Motorcycles are fast, convenient, and make it easy to find parking, but because of their minimum size and the way they’re constructed, they offer little protection to riders. If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, chances are you’ve sustained some level of injury. If that’s the case, contact Long, Jean, and Wechsler, P.A. in Pompano Beach for a free consultation.
Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will evaluate your case, and if it has merit, we will represent you on a contingency basis. That means you do not have to pay out of pocket for our professional legal services. We only collect our fees if you win in court or your case settles.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
The minutes after a motorcycle accident are critical for your safety and eventual recovery. While the following steps should not be construed as legal advice, you may find them useful if you are ever involved in a motorcycle crash.
1. Take Immediate Action to Ensure Safety
Motorcycle accidents often occur in two phases: the initial impact with another vehicle and a secondary impact when the rider hits the ground. However, there is also the possibility of a second accident if you’re lying on the road. For this reason, it’s imperative that you get to a place of safety.
2. Call First Responders to the Scene
The next step is to call 911 to get police and fire rescue to the scene. If you are unable to make the call yourself, tell another party to call 911. Never assume that a passerby or another driver is calling. Dispatch will need to know your exact location, direction of travel, the nature of your injuries, a description of other vehicles involved, and any additional information would be of interest to first responders.
3. Talk to Witnesses
It’s an unfortunate reality that witnesses will leave the scene of an accident as soon as they confirm that first responders are en route. However, many cases are defined by the testimony of eyewitnesses — particularly independent witnesses. If you have contact with witnesses after the crash, ask them to remain until police arrive. If they tell you they can’t stay, try to get their contact information. As a last resort, if they leave in a vehicle, note the tag and provide the information to your attorney.
4. Take Photographic Evidence
The scene of an accident will begin changing immediately. Once police and first responders arrive, the physical evidence will begin to be moved around as first responders attempt to restore the normal flow of traffic.
From a safe location, take photographs of the roadway, geographic indicators (i.e., street signs, nearby businesses, landmarks, etc.), damage to your motorcycle and other involved vehicles, the positions of the vehicle on the roadway, the spot you landed, physical damage to your helmet or clothing, and any visible injuries. It’s also a good idea to use the video function of your phone to record the scene in case you missed anything in the photographs.
Do not rely on your phone’s physical storage to preserve this evidence. Back up this evidence at your first opportunity.
5. Seek Medical Attention
As a matter of course, the dispatcher will send EMTs to any motorcycle accident since they can presume injuries. Even if you feel fine, allow the paramedics to examine you. If they decide it’s in your best interest to go to the hospital, allow them to transport you. Do not try to ride your bike, even if it’s operable. You may still be in shock. If you refuse the ambulance ride, allow a friend or relative to transport you to the doctor. It’s essential that you never allow your case to interfere with your medical treatment. However, you should keep a record of all medical visits, tests, and treatments resulting from your injuries.
6. Do Not Make Admissions of Guilt
Under Florida law, you can still receive compensation for your injuries, even if you are partially responsible for the accident. However, even a simple statement like, “I should have been more careful,” or “Yeah, I was going a little fast,” can be used by the defendant’s attorneys to try to reduce the amount of your settlement. When you speak to your attorney about the details of the incident, you should disclose any factors that you believe would affect your liability in the accident.
7. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer With a Focus on Motorcycle Accidents
If you speak to an insurance adjuster, they will tell you that it’s not necessary to hire a personal injury lawyer. In fact, they will usually make a settlement offer within a day of the accident. This offer is to cover your medical costs, the damage to your bike and helmet, lost wages, and maybe a little extra for your inconvenience.
This money may be hard to resist when you are missing a paycheck, and your medical bills are mounting. But if you accept the offer and your injuries end up being worse than you initially thought, you won’t be able to go back and ask for more. As a condition of the settlement, the adjuster will require you to sign a waiver of liability that will prevent you from making another claim or filing a civil suit in court.
Why You Should Speak to Attorney First
Motorcycle accident injury law can be extremely complex, and if you aren’t careful, you could find yourself accepting an inadequate settlement. Our team of motorcycle accident lawyers in Pompano Beach offers free case evaluations. If you’ve received a settlement offer from the insurance company but have not accepted it, we will review it for you. If it’s less than a full and fair settlement, our lawyers will represent you on a contingency basis. That means that our fees our deducted at the end of the case and only if we win.
What a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Do For You
Among the services that a motorcycle accident lawyer can provide are:
- Review Settlement Offers – You should never accept a settlement offer from an insurance adjuster before speaking to an attorney. In most cases, claimants are entitled to a much greater sum than what the insurance company will offer.
- Collect and Review Evidence – A personal injury lawyer can collect police reports, medical records, video footage from local businesses that may have captured the accident, and more.
- Subpoena and Depose Witnesses – Your attorney will want to question all of the witnesses involved, including the police, EMTs, and other drivers. They can issue subpoenas and conduct extensive depositions.
- Retain Expert Witnesses – When you hire a firm with the resources of Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A., our team will hire expert witnesses and accident reconstruction experts to provide opinions about the extent of your accident and the proportion of liability of each party.
- Calculate Damages – Personal injury attorneys can tabulate all economic damages and calculate non-economic damages (pain and suffering). Once they have a clear picture of the full costs of your lawsuit, they can present a demand letter to the insurance company for compensation.
- Settlement Negotiations – The insurance company will usually make a counteroffer to the demand letter. If the two sums are close, there may be value in negotiation. In the meantime, your attorney can also file a lawsuit in the event that a settlement can’t be reached.
- Issue Letters of Protection – A letter of protection or LOP is a guarantee to a medical provider that they will be paid from the proceeds of the lawsuit. That way, you, as the victim, are not having to respond to requests for payments from doctors before you receive your settlement offer.
- Litigation – If the insurance company does not provide a fair settlement offer, your attorney can proceed to litigation. This involves filing the case in court, entering and defending against pretrial motions, and representing you in trial.
When you consider the fact that you will not have to pay out of pocket for all of the above-listed services, it’s definitely worth having a conversation with one of LJW’s seasoned personal injury lawyers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents
To discuss the specifics of your case, contact Long, Jean & Wechsler of Pompano Beach, FL for a free consultation. In the meantime, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about motorcycle accidents.
What if My Motorcycle Was the Only Vehicle Involved? Can I Still Make a Claim?
It depends on the amount and type of insurance coverage you have. If you carry a personal injury policy, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries up to the limits of the policy. It should be noted that motorcyclists are not required to have insurance in the state of Florida. Check to ensure you have an active policy.
What if I’m Partially at Fault?
Under Florida’s comparative negligence law, you can still make a claim, which will be reduced by the amount of your liability. For instance, if you have $50,000 in damages but were 20% at fault for the accident, you can still recover up to $40,000, which is 80% of your total damages.
Pompano Beach, FL Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact LJW Legal to discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation. Time is of the essence, so call today!