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What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

No one ever wants to be in a motorcycle accident, but unfortunately sometimes they just can’t be avoided. Find out what you can do to minimize injury, prevent further danger, and avoid legal trouble after a motorcycle accident below! 

The 7 Crucial Steps You NEED to Take After Motorcycle Accident 

1. Get to Safety But Leave the Bike 

For most motorcycle riders, their bike is their “baby” — which means that after an accident their first instinct might be to check on, try to move, or even try to retrieve broken pieces of their motorcycle. This is a very bad idea for several reasons: 

  • Staying at the crash location can often put you into the direct path of collision for other roadway users. Many people will target-fixate on an object in the road (such as a downed rider or bike) and run into them because of it. Safely removing yourself from the crash scene is a top priority, even if it means leaving your bike behind. If you’ve crashed in a corner, you try to position yourself towards the start of the corner to stop oncoming traffic (or ask someone to do this for you).
  • Trying to move the motorcycle can further your injuries. When you first crash, whether it’s your first time (hopefully not) 40th, you’re going to experience a surge of adrenaline that can mask even serious and life-threatening injuries. 
  • Moving your motorcycle after an accident can actually compromise evidence. It might sound shocking, but a motorcycle crash scene is a crime scene in many ways. Even if you don’t wind up in court, your insurance provider will most likely request photos of the original crash scene and any causing or contributing factors.

While you might think you’d never be tempted to run into traffic to retrieve a broken lever or blinker after a motorcycle accident, you have to remember you’ll most likely be in a state of disorientation and confusion after crashing. Training yourself on what to do now will help prevent you from committing mistakes like this in the future. 

2. Keep Your Gear On

motorcycle helmet accident

Another counterintuitive step after crashing is to keep all your gear on. Most motorcycle riders will try to take at least their helmets off immediately after an accident. This can cause dangerous head, neck, and spine damage, as there could be serious injuries that adrenaline is masking. Even removing gear like gloves and boots can cause further issues if there is an injury already in the area. The best course of action is to try to limit movement, and safely reach an area where you can rest in a neutral position until emergency services arrive. 

In light crashes and falls, make sure you have a first aid kit to help you deal with bruises and scratches.

3. Call Emergency Services 

motorcycle accident ride vision emergency services
Paramedics transporting victim on stretcher

After a motorcycle accident, this step should ideally go hand in hand with #2, as typically you should call or be asking someone to call emergency services as soon as is safely possible. 

It’s important to remember that during emergency situations many people “freeze” and have a hard time processing requests (often called the “bystander effect”). If you need someone to call emergency services for you, be sure to signal them out by pointing if possible, isolating a detail specific to them (ex: “you, man in the blue shirt”), and then clearly telling them what to do. 

Important Note: Several mobile apps and devices have been developed that can automatically notify your emergency contacts or even emergency services in the event of a motorcycle accident. Depending on the app you download, details like trip records, GPS location, and personal medical information can all be shared. Popular choices include: 

Many motorcyclists also carry emergency contact information cards with them, typically behind their ID. On these cards, you can write down any important medical and personal information in case you’re not conscious or able to provide it to emergency services. 

4. Mentally Assess the Situation

After a motorcycle accident there’s a good chance you might go into some level of physical and emotional shock. Physical shock, called hypovolemic shock, is typically associated with internal or external injury and includes symptoms like rapid breathing and pulse, clammy and pale skin, nausea or vomiting, enlarged pupils, fainting or dizziness, and changes in mental state. 

Emotional shock is usually associated with your initial adrenaline spikes beginning to drop. Symptoms can include physical trembling, confusion or agitation, and emotional distress.  

Try to remain calm during this time and wait for emergency services to arrive. You may find relief from a recovery position or leg elevation (if it can be done safely). 

If you’re able to, also mentally assess how you feel physically and what happened so that you’re able to accurately convey that information to medical personnel when they arrive. Information like this can help them to determine the nature and extent of your injuries, further increasing your likelihood of efficient and effective treatment. 

5. Gather Evidence

Though this might seem like an uncivil move, it’s important to gather as much evidence about what happened as you can for insurance and legal purposes. If possible, ask someone to use your phone to take videos and photos of the scene. Everything from your bike, to the car or motorcycle that collided with you, to roadway features should be included — even if you’ve experienced a single-vehicle accident. Evidence like roadway skidmarks, gravel, road signs, sun position, field of view obstructions, and more will all be considered by insurance companies and legal teams. 

You can also look for video recordings from nearby vehicles that might caught the accident on camera or install a camera system on you motorcycle to document every ride.

motorcycle accident
Overturned motorcycle and helmet on the street after collision with the car

6. Cooperate With Police

At some point the police will likely contact you to get a statement, either at the accident scene or at your location of recovery. While it’s very important to be honest and upfront, be careful not to admit fault until you’ve had time to process the event, speak with your insurance company, and speak with an attorney if necessary. 

If you have photographic or video evidence of the crash you may be required to turn it over to the police.  

7. Consider Legal Support

In the event of a serious injury caused by a secondary roadway user or an inappropriate roadway feature, legal counsel might be warranted. If you feel you may have a viable personal injury legal case, it’s important to try to save your full thoughts on the situation and any evidence you may have until you’ve talked to your lawyer. In many situations your legal representation will then take over communications with your insurance company and the other party to settle the case. Many legal representatives will also instruct you on when and how to speak with your insurance company, so this step is something that should be taken relatively soon after the collision if necessary. 

Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident is crucial to your safety and well-being as a rider, and although these steps might seem like common sense, it can be hard to remember them during the confusion of a crash. Consider taking a photograph of or printing the following table: 

Recap Card: What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

1. Get to SafetyMove yourself safely out of the roadway/path of travel.
2. Keep Gear OnResist the urge to remove your helmet.
3. Call Emergency ServicesCall or ask someone to call emergency services.
4. Do a Mental CheckBe prepared for shock, and to talk with ES.
5. Gather EvidenceGet photos of the scene, your bike, and any factors
6. Cooperate with PoliceBe prepared to speak with the police.
7. Get Legal SupportConsider legal support if necessary.

Preventing Motorcycle Accidents

The best scenario when it comes to motorcycle accidents is never getting into one in the first place. While many of these collisions can’t be avoided (by the rider at least), there are some everyday precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood that you’ll get into an accident. 

Many accidents can be prevented by following the below safety tips: 

  • Always follow speed limits and safely reduce speed any time visibility, traction, or personal ability is reduced. 
  • Never ride when physically compromised, through alcohol, medication, fatigue, etc. 
  • Ride within your skill level. Don’t try to “catch up” with friends or group rides. 
  • Avoid riding in excessive weather. A hotel for the night is much less expensive than a hospital trip. 
  • Keep a safe distance between traffic. At 60 mph (96.6 kmh) you are traveling roughly 90 feet (27.4 meters) per second. When in doubt, leave extra space! 

Being as safe and responsible as possible is a commitment every motorcycle rider needs to make whenever they swing their leg over the saddle. Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident can help to prevent you from going through further physical, legal, or emotional damage —  and while the above steps are guidelines, nothing can replace sound judgment and safe choices. 

Riding a motorcycle can be one of the most freeing and fun experiences a person can have, but like anything else, it does come with risks. As a rider, it’s your job to do your best to minimize these risks as much as possible through quality gear, training, and gadgets. Investing time and money into these might seem time-consuming or unnecessary at first, but in the long run they’re crucial to helping you stay safe while having fun!

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