If you are involved in an accident with a motorcycle, either as a motorcyclist, a passenger or the driver or another vehicle, there are certain things you should know to keep yourself and others safe, to comply with the law, and to safeguard your rights.
If you have already been in an accident with a motorcycle, you may need the help of an attorney to ensure that you are protected in any negotiations with your own insurance company, or with other parties. It is well known that unrepresented plaintiffs tend to get low ball offers from insurance companies, lower settlement amounts in negotiations, and lower awards at trial. At Morris James, we have a team of experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, who will discuss your case with you and advise you of your rights and options. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at one of our local offices or online.
Delaware law states that a driver in an accident must stop at the scene of the collision if someone is injured, killed, or if there is apparent damage to property. You must stop as close to the scene of the motorcycle accident as possible without unnecessarily obstructing traffic. If you leave the scene of a motorcycle accident in Delaware, you may be liable for a fine of up to $3,000 or up to 2 years’ imprisonment.
2. Find out if anyone is injured.
Under Delaware law, a driver in an accident is required to make reasonable efforts to find out if anyone is injured in the motorcycle accident, and to give “reasonable assistance” to the injured. This does not mean that you should try to administer medical treatment to the injured person. You can give reasonable assistance by calling 911 to request an ambulance, and by staying with the injured person until the ambulance arrives. If someone is injured and cannot be safely moved, you should not try to move them because you could make their injuries worse. Instead, make the area as safe as possible, and wait for the emergency services to safely move the injured.
3. Get to safety.
Get yourself and any other people involved in the motorcycle accident out of harm’s way. Sometimes people who are not badly hurt in the motorcycle accident are injured in the aftermath because traffic continues around the accident, and drivers are distracted or “rubber-necking.” If no one is injured in the motorcycle accident, you are legally required to make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle, or have it moved, so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic more than necessary.
4. Keep your protective gear on.
Your helmet and protective clothing are designed to protect you in the event of a motorcycle accident. After a motorcycle accident, you may be in shock or unaware of some of the injuries that you have suffered, and removing your helmet or clothing could cause more harm. You should keep your helmet and protective clothing on until paramedics arrive, and can evaluate your injuries.
5. Call 911.
After a motorcycle accident, you should call 911 to notify the police about the accident and to request an ambulance, if necessary. It is a legal requirement in Delaware to notify the police of an accident if anyone is injured or killed, if alcohol or drugs are involved, or if the accident happens on a public highway and there is apparent damage of at least $2,000. In any motorcycle accident, the police report will be important for your insurance claim or as evidence in any negotiations or legal claim about the accident. It will set out the details of the accident, the parties involved, conditions at the time of the accident, and may allocate blame for the accident.
6. Get medical attention.
In a motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist and their passengers have much less protection than the occupants of a car, truck, or SUV, and are therefore at greater risk of severe injury. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and need emergency assistance, call 911 to request an ambulance. If you have minor injuries that do not require emergency services, you should still see your medical provider as soon as possible after the accident. In any accident, your injuries may be more severe than you realize, and even seemingly minor injuries can develop into long-lasting problems. Keep a record of all of your medical appointments and expenses related to injuries from the accident, because these may be important in a claim for compensation.
7. Exchange identification and insurance details.
In Delaware, a driver involved in an accident is required by law to show their driver’s license (or equivalent document), and give their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the driver or occupants of any vehicle with which their vehicle collides. You must give your details to the other people involved in the motorcycle accident but you must also remember to get these identification details from the other drivers. In the chaos of an accident scene, it can be helpful to use your smartphone to take photographs of the documents (such as a driver’s license) rather than try to write them down or type them into your phone.
You should also swap insurance details with the other drivers involved in the motorcycle accident. Get the insurance company and insurance policy number of the drivers and owners of the other vehicles. If any of the vehicles are commercial vehicles, make sure you get the name, contact number, and address of the owner of the vehicle and/or the driver’s employer. This might be displayed on the vehicle itself, which you can easily capture by taking a photo with your phone.
8. Gather evidence.
Gathering evidence at the scene of a motorcycle accident does not mean that you have to take on the role of the crime scene investigator in your favorite police drama. Take pictures or video of the scene to capture details such as the weather conditions, road markings, injuries, and the position of the vehicles. Record the name and contact details of witnesses and anyone involved in the accident. If anyone accepts blame for the accident at the scene, write down exactly what they said and when, or, preferably, make sure the police know, and put it in the accident report. After the accident, keep copies of all your medical reports, medical bills, vehicle repair invoices, tow truck costs, rental vehicle charges, and anything else related to injuries, property damage, and expenses as a result of the accident.
9. Notify your insurance company.
You should notify your insurance company about the motorcycle accident. Although this is not a legal requirement in Delaware, it is usually a requirement under the terms of your insurance policy. Failing to report the accident promptly to your insurer could void a claim under your policy. You should not offer too much information to the insurance company or accept any settlement offers. Stick to the basic facts of the accident, do not admit any fault in the accident, and allow your attorney to deal with the rest.
10. Call an attorney.
Sometimes people are not sure whether or not they should call an attorney after a motorcycle accident. The injuries in a motorcycle accident can be severe and the risk of fatality is greater. In 2021 in Delaware, the death rate for motorcyclists was 10.99 per 10,000 registrations, compared to a death rate of 1.44 for all vehicles registered. Motorcyclists are also often perceived as risky, speedy drivers, which can create a bias in negotiations or at trial. An attorney can help their injured client to communicate and negotiate with the insurance companies and the other parties to present the strongest case for their client. This not only allows the injured client to focus on their physical and mental healing, but also improves their chance of getting the compensation that they need and deserve after an accident.
If you are unsure whether or not you need an attorney after a motorcycle accident, or if you want to know about your rights and your risk, contact one of our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Morris James for a free, no-obligation conversation about your accident. We will listen to your concerns, and advise you of your options. Call into one of our local Delaware offices or contact us online today.