Motorcyclists face unique risks that other drivers do not. Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles and don’t have the same safety features. Unfortunately, some people believe that bikers are reckless just because they own a motorcycle. However, they should not be punished for a mistake they didn’t make and they deserve the same treatment as any other driver.
Our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers have represented bikers for more than three decades. Langdon & Emison sees the tricks insurance companies try to pull on clients, and we know how to refute those claims to give our clients the money they deserve. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, the insurance company may try and convince you not to hire a lawyer; they want you to accept the lowest amount of money possible.
Keep reading to learn seven tips that will help you in your case.
1. Don’t admit fault.
Saying the wrong thing after an accident could be interpreted as an admission of fault, which can be used against you in court. Even if you believe you may have caused your motorcycle accident, avoid making certain statements. Here are some examples:
I should have been more careful
It wasn’t your fault
I didn’t realize I was speeding
I didn’t notice you
If you say one of these things, the other party’s insurance company or legal team could use it against you. If that happens, it’s unlikely you’ll recover any compensation. Even if you’re a naturally polite person, avoid saying or asking anything other than to inquire if the other party needs medical attention.
2. Gather evidence at the scene.
Even if you were involved in a minor accident, you should gather as much evidence as you can at the scene. When you file an insurance claim after, the other party’s insurance company will begin an investigation into the facts of the case. They’ll try everything in their power to undermine or undervalue your claim, so preserving evidence will increase your chances of receiving equitable compensation.
It’s also important to gather evidence for law enforcement reasons; you don’t want to be accused of a crime for which you have no evidence to defend yourself. Properly-gathered evidence may be your best defense in that scenario. Here are some examples of the evidence you should obtain after your motorcycle accident:
The at-fault or other party’s contact and insurance information, including their home, work, and mobile numbers.
The at-fault or other party’s vehicle information, including the make, model, and year, their license plate number, and their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Contact information of any witnesses who personally saw the crash.
Pictures of the accident scene, including bodily injuries, damage to your motorcycle, damage to the other vehicle, skid marks, broken glass, or car parts, and the road you were traveling on when you were hit, including stop signs and traffic lights.
Your helmet, clothing, and other personal items that were damaged in the crash.
Of course, if you are seriously injured you should visit the hospital immediately. Your well-being is more important than obtaining evidence, and the police officer investigating the crash will collect information. You can obtain the police report later.
3. Gather evidence that proves the extent of your injuries.
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to injuries in an accident. These vehicles simply don’t have the same safety features that passenger cars do, so you’re more likely to suffer a serious injury if your motorcycle was hit by another vehicle.
It’s imperative that you prove the extent of your injuries in order to receive the maximum amount of compensation. If you undersell or underestimate your injuries, you may walk away with a settlement that doesn’t pay your medical bills, meaning you’ll have to pay them yourself.
When you visit the doctor, be sure and explain how and when you were injured. Your medical records will point to the accident as the cause of your injuries, which is a vital point to prove in a personal injury case.
Here are some of the medical records you can obtain to bolster your case:
Emergency room admitting charts
Exam or test results
Your doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis
Your doctor’s and nurse’s notes
4. Don’t post about the accident on social media.
You may feel the urge to post about your accident on social media, especially if you’re angry or frustrated, but doing so could irreparably harm your case. This is because anyone’s information can be spread online, no matter your privacy settings. The other party’s insurance company or legal team may take your post about the crash and raise questions about your claim or use it to argue that you were to blame for the accident.
Don’t assume that you can post as often or in the same way as you did before the accident. The other party’s insurance or legal team will almost certainly have an eye on your social media accounts for months, so you should limit your use of social media until your case is concluded.
Imagine that you post a picture of yourself and friends going on a camping trip after the accident. The other party’s attorney takes that photo and uses it to argue that your injuries aren’t actually that bad and you should receive far less compensation than you’re asking for.
You may be tempted to post online about your motorcycle accident, but doing so can be extremely damaging to your case. Consider temporarily disabling your accounts until your case is concluded.
5. Don’t agree to “lowball” offers.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They aren’t looking out for you and your best interests after your motorcycle accident. They want to give you the lowest amount of money they possibly can; otherwise, they won’t make money.
Usually, an insurance company’s initial settlement offer is far lower than what the victim of a motorcycle accident needs to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. If you believe the offer is too low, don’t accept it. You aren’t under any legal obligation to agree to their offer. The best way to avoid walking away with petty cash is to hire a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer at Langdon & Emison.
We’ve represented victims of motorcycle accidents for more than three decades, and we’ll negotiate with the insurance company until they offer an equitable settlement. If they don’t, we’ll work with you to file a lawsuit and take further legal action to get you the money you need.
6. Don’t sign anything without a lawyer present.
As in other parts of life, you should never sign a binding legal document without fully understanding its implications. Most motorcycle accident settlements require an attorney to help you parse through complicated legal jargon. Don’t attempt to do this on your own, as you may sign something which gives you far less money than you need and takes away your legal right to sue.
When you sign a settlement document from the insurance company, you are giving up your legal right to sue. Imagine that the insurance company gives you $50,000 in a settlement. You sign the document and take the money, but a few weeks later, you realize that you had latent injuries that will cost $300,000 to treat. Now you’ll have to pay for that treatment out of pocket because you signed a document preventing you from filing another claim.
7. Don’t speak to the other party’s insurance or lawyers without your lawyer present.
You are under no obligation to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. That’s why it’s imperative to hire a Chicago motorcycle collision lawyer. As personal injury lawyers, we know what’s in our clients’ best interests, and it’s never what the insurance company tells them.
Don’t let the insurance company dissuade you from hiring an attorney. Call Langdon & Emison at (312) 855-0700 today for a free consultation.