Let’s say you’ve just been injured by a negligent driver while riding your motorcycle. If you are physically able, doing some important things immediately – and over the next couple of days after your wreck – can significantly improve the chances that your insurance claim for damages will be a success.
- Remain at the scene – Police will probably be dispatched once they are called and told you’re injured. Leaving an accident scene before they arrive could end up with your being arrested and charged with “fleeing an accident scene.”
- Check to make sure everyone is OK – If your own injuries are not too severe, try to check and make sure everyone else is OK.
- Call 911 – Summon police to the scene. If there are injuries, have the 911 operator summon EMTs as well. Once police arrive, they will inspect the scene and fill out a preliminary accident report. You will need this in order to begin your insurance claim. Other uses of an accident report include:
- Documenting the evidence and conclusions of the responding officer if the driver who hit you is at fault. It will also aid in any subsequent investigations by your lawyer.
- Accident reports include all insurance and personal identifying information on the negligent driver.
- A complete accident report that leads a strong body of evidence puts your lawyer in a stronger position when negotiating a settlement and is essential evidence if a civil trial is necessary.
- If police do not show, exchange insurance information which allows you to gather as much information on the other driver as possible.
It usually takes police a few days to prepare a formal accident report. The responding officer will tell you (or a family member, if you’re hospitalized) how to obtain your copy of the accident report. Once you have it, take it to your lawyer immediately.
- Talk to witnesses – If there are any witnesses, try to talk with them to learn what they saw. If that is not practical, try to at least get their names, and contact information. If they need to leave (witnesses don’t have to stay at an accident scene), give their information to police when they arrive. Also if anyone lives near the accident scene and tells you they saw the wreck, get their information, too. If you can, notice any businesses which might have video cameras that recorded the accident.
- Take pictures of damage to both vehicles – If your smartphone still works, snap away at the point of impact between their vehicle and your bike. Pictures can be strong evidence of your claim. If taken later, their evidentiary value might not be as compelling.
- Never apologize or admit that any part or all of the accident was your fault. Admissions – even non-specific ones – come back to haunt innocent victims when the at-fault driver’s insurance company learns you’ve expressed any sort of remorse. As they say, loose lips sink ships.
- Get medical treatment – If you need immediate attention, the ambulance will take you to a hospital emergency room. There you’ll learn whether your injuries are serious enough to warrant admission. If you are treated, released, and told to see your doctor, do so ASAP. Insurance companies view the time between the accident and your first medical treatment as an indication of how seriously you were injured. So don’t linger, even if you are tough.
When talking with the doctor (in the ER or your doctor’s office), tell them everything that hurts or does not feel right. Also, clearly explain any part of your body that impacted your bike, the street, the other car. All this is vital medical evidence for your lawyer to use either during settlement negotiations or, if necessary, at trial. “Toughing it out” is not the way to go when it comes to winning your insurance claim.
- Notify your insurance company – They should be told about the accident right away – no later than the next day if possible. Texas is a “no-fault” insurance state. In order for your damages to be paid, your insurance company needs to know, even if the other driver’s insurance company is the one you (and your lawyer) will be dealing with.
In a serious motorcycle accident, the other driver’s insurer may ask you to make an “official statement.” If you haven’t considered talking with a personal injury attorney by then, you should. They’ll explain the types of questions to expect – and why you should be very careful about what you say.
If you or a family member was hit by a negligent driver while operating or riding on a motorcycle, we at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help you 24/7. Contact us anytime to arrange a free consultation.