Whether you ride motorcycles as a relaxing hobby or a convenient and economic way to travel on a daily basis, motorcycle riding can be fun and exciting. It also can be dangerous.
According to recent data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 29 times more likely than car drivers to experience a fatal accident and are 4 times more likely to be injured. In fact, injury or death occurs in 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes. The main reason for these startling motorcycle crash statistics is that motorcyclists have less protection and, as a result, are more likely to be injured in a crash.
If you have been injured or your motorcycle has been damaged in a motorcycle wreck, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and the damage to your property. To receive compensation, you likely will have to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company.
Here are five things you should do to make sure you reach a fair settlement in a motorcycle wreck case.
1. Control the Scene of the Accident
When you are in a motorcycle wreck, reaching a fair settlement in a motorcycle wreck case begins at the scene of the accident. Therefore, if you are not seriously injured and are able to do so, it is important that you take control of the scene of the accident so that you can acquire critical information that will be relevant to your case.
The first thing you must prove to be compensated for your damages is that another party was at fault. The most important evidence supporting that claim is usually determined at the scene of the accident. Some things to do at the scene of the accident that will help determine fault include the following:
- Contact local law enforcement. No matter how minor your accident may have been, once you are sure that everyone is safe and removed from any further danger at the scene, you should always contact local law enforcement immediately. When police arrive on the scene, they will interview everyone involved and make a report of what is alleged to have happened. The information collected by the police likely will be critical to your ability to negotiate a fair and proper settlement for any damages you may have sustained.
- Note the condition of the other driver. Unfortunately, accidents often occur because another driver was intoxicated, drowsy, or distracted. While you wait for local law enforcement to arrive, try to note the behavior of the other driver.
- Do they seem intoxicated?
- Do they smell of alcohol?
- Are they stable on their feet?
- Do they slur their words or speak incoherently?
- Did they drift out of their lane on the road or fail to slow down or stop at an intersection or traffic signal?
Of course, some behaviors could be the result of a head injury sustained in the accident. However, if these behaviors are the result of an injury, a medical professional should be able to explain the other party’s condition. Any such behaviors may be relevant to the issue of fault. In any case, do not confront the other driver. It is important only that you note any such behaviors to explain what factors may have contributed to the accident.
- Identify the existence of any traffic signs or signals. Although the accident may have occurred so suddenly that you are unaware of what happened, make note of any existing traffic signs or signals in the area.
- Is there a traffic light at the scene? Is it functioning?
- Are there any stop signs in the area?
- Are there any indicators of redirected traffic?
Although you may be unsure of what exactly took place immediately before the accident, the existence of traffic signals and road signs may help indicated the cause of the accident and who was at fault. Taking photographs of the accident scene is a critical step in collecting evidence at the scene to support your case.
- Note the road and weather conditions. Although the other driver may have been driving at or under the speed limit and maintaining a standard distance behind other vehicles, the other driver may not have been driving appropriately under the conditions at the time. If the road or weather conditions were hazardous because of debris in the road, ice, sleet, snow, rain, or any other dangerous condition, the other driver may be at fault for not driving safely under the conditions at the time.
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses. Much of the relevant evidence you need to be able to show fault will come from physical evidence like traffic signs, road conditions, skid marks, etc. But some of the most helpful evidence will come directly from the testimony of witnesses. Once you have determined that everyone at the scene is no longer at risk of further injury, try to obtain the names on contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident. An eye witness’s first-hand account of what happened at the time of the accident can provide strong evidence of who was at fault.
2. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Part of negotiating a fair settlement in a motorcycle wreck case is being able to demonstrate any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. To do this, you must provide medical evidence of your injuries and the costs associated with those injuries. You cannot do this by simply stating that you “injured your neck,” “broke your leg,” or “had to pay for a hospital visit.” You must provide medical testimony of your injury and evidence of any costs you incurred. This may include:
- A physician’s testimony
- Medical records
- Receipts for:
- Ambulance services
- Hospital stays
- Surgeries, X-rays, or any other medical procedures
- Follow-up doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Counseling or therapy
Often, injuries do not present themselves immediately. Some serious injuries, include head trauma, internal injuries, or whiplash, may not reveal themselves for hours or even days after the accident. Even if you think you were not injured, it is important to seem immediate medical attention after a motorcycle wreck so that a medical physician can verify your condition at the time of, and after, the accident.
3. Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney Like Foster Wallace, LLC.
The most important thing you can do after a motorcycle wreck to ensure that you negotiate a fair settlement is to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Many personal injury lawyers will claim to be able to represent you in your case. But not every personal injury lawyer is experienced in motorcycle wreck cases. The lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC, are experienced and can provide the services you need to negotiate the maximum settlement you deserve.
Motorcycle wreck cases are unlike normal auto accident cases. Motorcyclists are subject to unique circumstances and liabilities that only an experienced motorcycle accident attorney will be able to navigate during the settlement process. The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, are trained in motorcycle accident cases and have years of experience proving fault in motorcycle wreck cases. We also have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies and protecting accident victims from the tactics of insurance adjusters who try to reach an unfair settlement to benefit the insurance company.
Most people have no experience dealing with insurance companies and do not know what to expect or how to value their damages. When you are injured and have medical bills to pay, any settlement from the insurance company—even an unfair one—may seem sufficient. But before you agree to any kind of settlement with an insurance adjuster, let the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, evaluate your case to help you determine fault, collect relevant evidence, value your damages appropriately, and negotiate with professional insurance adjusters whose job it is to get you to agree to the lowest settlement possible.
4. Do Not Settle Your Case Prematurely
If you must deal with the insurance company before you contact the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, understand that the insurance company will try to get you to reach a low settlement as quickly as possible. There are several reasons for this:
- The insurance company does not want you to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Instead, the insurance company wants to take advantage of your inexperience at proving fault and valuing damages. Having an experienced attorney to represent you from the beginning will put the insurance company on the defensive and will maximize the likelihood of reaching a fair settlement.
- The insurance company wants to settle your case before you fully value your property damage. Any avid motorcyclist knows the difficulty and heartache of having a damaged motorcycle that you cannot ride. When your motorcycle is damaged, you naturally want to repair or replace it as soon as possible. But you should never have your motorcycle repaired before the full extent of the damages is assessed and recorded.
Also, a quick settlement with the insurance company often seems like the easiest way to “repair your ride” and “get back on the road.” But the initial settlement offer from the insurance company is almost never a fair one. Let the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, make a proper and full assessment of your damages so you can be fully informed when negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company.
- The insurance company wants to settle your case before your injuries have fully healed. If the insurance company can settle your case before you even know the full extent of your injuries or the seriousness of your condition, they are better able to avoid a settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries. This takes money out of your pocket and puts it in the pocket of the insurance company.
The experienced motorcycle wreck attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, will help you avoid this situation and will make sure you can prove the full extent of your injuries before reaching any kind of settlement that puts you at a disadvantage.
- The insurance company wants to settle your case before you can accurately value your damages. You are legally entitled to full compensation for your damages. But the full value of your damages may not be revealed until you properly assess the total costs you incur as a result of your injuries. This can include:
- All of your medical bills
- The cost of rehabilitation and ongoing physical therapy
- Lost wages for time away from work
- Lost future income as a result of permanent disability
The insurance company will go to great lengths to get you to agree to a settlement before you are able to accurately assess and value these damages. The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, will make sure that your damages are fully and accurately valued before reaching a settlement with the insurance company.
5. Be Prepared to Go to Trial
Insurance companies will try to get you to reach a settlement before going to trial, especially if you are represented by experienced motorcycle accident trial attorneys like those at Foster Wallace, LLC. Our attorneys are experienced at dealing with insurance adjusters and are skilled at negotiating a fair settlement before going to trial. But if an insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, are always prepared to prove your case at trial to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our goal is neither to settle your case nor go to trial. Rather, our only goal is that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. We know what a fair settlement is and always will be prepared to go to trial to reach it on your behalf.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Kansas City motor vehicle accident you need to speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.