The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles documented 4,750 motorcycle crashes in the state—more than a quarter of which, 1,151, took place in New York City. More recently, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimated 136 fatalities due to motorcycle accidents in New York state.
Most of the time, drivers of larger vehicles like cars and trucks are responsible for motorcycle accidents. In other cases, motorcycle drivers themselves may be responsible for those accidents: They take a turn too sharply, misjudge wet roads, or attempt to pull out in front of a car faster than they should. Sometimes, however, motorcycle accidents aren’t due to the responsibility of any driver. Instead, defective parts on the motorcycle itself cause them: A tire blows out, brakes fail, or a mechanical error creates serious problems for the rider. If you were in a motorcycle accident due to defective parts, how should you respond next?
Identifying Defective Parts
Sometimes, you have a few moments as the accident occurs to realize that a mechanical failure has taken place: you’re trying desperately to break, but the motorcycle won’t stop, for example. In other cases, you may not be sure exactly what happened. You’re fairly sure that you did everything you were supposed to do to keep yourself safe, but the accident occurred in the blink of an eye anyway. How do you determine whether or not a defective part played a part in the accident?
Reconstruct the accident. Witness statements and help from police officers who responded to the scene of your motorcycle accident may be able to help you piece the events that led up to the accident back together. It may also be worthwhile to consult with an expert in accident reconstruction.
Have a qualified mechanic evaluate your motorcycle. If your bike is still in working condition, a mechanic may be able to offer assistance following a motorcycle accident. First and foremost, a mechanic will be able to help determine whether or not there was any mechanical failure responsible for your accident. There are several mechanical failures that can lead to motorcycle accidents, including:
- Faulty brakes which fail to properly stop the vehicle
- Handlebar defects, which can cause the handlebars to not function properly as the engine heats up
- Engine failures, including stopping suddenly and gas intake problems
- Defective tires, which can lead to blowouts in the middle of the road
Next, a mechanic may be able to determine whether or not your motorcycle is able to be repaired, which can be helpful in negotiating with the insurance company involved in your accident. A mechanic may also be able to give you a timeline on the repairs of your motorcycle.
Be sure, however, before you give a mechanic the go-ahead to fix your bike, that you first speak with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney. It may be especially important for the mechanic to document his findings about the mechanical failure of the bike very carefully, and to preserve the defective part so that it can serve as crucial evidence in the future.
Check for other accidents and recalls. Look for other motorcycle accidents involving the make and model of your motorcycle. Have they become increasingly common? Are there a number of accidents that appear to have a common thread? If so, there may be grounds for further investigation into the motorcycle. You should also determine whether or not there has been a recall issued for any parts for your motorcycle.
What to Do Next?
Once you’ve determined whether or not defective parts were involved in your motorcycle accident, what comes next?
First, contact a lawyer. Bring the lawyer any evidence that you’ve collected so far. This may include:
- The defective bike or bike part, or whatever remains of it. DO NOT THROW DEFECTIVE PARTS AWAY.
- Your accident report
- Information about any injuries you sustained during your motorcycle accident
- Reports from your mechanic concerning the condition of your motorcycle and any details about mechanical failures that they discovered as a result of your accident
- Any information about recalls on your motorcycle
Working with a lawyer is one of the most effective ways to streamline the process of handling your motorcycle accident. A lawyer can determine whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit, handle communications with your motorcycle’s manufacturer, and help you determine how to proceed with other behaviors, including what you can post on social media about your accident while you are involved in a lawsuit.
Keep track of any important records. If you were injured as a result of your motorcycle accident, you’ll want to keep track of all of your medical records. Medical records include your immediate trip to the emergency room or doctor as well as any ongoing visits to your doctor. You should also keep track of physical therapy visits and reports documenting your progress as you heal. Also, keep track of any missed time at work due to your accident: the hours you were forced to miss can add up quickly, leaving you struggling for income.
Follow your attorney’s advice. Your lawyer may provide you with advice concerning your motorcycle accident case, including what you should post on social media or any activities that you should avoid while involved in the lawsuit. It’s important to follow the advice you’ve been given so that you won’t decrease the damages you’re due during a lawsuit. An attorney will also be able to provide you with advice about when to accept a settlement offer and when you’ll need to go to court to fight for the damages you deserve following your accident.
Do You Need Legal Help for Your Motorcycle Accident?
After a motorcycle accident, it’s important to get legal help as soon as possible. Working with an attorney can help you determine whether or not defective parts were responsible for your accident, what damages you may be entitled to recover for your injuries, and whether or not an insurance company has offered you an adequate settlement. Contact Diamond Injury Law today at (718) 588-2000 to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about how we may be able to help.