a car’s blind spot, and they’re more likely to be overturned than passenger cars. This is because a motorcyclist is balancing on two wheels, and they’re in a less stable position than those in four-wheeled vehicles. 

Standard road risks can be a nuisance to drivers, like debris, puddles of water, potholes, and more, which can also be considered deadly for motorcyclists. 

In the event of a motorcyclist collision, the motorcyclist will have a lot less protection than those occupying a passenger car. Motorcycles don’t have airbags, seatbelts, and the driver might not even have a helmet. Even in minor collisions, motorcyclists are often thrown right onto the pavement, typically at high rates of speed.

What To Do if You Have a Motorcycle Accident

Right after a motorcycle accident, it’s essential to make sure that you’re safe. Get out of the road, and be sure to get out of the path of other cars and vehicles. Once you’re out of the line of immediate danger, call 911 and check for injuries. You might not think you’re severely injured, but adrenaline can hide a lot of your injuries after you’ve been involved in an accident, and some of them might even have delayed symptoms. 

Exchange information with the other driver if there was another person involved. If you don’t do this, you can be guilty of a hit-and-run. Aside from exchanging your name, contact information, insurance, and license information, there’s no need to say much else to the other driver. It’s best not to apologize, as this can be considered an admission of guilt. Be helpful, respectful, and don’t react with anger as this could lead to more problems. 

If the other party leaves the scene, the accident should be reported to the police using as much detail as possible. This includes stating the make, model, and color of the vehicle, license plate number, and even a driver’s description. Include any identifying features of the driver as well as specific damage that the crash might have caused

Collecting evidence is also a crucial task when possible. Talk with any potential witnesses and also take down their contact information. Take videos and/or pictures of the accident scene when possible. Be sure to hold onto your motorcycle, clothing, and helmet if they have been damaged as a result of the accident. Taking down some records of the evidence, including any of the footage from local security cameras, dash cameras, and more, is essential. 

Even if you were not hospitalized after the accident, it’s best to go to a doctor as soon as possible following the accident. This can be vital for your health as well as for your legal protection. When you go see a doctor, you’ll be able to prove that you were hurt. Be sure to hold onto all your medical bills and any bills you may have for damaged property. It can also be a good idea to keep a journal of the ways your injuries interfere with your life as this can help you collect potential non-economic damages for pain and suffering.

After you’ve called 911, the police should respond to the scene of the accident. They’ll also take down notes based on what happened and compile them into an accident report. Police accident reports are typically helpful in personal injury cases as they assess fault, which can differ from what the insurance companies say. After any motorcycle accidents, you must request a copy of the police report and add any corrections if need be. 

Be sure to also seek legal representation following a motorcycle accident. By hiring a lawyer with experience in motorcycle accidents and motorcycle law, you’ll be able to focus on recovering from your injuries while leaving the paperwork and talking to the insurance adjusters. 

What to Avoid Doing

Similar to how there are things that you should do following a motorcycle accident, there are also things that you should avoid doing after an accident. Here are a few to consider: 

  • Don’t talk to the insurance adjuster or lawyer of the other party without having a motorcycle accident attorney present.
  • Do not agree to give statements or to be recorded.
  • Don’t agree to any “lowball offers” that may seem generous at first. Be sure to fully understand the damages and your injuries before considering any potentially inviting offers. Typically, these offers aren’t made if they believe you couldn’t get more in court. 
  • Don’t sign any paperwork without having your lawyer review it first.
  • Don’t post any information regarding the accident or your injuries on social media as it can be used against you. The things you say and post online regarding your accident or injuries can minimize your injury claim. Be sure to ask that your family and friends do the same regarding your accident. 

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Auto Accident FAQ

Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation. There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver. Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include: ● Current and future medical bills ● Property damage ● Emotional duress ● Lost wages ● Loss of enjoyment of life ● Loss of future earnings potential On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.