ACCIDENTS: WHAT TO DO
by Steven M. Bialick, Attorney at Law
While it is not pleasant to think about, accidents do happen. If you are on a motorcycle at the time of an accident, the effects can be devastating. This article will give you a few tips on what to do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident.
- Exchange information with other people involved in the accident, including names, addresses, telephone numbers insurance companies, license plate numbers, etc.
- Get names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses. Find out what they saw.
- Go to a doctor regarding injuries you have suffered or may have suffered.
- Contact your insurance agent.
- Review your insurance coverage.
- Have pictures taken of the accident scene, damaged vehicles and other property, and any visible injuries.
- Start keeping a journal of how the accident and resulting injuries have affected your life.
- Submit any traffic accident reports required by law.
- Obtain copies of any police records regarding the accident.
- Get estimates regarding what it will cost to fix your motorcycle.
- Save all receipts and other documents showing expenses and losses you suffered as a result of the accident.
- DO NOT accept any settlement offer or make any statements regarding your accident (except to the police or your insurance company) without consulting an attorney who is familiar with motorcycle accident cases.
You should also be aware that there are statutes of limitations that require you to do certain things within certain deadlines or you may lose your rights. An attorney can tell you about the statutes of limitations.
There are some differences in legal rights of drivers and passengers of motorcycles compared to drivers and passengers of cars and trucks. Therefore, you should make sure that the attorney with whom you meet is familiar with those differences.
Most accident attorneys are willing to have a first meeting to discuss the case with an accident victim without cost or obligation. The legal fees for most accident attorneys are a percentage of any amount they can get for you. Usually, if the attorney does not get anything for you, there will be no legal fees. However, these are all things you should discuss with the attorney’s office before scheduling an appointment.
Just because an attorney is involved with a case does not mean the case will end up in court. In fact, the vast majority of cases are settled without ever going to court.
One final note: failure to wear appropriate headgear can reduce the amount received in an accident case. Under Minnesota law, if an operator or passenger of a motorcycle is not wearing headgear that complies with standard established by the commissioner of public safety, the amount that person receives for head injuries is reduced to the extent that those injuries could have been avoided by wearing that type of headgear. This is true regardless of whether that driver or passenger is required to wear headgear.
Steven M. Bialick is a native of Minneapolis. He received his B.A. degree with highest honors from the University of Minnesota and received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. Mr. Bialick has been in the private practice of law since 1980. His office is located in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, MN, and his practice is limited to personal injury and accident cases.