When it comes to ideal locations for riding a motorcycle, Florida is certainly near the top of the list — thanks to its clear skies, sunny days, and beautiful vistas. Unfortunately, the Sunshine State is also the deadliest of all 50 states for motorcycle riders.
A recent report by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the number of fatalities due to motorcycle accidents is not only the highest such figure in the U.S. but that it’s also on the rise. This is due in part to Florida’s repeal of its helmet law back in 2000, and the corresponding decline in helmet use among riders.
According to the NHTSA, fewer than half of motorcycle riders in Florida wear a protective helmet. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that helmets can prevent fatalities and lessen the severity of injuries in motorcycle crashes.
Many motorcycle riders act responsibly when it comes to wearing safety gear, taking precautions on the road, and obeying all guidelines and laws to make their favorite mode of transportation safer. Another smart action to take if you ride a bike? Preparing yourself for being involved in a crash.
8 Steps to Take In the Aftermath of a Motorcycle Accident
As the old cliché goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you ride a motorcycle, wear protective gear including a helmet. Make sure road and weather conditions are conducive to riding and be cognizant of drivers in cars and trucks.
Of course, accidents by definition cannot be prepared for, but it is good to know what steps to take in the wake of a crash. Reading up on this in advance is a good idea because, after an accident, your adrenaline and emotions will be running high.
1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
Your first priority after an accident is to make sure you are out of harm’s way. If any of the vehicles involved are leaking gasoline or actively burning, you will want to get away from them as soon as possible.
The same goes for being in the middle of traffic; if you can move your motorcycle off to the side of the road, do so. This will help prevent additional drivers and riders from getting involved and compounding the damage done.
If the vehicles are too damaged to be moved, or if there is a great deal of debris on the scene, set up flares around the perimeter of the accident scene to alert other motorists.
2. Check for Injuries and Call 911
After ensuring that no one is in immediate danger of further harm, call emergency services.
A quick appraisal of the scene will help you know what to say to the 911 dispatcher. If there are serious or life-threatening injuries, be sure to communicate that so the dispatcher can send an ambulance as well as law enforcement officers.
Remember that if there are seriously injured people either on the roadway itself or still inside their vehicles, it’s best not to move them. Wait for paramedics, lest you do more harm than good.
3. Remain as Calm as Possible
Staying calm after an accident may be easier said than done, but it’s important. You don’t want to do anything that might make the situation worse. Nor do you want to blurt out any apologies or excuses — these could be used against you, down the line, if your case goes to court.
It is equally important not to blame any of the other motorists involved in the crash. This can be difficult, especially if you feel that they were clearly to blame. But resist the temptation to engage with other parties.
If anyone else tries to engage you in an argument or even a physical confrontation, refuse to let them get your goat. Walk away and await the arrival of law enforcement officers.
4. Document the Accident Scene
While you’re waiting for police and other emergency services to get on scene, it’s a good idea to take pictures or jot down notes while everything is still fresh. Use your cellphone to capture not just the vehicles involved and any debris caused by the crash, but also road conditions, weather conditions, and other outside factors. These could include such elements as a missing guardrail, a poorly lit road sign, potholes, and so on.
If there are witnesses to the accident, get their contact information. This is particularly important if the witness can’t or won’t wait until the police arrive. Their testimony, however, may be crucial to you if you end up taking legal action — or if the other party brings a personal injury lawsuit against you.
5. Cooperate Fully with Law Enforcement Officers…
When the police or state troopers do arrive, it’s in your best interest to cooperate fully with them. Tell your side of the story and be honest about your involvement, but again, steer clear of finger-pointing or angry accusations.
Bear in mind that you might end up testifying, whether in court or as part of an insurance hearing or another type of settlement situation. When that happens, making a statement that contradicts what you said at the scene won’t look good for you.
6. …and with Paramedics or EMTs
Getting into a motorcycle accident is a sure-fire way to derail any plans you had for the day or evening. So it’s understandable that you don’t want to spend more of your valuable time sitting in the emergency room, waiting for a doctor to give you a once-over.
However, listen to the medical professionals who assess your physical condition at the scene of the accident. They likely know better than you do whether your injuries merit further treatment or observation.
There are many serious medical conditions that can occur as a result of an accident — but that might not be symptomatic right away. In fact, it could take weeks or even months for the full extent of an injury to make itself known!
One of the most common of these delayed onset injuries is whiplash. Others include traumatic brain injury (TBI), knee and back injuries, and even PTSD and other mental health issues.
7. See Your Physician as Soon as Possible
It is your right to refuse treatment or a trip to the hospital in the immediate aftermath of a motorcycle accident. Even if you do feel that you haven’t sustained any injuries, and therefore choose to exercise that right, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.
You can call your primary care physician’s office and ask if they can squeeze you in, or go to an urgent care facility if that’s more convenient. Just make sure to get checked out as soon as you can — within 24 hours, if feasible.
If you eventually do become embroiled in a legal battle, having a paper trail of medical records in place will help your attorney. We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows in which a shady scam artist dons a neck brace in order to fraudulently claim whiplash. By seeing a doctor and documenting any pain or other physical issues, you avoid being accused of faking it!
8. Secure the Services of a Personal Injury Attorney
This is another step to take that falls under the category of “better safe than sorry.” You might not have the faintest notion of suing one of the other parties involved in the accident, nor any suspicion that they might bring a suit against you. But schedule a consultation with an attorney anyway.
Just like a brain injury or a bout of anxiety, the need for legal help might not seem immediately apparent but will become more pressing as the months go by. Especially if you find yourself unable to work or earn money, or even enjoy life the same way you used to, the assistance of a lawyer can be invaluable.
Find a personal injury attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents. They will be experienced in that area as well as up-to-date on legal precedents and changes to the law. After you present the facts surrounding your crash, she can tell you whether or not you have a valid case, explain the next steps, and help advocate on your behalf.
Personal injury law firms work on what’s called a contingency basis, so you won’t have to pay any fees upfront. They likely won’t take your case unless they are confident about your chances of getting a settlement or winning in court — if it comes to that.
Need help determining if you have a case? Want to discuss the details with a caring, compassionate, and experienced attorney? Get in touch today. We have been fighting for accident victims since 1983, and we can help you, too.
You can speak with us for free.
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