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What to Do If You Have a Motorcycle Accident 

Riding a motorcycle is enjoyable for many, but the bikes’ open nature puts motorcyclists at greater risk of injury and death when involved in an accident. There were more than 5,500 deaths caused by motorcycle crashes in 2020, 138 of which were in Indiana. Another 1,969 riders were injured in Indiana accidents, an 8% increase, from the previous year. Motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries, massive medical bills, and lost wages. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, working with an experienced motorcycle injury attorney in Indianapolis can increase your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Either intoxication or speeding cause most motorcycle accidents. In 2017, 28% of motorcycle crash deaths involved alcohol and 32% involved speeding. Most motorcycle accidents – 71% in 2020, per Indiana University Public Policy Institute – involve another driver. In many cases, this happens because car and truck drivers are not looking for motorcyclists and are less aware of these smaller vehicles. Other common causes of motorcycle accidents include distracted driving, illegal lane changes, cell phone use, and failure to yield the right-of-way.

Sometimes factors outside of drivers’ control can cause accidents. These include defective parts, problems with safety gear like helmets, and dangerous road conditions. However, most accidents involve another driver. If you can demonstrate that the other driver was negligent, you may qualify for compensation to cover your medical bills and other expenses.

Important Indiana Laws to Know

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, there are several Indiana-specific laws that might affect your case. First, Indiana does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets unless they are under 18 or operating with a motorcycle learners’ permit. This means that if you were injured while riding without a helmet, you weren’t violating the law. This makes it less likely that not wearing a helmet could be used to deny your claim.

Indiana sets a two-year statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents and other personal injury claims. This means that you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit if you choose to do so. Usually, people injured in accidents file lawsuits after they have recovered from their injuries. You don’t need to decide whether to pursue a lawsuit immediately, but keep the statute of limitations in mind so you don’t miss your deadline.

How Is Responsibility for a Motorcycle Accident Determined in Indiana?

Indiana uses a modified comparative negligence system in motorcycle accident cases. Under comparative negligence rules, you can still receive damages even if you were partially responsible for your accident. A court or claims adjuster will assign you and the other party relative levels of liability.  The percentage that you were found responsible for the accident will reduce your award. For example, if your award was $10,000 in damages and you were 10% responsible for the crash, you would receive $9,000. Under Indiana’s modified comparative negligence system, you can receive damages if you were less than 50% responsible for the accident. For example, if you were 55% responsible compared with the other driver, you would receive no compensation.

What Are the Most Common Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident?

Because motorcycles are completely open to the elements, riders are vulnerable to many types of injuries in a crash. About half of motorcycle accidents cause injuries to the lower body, which can include broken bones and ligament and joint damage. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents and are especially common in riders who were not wearing helmets. Neck, back, and shoulder injuries are also common and can lead to lasting complications. Riders may also suffer from burns and road rash during a crash. Regardless of the specific injury, a motorcycle accident can lead to pain, disability, large medical bills, and missed work.

What to Do if You Are Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Indianapolis

After a motorcycle crash:

  • Call the police to report the accident.
  • If possible, try to document and gather evidence about what happened. Take photos of the vehicles before they’re moved, talk to witnesses, and take notes while your memory is fresh.
  • If you are seriously injured, seek medical attention immediately. If your injuries are less serious, consider trying to collect evidence first. 
  • Make sure to keep records of any time you were out of work because of your injuries.

It’s a good idea to notify your insurance company about the accident. However, keep the details to a minimum. Anything you tell your insurance company can hurt your claim if you file a lawsuit later on. Get in touch with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can. Once you’ve retained an attorney, have them handle any further communication with your insurance company. Do not accept a settlement offer from your insurance company until you’ve spoken with your attorney. Remember that the insurance company wants to make the smallest payout possible, even if you might qualify for a much larger award.

When to Contact an Indianapolis Motorcycle Injury Attorney

If you have injuries from a motorcycle accident, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a motorcycle injury attorney in Indianapolis as soon as possible. Your attorney will look at the details of your case and help you get the most compensation possible. Look for an attorney with experience handling the type of accident you’ve experienced. Whether you need to file a lawsuit or negotiate with your insurance company, working with an attorney can help you get the best results without the stress of navigating an insurance claim on your own.

The attorneys at Wagner Reese know how to handle motorcycle accident claims. If you have  injuries from a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis, contact Wagner Reese to schedule a free consultation.

Content has been reviewed by the attorneys at the Wagner Reese offices.