Most people tend to have a love/hate relationship with motorcycles. Either they can’t wait to get on their bike for an exhilarating ride on the open road, or they cringe and curse when they see a motorcycle pull up alongside their car on the freeway. No matter which side you’re on, if you’re going to be driving or riding in traffic, you should understand basic motorcycle rules and risks.
For example, drivers should know how to share the roads with motorcycles and allow a “four-second” cushion at least when driving behind a biker. Motorcycle riders, too, should never weave dangerously in and out of traffic, and should always wear a helmet, as they are required by law in most states.
Unfortunately, even though most riders and drivers are usually careful and follow the rules, the number of motorcycle accidents is still rising. The number of motorcycle fatalities in California increased by 11 percent from 2015 to 2016. Along with knowledge of what not to do when riding a motorcycle or driving behind one, everyone should know what to do when involved in a motorcycle accident.
Don’t leave the scene
You’ve just been involved in a motorcycle wreck. You don’t remember much, just that one minute you were on your bike and the next you’re lying in the middle of the highway and your bike is 50 feet away on its side. Your instinct—if you’re physically able—is to get back on your bike and ride away. But no matter how you feel or how minor your injuries are, stay at the scene of the accident until authorities arrive. If you were struck by another vehicle, ask the driver and any witnesses to do the same.
Don’t forget to document every detail
While you, the authorities, and perhaps fire and medical personnel are sorting out the scene, take photos of everything—your motorcycle, any other vehicles that were involved, and even the roadway around the accident area. Write the make, model, and year of any damaged vehicles, and get names and phone numbers of drivers and witnesses. Exchange insurance information and ask the police when and where you can get a copy of your accident report. Get checked by a physician as soon as possible to be sure that you don’t have hidden internal injuries. Above all else, do not admit that you were at fault, even if you feel that you might have been.
Don’t assume you can handle legal issues alone
Because you never know if this accident could result in legal action by the other party, it’s best to be proactive and secure an attorney specializing in motorcycle accident litigation. To find the right attorney for your case, you can search online or even ask friends and family for a reference. Once hired, your motorcycle accident lawyer in California will need to see all of the documentation you’ve collected about the accident, including the photos you took, your medical records, the official accident report, and the names and contact information of witnesses. Together, you and your attorney can prepare a good case either for your defense or for restitution for your injuries and hardships.
If you’re the driver or a passenger in a car that is involved in an accident with a motorcycle, these same recommendations apply to you, too. Researchers found that in most of motorcycle vs. four-wheel vehicle accidents, the drivers of the car or truck were at fault. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than regular vehicles, so keeping a close eye out for two-wheeled vehicles is always good advice to avoid accidents and potential long-term litigation.