After an Accident
INFORMATION TO GET IMMEDIATELY
- Witnesses: This is listed first for they will disappear the fastest (especially due to the public's fear of bikers). Try and get some sort of identification so they might be contacted later, i.e., name, address, phone number, license plate number, where they work, etc.
- Other Driver: All traditional information is needed: name, address, phone number (at home and work), driver's license, make/model/color and license of the vehicle. In addition, a very helpful piece of information is the insurance carrier of the driver of the car. If this is not obtained and if the other driver does not respond to letters sent by your attorney, you will find that most states require long waiting periods before supplying the necessary information to pursue your case - that means recovery for your injury could be delayed.
- One Final Thing: Listen to and memorize statements made by the other driver. These statements (also known as admissions) may be used as evidence in many jurisdictions. An example of this would be the driver of the left turning car saying, "I didn't see you". His statement could be used to prove the accident was his fault. NOTE: Remember, this also works in reverse. Anything you say can also be used against you.
Although most of what is recorded in a police report cannot be used in court, it is a great negotiating tool. Keep in mind that most personal injury cases are settled rather than go to trial. A favorable police report can be instrumental in bringing you a quick and generous recovery for your injuries. As we all know, cops can be a mixed bag. However, (in an accident situation) I have found most police to be fair in their assessment of fault. This is especially true of the motorcycle cop.
This is not the time to show how macho you are. After the actual collision, take a few minutes to check yourself out. The initial shock may numb you as to how injured you really are. Remember, the human body is not made to be bounced off the ground. It is a good idea (and will aid in showing the validity of your case) to get checked out at the local emergency room (hospital) or by your own doctor. Be sure to explain all your pains to the doctor so he or she can make a complete evaluation and treat you appropriately for the injuries.
When you are contacted by the insurance company, (which is usually immediately - even right at your hospital bed) tell the adjuster you don't wish to give a statement at that time. Even if your statement seems favorable to you, the insurance company would have lots of time to pick out the flaws.
Keep in mind that the adjuster's job is to save the insurance company money and, therefore, any money offered as a "fair settlement" will usually only be fair to the insurance company.
CALL A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
The first 24 hours after an accident are crucial for your case. An immediate investigation should be started including photographs showing your injuries, the accident scene and the involved vehicles. Statements from witnesses and the other driver should be gotten as soon as possible. The police report should be requested and an inspection of the point of impact for skid marks and other material evidence should be made. You will notice that I advised you to call an attorney who specializes in personal injury. The law, as with medicine, is highly specialized, and you are entitled to be represented by an attorney who is best qualified to obtain a maximum recovery for your damages. A quick call to the attorney entitles you to the following services:
- Protection from insurance company employees - the magic words are: "I am represented by counsel and don't wish to make a statement."
- A "house call" if you are unable to go to the office.
- Immediate investigation of your claim.
- The possibility that your bike will be fixed prior to the settlement of your injuries and a rented vehicle while you wait.
- The evaluation and protection of your legal rights.
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