Motorcycles provide riders and passengers with an unparalleled experience of freedom, feeling lighter than air and one with the wind. Unfortunately, that feeling of openness comes with a significant vulnerability for riders. Without any steel frame to protect them, riders and passengers must bear the brunt of an accident, as there is no buffer of metal or plastic to cushion the blow. For this reason, motorcycle fatalities occur at a rate 28% higher than their passenger car peers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission’s most recent figures.
Those who survive a motorcycle crash may be confused and disoriented in its immediate aftermath. We are creating this guide to help victims understand what to do after a California motorcycle accident. Following these steps can help riders and passengers protect their legal rights, safeguard their physical health, and receive compensation from the at-fault party.
What to Do After a California Motorcycle Accident
If you’re in a motorcycle accident, it can be a harrowing experience and forever change the course of your life. Here are steps you can take after a motorcycle crash in California to address what occurred and meet your legal obligations.
Get Medical Treatment
The first call after a California motorcycle accident should be to get medical help. Even minor crashes involving motorcycles can have devastating impacts on riders and passengers. These injuries may not fully present themselves until hours or days after the accident. By seeking medical attention immediately, you help ensure that a doctor identifies and begins treating your injuries. This helps you heal and establishes the connection between your injuries and the crash, which will be important as you seek compensation.
Report the Accident to the Police
Be sure to report the accident to the local police department. California law requires drivers involved in accidents to report the accident to authorities within 24 hours after it occurs. When communicating with the police, limit your description to the facts needed to understand what happened. Commentary such as, “I didn’t see the other driver because I was changing the radio,” can be used against you later on—potentially creating an uphill battle for recovering compensation.
Report the Accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles
California requires you to report a car accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles using form SR-1. This requirement applies to any accident resulting in injuries or those involving property damage over $1,000. You typically file this form online or by going to the local DMV office.
Take Pictures of the Accident
If possible, photograph the accident scene, including the damage to both vehicles and the location of the accident. When taking pictures of the crash scene, make sure to get multiple angles to allow people to contextualize the collision. The police will also take pictures, but it can be helpful for accident victims to do so as well to ensure that items important to them are recorded.
Exchange Information with the Other Driver and Witnesses
Talk to the other driver and ask to take a picture of their driver’s license or take down their information. Additionally, write down the names and phone numbers of witnesses. If possible, record a witness statement (with permission) for your records. You can call on this information later on to build a case against the at-fault party.
File an Insurance Claim
Next, you need to file an insurance claim with the insurance company that covers the car you were in or driving. For example, if you were driving your motorcycle when the accident occurred, you would file a claim with your insurance company.
The insurance company will conduct its own investigation of the accident and may contact you for additional information. Just like when talking with the police, it is a good idea to stick to the facts and refrain from commentary when talking to the insurance company. Their job is to limit the costs incurred by their organization, so they will look for holes in your story or inadvertent admissions of fault. To avoid this, refrain from giving side details that others might misconstrue later.
Talk to a California Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Protect your legal rights by contacting a motorcycle crash lawyer. They can investigate your claim and help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company and the at-fault party. An attorney can also help you file your accident lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Recommendations
Throughout the claims process, it is essential to follow the recommended treatment plan given to you by your doctor. Most insurance companies and at-fault parties will try to point to anything they can to avoid paying compensation. If they have evidence that you are not following the instructions given to you by your healthcare team, they may use this to try to devalue your claim for damages.
Keep Accurate Records
Finally, keep accurate records throughout the claims and litigation process. For example, save copies of your after-visit summaries, receipts for accident-related expenses, and requests to take time off work because of your condition. Further, consider keeping a pain diary to note the impact of the injury on your life. These steps can help you build a solid case to prove the at-fault party is liable for what happened to you.
Henderson Law: Compassionate California Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Understanding and executing these steps after a California motorcycle accident can seem overwhelming, especially in the aftermath of a severe collision. But you don’t have to go through it alone.
Henderson Law advocates for victims by guiding them through the injury claims process and representing them in settlement negotiations and at trial. In his over 25 years in practice, Michael Henderson has recovered over $10 million in compensation on behalf of injury victims.