Riding a motorcycle comes with an unbeatable sense of freedom. Unfortunately, that freedom all too often comes with a huge price.
According to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 112 motorcyclists died in accidents in 2019. That number is a statistically significant increase from 98 in 2016. While only 2% of all vehicular accidents involved motorcycles, a disproportionate 14% of all fatalities were motorcyclists.
But even motorcycle accidents that do not result in death can have serious consequences. In 2019, motorcycles were involved in 2,573 accidents in Indiana, resulting in 1,818 non-fatal injuries. If you or someone you care about was injured in a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis, an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer from Wagner Reese can help you obtain compensation for your injuries, the damage to your bike, and other related losses.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
The first moments after being in a motorcycle accident can be scary. Knowing in advance what you should do next can mean the difference between recovering all the compensation you deserve or less than what you need to cover all of your losses.
Keep these steps in mind in the unfortunate event that you are injured in a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis:
- Check yourself for injuries. If you have sustained any injuries, you need to know as soon as possible. Whether you believe you are seriously injured or not, the most important thing is that you receive prompt medical attention.
- Call 911. Even if you and no one else is injured, you still want the police to come to the scene of the accident to make an accident report.
- Move your motorcycle if you can. If you are able to do so, move your motorcycle away from oncoming traffic to avoid the risk of an additional accident. If you are unable to do so yourself, ask someone else to do it for you.
- Ask all witnesses and others involved in the accident to remain at the scene. The police will want to gather their statements, and this will also help you in the next step.
- Gather basic information related to the accident. This should include the names and contact information of all witnesses and others involved, taking pictures of your motorcycle and the surrounding scene, and writing down everything you remember about the circumstances leading to the accident.
- Avoid admitting fault to anyone. It might be tempting to apologize to others at the scene or speak freely to the police officers taking your statement. But you should avoid saying anything that might be interpreted as an admission of guilt because this can make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover compensation for your damages.
- Get medical attention. For serious injuries, you might be taken to the hospital immediately by ambulance. If not, get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible anyway. Some serious injuries do not become symptomatic until days after the accident.
- Keep all your records. This includes receipts and diagnoses from any medical appointments. These might become necessary in any future claim for or against you.
- Contact an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can ensure that your rights are protected, communicate with the liable insurance companies on your behalf, and guide you through the next steps towards recovering compensation for your injuries and losses.
These steps can be difficult to keep in mind amidst the chaos that follows an accident. But when in doubt, err on the side of caution and consult with an attorney before doing, saying, or signing anything pertaining to the accident.
5 Reasons You Need a Reliable Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
By getting an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer involved in your case as early as possible, you can protect your rights and avoid doing anything that might jeopardize your motorcycle accident claim. Here are some other reasons why you might want legal representation for your motorcycle accident claim:
- Help with gathering all potential evidence. Your lawyer will advise you on what information you need from anyone involved in the accident, speak with witnesses on your behalf, and let you know which records you should obtain and keep in the aftermath of the accident.
- Legal representation for all outside entities. Your attorney will negotiate with the liable insurance companies on your behalf and ensure that you are treated fairly.
- Advice on potential next steps. The next step may be filing a claim with the at fault party’s insurance company or your own. It may also entail filing a lawsuit in court if the liable insurance company refuses to pay you all the compensation you are entitled to receive.
Legal expertise in Indianapolis. While motorcyclists must follow the same traffic laws as other motorists, they are also subject to other rules and regulations pertaining to licensing, safety equipment, and the procedures for operating a motorcycle on Indiana roadways. Your attorney will help you understand these laws and how they are relevant to your motorcycle accident claim.
- A trusted partner through a stressful time. The peace of mind that comes from working with an experienced legal professional should not be underestimated. Simply knowing that you are being represented by someone you can rely on can ease your stress at an exceedingly difficult time for you and your family.
Not all lawyers are equal. You need a personal injury lawyer with an active practice in Indianapolis, who specializes in motorcycle accident claims, and has extensive experience managing cases like yours.
Important Indiana Motorcycle Laws You Should Know
While you are not expected to be an expert in traffic law, a basic understanding of the laws that come into play after a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis can help you recover compensation for your damages.
Indiana Equipment Requirements
Most of the equipment requirements related to motorcycles in Indiana are relatively straightforward. Still, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- All motorcycles must have at least one brake in good working order that can be operated by either hand or foot.
- All motorcycles must have at least one, but no more than two headlamps at a height of at least 24 inches, but no more than 54 inches from the ground to the lamp’s center.
- All motorcycles must have a reflector on the vehicle’s rear that is visible at night from between 100 and 350 feet when shone on by an oncoming vehicle.
Traffic Laws and Requirements
Indiana considers motorcycles as entities with the same rights as cars. That means that every motorcycle can have the entire lane in which it drives, and other vehicles must not drive in a way that endangers that space. However, two motorcycles are allowed to ride in a single lane side by side as long as both riders agree.
Beyond that, Indianapolis motorcyclists are subject to the same traffic laws and regulations that apply to other motorists. Motorcyclists must observe speed limits, yield the right of way when required, use turn signals, and do everything else that other motorists are legally required to do on Indiana roadways.
Helmet Laws and Regulations in Indiana
As mentioned above, motorcyclists in Indianapolis do not have to wear helmets unless they are under the age of 18. However, riders who are younger than 18 years old must not only wear helmets approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but also protective glasses, goggles, or a transparent face shield that protects their faces and eyes.
Indiana Motorcycle License Laws
Residents of Indiana can obtain a motorcycle license if they already have an Indiana driver’s license. To obtain a motorcycle license, a person must pass a vision test, a state-approved motorcycle education course or knowledge exam, and a motorcycle skills exam. Riders under the age of 18 will also need a parent or guardian to sign an Agreement of Financial Liability.
The motorcycle operator safety education course involves five hours of classroom instruction, followed by 10 hours of practical exercises. The knowledge and skills test completes the course to provide the official designation on the tester’s license.
An individual can also obtain a learner’s permit by passing a theoretical knowledge test created by Ride Safe Indiana. The holder of a learner’s permit is allowed to ride a motorcycle without a passenger, during the daytime, with a helmet, for up to one year.
Once the holder of a learner’s permit is ready, they have three attempts to pass the skills test and earn a motorcycle endorsement on their license. If they fail all three times, they must wait two months before taking the test again.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The common causes of motorcycle accidents are different from those for passenger vehicles. For instance, the most common cause of car accidents is distracted driving, while the most common cause of motorcycle accidents is cars making left turns in front of motorcycles that they failed to notice.
Other common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Unsafe lane changes – Drivers often fail to check for motorcycles in their blind spots.
- Head-on collisions – The cause of 56 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents.
- Road hazards – Because motorcycles are less stable, they are more susceptible to hazards on the road. Potholes, cracks in the pavement, and debris that are barely noticeable to the driver of a passenger vehicle can be deadly for a motorcyclist.
- Lane splitting – This refers to a motorcyclist riding between two lanes of slowed or stopped traffic. Lane splitting is dangerous and prohibited in Indiana.
- Driving while intoxicated – It is dangerous to operate any type of motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. But motorcyclists are especially vulnerable when their judgment, concentration, and reflexes are impaired.
- Speeding – The faster a motorcycle travels, the more difficult it is to control, and the less time the motorcyclist has to react to hazards or emergency situations. Moreover, a motorcycle accident at high speed is more likely to be fatal.
- Inclement weather – Rain, sleet, snow, and ice can impair a motorcyclist’s visibility and make stopping, turning, and accelerating extremely difficult.
Determining Liability for a Motorcycle Accident in Indianapolis
One of the most important roles an attorney plays after a motorcycle accident involves helping you establish fault for the accident. In order to recover damages, you and your attorney will need to prove that someone else’s negligence caused the motorcycle accident in which you were injured.
There are generally three types of parties who may be at fault for a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis:
- Negligent drivers – Motorists who share the road owe each other a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and avoid causing harm.
- Dram shops – A commercial establishment that sells alcohol to a motorcyclist who is already impaired, and who subsequently injures someone else, may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
- Third parties – The manufacturer of the motorcycle or its parts, the dealership where the bike was bought, the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads, and other third parties whose actions may have contributed to the accident may all be held liable.
Keep in mind that, as long as your share of fault for the accident does not exceed 50%, you can still recover some compensation from the other at fault parties. When aided by a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer, Indianapolis motorcycle accident victims routinely recover compensation, even when they share some blame for their injuries.
When to Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis
After being injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to get a lawyer involved as soon as possible. The earlier you get a lawyer involved, the more likely you are to recover compensation for your losses.
The attorneys at Wagner Reese are adept at helping injured Indianapolis motorcyclists get justice and obtain the compensation they need to cover their damages. Furthermore, we provide a free case assessment to every potential client.
We love to help people protect their future and get what they deserve, and we want to do the same for you. If you are looking for a reliable and experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Indianapolis, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
This content has been reviewed by the attorneys at the Wagner Reese offices.
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