The factors in a successful motorcycle accident case are, by and large, in line with those that would come into play in an auto accident case. Successful motorcycle accident injury plaintiffs must prove that the defendant driver's carelessness, inattentiveness, or recklessness directly caused the rider’s injuries. However, the law governing motorcycle accident injuries -- particularly in terms of no-fault car insurance -- may differ from state to state. What follows are the most important considerations in a successful motorcycle accident injury case.
Having the correct insurance policy for you and your motorcycle is, perhaps, the single most important key to a successful motorcycle accident injury case. Motorcycle insurance is a very specific type of coverage, and state laws regarding motorcycle insurance requirements vary.
In most states, however, a rider who does not have the appropriate coverage will be limited with regard to their options after an accident occurs, especially in states that follow no-fault insurance rules. And even in states that don't follow no-fault, if it turns out that there is no one else to hold legally liable for your accident, or that the at-fault driver has no insurance and nothing in the way of assets, you could find yourself on the hook for medical bills, repair bills and other losses, if you don't have the right insurance coverage.
If you are physically able, collect as much information as possible in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident.
It goes without saying that if you are in need of medical attention, that should be your first priority -- but if your injuries are minor, take a little time to photograph the scene, gather witness names and contact information, and even take a few pictures if you have a camera or camera phone available.
If you are unable to gather information yourself, try and enlist someone at the scene to do it for you. Immediately notifying the police of an accident is helpful in this area, because the sooner the police arrive on the scene, the more likely they are to gather their own dossier of witness information and statements. Do not hesitate to call the police, even if you may have been at fault for the accident. Fault and liability do not always go hand in hand. You need to create a record that is as near in time to the actual incident as possible.
As soon as possible after your motorcycle accident, seek medical attention. Even if you feel “fine,” a medical professional should evaluate your condition. You may have internal injuries, you may be in shock, or you may have experienced physical or psychological trauma that won’t be readily apparent until the days following the accident.
Creating a paper trail in the form of medical records will allow an insurance adjuster, judge and/or jury to get a complete picture of your physical condition both before and after the accident, and can serve to highlight the actually injuries attributable to the accident.
Motorcycle accident injuries often result in expensive future medical care. Seeking prompt medical attention -- and following doctors’ orders -- can refute claims of malingering or exaggerated injuries. A comprehensive medical record can also help you put an appropriate value on your case, when it's time to consider settlement. Without an understanding of the cost and duration of your treatment and rehabilitation, you could undervalue a settlement demand and find yourself either cutting off treatment due to expense, or paying out-of-pocket for expenses that are the responsibility of another party.
After you receive medical treatment for your motorcycle accident injuries, be sure to notify the appropriate insurance companies (yours, the offending driver’s, or both) of your intent to file a claim.
Insurance companies have strict requirements regarding notice of claims, and could reject your claim if you wait too long to let them know the accident occurred. Lack of proper notice to insurance companies can be used in court to create the appearance of dishonesty, and could hurt your chances of success -- particularly in cases where you’re simply making a claim and not filing suit. If you’re incapable of reporting the accident yourself due to health reasons, have someone do it for you. Don’t let the accident go unreported.
Even if you are not pursuing a lawsuit, or your damages don’t seem to be all that significant, consult with a lawyer to be sure you have all your ducks in a row. Even an hour’s worth of an lawyer’s time could be money well spent in the long run (and the initial consultation is typically free).