How to Protect Your Legal Rights

Mar 16, 2012 View Comments by

It’s not something we like to think about, but would you know what to do if you were involved in a motorcycle accident? Have you checked your motorcycle insurance policy lately to ensure your coverage will protect you and your passengers if you ever need it? If you ride outside your home state, do you know the traffic and helmet laws?

Here are some tips to protect your legal rights as a biker.

Do You Have UM/UIM Coverage on Your Insurance Policy?

According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers is uninsured. Thousands more are underinsured. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

Before you hit the road, check your insurance policy to see if you have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. We recommend a minimum of $100,000 per person, and $300,000 per occurrence of coverage. You can make changes to your insurance policy at any time, so review it thoroughly prior to the start of the riding season.

Follow State and Local Laws

It’s important to know the traffic laws where you ride, whether locally or in other states.

If you commit a traffic violation – even if you don’t know you’re doing anything wrong – you could be held responsible if it leads to a collision. Knowing and obeying the laws wherever you ride will help protect your rights and your ability to recover damages if you’re in an accident.

Also, keep in mind that helmet laws vary from state to state, and nearly every state requires bikers to wear protective eyewear.

What to Do After a Crash

Following the appropriate steps after a crash will help protect your legal rights:

  1. Call 911. Get medical attention for you and anyone else injured in the accident.
  2. File an accident report with the police. Only talk with the police officer about the basic facts of the crash – don’t speculate who’s to blame.
  3. Preserve evidence. If you can, take photos and video of the scene of the accident, including damage to your bike and any injuries that resulted from the collision. Keep a disposable camera in your storage compartment if you don’t have a camera on your phone.
  4. Get information from the other driver: name, address, birth date, phone number, driver’s license number, insurance provider, his or her vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and contact information for any passengers.
  5. Get contact information from any witnesses.

Lastly, contact your insurance company, and pass along the information you’ve collected. Never give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. Also, never give a recorded statement to your own insurance company until you have spoken with an attorney. Read any releases or papers carefully before you sign them, and only accept a settlement from the other person’s insurance company if you know it’s fair.

Visit these links for state-by-state motorcycle insurance laws and helmet laws, as well as additional motorcycle safety tips.

Photo provided by RoadRUNNER

Tags: Categories: Touring & Safety Tips

About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.