Advice for riders from a lawyer
Houston-based injury and accident attorney, John Zaid, provides some sound advice for what not to do following a motorcycle accident – or any vehicular accident. —Ed.
Even if you are a very safe and responsible motorcycle rider, you may have the misfortune of getting into an accident at some point. And if it does ever happen, you should know exactly what to do to prevent causing further problems by avoiding one of these common mistakes.
Never admit fault at the scene
When it comes to determining fault, very few vehicle accidents are cut and dried. Your perception of what happened might not be entirely accurate, even if you think you were the one who caused it. That’s why you should never tell the other driver or a police officer that you accept blame for the accident. You should even avoid apologizing, as your kindness might be misinterpreted.
It’s okay to inquire about the well-being of the other driver and passengers and to be perfectly polite and courteous, but that’s all. Your sincere apology or admission of involvement in the cause of the accident could later be used against you by your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance. Simply stick to the facts and you’ll be less likely to have your own words used as a reason not to pay for damages to your motorcycle or costs related to injuries you may have sustained.
Never agree to just “forget about It”
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is a hassle, so it’s no surprise that many people are tempted to say, “Let’s just forget about it,” and go their separate ways. But even if it was just a minor fender bender, you should file a report with the police. Having no official report of what happened may give your insurance company a reason not to cover damage to your motorcycle or medical bills.
Getting the other driver’s information is not enough – the info they give you may not even be accurate. You should be especially wary if the other driver tries hard to persuade you not to get law enforcement involved, as this could be an indication that they’re unlicensed, uninsured or even have a warrant out for their arrest. Any of those circumstances would work in your favor if you end up having to take legal action.
When you do give your account to the police, be sure to recount the facts only. Don’t include what you think might have happened, how you were feeling at the time, or anything else that an insurance provider may be able to use to get out of covering your costs.
Never assume you’re not hurt
In many cases, injuries that result from vehicle accidents don’t rear their ugly heads until hours or days after the accident. Even though you may have just been bumped and you feel perfectly fine in the moments after the accident, you could begin to feel pain associated with whiplash or other injuries later. It’s best to assume that you might be hurt and get checked out by a medical professional just in case.
Keep in mind that if you tell the other driver, the police and/or your insurance provider that you weren’t injured but then feel delayed symptoms of an injury later, you make it easier for insurance companies to claim that your injury is not related to the accident. The point is that it’s better to be safe than sorry if there’s any chance that the accident will result in a financial burden later on.
Never immediately call your insurance company
There is a common misconception among drivers that calling your insurance company is your first priority after an accident. This is simply not the case. In fact, you should not talk to your insurance company at all before you make an official report and get checked out by a medical professional. Depending on the situation, you may even want to speak to attorney before you contact your insurance provider.
Keep in mind that insurance companies will always look for a way not to cover your claim, so they may try to get you to say something that lets them off the hook. That’s much more likely to happen if you’re still frazzled from the accident. Regardless of whether you decide to work with a lawyer or not, don’t talk to the insurance agent until you’re calm, clear-headed and prepared to give your account of the accident in a factual way.
Being in a motorcycle accident is bad enough already without throwing a wrench into the mix by doing or saying something you shouldn’t. Your first concern is always your own safety. But once you have established that everyone is okay, take a moment to collect your thoughts, review these tips and address the next steps.