When you have been in a motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver, you need to do two main things:
- Protect yourself
- Protect your claim
This starts at the scene and continues well after leaving it. While your attorney can help you with most of the legal process, there are steps you personally can take to get the healthcare you need and protect your legal rights, especially in the immediate aftermath of the wreck.
What to Do at the Scene of a Motorcycle Accident
At the scene, you can protect yourself by getting out of harm’s way so you are not injured or re-injured after the accident. Call 911 for a law enforcement officer and for any needed medical attention. You will need to arrange to have your motorcycle towed if it is not drivable or if you have been injured.
You can protect your claim at the scene by making sure that the law enforcement officer writes a report. Without a police report, the drunk driver may deny everything, including being at fault. Expect the worst from the drunk driver when it comes to aggressively defending against accusations of intoxication. The drunk driver has a lot to lose.
At the scene, you should insist upon a BAC test and/or field sobriety test of the drunk driver. Blood alcohol levels can drop quickly, and the level of impairment at the time of the accident is vitally important. In the state of Washington, driving under the influence of alcohol is defined as having a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Write down the names and contact information of all witnesses, and the license plate number, make and model of all vehicles at the scene. Document everything. Exchange insurance information with all drivers. Get all the information your lawyer might need to fully investigate and prove your case.
Be careful what you say at the scene. Sometimes we say we are sorry when we see someone has been injured. This might be intended merely as an expression of compassion, but in the hands of an insurance company handling your claim, it could be twisted into an admission of fault.
People tend to minimize the extent of their own injuries in the stress of the moment, saying they are “okay” when they are actually injured. This also can be used against you by the insurance company, which may claim that you were fine at the scene of the accident and that you fabricated injuries days later.
What to Do after Leaving the Scene to Protect Your Claim
After the accident, get any needed medical evaluations and treatment. Follow the medical instructions and complete all medications and treatments. If you do not, the insurance company may argue that your damages should be reduced because you did not do everything you could to get better.
Very early in the process, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer who handles motorcycle accident cases. The state of Washington has specific laws for motorcycles. If you were in violation of any of these laws, your financial award might be reduced, under Washington’s comparative negligence law.
Have your personal injury lawyer advise you on how to deal with the insurance company. You will want to be very careful when dealing with insurance adjusters, who may spin your words as noted above. Do not give a recorded statement until after you consulted your attorney.
Absolutely do not sign any waivers, settlements, statements, agreements or other documents without first having your lawyer read the document and advise you on whether you should sign it. Once you have signed a document or made an official statement, there may be little your lawyer can do to help you if the document or statement hurt your case.
Max Meyers Law is experienced in handling motorcycle accidents and drunk driver cases. If you have been in a motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver, call us at 425-399-7000.