Thanks to uber-violent shows like "Sons of Anarchy" and biker gangs such as the Hells Angels, motorcyclists have long been saddled with a bad reputation. Unfortunately, this image can negatively affect bikers when they are involved in accidents. In 2013, for example, a group of motorcyclists were immediately blamed for a horrific New York City incident in which the driver was pulled from his automobile and beaten by a group of bikers. The incident, which was caught on video by a passer-by, seemed to show an unprovoked act by a crazed biker gang. But in the end, it turned out that there was actually more to the story. Unfortunately, if you are a biker and you are involved in an incident, you, too, could be assumed guilty by association unless you take certain steps to protect yourself.
Get Witness Names
The moments after an accident can be chaotic, but it's important that you obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene, even if the driver of the other vehicle has conceded that they are at fault. In addition, you should also:
- Write down the license plate numbers of any witnesses. Unfortunately, some people may not want to get involved in a trial and could give you false contact information, or you could inadvertently jot down their information incorrectly. Having the license plate numbers could help you track down a witness that may be important for proving your case.
- Take pictures -- if you have a camera or a cell phone with you -- of your motorcycle and the other vehicle.
Report the Incident to Police
In the New York motorcyclist incident, the public immediately leapt to the conclusion that the attack on the driver had been an unprovoked act by a lawless biker gang. But it was later discovered that the operator of the automobile had actually run over a motorcyclist first, which had then led to the confrontation seen on the video. Unfortunately, some people still view bikers as two-wheeled outlaws, so it's important to protect yourself by:
- Reporting the incident to the police and your automobile insurance company. If the accident is minor, the other driver may ask you not to call the police or your insurance company and to, instead, allow them to pay for your damages out of pocket. This can be problematic if the driver should suddenly change their story and deny responsibility for the incident. Without a police report, the other party could claim that you were at fault.
- Don't admit fault or apologize for the incident. Even if you believe that you may be partially at fault, you should never admit this to the police or to the other party until you get a full understanding of the circumstances of the accident. And while it may sound harsh not to apologize, saying that you're sorry could actually be seen as an admission of fault at trial.
Hire a Lawyer
If the driver in your accident is trying to lay the blame on you, and you're positive that you are not at fault, it is time to hire a motorcycle accident attorney. Unfortunately, there tends to be a prejudice against motorcycle riders. For example, in the New York incident, even though the motorcyclist who was run over in the incident was left paralyzed, the car driver was not arrested or charged. The driver even fled the scene. In contrast, several of the bikers -- including one that may have been trying to help the driver -- were arrested for attacking the driver, who only suffered minor injuries. That is why it's so important to hire an experienced motorcycle attorney who can present your case in the light that will be most favorable to you. Click here for more info about motorcycle accident attorneys.