I like to think that I’m rarely surprised by insurance company tactics to avoid paying victims of accidents, but there’s a new twist that is seriously pissing me off. Allow me to tell you about it and then what you can do to protect yourself. As you know all too well, motorcycle riders are often blamed for crashes, so you need to proactively take some steps to protect yourself from these insurance tricks.
You’re riding along, minding your own business, going the speed limit and doing all the good things you should be doing. When, from out of nowhere, a car turns left in front of you. You hit the brakes as hard as you can but it’s no use. You plow into the car, go airborne and… well, you’ve likely had friends face this exact tragedy. Most often, the rider is hospitalized with severe injuries, facing years of medical bills, not to mention lost wages, and other hardships.
So, imagine that the other driver’s insurance company swings in, does its own analysis of the accident and blames the victim for part of the crash. This is literally happening. I’ve had insurance companies contact me because I represent motorcycle crash victims and the company says, “Your client was 35% at-fault for the accident so we are reducing the amount we will pay.”
Insurance companies will lie after accidents
Now, because I’m an attorney, I say, “Aw, hell no!” I know the law and I know how to get my clients every dime that they are owed. Nobody is taking 35% away from my clients.
But picture yourself as the victim of the accident, or the victim’s family members. If you get that call from the insurance company and they say, “We were going to pay you $100,000 but our analysis shows that you were 35% responsible, so we’re only going to pay you $65,000.”
Often, victims and families just say “OK” because they are desperate for cash. The bills are racking up and their source of income has collapsed. They cave under pressure.
So here is my first piece of advice: Get a personal injury attorney! Here are several (but not all) of the reasons you need an attorney:
- Once you hire a personal injury attorney, you don’t have to talk to the insurance company any more. This is a huge stress-reduction.
- An experienced motorcycle attorney will see right through these tricks and fight for your rights. They can get you more than what the insurance company is saying they will pay you.
- A personal injury attorney can often find even more money than you think you can get. There are so many “pots” to look into after an accident – insurance resources that are available to car and motorcycle crash victims – but most victims are completely unaware of them.
- An experienced personal injury attorney has connections that can help you get the medical care you need and also postpone your medical bill due dates.
- Personal injury attorneys can even help to reduce the amounts you owe on medical bills.
So, clearly, it is in your best interest to hire a motorcycle accident attorney if you’ve been in a crash.
But there are some other things that you should do at the scene of the accident, if you are physically able, to protect yourself from insurance tricks. If you are riding with a friend who has been hit, be a good friend and do the following. You could likely save your injured buddy from some very bad insurance tactics.
At the scene of a motorcycle crash:
- Do not move your bike from where it landed after the impact.
- Take pictures of the entire scene, including your bike, the car, the intersection and debris.
- Get contact information from any witnesses.
- Take videos of witnesses explaining what they saw.
- Take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card.
- Make sure a police officer comes to the scene and files a report. (Never, ever, ever exchange insurance information with the other driver and leave the scene. You need that police report.)
Riding season is upon us. As I look out my 6th Avenue office window, the blossoms are popping and I can hear motorcycle engines revving as they pass by. I’m thrilled to hear my friends are out, hitting the open roads! Enjoy yourself, and please call me if you or a friend ends up the victim in a motorcycle accident. I won’t put up with any insurance nonsense.