Motorcycling can be exciting, but along with that excitement comes danger. When it comes to motorcycle safety, there are a lot of things that can riders can do to minimize the risk of an accident. However, sometimes an accident occurs, even if you take the all of the precautions humanly possible.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several things you should do right away.
See if anyone is hurt – If you or anyone else involved in the crash requires immediate medical attention, call 911 right away.
Move to the side – Getting out of danger’s way is critical to ensure no further injuries or damage takes place. Move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible, and keep yourself safe.
Warn others – If you have flares or reflective warning triangles, set them up to warn oncoming drivers of potential danger. Putting on your vehicle’s hazard lights is also a good idea.
Exchange details – Get contact information from any other drivers and passengers, including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance cards, and license numbers. Be sure to get the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, as well as their makes and models.
Call the cops – Having a police report on file is critical if any injuries emerge later, or if the total amount of repairs for damage to your vehicle adds up to a substantial amount.
Note the location and time – Many people are understandably flustered when they get into an accident, but getting details like your precise location and the time of the accident are important. Take pictures or write down the nearest mile marker or any other specific geographical details.
Document as much as possible – In addition to recording the time and place of your accident, try to get as much detail as possible about the accident while it is still fresh. Take pictures if you are able, and write down as much as you remember about the accident and the moments leading up to it while it is still fresh in your mind. Be sure talk to anyone who saw the crash if you can, and get their contact information in case you need them as a witness later.
Motorcycle Crashes and Admitting Fault
It is natural for many people to apologize after a motorcycle accident, even when they are not at fault! Even if you think you are at fault, you may not know what the other person was doing at the time of the crash. Rather than saying you are sorry, it is better to concentrate on keeping everyone safe until police or medical personnel arrive on the scene.
The reason why it is important to do these things right away is that many people experience certain types of amnesia after a crash-related head injury. Your memory and the memory of others involved in the crash may not be reliable, even right after the crash itself. That is why gathering objective evidence right away is so important.
If another party to the accident insists it was your fault, you do not have to agree with them. Calmly tell them you would rather let the experts handle such determinations, and make sure you get their contact information and insurance details.
Helmets are often a major factor in the severity of motorcycle accidents. Those who wear a helmet are much more likely to survive a crash than those who don’t, and as a result many states have implemented helmet laws to protect motorcyclists and passengers.
There are three basic types of helmet laws in the United States:
- Universal Helmet Laws require all riders to wear helmets at all times.
- Partial Helmet Laws require riders to wear helmets under certain conditions (such as under a certain age).
- No Helmet Laws do not require helmets.
Helmet Laws in the United States
|Universal Helmet Laws|
|Partial Helmet Laws|
|No Helmet Laws|
Motorcycle Defects and Recalls
Defective or malfunctioning parts can lead directly or indirectly to accidents. If a part breaks down or stops working while someone is operating a motorcycle, it could lead to a loss of control and possibly even a crash that results in severe injury or death.
Safety standards for motorcycles and motorcycle parts are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Manufacturers are required to follow all current regulatory rules and industry guidelines when assembling vehicles. However, from time to time certain motorcycle parts may contain a manufacturing defect due to poor engineering, inadequate testing, a flaw in the production process, or some other preventable error.
When a defective motorcycle part is discovered, the manufacturer will often issue a voluntary recall. If the situation becomes bad enough, the NHTSA may conduct its own investigation and require the manufacturers to make a recall. The NHTSA publishes notices about both voluntary and mandatory recalls and monitors the company’s recall efforts to make sure that motorcycle owners are notified and receive the appropriate remedy for their defective parts.
According to federal law, when a recall takes place, the manufacturer is required to attempt to notify owners of the recalled part and how it will be fixed. This is one of the reasons why keeping your vehicle’s registration current with the appropriate state agency is important, because manufacturers will use registration records to send out recall notices.
Legal Help for Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcyclists who experience a motorcycle crash assume that they will be blamed, or that they do not have any legal recourse. However, you may be able to recover damages that will help you pay for injuries, physical therapy, lost income, and other costs related to your crash in cases where the other driver failed to follow the rules of the road.
Types of Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
- Under the influence – alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving – texting, looking at a phone/GPS, etc.
- Moving violations – tailgating, failing to signal, changing lanes unexpectedly
- Permit problems – expired registration, inspection, or driver’s license
- Improper maintenance – failing to fix or replace faulty or damaged parts like worn-down tires or signal lights
Drivers of other vehicles may also demonstrate fault based on how they react after a motorcycle crash. For example, someone involved a hit-and-run crash could be found at fault for fleeing the scene of an accident, potentially implicating them in the crash itself.
Laws may differ from state to state about what constitutes driver negligence, so it is important to talk with a lawyer in your state about what rules apply where you live.