You bought the motorcycle so you could see this sunny state in a whole new way. Now you were in an accident. Fortunately, unlike more than 500 motorcyclists who died in traffic-related crashes during the course of one year, you are alive. However, now you’re not sure what you should do.
Read on for general directions about what to do if you crashed your motorcycle. For more in-depth answers to your legal questions after a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Before a Crash Takes Place
With its plentiful sun and beautiful sights, Florida is one of the most popular states in which to ride a motorcycle. However, it is also one of the most dangerous places in the nation for motorcyclists. In one recent year, 9,122 motorcycles were in traffic accidents in the state, resulting in thousands of injured riders and passengers.
While Florida requires the drivers of registered automobiles to purchase a personal injury protection policy to have medical and job-loss benefits in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at fault, there is no such requirement for the state’s motorcyclists. In fact, motorcyclists who can prove financial responsibility if they were to cause an accident, aren’t required to purchase motorcycle insurance at all unless they can’t satisfy the requirement for $10,000 medical benefits through their own regular health insurance. However, that’s certainly not the best way to protect your finances if you’re involved in an accident.
While no one wants to imagine having a motorcycle accident, in truth, such accidents do happen. One of the best ways to ensure that you have money to cover your expenses and the expenses of anyone else who might become injured if you have a motorcycle crash is to purchase a robust insurance policy before an accident happens. At the very least, your policy should feature liability protection, including:
- $10,000 bodily injury protection per person, which covers up to $10,000 of expenses to another individual who suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that was your fault.
- $20,000 bodily injury protection per incident, which provides compensation for multiple victims up to the policy limit for injuries sustained in an accident that was your fault.
- $10,000 property damage liability protection, covering up to $10,000 in damages to another person’s property, generally a car, if you caused an accident.
Additional coverages that you may want to consider for your motorcycle include:
- New motorcycle coverage, providing the cost of a replacement motorcycle of equal value if your motorcycle is totaled.
- Collision coverage, which can also provide money toward the cost of replacing your motorcycle or equipment, such as your helmet, after an accident involving a car or another object.
- Comprehensive coverage, which covers other types of damages to your motorcycle, such as theft, vandalism, or wind damage.
Keep your insurance documentation either stored inside a compartment on your bike or on your person so that it is easy to access after an accident.
A vital part of protecting your safety and your life in the event of a motorcycle crash is the gear you wear every time you ride, which should include:
- Helmet: Helmets are not required in Florida for riders over 21 years of age who can prove that they have at least $10,000 worth of medical benefits. Even if you have the required insurance, helmets can reduce the severity of head injuries, which are commonly experienced by motorcyclists in traffic accidents. Your helmet should be Department of Transportation approved (it will have a sticker noting this) and purchased new to avoid the risk of unknown damage that may be present in a used helmet. Additionally, 45 percent of the impact to motorcycle helmets occurs in the face and chin area, making it important to have full face protection and to properly fasten your chin strap. Remember that helmets only have about a five-year life expectancy, meaning you should replace yours every five years or any time it has been involved in an accident or dropped.
- Pants and jacket or a full riding suit: Your clothing should be made of a strong material, such as leather or ballistic nylon, should be properly fitted to your body so that it allows free movement but doesn’t feature any loose cloth that may become entangled, and should cover your arms and legs.
- Boots: Your riding boots should be made of sturdy material and non-slip soles. You should have ankle protection against twisting or scraping.
- Gloves: Full-fingered riding gloves can protect your hands from road rash in an accident and from wind and pebbles any time you ride.
5. Tips During the Crash
Many motorcyclists who were in an accident report that they knew they were going to crash seconds before the crash actually occurred. So, if you know you’re about to crash, what should you do? Here are some tips:
- Slow down as much as possible before the crash by using the brakes.
- As much as possible, try to pick the spot where you go down. If there is a soft area nearby or a way to turn your body so that it avoids oncoming objects or traffic, aim for that.
- Let go of the handlebars as soon as you know you’re going to crash to avoid becoming entangled and suffering severe injuries from the weight of the motorcycle as well as any jagged metal, gasoline, and spinning tires you might come into contact with during the accident.
- While it’s hard to control your body during a crash, if you can stay on your back and low to the ground with your arms, legs, and chin tucked to your body, you’re likely to face less severe injuries than you would if you were to tumble haphazardly. While it is a body’s natural instinct to extend the arms in an attempt to “catch” oneself when falling, try to avoid catching yourself with your arms during a motorcycle accident, as this can lead to broken arms.
- When you feel as though you’ve stopped sliding, count to five before attempting to move. You could still be sliding and not know it. Even after counting to five, it is better to crawl from the roadway than to attempt standing up and aggravating injuries or losing your balance.
6. Tips After the Crash
Accident scenes are chaotic. You may be injured and others may be dealing with injuries, as well. There may be traffic trying to weave around the accident scene, and there may debris on the road. Here are some suggestions provided by Ride Apart for how to keep control of the scene and gather the important information that you need.
- Assess the damage. Immediately after the accident, you will want to check yourself for injuries. If you can move, get yourself off of the roadway and away from traffic. If it hurts to move, then you will want to ask other people—including the occupants of the other vehicle, witnesses, or Good Samaritans who may have stopped to help—to direct traffic or place flares to warn approaching motorists. You will also want to obey any instructions of those offering medical assistance, including remaining motionless if told to do so. Bear in mind that others at the scene may be better judges as to whether you’re seriously injured moments after the accident than you are while in the midst of a post-accident adrenaline rush and shock. If you’re unable to call for help, you can have someone else at the scene do it for you. If your accident did not involve any other vehicles, then you should examine your motorcycle to determine if you can ride it from the scene. If other vehicles were involved, check with the occupants of those vehicles to ensure that they’re not hurt.
- Take pictures of the scene, if possible. Some of the images that you’ll want to capture include any damages to your motorcycle, yourself, and to the other vehicle; photos depicting the traffic and weather conditions at the time of the accident; and any debris or skid marks on the road. If you have GPS information enabled on your camera, it will stamp your images with exact location pins, which may be helpful when it comes time to file a claim.
- Exchange information with other parties in the accident, including name and contact information; make, model, and license plate number of each vehicle; insurance carriers and insurance policy numbers. If a police officer arrives to make a report, he or she will likely gather that information for you. However, it is recommended that you gather it yourself, as well. Remember that you cannot leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the driver of the other vehicle unless you are too injured to gather such information.
- Contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible to report the accident. The insurance you purchased will provide early coverage of medical expenses and lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work due to medical appointments.
- Seek a medical evaluation even if you don’t feel hurt. Some serious injuries present with delayed symptoms that can give you a false sense of safety at the time of the accident, only to cause significant problems in the upcoming hours, days, or weeks. Due to the increased chance of injuries for motorcyclists, it is better to be safe than sorry and allow a doctor to take a look at you.
- Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney if you have injuries. You may be eligible to recover compensation through a personal injury claim based on the unique facts of your case. Avoid speaking to the other driver’s insurance carrier until after you’ve spoken to an attorney. Definitely don’t agree to any injury settlement with the insurance company or provide a statement. The problem with doing so is that insurance companies are in the business of making money. Some of the tactics that they use to do so include offering quick, lowball settlements to avoid having to make big payouts later when the full extent of the injuries become known, or using an injured accident victim’s own words as a statement to shift liability to that person and away from the insured party.
8 Things a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Do For You?
Attending a consultation with a personal injury lawyer will allow you to explain the facts of your case and for your lawyer to explain the legal options for collecting compensation that is available to you. If you and the attorney decide to work together to pursue a personal injury claim, the attorney will provide you with important services, such as:
- Determining all potentially liable parties in your case and establishing the insurance resources available for your compensation from those liable parties.
- Collecting information from your doctors about your injuries, the treatments that those injuries require, and your prognosis.
- Establishing a value to your case that is based on the severity of your injuries; the expenses you’ve incurred due to medical treatment, property damage, and other out-of-pocket injury-related needs; and the impact that the injuries have had on your life.
- Issuing a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier and beginning the process of negotiating a settlement.
- If a fair settlement is not offered, filing a lawsuit in civil court in accordance with Florida’s time limits and other requirements for personal injury claims.
- Deposing witnesses and preparing to present your case in court.
- Representing you in the legal arena, attending all pre-trial conferences and hearings, litigating your case, and continuing to represent you id any appeals that may arise.
- Organizing the collection of your settlement or reward.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, let an experienced motorcycle accident attorney answer your legal questions.
Orlando, FL 32814