I am often asked if there is anything that a motorcyclist can do at the scene of an accident that would later be helpful in their claim with the insurance company of the driver at fault. If you are not responsible for your motorcycle accident, there are things that you can do to maximize the chances that the investigating officer will indicate on the accident report that the other driver was responsible. If you are in a motorcycle accident, however, the main thing that you need to do at the scene is to be safe and take care of any injuries that you have. I set out below some steps you may want to take at the scene of the accident. I understand, though, that some or all of these steps may be out of your control because of how bad you may be hurt.
– An insurance claim generally goes along much smoother if there is an accident report from an officer to confirm that a particular driver was responsible for the accident. To get the report, the police have to be called to the scene. Do not let the other driver convince you not to call the police by giving you a sob story about how they will get into trouble or by promising that they “will take care of everything, just please don’t call the police.” Once you both leave the scene without calling the police, for example, it is easier the other driver to tell his insurance company that you were really at fault in the accident.
Do Not Move the Vehicles Unless Absolutely Necessary
– Because the officer will indicate on the accident report who he or she believes is at fault, the placement of the vehicles after the collision could be important in making that decision. If the vehicles must be moved, try to take a photograph of their location prior to removal. Even if the officer arrives at the scene before the vehicles are moved, take photographs of where the vehicles landed after the collision.
Get the Names and Phone Numbers of all Witnesses
– Not all witnesses may wait around to talk with the officer, so get the names and numbers of all witnesses. You may need to eventually get this information to the officer if some question arises as to who is at fault.
Respond Carefully to the Police Officer
– You absolutely need to cooperate with the officer by providing basic facts. Do not, however, guess or speculate about anything. You do need to indicate to the officer any injuries that you believe you have suffered and point out whether there are certain parts of your part in which you are suffering pain or discomfort.
What if My Accident Report is Incorrect?
I have gotten calls in the past from motorcyclists telling me that the accident report incorrectly blames them for the accident. It is often an uphill battle to get an officer to change an incorrect accident report, but it is not impossible. When I believe an officer incorrectly blames my client for causing the motorcycle accident, here is what I do:
1. I talk to the witnesses listed on the accident report and the witnesses that were not listed on the report but gave their name and number to my client.
2. I order a transcript and voice recording of any 911 calls. Often times, I will find that a witness to the accident was not able to hang around and talk to the police or give their name to my client, but they called 911.
3. I take photographs of the scene showing the layout of the road
4. I get any photographs taken at the scene of the collision by the client
5. I then meet with the officer to discuss the accident and let him or her know about any witnesses or photographs that could help the officer get a better understanding of how the accident really occurred. Often times, I will have to talk with the officer’s supervisor because the supervisor is the only person who can actually change the report.
If you are unfortunately injured as a result of a motorcycle accident, please do not hesitate to give me a call. The consultation is always free.
In the last blog, I asked a trivia question about the lead singer of Steppenwolf, the band that performed “Born to be Wild” in the classic Easy Rider. The answer – John Kay. Stay tuned for more trivia in future posts. But as a teaser, I post this video from 1985 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zifpBNZZMI
Gary Poole “On the Side of Those Who Ride”