Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Motorcycle Accident ClaimApril 6, 2016
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration there were 4,586 motorcyclist fatalities in 2014 and 92,000 injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported, “The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2013, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 26 times the number in cars.”
Because motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed car and can be harder to see, fatalities and personal injuries are common. That is why you need to know how to protect yourself and what to do should an accident occur.
If you are a motorcyclist who has just been in an accident, time is of the essence. You need immediate and clear advice on how to file a claim and receive the compensation you deserve not only from your insurance company but from the other driver involved in the accident. Even if you have not been in an accident but you own a motorcycle, it can be helpful to understand the laws and insurance guidelines as they apply in your state.
What to Do If You Have Just Been in an Accident
- Call the police
If you have just been in an accident, you need to call 911 or the police directly. When the police arrive on the scene they will gather the information they need to file a police report which will be required to file an insurance claim and can be helpful in court if you decide to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit.
- Seek medical treatment
If you have been in a motorcycle accident, chances are that you left the scene in an ambulance. But even if your injuries are minor, you still need to seek medical treatment. This is important because you could have internal injuries or concussions that are not immediately apparent. Additionally, when you are evaluated your injuries will be documented which is an important piece of evidence for any litigation that may follow.
- Do not admit fault
States differ when it comes to assigning fault in an accident. It is important to remain neutral at the accident scene and not to admit fault in the accident. While you should remain truthful, you do not want to jeopardize your case by jumping to conclusions and assigning blame to yourself. If you make a rash statement on the scene that is recorded by the police or another witness, it is likely to affect how the case proceeds and what coverage may be available to you.
- Document everything
Make sure you document everything. This means recording the contact and insurance information of the other driver, taking pictures of the motorcycle, surroundings, and landmarks, as well as making note of any witnesses, their names, and their contact information. The more you are able to provide the insurance company and your accident lawyer, (should you decide to speak with one) the better.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company
You will need to let your insurance provider know that an accident has occurred. You should do this as soon as you are able to after the accident. The insurance company will ask for information regarding the accident and begin the claims process. Remember, stick to the facts. It is not in your best interest to assign fault to yourself. You must, however, be truthful to the insurance company. If your insurance company finds out that you have misled them or left out pertinent details, they could deny your claim.
- Avoid talking with representatives from other drivers’ insurance
Many times, representatives from the insurance companies for other drivers involved in the accident will contact you to ask questions. Usually, they will ask to record the conversation. These individuals are skilled in what they do, particularly in asking questions in a certain way that might benefit their insured and their company. We recommend, therefore, that you not talk to representatives from other insurance companies until you have discussed the matter with an accident attorney who can guide you through the process.
- Gather all documents
Gather all pertinent documents related to the accident including your insurance papers, your own documentation of the accident scene, and the police report, plus anything else that is required. Typically, for a fee, you can get the police report online or in person at the department which handled the accident within a couple of days.
- Consult with an attorney
Accident and personal injury attorneys typically offer a free initial consultation. If you have just been in a motorcycle accident, it is wise to take advantage of this and schedule a meeting with an attorney experienced in accident and injury law. An attorney can give you clear answers on how to proceed based on the specific details of your case and will be able to tell you if you have an additional claim that could entitle you to compensation.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a fault state when it comes to motorcycle and auto accidents. This means that if you are a New Hampshire driver who has been in an accident, you have three options when it comes to filing a claim. You can:
- File a claim with your own insurance company
- File a claim with the other drivers’ insurance company
- File a lawsuit against the other driver
The Claims Journal explains more precisely how New Hampshire’s fault laws work under modified comparative fault or the 51 percent bar rule, “Twenty-one states follow the 51 percent Bar Rule under which a damaged party cannot recover if it is 51 percent or more at fault. However, the damaged party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault.”
No Motorcycle Helmet Law
In New Hampshire, drivers over 18 are not required to wear a helmet. Despite this fact, not wearing a helmet could negatively impact any lawsuit you try to bring should you be in an accident. If you suffer head injuries for example, but were not wearing a helmet, your personal injury award may be much less than if you had been wearing a helmet, even though there is no law requiring you to do so.
In New Hampshire, motorcycle insurance is not required. However, if you choose not to purchase insurance, you must prove that you are financially responsible by filing an SR-22. Generally, it is advised that you purchase motorcycle insurance so that in the case of an accident you are covered.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in New Hampshire is three years from the date of the accident. This statute applies to both personal injury and vehicle damage claims.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a no-fault state which means that if you are in a motorcycle accident you must file your claim with your own insurance provider regardless of whose fault the accident was. In order to file a personal injury claim in a no-fault state, you must show that you suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident or have resulting medical bills that exceed $2,000. Depending upon the specifics of your case, you may also receive compensation for lost wages and emotional damages.
Motorcycle Helmet Law
In Massachusetts, all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to wear a helmet that meets minimum required safety standards as laid out by the United States Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a helmet can significantly impact any lawsuit you file with the courts.
In Massachusetts, motorcyclists are required to buy compulsory liability insurance coverage which pays for the other drivers’ medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other costs in the case of an accident. According to the DMV, the requirements are as follows:
- Bodily injury to others―Minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
- Damage to someone else’s property―Minimum $5,000 for property damage
It is important to note that unlike most no-fault states, motorcyclists in Massachusetts are not required to buy PIP (personal injury protection) insurance, nor are they covered by it.
Statute of Limitations
As in New Hampshire, the statute of limitations in Massachusetts is three years from the date of the accident.
Depending on the severity of the motorcycle accident you have been involved in, you could have lingering medical bills or emotional repercussions that will require funding. It is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay out the minimum amount possible under your plan, which is why you need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer by your side, to help you get the money you deserve – both from your insurance provider and the other parties involved in the crash.
At Sherman Law, we have been representing motorcycle accident victims and their families for over 22 years. If you or a family member has been in a motorcycle accident and have questions about how to proceed or need to file a motorcycle accident claim, contact us for a free consultation.