What do I do after a motorcycle crash?

Get everyone to safety, get or give emergency first aid, and call 911. Don’t move anything before the police arrive unless necessary for safety. Don’t leave the scene before the police arrive (that’s a crime) unless required by a medical emergency. Cooperate with everyone, but don’t admit fault. Answer the officer’s questions truthfully and factually, but do not admit fault. Be sure to tell the office that you were wearing your helmet (if you were). Don’t leave without the other driver’s name and insurance information (look at the insurance card yourself).

Go straight to the hospital (or your doctor) ASAP. Tell them exactly what happened, and do exactly what they tell you. If you didn’t go straight to the hospital after the crash, go to the hospital or your doctor ASAP. Delay in treatment can be very bad, so don’t wait to get checked out. Tell your doctors how the accident happened so they will understand the mechanics of your possible injuries and know what to look and test for. Be involved in your care -- ask if you need x-rays, CT scans or MRIs to rule out head or neck injuries, abdominal scans to check for internal injuries, etc. Motorcycle accidents often involve serious head injuries which can be very intricate. Go to all your follow-up medical appointments and take all the prescribed medicine, even if you already feel better. Give your health insurance information to each medical provider, and make sure they bill your health insurance.

Report the accident to the other driver’s insurance company and to your own, and write down the claim numbers and each adjuster’s contact information. Do not agree to handle your claim without involving the other driver’s insurance company, no matter how nice the other driver seems or how much they beg. Ask about a rental car, and ask your insurance company what your Personal Injury Protection limits are. Cooperate with both insurance companies, but DON'T ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR INJURIES OR GIVE A STATEMENT to anyone without your lawyer present.

Call your lawyer, preferably a specialist who is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law, like Lewis Coppedge. Lewis has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law for over twenty (20) years, and frequently deals with personal injury cases like motorcycle wrecks. Tell Lewis if you have health insurance and whether you have “full coverage” on your own vehicle, including Personal Injury Protection (called “PIP,” which will help pay your medical bills) and Uninsured/Underinsured coverage ("UM" which pays if the other driver doesn't have enough insurance to cover ALL your damages.

YOUR JOB IS TO GET WELL. Be smart about it. Focus on your treatment and recovery. Do everything your doctors or therapists tell you to do. Research shows many symptoms from a motorcycle crash may not appear until weeks later, so pay close attention and report anything new or unusual to your doctor immediately.

Do I really need a lawyer, or can I handle this myself?

Yes, you need a lawyer to protect you. No law requires you to have your own lawyer, but unless you have dealt with motorcycle crashes for years, you will be taken advantage of if you don’t get a lawyer.

Motorcycle crashes are complicated. They involve layers of insurance (the other driver’s liability policy, your liability policy, your health insurance, and maybe more), each of which may have multiple and distinct coverages (liability, UM/UIM, PIP, med pay, etc.). The language and technical terms can be confusing and frustrating. You can easily feel overwhelmed.

The economic problems caused by a motorcycle wreck can also be overwhelming. Many people can’t pay their medical bills from a motorcycle crash, and they don’t know how to deal with the collections agencies. If your motorcycle is a total loss, the insurance company may want to pay you less than it is worth. If you are too hurt to work, you lose your income. All from an accident that wasn’t your fault.

You probably have only this one case to deal with, but the insurance adjuster may have hundreds. The adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible for your claim, and they will be FIRED if they pay you “too much.” You need someone to fight for you. Someone on your side who knows all the angles. Your own advocate who will make sure you are treated fairly. Someone to protect you and keep the insurance company from pushing you around.

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Lewis Coppedge, P.C.
Amarillo Attorney
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