A motorcycle accident is when a two-wheeled vehicle hits a person, object, or another vehicle and causes damage or injury. If you are the rider or the victim, it is wise to know what you need to do to get the compensation due to you.
While some motorcycle accidents have one party that is clearly at fault, liability may not be obvious in some cases. Furthermore, state laws can differ, so you may need the services of a motorcycle accident attorney who understands these local rules.
If you are in Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville Indiana or the wider Hamilton County area, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer at SLG Accident Attorneys can assist you in obtaining fair compensation.
What To Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents can happen unexpectedly. The aftermath of an accident can be confusing and stressful. As such, you need to remain as calm as possible and take the appropriate steps to make sure you get to safety, deal with any injuries you may have, and collect the necessary information to ensure a strong case for compensation.
Here are the steps you should take if you are involved in a motorcycle accident.
- Get to safety. Motorcycle accidents typically happen on the open road. If you are on a motorcycle, you have no protection between yourself and other vehicles on the road, whose drivers may not be able to see you. If you are physically able, you should move off of any driving surface and get to the side of the road or other safe area.
- Check yourself for injuries. You can check for visible signs of injury, but you should also make sure you are able to move normally. Often, an accident will increase your adrenaline levels, making it difficult to feel pain.
- Always Call 911. Law enforcement and emergency medical services can quickly come to your aid. Even if you are not injured, it is a good idea to call the police. A police report is an essential piece of evidence when you seek compensation for injuries or damage after a motorcycle accident.
- Gather photo evidence. If you are not injured, you can proceed to take pictures of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, traffic signs and lights, and road conditions. If you are unable to take pictures yourself, but are able to advise somebody else to do so make sure to have them follow this step. Pictures help tell your story in a way words can never do.
- Collect the information of the people involved. In addition to driver’s licenses and license plate information, you should gather the insurance information of all the drivers involved. Drivers in Indiana need to have at least liability coverage for their vehicles.
- Talk to any witnesses. You can speak with these bystanders to see what they saw. If someone had a clear view of the incident, you can get their contact information in case you need their testimony later.
- Never admit fault. You should wait for the police and give them an account of the incident without mentioning any perceived mistakes you might have made. Liability will become clear after the accident investigation.
- Inform your insurance company. You should continue to refrain from admitting fault and simply tell the insurer what happened. They will investigate the incident on their own. Call us immediately to handle further correspondence with the insurance companies.
You can enlist the services of a motorcycle accident attorney to help you ensure you organize your evidence correctly and complete all the steps necessary to present your case for fair compensation.
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How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
There are several reasons to hire a motorcycle injury attorney after you get into an accident. First of all, if you are injured, a personal injury lawyer can handle the details of your case, allowing you to focus on recovery and rehabilitation.
Here are additional reasons to work with an attorney.
- Establish liability. An attorney can help collect evidence that establishes liability. This is important in Indiana, which has a law that ties compensation to the level of fault. For example, if a motorcycle attorney can establish that you were only 20% at fault, you are eligible for 80% of the compensation due to you.
- Help in understanding motorcycle law. A motorcycle injury attorney can help you grasp the nuances of motorcycle laws, which may differ slightly from those governing four-wheel vehicles.
- Establish the severity of injuries. An attorney can work with physicians to document your injuries and prove that they were caused by the accident.
- Deal with insurance companies. An attorney can submit the necessary proof to insurance companies and ensure they provide all coverage outlined in your policy or the policy of the person who is at fault for your accident.
- Prepare for court cases. If the case requires a civil court hearing, a lawyer will prepare the necessary documents, evidence, and statements for court and represent you during proceedings.
- Collect payments. A lawyer can help collect payments after the case is settled, ensuring you receive your money in a timely manner.
If you live in Hamilton County, you need a motorcycle injury lawyer who understands the nuances of Indiana traffic laws.
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What Types of Compensation Can You Expect After a Motorcycle Accident
You are eligible for compensation for various expenses related to your motorcycle accident. Some of these costs are obvious, such as the bills for emergency medical treatment after the incident. Others are less obvious, such as damages for emotional distress caused by the injuries.
Here is a look at the types of compensation you can seek.
- Damage to your motorcycle. If you are not liable for the accident, you will receive funds to repair or replace your motorcycle. These will be paid by the at-fault driver or their insurance provider.
- Medical expenses. You will receive compensation for medical expenses related to the accident. This includes both current and future expenses. For example, if you need physical therapy to fully recover from the accident, the liable party or their insurer has to pay. If you have ongoing expenses, such as medical care or equipment like a wheelchair, these costs could also be part of an ongoing compensation package.
- Loss of income. If you cannot work due to your accident-related injuries, these damages can include work time lost during recovery and future wages you could lose due to the interruption to your career or business development.
- Pain and suffering. If you can prove that the accident caused depression, anxiety, a loss of quality of life, relationship issues, or other mental or emotional harm, you may be able to receive compensation from the liable parties. These damages can include payments to the family of someone who died as the result of a motorcycle accident.
A motorcycle accident attorney can help you ensure you pursue all the types of compensation to which you are entitled.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Indiana
In Indiana, the most common causes of accidents involving motorcycles include improper lane movement, distracted driving, and impaired driving.
Speed often plays a role in motorcycle accidents, as does the inability of some drivers to see motorcycles on the road.
Motorcycle accidents are often more dangerous than vehicle accidents. Motorcyclists do not have the protection of a vehicle body between themselves and other cars. They also lack airbags and seatbelts meant to protect drivers and car passengers.
Both Indiana as a whole and Hamilton County saw an increase in fatal crashes in 2020. There were 24 deadly road incidents in the county in 2020, resulting in 26 deaths. Statewide, there were 813 fatal accidents, up from 752 in the previous year. These increases came despite the fact that travel decreased due to COVID-19 restrictions, office closures, and other travel-limiting issues.
Is Indiana an At-Fault State for Motorcycle Claims?
A no-fault state requires drivers to file a claim for an accident with their insurance regardless of who caused the damage. However, Indiana is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who is at fault pays for damages through their insurance.
Because of this rule, it is always important to prove who is at fault for an accident. Also, you should always get the insurance policy information from the other parties involved in the motorcycle accident.
At the same time, you should also be ready to prove that you are not at fault, or that you are only partially liable for the accident.
Therefore, it is critical that you have an experienced motorcycle accident law firm like SLG Accident Attorney help you establish fault properly at the beginning of the case.
Determining Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
Here are things to keep in mind when determining liability in a motorcycle accident in Fishers, Indiana:
- Drivers have a duty of care. This means they must operate their vehicles in a manner that does not cause harm to others. Failure to do this is considered negligence. Negligent drivers are liable for any damages they cause.
- Drivers who speed, drive recklessly, change lanes without looking or signaling, operate their vehicles after drinking or taking drugs, or use a vehicle that they know is unfit for the road are not following their duty of care.
- Liability can be questioned if there is an unexpected vehicle malfunction or the driver loses control due to road conditions brought on by snow or ice.
- The people charged with maintaining roads or infrastructure could also potentially be at fault if the roads are not properly cared for or traffic lights malfunction, for instance.
You should always remember that Indiana is an at-fault state. If an accident happens, you need to prove that the other driver is at fault in order to get compensation from them or their insurance provider.
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Are Rights for Motorcyclists in Indiana the Same as Other Motorists?
Motorcycle riders have the same rights as other four-wheeled motorists on the road. They must follow the same rules as cars or trucks and obey traffic signals and speed limits.
At the same time, motorcycles have an equal right to the road. This right could come into play if, for instance, a driver does not see a motorcycle and hits it while changing lanes. Provided speed rules were being followed, the driver of the car would be liable for not seeing the motorcycle.
The one major difference in motorcycle accidents is that motorcyclists do not have the same protections as cars. Without crash cages, airbags, and seatbelts, they are more likely to be injured. This impacts the need for compensation.
Indiana Motorcycle Laws
Liability in an accident often depends on whether or not a motorcyclist was following relevant laws. Because Indiana is an at-fault state, drivers and insurers will likely check to be sure the motorcycle rider was following all the rules at the time of the accident. If they were not, the other driver could escape full liability even if they caused the accident.
Here are the most important Indiana motorcycle laws to follow:
- Equipment regulations. These laws pertain to motorcycle equipment requirements. All two-wheeled motor-powered vehicles need to have brakes operated by hand or foot, rearview mirrors, a headlight, handlebars at least 15 inches from the seat, brake lights, and reflectors.
Helmet laws. Any motorcyclist in the state of Indiana is required to wear a helmet and eye protection if they are below 18 years of age. Those with a learner’s permit are likewise required to use head protection.
- License laws. Every rider must have a motorcycle license, which requires passing a written exam and a road test given at a site authorized by Ride Safe Indiana. All license holders must be at least 16 years and three months old. To keep their license active, riders need to renew it within 180 days after expiration. Documentation of vision screening, with or without corrective lenses, is also required for a license.
- Motorcycle insurance. It is illegal to ride a bike or drive a car in Indiana if you are not insured. Liability insurance is the minimum requirement, but motorcyclists should have full coverage, which includes uninsured and underinsured insurance in case they are involved in a solo accident or the other driver lacks insurance.
You should also be aware of more nuanced traffic laws. For instance, no more than two bikes can ride side by side in a single lane, and lane splitting (riding on dotted or on solid lines to pass traffic) is illegal.
If you are involved in an accident, you should first move to a safe location before checking for injuries, documenting the scene, and collecting information from other drivers. You should then seek representation from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. If you are in Fishers, Indiana or the wider Hamilton County area, consider the SLG Accident Attorneys. Contact this motorcycle crash law firm if you need help seeking compensation or proving liability after a motorcycle accident.