What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident
There are four key steps to take following a motorcycle accident:
- Take care of yourself. Seek medical treatment at the scene. Even if you do not think you are injured, you should still seek treatment. Adrenaline can mask injuries, and others may have delayed symptoms. Also, you will need a medical diagnosis to file a claim against your insurance policy’s medical payment benefits or to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s policy.
- Document what you can and obtain documents of everything else. If you are physically able to at the crash scene, take photos of your motorcycle, debris, and other vehicles involved. Collect contact and insurance information from the other driver and contact information from witnesses. Write down your recollection of the sequence of events while they are fresh in your mind. Obtain copies of items such as the crash report and your medical records and bills.
- Contact your insurance company and the negligent driver’s insurance company. You will want your insurance company to open a claim so you can recover medical payment benefits and compensation for property damage. If the other driver caused the crash, you need to put their insurer on notice of a third-party liability claim.
- Hire a Wisconsin personal injury attorney. The sooner the better applies because your motorcycle accident lawyer will handle most of what needs to be done to investigate, document, and substantiate a personal injury claim. You can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Wisconsin Motorcycle Laws that Might Affect Your Claim
Although motorcycles are required to obey all the usual rules of the road, there are certain laws that apply specifically to their safe operation. Failure to obey laws such as these four could provide an opportunity for an insurance company to assign fault to the motorcycle operator:
Lane splitting, which is riding the motorcycle between lanes of traffic, is prohibited in Wisconsin. Two motorcycles, however, may travel side by side in the same lane.
According to the state’s helmet laws, all riders and passengers under the age of 18 are required by law to wear an approved helmet with a fastened chin strap. Riders of any age holding only an instructional permit must also wear a helmet. Everyone is required to wear a face shield, glasses, or goggles unless the motorcycle has a windshield that extends at least 15 inches above the handlebars.
Passengers are allowed on motorcycles so long as they are designed for them. That means there should be a seat and footrests for both the driver and the passenger. There can only be one driver and one passenger on the motorcycle, and the passenger must be seated behind the driver.
Motorcycles must also feature certain equipment, such as headlights which must be turned on at all times when riding.
How Fault Is Determined
Wisconsin is a fault state, meaning a negligent driver can be financially responsible for the damages of those they injure. Proving negligence requires evidence that the driver owed the victim a duty of care, the driver failed to uphold that duty, and as a result, the victim was injured and incurred damages.
Wisconsin also observes comparative negligence by which more than one person can be held at fault for a crash. Anyone assigned less than 51% of fault may pursue compensation from negligent parties assigned greater fault. Any recovery received by the injured party would be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Filing a Claim for a Loved One
If another driver’s negligence resulted in injuries that incapacitated a loved one who could then not pursue their own personal injury claim, a surviving spouse or another family member may petition the court to be appointed as the incapacitated person’s conservator. The conservator may file a personal injury claim on their behalf to recover their damages.
If a loved one was killed, the personal representative of their estate or those who would receive recovery from the wrongful death action, including a surviving spouse, children, and other heirs, can file a wrongful death action.