How Should I Proceed If I’ve Been Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
Historically, many Americans have had love affairs with their motorcycles. Moreover, for those who have never owned a bike, many have fantasized about doing so. After all, a motorcycle represents much more than transportation – for some it’s a form of freedom; for others there’s a rush of adrenaline; and some riders feel a special connection to the outdoors and the environment around them. And here in Oregon, with so many beautiful and amazing landscapes to enjoy, it’s not surprising that may Oregonians own and enjoy motorcycles. Unfortunately, accidents can and do occur, and the results can be devastating. In this article we’ll discuss some steps to consider taking if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident.
Vulnerability of Motorcycle Riders
Obviously, motorcycle riders are more vulnerable both to accident and to injury in the event of an accident. Motorcycles are less visible to other drivers. Plus, with only two wheels, motorcycles are far less stable than cars. Finally, in the event of an accident, riders are more exposed than an automobile occupant in an enclosed vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 deaths occurred with motorcyclists in crashes 27 times more frequently than in motor vehicles. And certainly, many of these deaths were caused by the recklessness or carelessness of other drivers. Thus, ensuring that such wrongdoers are held responsible for their actions is an important societal objective.
Dos and Don’ts Following a Motorcycle Accident
- If you are able, check the health and condition of everyone involved. Assist in any way you can.
- Call law enforcement immediately. Request an ambulance if appropriate.
- Take photographs – today, most people have cameras on their telephones. Take photos of damaged automobiles, the scene, and any injuries you witness.
- Obtain information – write down the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved. If possible, obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, or any other relevant information regarding the people involved in the accident and any witnesses to the accident.
- Accept appropriate medical care. Remember, some injuries take time to become evident. Therefore, if you’re not sure, get checked out by medical professionals.
- Call an attorney – if you have been injured by the negligence of another, you need to protect your legal rights. Personal injury attorneys are familiar with the process and with analyzing all the facts and circumstances to properly evaluate your case.
- Report the accident to your insurance company – all insureds have a contractual duty to notify their insurance companies of accidents and to cooperate. However, we still recommend that you speak with your lawyer first. Sometimes, an injured victim has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which can put them at odds even with their own insurance company. An experienced attorney can help you comply with your contractual duties without compromising your rights.
- File a report with the State of Oregon when required.
- Do not move seriously injured people without medical assistance, unless there is immediate danger (such as a burning car).
- Do not admit liability to others at the scene. This is a legal conclusion which is reached only after examining all of the facts, many of which you will not be aware at the time of the accident. Moreover, many people have mental or emotional deficits immediately following an accident which would color their perception. Of course, you should accurately state facts to investigating law enforcement officers.
- Do not talk to the insurance companies for any other drivers. They will immediately seek to limit your right to recover. Speak with your lawyer first.
Call with Questions
At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we know that life gets complicated following a motorcycle accident. There are questions about insurance, liability, injuries, investigations, and how to move forward. We are here to answer them all. We know that to keep the roads safe for all motorcycle riders, it’s imperative that wrongdoers be held accountable for their actions. We are pleased to help.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute – “Motorcycles” - http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles
National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration – “Motorcycle Safety” -
2017 Oregon Revised Statutes Section 814.269 – “Failure of motorcycle operator to wear motorcycle helmet” - https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.269