MOTORCYCLE LAW GUIDE
by Frank Parker, Esq.
So you have been involved in a motor cycle crash ? now what? Of course, your first priority is to get any necessary medical care. If you are physically able to do so, call 911. While still at the scene, try to identify and obtain the name and contact information of all witnesses and/or other parties involved. If you are unable to perform this task, then ask a friend or another party at the scene to do it for you.
Contact and report the crash to your motorcycle insurance company, the insurance company of any and all other motor vehicles you may own, and any motor vehicle insurance companies of any relatives who were residing in your household at the time of your crash. You may also need to report the crash to the at-fault party?s liability insurance carrier in the event that they have not already done so.
DOs and DON’Ts
DO seek competent medical attention immediately if you are injured. Even if you feel okay, it is always a good idea to get checked out by the emergency room or your primary care physician.
DO try to gather all evidence including photographs of the vehicles involved in the crash and your injuries. Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses to the crash. Obtain a copy of the police report that should be available from the police department within a week or so after the crash.
DO get a friend to retrieve any valuables from your motorcycle or saddle bags. Your motorcycle may sit in an impound lot for an extended period of time, and you want to protect your items from theft.
DO have all medical care billed to your health insurance and/or Medicare provider. Be sure to provide your health insurance and/or Medicare information to the hospital as well as any and all doctors, diagnostic clinics and/or physical therapy/rehabilitation facilities providing treatment on your behalf. You will need to be sure you follow up with all such medical providers to make sure they are properly billing your health insurance company. Hospitals will often claim that they will have to bill the motor vehicle insurance company or hold off on billing until settlement is reached so they can maximize payment for their services. Your health insurance company has a negotiated fee schedule with the hospital that is less than the full price of healthcare. By requiring the hospital to bill your health and/or Medicare insurer and taking advantage of the negotiated prices, you allow more settlement money to be available for other types of damages you may suffer. Other than any optional MedPay coverage you may have on your motorcycle policy, the auto insurance company will not be paying any of your medical bills unless it is a final settlement.
DO contact and hire a personal injury attorney that is familiar with motorcycle cases. The sooner you hire an attorney to represent your interests, the better off you will be. All personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. It is to your advantage to let a professional evaluate whether you may have a claim that would benefit from the expertise of a personal injury attorney.
DO notify your own motorcycle insurance company, the insurance companies of any other vehicles you may own, as well as the motor vehicle insurance companies of any relatives residing in your household at the time of your crash. There are certain notice provisions required to fully recover using Georgia uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, so it is imperative that you notify all of these insurance companies even if you are not at fault.
DO, if required, give a statement to your own insurance company. Your motorcycle insurance policy requires a duty of cooperation, and often times that duty includes giving a statement.
DO notify the other driver’s insurance company and report the crash if they have not already done so. It is acceptable to use the police report to give them basic information about the collision, and to inform them that you have sought medical attention, but do not give them a recorded statement.
DON’T wait to seek medical attention. Any gaps in medical care may be used against you to discredit the severity of your injuries. The insurance companies will try to take advantage of your ?toughing it out? to reduce your settlement, or they will try to say that some subsequent event or injury may have contributed to your current condition.
DON’T give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company unless or until you have hired a personal injury attorney. While you are contractually required to give one to your own insurance company, you owe no legal duty to the other driver?s insurer.
DON’T allow the other driver?s insurance company to access your medical records. You will need to collect all of your medical bills and records for submission to the liability insurance carrier on your own.
DON’T accept any checks or sign any papers regarding the personal injury aspects of your case unless you are prepared for that to be your final settlement with no future compensation. Be aware that the back of the insurance check where you endorse to cash or deposit may have a small release statement which says that by endorsing the check you are releasing the claim. If in doubt, ask your attorney to look over any such documents or checks before you sign.
Do I need a lawyer?
One of the main factors to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney is the seriousness of your injuries. While many small claims can be handled by an individual, rarely does an individual obtain full value without the assistance of an attorney. Larger personal injury claims may involve permanent scarring, permanent disabilities, past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Such cases always need the assistance of a personal injury attorney.
Another important factor to consider regarding your need for a personal injury attorney is the amount of available liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to compensate you for your injuries. It is not just the at-fault parties’ liability insurance company that is available to compensate your for your injuries, but also your own insurance policies along with the automobile policies of any relatives who were residing with you at the time of the crash. Most people are not aware that there are numerous potential avenues for recovery from multiple different insurance companies. All such avenues of recovery can be denied if certain procedural and legal requirements are not met in a timely and/or orderly fashion.
Remember, nothing is lost by seeking a free consultation from a personal injury attorney to evaluate your case.
Attorney Frank Parker is a principle in the law firm of Deming, Parker, Hoffman, Campbell & Daly, LLC. and concentrates on motorcycle and automobile personal injury cases. Frank has been an avid motorcyclist for over forty-seven (47) years with over thirty-one (31) years of experience in representing injured motorcyclists. Frank will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding motorcycle and automobile personal injury cases as well as representing your legal interests in such cases.
As always, if you need an attorney to assist you with any legal matter, then please call our firm at 770-564-2600 or visit our website at https://deminglaw.com to begin a consultation.