Motorcycle accidents are significantly different than automobile accidents on liability and damage issues. Witnesses are much more biased when describing a motorcycle drivers’ conduct as opposed to an automobile. Additionally there are laws that govern motorcycles not applicable to autos. Injuries are typically far more severe and cause greater disability in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, it is crucial to document the scene earlier than normal and before police reports are even done. Medical management becomes far more important to preserve the victim’s net recovery after payment of bills and fees. A few observations in order of importance are noted here.
As with all accident witnesses, a certain amount of bias exists or is formed by the witness, depending upon the witnesses’ motivation. See this detailed explanation in Witness Bias. However, a motorcycle rider faces greater bias than an automobile operator. Witnesses are not good perceivers of speed and distance. Since a motorcycle is smaller than a car, the witness typically overestimates speed greatly. Additionally motorcycles typically operate at higher RPMs and greater “revving” noise, giving the witness the perception of greater speed. A number of witnesses are also simply anti-motorcycle, having been cut off by one in the past, or irritated when they “lane split,” which is legal but aggravating.
Do not think that lay witnesses are the only ones to have a bias either. Officers investigating an accident can and oftentimes do exhibit a bias in the review of facts and reporting of evidence. See Officer Bias for a discussion of often found biases in auto accidents. Once an officer has committed his opinions to a report, it is difficult to change or modify that opinion.
Even an innocent comment of excessive speed can adversely affect the outcome of a case. If the motorcycle rider is accused of excessive speed, he or she will have their settlement reduced by their comparative fault. It is much better to stop the bias from entering the case early.
Therefore, our office wants to be involved in the case the earliest possible moment. We want to inspect the scene to determine if any physical evidence still exists or has been overlooked. We will also want to speak to witnesses early, before insurance companies or others will taint or get those witnesses to adversely impact a case with their bias. We want to contact the officer before the report is prepared, where possible, and make sure that if the officer is contemplating an unfavorable opinion, he or she be subtly persuaded with helpful information from the scene and investigation of witnesses. Call us for a free consultation.
If you are thinking you will handle your own case, we warn you that in this instance, you should probably review your decision. Our experience suggests that it is very delicate and difficult to discuss these types of biases with witnesses and should be left to a professional. If we cannot dissuade you, then please read the following links to start, Handling an Auto Accident Case on Your Own, Witness Bias, and Interviewing an Auto Accident Witness. While the advice and techniques are the same, the experience of the interviewer is crucial to delivering sound success.
Motorcycle riders are typically far more seriously injured than auto accident victims. With virtually no protection between the rider and the road, orthopedic injuries are greater in number and severity. Road rash, skin grafting, and third degree burns, even while wearing road leather, cause delay in recovery and infection complications. Additionally, hospital stays can consume an award or policy limit of the adverse driver very quickly. Therefore, it is very important to immediately refuse to assign any rights to the hospital, other than as against your health insurance.
Additionally, the motorcycle rider should be aware that the health insurer or hospital will seek reimbursement from the recovery of the case. An experienced attorney will negotiate the reimbursement to preserve the maximum to you and not to the hospital or the insurance carrier. Do not think that the hospital or your health insurance carrier will be generous with you either. Many of our prospective customers come in too late, after they have signed liens against their case, and the hospital has demanded significant portions of the settlement or policy of insurance covering the other driver, thereby denying the victim a reasonable financial recovery.
Lastly, do not miss our Injury Guide, as many of the injuries that occur to a motorcyclist are described therein for your assistance. We strongly suggest that in the case of any motorcycle accident you consult a competent attorney immediately. Contact Us for a free consultation. We have represented motorcycle riders for over 25 years and have a Proven Track Record for you to review.
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