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The Motorcycle Accident Checklist

On a separate page of this web site, Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers provides a list of smart motorcycling strategies for avoiding the most common motorcycle accidents caused by dumb auto drivers. See the "Ride Smart Until Auto Drivers Get Smart" page.

Here Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers provides an "Accident Checklist" which has a number of tips, arranged in "do's" and "don'ts" for bikers to follow at the scene of the accident. Some of it is common sense. A lot of it is helpful to focus you on what you need to do to preserve your rights. And then some of it may provide strategies which might not occur to us, such as what to do if a witness doesn't want to give you her name, address and telephone number. The answer is not to grab her purse and rummage around until you find her drivers license. Just take down her car license number. The police can contact her and obtain her statement, or your lawyer can obtain her address and subpoena her to a deposition and trial.

The authors caution that the checklist for the most common motorcycle accident cases involving a motorcycle and a car, truck or other vehicle. Other motorcycle accidents, resulting from a City or State's negligent failure to clear a road hazard, or motorcycle accidents caused by defective road design, require other, additional types of accident investigation.

  • WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT WITH ANOTHER VEHICLE
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, OR, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT PRIOR TO RETAINING AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOU


    WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT WITH ANOTHER VEHICLE

    Your response IMMEDIATELY after an accident may prove crucial in preserving the evidence essential to preserving your legal rights. Therefore, it is recommended that wherever possible, you should get the following information.

  • Note the precise time of the accident for comparison with the other driver's cell phone records.
  • Get the Name, Address, and Telephone number of the other driver.
  • Get the Drivers License Number of the other driver.
  • Get the insurance information of the other driver.

    Get the make, model and year of the other involved vehicles and check the vehicle registration. Take down the vehicle owner's name and address, if it is a person or corporation or entity different from the driver. If it is a company vehicle, write down the name and address of the company. If it is a leased or rented vehicle, write down the name, address and telephone number of the rental company. If the owner of the vehicle is different from the driver, this may provide you additional sources for recovery. If the vehicle is owned by the driver's employer, this may provide evidence that the driver was operating his vehicle in the course and scope of his employment, which may render the employer, and its insurance company also liable.

    Give the other driver your Name, Address, Drivers License Number and Insurance Information.

    You should also look around Immediately and identify any and all possible witnesses to the Accident. Ask for their names, addresses, telephone numbers (both home and work), and where they work. If they do not want to get involved, then take down their car license plate numbers and States.

    Listen carefully to what the other driver says about the events leading up to the accident, e.g., "I didn't see you.," and write it down. Note who else may have heard or overheard the "admission." ["Admissions" can generally be introduced in evidence against a party to litigation under the "admissions" exception to the hearsay rule]

    Call the Police, or have someone else call the Police immediately. The police officer will generally interview all drivers and take witness statements from all witnesses still present. Tell the Police the facts, but "JUST THE FACTS." The police may also collect vital physical evidence and make important skid or debris measurements useful in "reconstructing" the point of impact and vehicle speeds upon which the auto driver's liability will often turn.

    Ask the police officer to confirm the time of the accident with other witnesses so that you will have clear evidence of the time of the accident for comparison with the other driver's cell phone records. If the other driver can be determined to have been on his cell phone at the time of the accident this may aid in proving liability, given that those who drive under the influence of their cell phones are DUI level impaired and have a 4 times greater likelihood of causing an accident. See, Henke, Cell Phone Dangers Scientific Review Article, prepared for Motorcyclists-Against-Dumb-Drivers. If the other driver's cell phone call coinciding with the time of the accident is determined by appropriate investigation and discovery to have been a business call, or call made while driving within the course and scope of the driver's employment, this will permit the employer to be brought in as a defendant under respondeat superior vicarious liability theory, also making available the employer's insurance policy and assets.

    Also ask the police officer to inquire to find out where the other driver was going. If the driver was on an errand for his or her employer, "in the course and scope of his or her employment," again, you may find you have another good "potential defendant," possibly with much higher policy limits than the driver.

    WHAT NOT TO DO IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT

    DO NOT sign any writings offered by the other driver purporting to summarize the facts of the accident.

    DO NOT get into an argument with the other driver about what happened.

    DO NOT punch out the driver of the other vehicle. (Their countersuit against you for "battery" might wash out your suit against them.)

    DO NOT have your bike repaired. Not until you have an attorney who can have the bike inspected, photographed, and provide the Insurer or Defense Attorney notice and an opportunity to inspect the bike.

    WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, OR, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

    Follow through on ALL medical care, treatment, and therapy recommended by you physicians. This is important first to assure your quickest and most complete recovery from your injuries, and it is also important for your motorcycle accident case, so that you don't provide the defendant's attorney the argument that the extent of your disability might have been avoided but for your failure to follow your physicians instructions.


    WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, PRIOR TO RETAINING AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOU

    DO NOT permit ANYONE to interrogate you about the events of the accident, particularly the other party's attorney, representatives of the other party's insurance company, or even representatives of your own insurance company. Your own insurance company may become your principle adversary in your litigation, as, for example, if the other driver is underinsured and if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If your insurance policy requires that you report your accident within a time certain, contact legal counsel to communicate with the insurer. In the alternative, you may contact your insurer, advise its representative that you were involved in a motorcycle accident on such and such a date, provide the representative the name of driver of the other vehicle, his address, telephone number and insurance information, and then tell the representative that you expect to retain a motorcycle accident lawyer immediately and that all other questions will be answered by your lawyers.

    Once you have a lawyer, if you are contacted by an insurance representative, or anyone else for that matter, refer the caller to your lawyer. While you are still in the process of searching for an attorney, take down the callers' numbers and tell them that as soon as you have retained counsel you will have your lawyers contact them.

    DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING prepared by yours or the other side's insurance company, or anyone else, until it is first reviewed by your lawyers. DO NOT SIGN any writings purporting to summarize the events of the accident. Insurance companies may send you other documents, e.g., "General Releases For Medical Records" that an astute attorney would never permit you to sign. It is only the relevant medical records that the insurer should be permitted to obtain, and that should be strictly limited and controlled by your motorcycle accident lawyers, permitting only the physician-specific or hospital admission-specific medical record authorizations.

  • Motorcyclists Rights