How to Handle a Motorcycle Accident
There is no doubt that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars. Because they lack a metal frame to shield the rider, motorcycles leave the rider vulnerable to both minor and catastrophic injuries when an accident occurs. Common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents include:
• Head Injuries
Head or brain injuries can range from a minor concussion to severe and permanent damage. The impact of the head hitting the pavement, a nearby building or other object, or another car often results in serious brain traumas. Some examples of brain injuries include epidural and subdural hematomas, cerebral contusions, concussions and coup-contrecoup injuries. Helmets may mitigate the severity of the injury, but brain injuries can and often occur regardless of helmet use.
• Injuries to the Lower and Upper Extremities
Injuries to the lower extremities, or the legs and feet, are the most common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. Injuries to both lower and upper extremities include contusions, broken joints and bones, and loss of limbs.
• Chest Injuries
Common chest or thoracic injuries from motorcycle accidents include collapsed lungs, torn aorta, broken ribs and penetrating injuries. A broken rib can puncture a lung or otherwise restrict the lung and interfere with breathing. This restriction may cause pulmonary contusions. Penetrating injuries result when the injury is caused by a penetrating object, such as glass or other objects that may pierce an accident victim’s body.
• Spinal Injuries
Injuries to the upper back are the most common spinal injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents and generally involve multiple vertebrae. Damages to the vertebrae and spinal cord can lead to permanent damage, including chronic pain and even paralysis.
• Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries include damage to the organs, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. These injuries generally occur due to hard impact or sudden, forceful movements that are commonly experienced in motor vehicle accidents.
The severity of the injuries that often result from a motorcycle accident can require extensive medical care, time away from work and protracted rehabilitation. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast or have been involved in a motorcycle accident, a Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney can help you reach just compensation to help recover medical costs, property damage and loss of income.
When involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several steps that you should take to protect your interests should you need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Contact the Authorities
Depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries involved, you may need to call 911. In general, both the police and emergency medical service (EMS) arrive at the accident site when 911 is called. If there are no injuries, then call the police directly. Even for minor damage or injuries, the police should be called to investigate the incident and make a report.
The police will facilitate the exchange of information between all parties involved and will document the accident on a police report. The police report will contain important information to be used by your motorcycle accident attorney for any settlement or trial proceeding. Your insurance provider will also require a police report when you file a personal injury lawsuit. The official police report will include:
• The time, date and location of the accident.
• Statements from the drivers, passengers and witnesses.
• Vehicle information, such as make, model, VIN and license plate number.
• Types of injuries and property damage.
• Contextual and contributing factors, such as weather conditions, road construction, speeding, alcohol consumption, texting, etc.
It is important to have a copy of the police report. Get the name and badge number of the officer on the scene so that your personal injury attorney can easily obtain the necessary information from the police or get a copy of the report yourself.
2. Exchange Information with All Parties Involved
If your injuries are so severe that you are immediately taken to the hospital, doing many of these steps will be difficult. If you are able, be sure to collect the insurance and contact information from all parties involved in the accident. If not, the police should do this. Information needed includes:
• Contact information for the driver and passengers, specifically the name, address, phone number and email.
• The other driver’s insurance information, specifically the name, policy number and phone number.
• The make and model of all vehicles involved in the accident as well as the vehicle identification number and the license plate.
3. Document the Surroundings or the Context of the Accident
Photos of the accident scene will be useful to your personal injury attorney and for the building of your case. You should document or photograph the accident scene, the vehicles involved and the surroundings which may provide clues about the contributing factors to the accident. Documentation of the road conditions, speed limit signs and obstructions in the road (e.g. fallen limbs, debris, misplaced construction cones, etc.) are all useful contextual information. If you are unable to take photos, the police often do, and your motorcycle accident attorney can contact them.
4. Contact Your Insurance Company
Even if you are not at fault, notifying your insurance company about the accident does three things:
1. Puts the company on notice so that they are prepared when the other driver’s insurance company contacts them,
2. Creates an additional record of the incident, and
3. Gives you access to policy benefits such as medical coverage (i.e. “medpay”) and recovery for the repair of your motorcycle. However, these are limited benefits. Your motorcycle injury lawyer can help you maximize compensation.
5. Maintain a File of All Documents
Keep every document and receipt associated with the accident and its aftermath. This includes insurance information (claim number and adjuster’s contact information), copies of medical records of the injuries resulting from the accident and all the treatments and rehab required, photos of the incident and receipts for renting another vehicle. In other words, proof of any costs incurred as a result of the accident should be kept.
5. Legal Representation
Having a motorcycle injury lawyer advocate for your rights for just compensation will help you navigate all the possible claims that can be made in your case, garner the appropriate evidence needed and seek expert witnesses when necessary. Your attorney can help you optimize your settlement and receive the compensation needed to recover the costs arising from the accident.
Contact your personal injury attorney for a free initial consultation.