A motorcycle accident can leave you with devastating injuries, many of which may have lifelong consequences. You may, for example, have a traumatic brain injury, even if you wore a helmet while riding. You may have spinal cord damage, multiple broken bones, or severe road rash.
What comes next? How can you protect yourself and increase your odds of making a full recovery? Make sure you follow these critical steps.
Step One: Prioritize Your Medical Evaluation and Treatment.
Some people manage to walk away unscathed after a motorcycle accident. You may feel that, as long as you can move your body at the scene immediately after your accident, you will eventually recover without needing to visit a doctor.
In truth, however, many motorcycle accident victims have hidden injuries that may not appear immediately. The adrenaline from the accident itself can camouflage serious symptoms, leaving you convinced that you feel no pain despite severe injuries.
You may convince yourself, in the days that follow, that your symptoms remain relatively minor. “You have to expect some soreness after a motorcycle accident, but I’m fine.” “I’ve been a little confused, but I had trouble sleeping after the accident. Soreness kept me awake.” “It’s normal to feel a little brain fog after a major accident.”
These hidden injuries can cause serious complications long after an accident. You may discover chest contusions within hours or days of the accident. You may exhibit signs of traumatic brain injury that you ignore until they become much more serious. Soft tissue injuries, including shoulder, knee, and serious back injuries, may also not present for days or even weeks after your motorcycle accident. All that while, you may make your injuries worse through your actions and by failing to seek medical treatment.
Instead of ignoring your injuries and your medical needs, prioritize your medical evaluation and treatment.
To do this, you should:
Seek Medical Care as Soon After the Accident as Possible.
Do not leave the scene of the accident and go home. If you need ambulance transport because of a serious injury, use it. If you can transport yourself away from the scene of the accident or if a family member comes to pick you up, go straight to the hospital or to an urgent care center. Let the staff know that you had a motorcycle accident and that you need a full evaluation.
This emergency medical care will help diagnose any injuries that you may have suffered in the crash. It will also provide a record of the exact location of each of your injuries. If you need to file a motorcycle accident claim after your accident, you may need to use those medical records to prove exactly when your accident occurred.
Follow up on Your Care.
If you suffer serious injuries, including spinal cord damage or organ trauma, you may need to stay in the hospital. Your doctor may need to closely monitor your recovery or provide more care than you would receive if you went home.
On the other hand, if you have more minor injuries, you may go home shortly after your accident. In some cases, you may even leave the hospital after receiving treatment in the emergency room. Your emergency care provider may recommend following up with a specific type of doctor in the next couple of days. If you suffered broken bones, for example, you may need to follow up with an orthopedic doctor for casting, surgery, and ongoing observation of your healing.
Make those appointments, and follow up on all recommended care. You may find yourself tempted to skip those appointments, especially if your injuries appear to heal well enough on your own or if you worry about the cost of your treatments. Ignoring those appointments, however, could cause you to miss out on important medical care that can help enhance your overall progress and healing. If you interfere with your healing by avoiding these appointments, you could undermine your chances of success in a future motorcycle accident claim.
Work With Your Doctor to Create a Care Plan (and Follow Through).
Your doctors may have clear recommendations regarding your care and your recovery. Depending on your injuries, you may have significant limitations regarding when you can return to work, when you can go back to activities you enjoy, and even when you can bear weight on an injured limb. You should discuss a clear care plan with your doctors. In the case of serious injuries, including injuries like traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, it may take six months or more before your doctors can give you a clear expectation of your eventual recovery.
In the meantime, however, your doctors may offer specific advice concerning:
- What medical treatments you need, including specific surgeries or procedures.
- When you should start therapy and how many sessions you should expect.
- What limitations you will have during your recovery.
- When you can expect those limitations to start to lift and what signs to look for throughout your recovery.
- When you can return to work and what modifications you will need to make that return possible.
Work closely with your doctors and follow your care plan. Do not ignore your doctor’s recommendations or try to resume your normal activities too quickly after your motorcycle accident. You could permanently impact your physical health and make it more difficult to recover compensation for your injuries.
Step Two: Contact Your Insurance Companies.
Your insurance companies will play a vital role in your recovery after a motorcycle accident. Your insurance companies provide vital assistance in paying for your injuries. To make the most of your insurance coverage, however, you need to know what insurance coverage you have and how it works. Read on for more information:
Start With Your PIP Insurance.
Get in touch with your motorcycle insurance provider. In Florida, all drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance, which serves as the first line of financial protection following a serious accident. This insurance provides the initial coverage for your injuries and medical care once you meet your deductible. You will provide your PIP coverage information to the emergency room or urgent care center where you receive initial treatment after your accident.
Notify your PIP provider about the accident and your use of the coverage. Your PIP insurance provides coverage for your medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident, so you will not need to wait for an investigation to use that coverage. You can, however, ask any questions you have about your coverage at this time, including how to receive compensation for lost wages you face after your motorcycle accident. Having a lawyer to call your PIP provider will streamline the approval of your claim, which can prevent you from facing unexpected medical bills down the road.
Get in Touch With Your Medical Insurance Provider.
If you suffer severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, your medical insurance provider will need to cover many of your medical expenses. As soon as medical bills that reflect an accident start getting processed by your insurance company, the company will send out a letter asking about your accident and how it occurred. By contacting your insurance company directly, you can avoid this step and make sure that your claim gets approved faster. While talking to your insurance company, you can also ask questions you may have about your coverage.
You may want to ask:
Who are the in-network providers for your health insurance company? You will want, whenever possible, to use in-network providers for your medical care. You may have multiple tiers of coverage, depending on your plan. Each tier may have separate copays and deductibles. Following a serious accident, you may want to use top-tier providers, with the most coverage, whenever possible.
What coverage do you have for the various medical expenses that you may face during your recovery? Connect with your insurance company to ask more about what coverage you have for specific medical expenses that you expect to face after your accident. Ideally, you may want to call your insurance provider after you discuss a care plan with your doctors, since you will have a much better idea of the specific things you will need to maximize your care.
You may want to ask questions about:
- Durable medical equipment
- Home health care
- Long-term stays in residential care facilities
- What copays and deductibles you can expect
- Your coverage for physical therapy (some insurance companies limit you to a set number of covered visits per year)
- Your out-of-pocket maximum for the year
How will a motorcycle accident claim impact your insurance coverage? In some cases, your medical insurance provider may want to recover damages—in this case, the funds spent on your medical care—from the liable party in your accident. If you file a motorcycle accident claim, your medical insurance provider may require you to reimburse the company for expenses paid for your injuries. You may need to ask how your motorcycle accident claim will affect your medical insurance coverage after your motorcycle accident.
Step Three: Get in Touch With an Orlando Motorcycle Accident Attorney.
If you suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, you should retain a motorcycle accident attorney to help file a claim against the party that caused your accident. Most often, you will file a claim against the other driver involved in the accident. Usually, the driver’s auto insurance provider will cover that claim, but other parties may also share liability for the accident.
For example, a commercial driver may share liability with his or her employer, especially if the employer required the driver to exceed the legal number of hours that he or she could drive or failed to maintain the vehicle, causing the accident. Likewise, if mechanical failure caused the accident, the vehicle manufacturer or a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle may share liability for the accident.
Your recovery after a motorcycle accident may involve financial elements as well as physical elements of your recovery. A motorcycle accident attorney can play a vital role in helping you recover the funds you need to make a full financial recovery as well as a physical one.
A motorcycle accident attorney may:
Collect Evidence Related to Your Accident.
Who caused your accident? What factors contributed to it? Your attorney will need to determine who caused your accident, since the other driver’s insurance company may try to shift liability to you and off of its driver, as well as investigate any additional factors that may have contributed. Evidence, from witness statements to camera footage of the accident, can prove vital in determining liability.
If a commercial driver, including truck drivers as well as Uber and Lyft drivers, contributed to your accident, your attorney may need to conduct an even deeper investigation to uncover vital information about your claim.
Bring in Expert Witnesses.
Often, an expert witness can reconstruct an accident from the evidence available: photos, the damage on the vehicles, and even vague or somewhat unreliable witness accounts. You may also need an expert witness to testify about your injuries and the way they have impacted your life, since insurance companies may, after a serious motorcycle accident, try to prove that your injuries limit you less than you claim.
An expert witness can help establish exactly how much care you need and how much your injuries impact your life. Following this simple strategy will help you maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries.
Provide Vital Peace of Mind.
Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can cause a great deal of stress in your life. You have plenty on your plate as you assess your injuries and how to deal with them. An attorney can provide vital peace of mind that will make it easier for you to deal with your injuries and their aftermath, since you know you have someone else to handle your motorcycle accident claim.
Step Four: Work With Your Employer.
As soon after your motorcycle accident as possible, notify your employer about your injuries.
Your employer needs to know what injuries you suffered and how they may impact your ability to perform your job duties. Immediately after your accident, you may need to call your supervisors to notify them about the accident and your need to miss a few days (and potentially longer). After you talk to your doctor and create a care plan, especially one that involves severe injuries, you may need to talk to your employer again to go over other factors related to your accident.
Plan to discuss:
How Long You Will Miss Work.
Your doctor can provide you with an estimate of how much time you will need to spend out of work. Sometimes, you can return to work on limited duty within a few days of your accident. Other times, you may need to miss weeks or even months of work. Offer your employer an honest assessment of how much time you will need to take off due to your injuries.
What Modifications You Will Need To Return To Work.
Did you suffer a traumatic brain injury? If so, it may render you unable to deal directly with customers, since traumatic brain injuries can cause problems with emotional regulation. Do you have broken bones? You may need time to recover before you can take on any heavy lifting. Discuss your limitations with your employer.
In some cases, you can:
- Return to work with limited duties. You may need to temporarily modify your responsibilities to accommodate your injuries, but, in this case, you may have the ability to complete most of your usual job tasks and fill your usual role for your employer. Conversely, you might have the ability to temporarily shift your position in the company to accommodate your injuries, with a plan for returning to your usual activities as soon as possible.
- Work from home temporarily. Your injuries might prevent you from returning to the office immediately or make that return very difficult. For example, a broken leg could prevent you from driving, but it might not stop you from taking care of computerized responsibilities.
- Return to work on a part-time basis. Your injuries might cause enough pain or disorientation to make it difficult for you to return to work full-time, but you might have the ability to take on some of your responsibilities on a part-time basis. Discuss the feasibility of this shift with your employer.
What Options You Have For Disability.
Does your employer offer disability insurance? What options do you have if you need to miss a substantial amount of work? How much sick time do you have? Discuss your options with your employer to get a better idea of your options. You may still need to generate some income during your convalescence, especially as medical bills start arriving. Discuss your disability options with your employer to learn more about what options you have available.
Step 5: Don’t forget about your mental health.
Keep a close eye on your mental health during your recovery after your motorcycle accident. Many accident victims suffer from PTSD after an extremely traumatic accident. Others may suffer from depression, especially as recovery drags on. You may have trouble with lost relationships or lost opportunities in the aftermath of your accident, or you might suffer from flashbacks or other trauma-related responses.
Talk about those concerns with your doctor. If necessary, seek treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist to help resolve some of those symptoms. Your mental health can prove incredibly important to your overall recovery, and failing to take appropriate action could leave you struggling, both mentally and physically.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Recovery After a Motorcycle Accident
Many accident victims have substantial questions, including what they need to do to maximize their odds of recovery. If you have questions about your specific claim or your legal rights, contact an attorney to ask those questions. Here, we attempt to answer some of the general frequently asked questions associated with serious injuries after a motorcycle accident.
1. How much financial compensation should I expect after an Orlando motorcycle accident?
It depends. The party that caused your motorcycle accident likely carries auto insurance that provides coverage for any injuries suffered in accidents caused by that driver. The policy likely has set limits that will determine how much compensation you can receive. While the average Florida driver may carry relatively limited liability insurance, other drivers, including commercial truck, Uber, and Lyft drivers, may carry higher-limit plans. You may also find that you can seek additional compensation if multiple parties contributed to your accident.
Most motorcycle accident victims file for compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
2. Can I include psychological health costs as part of my motorcycle accident claim after a motorcycle accident in Orlando?
If you have mental health concerns that you need to address with a medical professional following your motorcycle accident, you can include those costs, including visits to a psychologist or psychiatrist and any medications you need as a result of your mental health diagnosis, as part of your claim. Your attorney may also advise including mental health concerns as part of the pain and suffering portion of your claim.
3. What should I do about my medical bills after an Orlando motorcycle accident?
Ultimately, as the party receiving services, you will bear liability for your medical expenses following your motorcycle accident. The liable party will not pay your medical expenses directly, but rather will issue payment to you, which you will then pass on to your medical care providers. You should make arrangements to pay your medical bills if possible.
However, you do have several options for covering those medical expenses.
- Your PIP insurance. Florida’s insurance requirements include carrying personal injury protection insurance, which will provide the initial coverage for your injuries once you pay your deductible. Check with your insurance provider to learn how much coverage you carry and how to use it.
- Your medical insurance. Your medical insurance may provide a large percentage of the coverage for your injuries, especially if you suffer severe injuries or injuries like spinal cord injuries or amputations, which may leave you with lifelong medical bills. Talk to your insurance provider to learn more about how much insurance coverage you have.
- A motorcycle accident claim. A motorcycle accident claim can help you recover some of the funds you lost as a result of your accident. Even minor injuries can cause medical bills that add up quickly, which may leave you struggling financially. By filing a motorcycle accident claim, you may get some of that money back, alleviating the financial strain.
4. My doctor said I shouldn’t engage in certain activities after my accident, but I felt fine. Will engaging in those activities affect my motorcycle accident claim?
It may. If you ignore your doctor’s advice and engage in activities that your doctor has recommended against, whether it’s going back to work earlier than you should or bearing weight on an injured limb before you heal completely, you may limit your recovery. The party that caused your accident would not bear liability for any additional injuries that you sustain because you failed to follow your doctor’s instructions.
The insurance company that covers the liable party, or the liable party’s attorney, may attempt to argue that you worsened your injuries by failing to listen to your doctor.
Follow all instructions issued by your doctor as you move through the recovery process. While you may grow frustrated or feel that your recovery moves too slowly, those instructions will help you maximize your odds of a full recovery as well as maximizing your ability to recover damages related to your injuries.
5. The insurance company that covers the driver liable for my motorcycle accident offered me a settlement in Orlando. It looks pretty good. Should I take it?
Before taking a settlement offer from the insurance company, consult an attorney. In many cases, insurance companies will get in touch with accident victims soon after the accident. They will try to get you to accept a settlement offer, often pressuring you to accept on the spot or “miss out” on those funds.
In reality, however, those funds may not reflect the full compensation you deserve for your accident. Consult an attorney to learn more about the compensation you deserve and whether that settlement reflects those funds. If it does not, you may choose to negotiate, rather than accepting a too-low offer.
6. Do I really need an attorney to deal with an Orlando motorcycle accident claim? Can’t I just go through my insurance company?
Your auto insurance company may offer to help you deal with your motorcycle accident claim. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney, however, often has a better understanding of how to get the full compensation you deserve. An attorney may also expend more effort in examining the accident and the factors that led to it, which can help you seek compensation from all parties that may have contributed to your injuries.
Many accident victims find that working with an attorney provides additional peace of mind and, in the end, helps them acquire more compensation from the liable parties than they could have obtained otherwise, even with the help of their auto insurance companies.
7. My employer will work with me so that I can return to work as soon as possible. Will going back to work hurt my Orlando motorcycle accident claim?
You should work with your employer, within your limitations and your doctors’ recommendations, to help you get back to work when you can. As part of your motorcycle accident claim, you can file for compensation for wages lost as a result of your injuries and your recovery.
Obviously, if you return to work, you won’t suffer as much lost income and, therefore, cannot include those damages in your claim. Most of the time, however, lost wages represent a relatively minor part of your motorcycle accident claim. Your medical expenses, which will form the foundation of the pain and suffering part of your claim, usually represent a much higher percentage of the claim. Consult your doctor, your attorney, and your employer to determine the best time for you to return to work.
You should not, however, return to work if that return will cause you to worsen your injuries or prevent you from receiving the treatment you need. Make sure your return falls within your doctor’s guidelines and your attorney’s recommendations.
8. What if I can’t ever return to my former job after my accident?
Some motorcycle accident victims suffer severe injuries, including spinal cord injuries, that may permanently prevent them from going back to their former jobs. If you suffer a traumatic brain injury, it may permanently prevent you from working in a creative field or from working directly with customers.
In that case, you will need to talk to your attorney about your losses and how to include lost earning potential as part of your motorcycle accident claim. A claim for lost earning potential establishes your inability to continue working in your field or your current profession. It may offer much-needed funds that can help you attain a new certification or seek new employment opportunities.
9. When will I know what life will look like after I recover from my Orlando motorcycle accident?
Talk to your doctor to get a better idea of what your timeline for recovery will look like. Recovery time varies based on your injuries, your overall health, and your treatment plan. For some severe injuries, it may take up to six months before your doctor knows what your eventual prognosis will look like.
Contact an Experienced Orlando Motorcycle Accident Attorney for More Information About Your Situation
If you suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can aid in your motorcycle accident claim and advance your financial recovery. Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of your legal rights and what steps you need to take following a motorcycle accident.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814