In the immediate aftermath of a motorcycle accident, there are several things going on which can cause a great deal of confusion. Initially, an accident victim must make sure they are physically well before they deal with many of the other issues which will occur.
Insurance companies understand the number of issues a motorcycle accident victim is facing, and with this knowledge, the insurer for the at-fault party will often take advantage of the chaos and send the victim a release. Signing this release would be a significant mistake which could have long-term consequences.
What Type of Release Will Victims Get From an Insurer?
A release form may be titled release or may contain the words authorization instead. However, before signing any of these documents, it is imperative that they be reviewed by an attorney.
There are three primary types of release forms an accident victim may receive from an insurer. These include:
1. Medical Authorization Release
This form gives permission for an insurer to look at the medical of a victim. These release forms may seem standard, after all the insurance company would need to review the medical care a victim sought after an accident. However, in many cases, these forms give the insurer access to a victim’s complete medical history.
The reason an insurer may want more than the accident medical history is to ultimately reduce or deny the claim of the victim. Digging into the medical history of a victim may allow the insurer to claim the injuries existed before the accident.
2. Release of Liabilities and Claims
These releases are particularly onerous for motorcycle accident victims. In effect, they are allowing the insurance company to escape any liability for the injuries the victim suffered. Generally, this release form will be accompanied by a settlement offer and/or a check for damages as evaluated by the insurer.
This form should never be signed until a victim has agreed to a final settlement offer after consulting with a motorcycle accident attorney. Once this form is signed, the victim has no further options to seek additional compensation from the insurer, or from the party responsible for their injuries.
3. Property Damage Release
A motorcycle which was involved in an accident will require repairs or replacement. This release is often accompanied by a check for a fixed amount based on whether the motorcycle can be repaired or requires replacement.
In some cases, the insurance company will ask a victim to sign this release without contacting the victim to ask them to obtain estimates for repair or replacement costs. Once this release is signed, then there is no further option to seek additional compensation.
Legal Implications of Signing Release Forms
Once a release of any type is signed, it absolves a responsible party of any further obligation to a victim. This includes the driver who struck a motorcycle operator as well as the insurance company of the responsible party.
Too often, a victim signs a release form only to learn later their injury is far more serious than originally thought. This could mean the victim is forced to foot the bill for further medical care, and may also mean the insurance company, or the responsible party, is no longer liable for paying lost wages or other damages to the victim.
Signing any release form without fully understanding the full legal consequences of doing so can be costly for a victim of a motorcycle accident. Every victim should make sure they have had an attorney review any release forms before they sign them.
Steps to Take Following a Motorcycle Accident
Naturally the most important thing a victim can do following a motorcycle accident is to make sure they get out of the way of further harm. Law enforcement should be informed of the accident so they may come to the scene and document the accident. Once this is done, regardless of how well the victim feels they should seek medical attention.
Getting immediate medical attention is important for several reasons including:
- Document potential injuries — oftentimes in the immediate aftermath of an accident, victims are unaware of hidden injuries. Seeking medical care can prevent a victim from missing certain signs of serious injuries.
- Bolster legal position — when a victim fails to seek immediate medical attention following a motorcycle accident, an insurance company may use this against them later. If a victim does not seek medical care, the insurer could state the victim is exaggerating their claims.
- Document for work purposes — employers generally require a clearance to return to work. They may also require an accident victim to document their absence from work by supplying a medical report. Keep in mind, the party responsible for the injuries a motorcycle accident victim suffered in an accident may also be responsible for reimbursing the victim for lost wages. Therefore, having a medical team’s opinion about recovery is imperative.
Once a victim has sought medical care it is important they follow up with all medical recommendations. This may include taking prescription medications on a schedule, remaining out of work, and seeking follow-up care.
A motorcycle accident victim can further protect their legal rights by seeking legal advice to ensure they understand the laws which protect accident victims. A motorcycle accident attorney can help make sure that the insurance company is not taking advantage of a victim.
Motorcycle accident victims can also help their legal team by documenting their day-to-day experience following an accident. Keeping track of medical visits, saving receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, and documenting their physical and emotional state following an accident can be helpful when filing a demand for a settlement following a motorcycle accident.
Being involved in any type of a roadway accident is scary. An accident victim has certain legal rights however, in many cases they may be unaware of these rights. Not only can an attorney help a victim understand their rights, but they can also take over the negotiations process to ensure that victims are treated fairly by insurers.
Free Consultations Provide Helpful Information
A free consultation can shed light on the various categories of vehicle-related incidents, from common car collisions to more specific events such as motorcycle accidents. During this initial meeting, it’s possible to learn why hiring the best motorcycle accident lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Additionally, legal experts can provide insights into complex areas like rideshare accident insurance issues, which may not be well-understood by the general public. They also highlight critical periods such as the deadliest days for teen drivers, emphasizing the importance of legal preparedness in unfortunate events. This valuable information can be the foundation upon which a strong legal strategy is built.
When someone is involved in a motorcycle accident, it is always a good idea to seek legal help. Contact an attorney who has experience handling motorcycle accident claims or call us at 515-444-4000 as soon as possible for a free consultation.