How to Collect Evidence in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycles are becoming a more common sight on American roadways with each passing year. In Texas in 2016, over 374,000 motorcycle registrations were recorded.1 Indeed, riding a motorcycle is the preferred activity for many Houstonians. However, it’s also an activity which demands a great deal of care and experience. Despite the fact that so many bikers are responsible drivers, The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) revealed to ABC News that over 2000 motorcyclists were injured in Texas in 2017.2
Driving a motorcycle means that you are much more likely to sustain serious injury than the driver of a car or other vehicle. If you’ve been injured as the result of a motorcycle accident, it is very possible to get the compensation you deserve. However, in order for your motor vehicle accident lawyer to build a strong case, you must ensure that all evidence related to the accident was properly collected.
Why Are Bikers More Likely to Become Injured in an Accident?
The main attraction of motorcycles is the feeling of freedom they provide. However, it’s that feeling of freedom which also makes a motorcycle a dangerous vehicle to drive. Without the windows, doors, and protective pillars other vehicles possess, the motorcyclist is left incredibly vulnerable to serious or fatal injury, even when wearing a helmet and protective clothing.
However, it isn’t just the lack of protective elements which make motorcycles more dangerous than passenger vehicles to operate; a major factor in many motorcycle accidents is the fact that because a bike is smaller than other vehicles, it is more difficult to see. Where other vehicles will take up the majority of a lane, a motorcycle occupies a small area on one side and is able to be maneuvered easily, albeit unexpectedly, between vehicles.
Finally, the weight of a motorcycle falls drastically below that of a passenger vehicle, SUV, or truck, putting motorcycle drivers at a disadvantage.
Another Problem: Houston Traffic
Surrounded by a tangle of interstate highways and toll and feeder roads, Houston can be a difficult and stressful city to get to. When you add in Texas’s weather challenges like rain and flooding, long delays can be the result. To add to this, aggressive drivers who don’t adjust their driving to the weather conditions can make riding a motorcycle in or near the nation’s fourth-largest city seem more like a nightmare than a dream.
With all of these factors working against you as a motorcyclist, ensuring you’re prepared in the event of a crash is absolutely crucial. This includes receiving the proper training so that you can obtain the skills necessary for traversing Houston’s hectic roads and avoiding crashes. Training also allows you to be aware of other drivers and road conditions, as well as helps you understand how your bike behaves while accelerating and turning so you can control that behavior for the purposes of accident avoidance.
What Constitutes Evidence in a Motorcycle Accident?
There are a number of different types of evidence that can be collected for auto accident attorneys following a motorcycle accident. These are:
- Police reports
- Photos of the accident scene
- Photos of vehicle damage
- Damaged clothing and gear
- Witness statements or interviews
- Medical reports which include extent and type of injuries sustained, as well as the prognosis for recovery
- Mobile phone records, where texting while driving is suspected to be the cause of the crash
- Bills for treatment of medical injuries, damage estimates and cost of repairs
- Records to prove income and amount lost due to injury
One piece of evidence that can be obtained for car accident lawyers is the police report. This important document can be instrumental in your case, as it is provided by an uninvolved but official third party. If needed, the individual who completed and filed the report can also testify in court. Usually, you will be provided with a police report immediately after an accident. If not, you can request one from the police department in whose jurisdiction the accident occurred.
With today’s technology, the mobile phone has become an incredibly useful tool, especially where it comes to gathering evidence following accidents. Photos should be taken right at the scene of the accident if at all possible. They can be taken with your phone’s camera, or, if your insurance company provides one, an app that allows you to obtain photos and send them to their claims department directly.
Sometimes, injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents make it impossible for a victim to obtain photos themselves. Should this happen, it’s important to ensure you enlist the help of someone you feel you can trust at the accident scene. You should specifically obtain pictures of all physical injuries and damage to your gear, if possible, and both vehicles, as well as the entire accident scene. However, there are other items which can be very important to your case that you should also include. These are:
- The road signs present at the scene of the accident
- Any evidence at the scene which points to the weather or road conditions at the time of the accident
- The positions of all involved vehicles
- Close-ups of skid marks
- Any traffic or surveillance cameras in the area
In addition to taking pictures in the area of the accident, you or your Houston motorcycle accident lawyer will need to investigate further to determine if there are any other videos or camera shots of the scene. A good place to start would be TxDOT, whose workers may be able to direct you to the camera owners themselves or to the records of any surveillance video cameras permanently placed in the area.
Witness Statements or Interviews
The statements you obtained from individuals who saw the accident are some of the most important pieces of evidence you may gather. As soon as possible after the accident has occurred, ask witnesses to provide their names, addresses, and contact information. In addition, if they allow it, you may be able to use your phone to capture a witness interview video to present as evidence.
Like the police report, a medical report can help you a great deal in court. However, in order to ensure this piece of evidence is viable, you need to receive treatment as soon as possible following your accident. The report should include the date you received treatment, as well as the name of the physician who treated you.
Records and Bills
Collecting evidence also means ensuring you keep all records and bills associated with your accident. For example, mobile phone records can provide time-stamped messages that can prove the at-fault party was texting at the time the accident occurred. Other records include those associated with your medical treatment, such as physiotherapy or prescriptions.
You’ll also want to ensure you keep all documents associated with repairs to your bike. This includes any estimates provided to you, as well as those for towing and storage. To help establish the value of your bike, you should also include bills for the cost of any improvements or repairs made to it prior to the date of the accident.
The Value of an Experienced Attorney
You can gather all the evidence of your accident, contact witnesses and ask them to testify, and submit your photos to your insurance company—but, without the experience of an auto accident attorney who understands the vulnerability of motorcyclists on the road, you may not get the amount for your injuries that you deserve.
When you’ve lost time at work due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, you are no longer able to meet your financial obligations. This is why it’s so important to get the most compensation possible. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. have been winning serious injury cases since 1964. When you call us, you will be put in touch with a motorcycle accident attorney who is dedicated to fighting for you and getting you a fair settlement. Discover how our team can help you get what you deserve; call 713-364-0723 today.