Do you know what to do after a motorcycle accident to protect your personal injury claim? If you don’t, then you need to learn, at least if you ride a motorcycle. The actions that you take immediately after a motorcycle accident can have a profound effect on the value of your claim. Following is a list of actions you should take.
1. Collect Contact Information
After you remove the vehicles from the road to ensure safety, collect contact details for everyone involved in the accident. This means drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Telephone number
- Insurance information (for drivers); and
- License numbers (for drivers)
If there is a CCTV camera nearby that might have recorded the accident, obtain the contact details of the person (probably a business owner) who might own the camera that filmed the accident.
2. Contact The Police
Contact the police if they have not already come to the scene of the accident. In most cases, the police will come without you having to call them. The police will make out a crash report that will contain important information about the accident.
Although you probably won’t be able to use the crash report as evidence in court (most courts consider it inadmissible hearsay), you can use it as a background resource and as an indicator of how the police officer who wrote it will testify in court. If the police officer’s in-court or deposition testimony contradicts their statement on the police report, you can use the police report to discredit them.
3. Collect Evidence
Take photos of the scene of the crash. The damage to the vehicles and their position on the road is important. The road itself is important, as are skid marks and any nearby traffic light or sign. You should also write down your own account of the crash. Keep all medical records, including photographs, of your injuries. Try to obtain any CCTV camera footage as soon as possible after the accident, to make sure the owner doesn’t erase it.
4. Report All Injuries and Symptoms
For evidentiary purposes, you need to report all of your injuries and symptoms to:
- The police officer who makes out the police report;
- The EMTs who take you to the hospital, if you take an ambulance ride; and
- Doctors and other medical personnel at the hospital.
Report any late-breaking symptoms to your doctor as well.
5. Seek Medical Treatment
If you don’t seek medical treatment right away, you are inviting the opposing party to claim that your injuries were caused by something that happened to you after the accident. They are also likely to cast doubt on the seriousness of your injuries based on your failure to seek immediate medical treatment.
Another reason to seek immediate medical treatment is that some injuries don’t show symptoms right away.
- Brain injury; and
- Internal bleeding; and
- Organ damage.
Your medical records can serve as persuasive evidence in court.
6. Talk to Witnesses
The sooner you interview eyewitnesses, the fresher their memories will be. If you can interview them at the scene of the accident, do so. Ask them questions about what they personally saw and heard, because this is the kind of evidence that would be admissible at trial.
You might also record their actual voices with your cell phone. Even if you do this, however, be sure to keep their contact details so that your lawyer can interview them (or even depose them) later.
7. Never Admit Fault
Never admit fault for the accident. Don’t even say “I’m sorry” just to be polite. This kind of statement could come back to haunt you later. Even an admission of partial fault could reduce your compensation. Don’t give the police any unnecessary information. Indeed, be careful what you say to anyone, especially right after the accident when you might not be thinking clearly.
8. Alert Your Insurance Company
Indiana is an “at-fault” auto insurance state. This means that if the other party was at fault, you will need to make a third-party claim against the defendant driver’s auto liability insurance policy. Your own insurance company may require you to inform them about the accident.
This is a tricky situation since you are required to divulge at least some information about the accident to qualify for coverage. Nevertheless, revealing too much information too early, or saying the wrong thing, could damage your claim. Your best bet is to retain a lawyer to assist you before you give any detailed or recorded statement to any insurance company, even your own.
9. Obtain a Copy of Your Crash Report
You must create and file a crash report if the police did not create their own crash report. If you are required to create a crash report, you must file it with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident. The report should contain the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- A description of weather conditions and visibility.
- Photographs of injuries or property damage. Photos of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved.
- Insurance information for you and any other party.
- Names and contact details of eyewitnesses.
- Anything else you think might be relevant.
To access a copy of the report (whether it was you or the police that prepared it), navigate to the BuyCrash website and follow the instructions.
10. Attend All Medical Appointments
Go to all your doctor’s appointments and strictly follow all instructions. If you don’t do this, you will leave yourself open to the accusation that you are partly at fault for your medical condition. The insurance company might also use your failure to attend medical appointments as evidence that you are not experiencing much pain. This perception could reduce damages for pain and suffering, which are often very substantial.
11. Keep Good Records
Keep an ongoing log of your symptoms for your records. This can be easily accomplished with a spiral bound notebook or a dated Word document. It doesn’t need to be a novel. Document your treatment and recovery progress over the long term. Your records should include:
- The dates and times of all medical appointments, including physical therapy;
- Prescription and non-prescription medicine you used;
- Laboratory tests, including X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, etc.
- Symptoms, including psychological distress;
- A description of how your injuries have affected your daily life;
- Photos of your injuries at various stages of healing; and
- All medical records issued by any healthcare provider, including medical bills.
Keep these records in a safe place.
Contact an Indiana Motorcycle Injury Attorney
Since a motorcycle accident claim is a type of personal injury claim, you should seek out a personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. An attorney can help you determine the total value of your claim. They can also negotiate a settlement, draft a settlement agreement and fight it out in court if necessary. Your lawyer should be able to increase the amount of your compensation by enough to more than offset any legal fees you pay.
Stracci Law Group Can Handle Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
If you suffered a motorcycle accident in Indiana, your injuries are likely to be fairly serious. Don’t expect any sympathy from the insurance company. Above all, do not proceed with your claim until you understand its fall value.
At Stracci Law Group, we can help you evaluate your claim and negotiate a generous settlement. Nevertheless, we know how to duke it out in court if push comes to shove. Call us at 219-525-1000, or simply contact us online. We serve clients in Crown Point [46307, 46308], Merrillville [46410, 46411], Hammond [46320, 46323], and elsewhere in Northwest Indiana.