Howdy, boys and girls. Now that virtually all of us are out on the road, the sad truth is that some of us are going to have a little fender bender. A slow lay down, a knockover in the parking lot, something is going to happen. In fact, we talked about this in answering a related question on Quora a while ago and while careful riders don’t get in as much trouble, sooner or later, it is liable to find you. On the off-chance that it does, there’s a couple of things that you need to remember to do – and to not do – if you have an accident involving your bike.
First of all, be DOT-legal. Look, you can be Billy Bad-ass all you want, but if you’re riding a machine that wouldn’t have been safe in The Road Warrior, then expect that the police report is not going to be as favorable to you as it is to the other guy. Of course, if you’re wearing a non-DOT helmet, in some places this could put you at fault no matter what the other guy did.
Next, this is just like if you are in a car, basic Insurance 101 stuff. Don’t say anything was your fault and make sure the law gets there for an accident report. Guess who gets to determine fault? The Police! Wait it out, get the report, and let them make the determination. You may actually be at fault, but the other driver could be driving on a suspended license, drunk, or any number of other things that ends skewing the determination of fault. Keep your mouth shut.
Once the police get there, get an accident (or incident) report. Under no circumstances should you and the other driver just walk away as friends and forget about the incident. The problem with bikes is that they are pretty fragile critters and the wrong tap in the wrong place can cause tires to track wrong, vibration at high speeds, and all sort of other nasty stuff that you can’t see or feel when it’s laying on the ground. If you don’t have a report, guess who pays for it? You do, big boy. (I learned this the hard way in about 1997 in my first lay-down at low speed!) This leads to our next point… just as importantly, get yourself checked out. The bike isn’t going anywhere, so you need to get yourself checked out by paramedics, especially if you laid the bike down at any speed. When you have the adrenaline dump due to a wreck, you literally cannot feel pain, so those minor bumps and bruises could be the harbingers of much bigger issues. The ambulance is there, anyhow- make sure you’re alright. Everything else can wait.
Lastly, don’t be like everybody else and jump into a long call with your insurer. Plenty of proactive folks want to get on the phone right away and call the insurance company to talk about the accident they just had. I get it – thee insurance company can tell you about a wrecker for the vehicle and start the claim process. Guess what? You can do that at any time. The best idea is to call them after you’ve had a chance to get the accident report and get all the adrenaline out of your system – and maybe even checked on some points of your coverage with an attorney. In many states and provinces, if you aren’t at fault, you don’t have to deal with your insurance company right away (if at all), so why give them the chance to raise your rates?
In the end, the nature of the motorcycle game is that some of us are going to have a wreck. Most of us will be fine and just pick up the pieces and go on about our lives. Some of us will be injured and a few of us will die. That’s not being morbid, that’s just the odd’s we all live by. The difference for some of us will be how we have approached our own safety and how we handle any issues that arise from a great cruise.
Be safe out there!