Accidents involving motorcycles often result in severe injuries and sometimes fatalities. These accidents happen in several ways, with some motorcyclists crashing into each other or getting hit by vehicles. Motorcycle accidents can also involve a pedestrian as a victim of the crash. There are also multiple causes of motorcycle accidents that lead to various damages to the victim.
When involved in a motorcycle accident, there are various things you need to do to safeguard your life and ensure compensation for the losses you suffer. One of the essential things to do is to engage an attorney that will help you in pursuing your damages. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand the consequences following an accident, and we passionately assist you in getting your costs.
What You Should Do Following a Motorcycle Accident
Some people love the thrill of riding on the open roads with their bikes, with some moving at high speeds. The causes of these accidents are just as diverse as the injuries one sustains from them. What you do immediately following the accident is critical to your health and the damages you receive as compensation. Some of the actions you should take include:
Never Leave the Accident Scene
It is illegal to move from the accident scene, especially if it involved other motorists, stationary objects, or persons. If you have had an accident, the first thing you need to do is determine if you have sustained any injuries. If you are in a position to help others involved in the accident, you must do so and ensure their safety.
Next, calling the police or emergency personnel to report the accident is critical to your wellbeing and your damages. The emergency personnel will want details of the accident scene, the location, persons involved, and injuries sustained. You must be patient and answer all the questions because they help in the rescue efforts.
It is only advisable to leave the accident scene if you are seeking treatment for the injuries you sustained. Leaving an accident scene under other circumstances can result in you getting blamed for the accident or being accused of a hit and run offense.
Exchanging Personal and Insurance Details With Parties Involved
After you have called for help and reported the accident, as you wait for the police and emergency personnel, you must take a few more actions. One of the crucial steps is exchanging your contacts and insurance information with those of other parties involved in the accident. Remember, California is a fault state meaning that you need this information when seeking damages from the party responsible for the crash.
Get Witness Details
A witness is critical in a damages claim case. When seeking damages, a statement from an eye witness helps strengthen your case. Typically, the at-fault party or their insurance provider will not willingly pay for costs unless you prove they are responsible for the accident. One of the ways to show this is by presenting a witness account of how the accident happened.
The contact details of a witness are crucial because your attorney may want to contact them to help substantiate your claim. Ask the witness if they can provide a written and signed account of the events they witnessed leading to the accident. This written statement can be used to accompany your claim to the insurance adjuster or in court, should you sue the other party for damages.
Never Admit Fault
What you say following an accident may be taken to mean you admit to being responsible for the accident. If you are a motorcyclist involved in a collision with a vehicle, it is blamed on you quickly. Saying you are sorry for the accident after it has happened can be interpreted as an admission of fault. Be careful what you say following the accident, whether to others or the police. Possibly, avoid talking much even when provoked by the other party, but instead refer them to your lawyer.
Take Pictures of the Accident
When accident experts reconstruct the accident scene, photos taken immediately after the accident are essential. If you have a smartphone with you, try and take as many pictures of the accident as you possibly can. Photos of the surrounding area, your injuries, and any other relevant thing are helpful. Try taking the pictures from various angles because this helps to show who was responsible for the accident.
Seek Medical Help
Accidents involving motorcycles are known to lead to critical and sometimes catastrophic injuries, especially when you are the motorcyclist. It is unfortunate that some victims, when they do not notice physical damages, they assume they are not injured, only to later succumb to the injuries.
Whether the injuries are apparent or not, the impact of an accident on the body is damaging. Seeking medical attention is critical to your wellbeing, and you should do so immediately you leave the accident scene. Do not be in a hurry, but allow your doctor to carry out a comprehensive exam to establish any physical and internal injuries you may have sustained.
The doctor will also tell you the extent of your injuries and treat them to avoid further damage to your body. As you get treated for your injuries, take pictures of your injuries as well. Additionally, document every stage of your treatment.
Keep a Comprehensive Record of Your Injuries and Damages
When seeking compensation for the financial losses you incur as a result of the accident, the claim must be accompanied by evidence. In case you have injuries, ensure to have a folder where you file every receipt documenting any treatment sought for the injuries. The cost of treatment must be well documented and recorded. This includes doctor’s fees, cost of medication, cost of medical procedures and tests, among others. If you took a taxi to go to see the doctor, the receipts for the same must be well kept.
Some injuries may require you to have a nurse at home to care for you. This cost is also compensable as long as you support it with evidence. If you had to buy medical equipment such as walkers or a hospital bed or any equipment to aid in your treatment, this, too, is compensable.
Other damages that need documentation is the cost of repairing your motorbike. As you present a claim for the repairs, your lawyer will ensure it is accompanied by photos of the damages and an invoice from the auto shop.
Any economic damages or losses you incur must be documented because they act as the most crucial evidence when seeking damages. If you missed work while healing from the injuries and, as a result, you lost your wages, this, too, is compensable with evidence of employment and wages lost. Damages that are not well supported by documents may get challenged, and you may lose payment for them.
Engage a Personal Injury Attorney
After seeking medical attention, the next critical step is engaging an attorney to guide you through your claim. An attorney understands the law and the tactics used by insurance providers to avoid paying for damages. Although you can still pursue your damages individually, with an attorney, you stand a better chance of getting better costs. Additionally, if the insurance provider declines to pay you or offers unacceptable damages, your lawyer can file a petition with the court for your losses.
Avoid Talking With Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters, especially after they know their client is at fault, will attempt to give you an offer in compensation. Try and avoid any discussions with them and refer them to your attorney. In most cases, they will provide you with a proposal that may seem favorable, and out of desperation or ill advice, you accept it. Remember, once you have taken compensation prematurely, you can never go back to claim more when the money you receive is not enough to cover your losses.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Provider
It is a requirement for you to report the accident to your insurance provider even when you are not the one responsible. One of the reasons is that the other party may claim you are to blame and attempt to seek damages as well. Informing your insurance provider helps protect them and yourself against fraudulent claims.
Seeking Damages Following a Motorcycle Accident
The other critical thing to do after a motorcycle accident is to pursue damages. Insurance laws in California allow an accident victim to receive compensation for the losses they incur as a result of the accident. To begin with, you must also have had the minimum auto insurance coverage to qualify for damages.
California is a fault state. This means that the party responsible for the accident must be established first and is the one to pay for the damages. At the same time, comparative negligence theory is also applicable in California. This means that when the fault is shared, the parties share in the damages as well.
After the accident, your lawyer will start pursuing damages immediately. This is important in keeping with the requirements of the Statute of Limitations.
Lawyers also work with accident reconstruction experts in determining the cause of the accident. It is critical to ensure that damages are sought from the right party. When your attorney has established the cause of the accident, the party responsible pays for your losses. Your attorney will prepare a claim accompanied by all the supporting documents. This is where photos of the accident scene, medical reports, and costs, repairs to your motorcycle, and report on your wages come in.
With these supporting documents, the insurance adjuster studies your claim and either agrees to pay as requested, makes a counteroffer, or declines to pay altogether. If the insurance company offers you payment, then the case is closed once you receive your check. However, if they make a counteroffer, your lawyer will represent you in the negotiations making sure your interests are taken into consideration.
If an agreement is not arrived at or if the insurance provider declines to pay the damages, your lawyer can file a suit seeking your costs with the court. The court will set a hearing date after the lawyers of the insurance company of the at-fault party answer to the petition. The insurance in their response can claim that you and their client shared responsibility for the accident, or you are entirely to blame.
Each side will be allowed to present their case before the court with supporting evidence. Your lawyer will present evidence to convince the court that the other party is to blame for the accident. On the other hand, the other party will also present their evidence on why they have denied your claim or how you are partially to blame. Once each party has presented their case, the jury will deliberate on the evidence provided, and decide who is to blame for the accident.
If the other party is said to take full responsibility for the damages, then they will pay for the costs up to 100%. If the jury finds that the fault is shared, the percentage of fault for each party is established. If, for instance, the jury determines that you are partially to blame for the accident up to 20%, you will receive damages of 80% of your claim.
Establishing Cause of Your Motorcycle Accidents
When seeking damages from your motorcycle accident, you must prove that the other party is responsible for your injuries. As earlier stated, one of the things you do following this accident is to seek damages. Damages in California are paid either by the at-fault party or shared between the parties under a comparative negligence theory. This makes it critical for your lawyer to determine the cause of the accident to seek damages from the right party. There are many causes of motorcycle accidents in California with some being:
Dangerous Road Conditions
When you are using the road, you will easily assume and rightfully so that it is well maintained and in good condition. This means there are no potholes, cracks, spillages, and other hazards on the road. The road signs or markings on the road must also be well maintained because they inform motorists on what to expect ahead.
If you hit a pothole with your motorcycle and crashed, the injuries you sustain are, without a doubt, significant. When it is established that the pothole is the reason for your accident, the at-fault party is the agency tasked with maintaining the road. Your lawyer, in this case, will seek your damages from the government agency responsible for ensuring the roads are kept in the right conditions.
When seeking damages from a government agency, the Statute of Limitations is shorter, meaning your lawyer must be fast in seeking damages.
Accidents are not always the fault of a driver or rider. Sometimes, the motorcycle or vehicle of the other party can develop mechanical challenges. This can be as a result of a faulty part or malfunctioning one. If this is the case, under property liability laws, your lawyer will seek damages from the motorcycle-parts manufacturer or the motorcycle or vehicle manufacturer.
If the brakes malfunctioned due to a mechanical fault, it must be established to receive damages. If it is determined that the parts left the manufacturer’s when faulty, they are responsible for the accident and must pay costs for the same.
Although driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited in California, it still happens and poses a danger to road users. If the other party was using the road drunk or high on drugs and caused your accident, this must be established for them to pay you damages. Typically, after an accident, the police check the parties involved for intoxication by carrying out chemical tests. Your lawyer can obtain the results from the police as well as the police report supporting the intoxication theory.
If you were intoxicated as you ride your motorbike, you might also be the reason for the accident or partially to blame. In this case, you may receive damages under the comparative negligence rule.
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides his or her motorbike between lanes with vehicles on either side. This is a common habit by bikers that results in many accidents. A vehicle driver may not see you and crashes into you while changing lanes unknowingly. Establishing fault in this case sometimes becomes challenging, resulting in shared blame.
Some of the most catastrophic injuries in motorcycle accidents are as a result of speeding. Most motorcyclists enjoy the high speed they travel at. However, this speed comes with significant dangers. For instance, if you suddenly come upon a road hazard, it will be difficult for you to stop or control your bike. In most cases, one may end up in a head-on collision or crashing on the side and spinning on the road.
When it is established that you were riding at speeds beyond the legal limit, you may get blamed for the accident and responsible for your damages. Avoiding traveling at high speeds is highly encouraged to maintain road safety.
Distractions on the road can be due to internal factors or external factors. If you are riding on the road, you owe other road users a duty of care, just like they owe you. This means you must practice safe driving to protect each other from accidents. If it is established, the other party was distracted, and as a result, he or she caused the accident, they will be accountable for the losses incurred. If you were the one distracted, you would be expected to pay them for damages.
Compensable Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, if you were the rider, you are likely to have sustained substantial injuries. This means the economic and non-economic damages you suffer are equally significant. While seeking compensation after a motorcycle accident, you can receive damages both for financial and non-economic losses.
Economic damages are usually supported by documentary evidence, and they include financial losses you have incurred as a result of the accident. Some of the recoverable damages under economic losses include:
The cost of treating your injuries fall under this group. This includes your doctor’s fees, cost of medical procedures and medications, as well as any medical equipment that was necessary for your treatment. Medical expenses also include your past, current, and future bills, if applicable, concerning the injuries sustained. For you to receive these damages, you must accompany your claim with a detailed medical report indicating the injuries you sustained and the necessary treatment and cost.
As you recover from your injuries, you are likely to miss a few days of work if the injuries were not substantial. If you suffered significant injuries, you may miss work over an extended period and sometimes even lose the ability to work. The value of income or wages you lose as a result is compensable under California insurance laws.
Cost of Property Damage
When in an accident, your motorcycle can receive extensive damages as well. The cost of repairing the damages is compensable according to insurance laws. While seeking for these damages, you must accompany your claim with pictures of the motorcycle before the accident, after the accident and post repairs. Your auto shop must also present a detailed report of the damage and the repair costs.
Aside from the many economic damages, a victim of a motorcycle accident can also receive non-economic costs. These damages are not quantifiable but are decided upon based on the injuries a victim sustains.
Some of these damages include:
- The pain and suffering you endure due to the injuries.
- Loss of consortium damages, among many others
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Motorcycle accidents result in very significant injuries to the persons involved. The medical costs for treating the injuries can be overwhelming to the family and the victim. Seeking compensation for the expenses incurred is well within the law as long as you can establish the party responsible for your damages. What you do immediately following the accident also plays a significant role in determining your compensation. The challenges of seeking compensation are, however, overwhelming to the victim, making it crucial to engage an attorney. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand the challenges and assist our clients in receiving their rightful damages. Call us at 619-478-4059 and allow us to discuss your claim in detail.