When a motorcycle accident happens, there’s a lot to think about – especially if you or someone else has been injured. While filing a claim or getting a lawyer might not be at the top of your list of priorities, most people who suffer injuries from motorcycle crashes need, and should have, legal representation.
Besides helping you navigate the complicated motorcycle insurance laws in Pennsylvania, an attorney can also guide you through the process, ensuring you are taken care of medically and financially. Here’s everything you need to know about motorcycle accident laws in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on filing a claim, and what you should do if you’re in a collision.
Most states require bikers to carry motorcycle insurance. Just like auto insurance, there are many different companies that provide competitive rates for coverage, so shop around for insurance quotes to find the best rate for your situation.
In Pennsylvania, all vehicles, including motorcycles, must have liability insurance and property damage coverage. Liability insurance is intended to compensate a motorist, passenger or pedestrian injured by the driver(s) who caused the accident. This compensation can extend to economic losses, such as wage loss and out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as non-economic losses, like pain and suffering and loss of life’s pleasures.
Property damage coverage is available to reimburse a driver, passenger or pedestrian, who is not at fault for the accident, for expenses related to damage or destruction of their vehicle, motorcycle or other personal property.
Coverage limits vary state by state. The minimum liability coverage amounts for Pennsylvania are:
While it is hard to accurately estimate the cost of a motorcycle accident, several studies show fatal accidents can cost more than $1 million in damages, and even small, minor accidents can cost at least $5,000 in property damage. Motorcyclists should consider adding additional coverage to exceed the basic liability limit, so they are better protected.
Liability insurance is a good start when having a motorcycle, but there are additional coverage options that riders should consider when talking to their insurance agents. Expenses related to a motorcycle accident can climb quickly and additional coverage can help relieve the financial burden after an accident. At a minimum, motorcyclists should have uninsured/underinsured coverage, collision coverage, and medical payments coverage.
There are other options you may want to consider when starting or updating your insurance policy. Not every option is necessary; however, you may want to add some or all of the following coverage options depending on your situation.
One of the biggest financial risks for motorcyclists is getting involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Stacked coverage combines coverage limits for multiple vehicles (cars and motorcycles in your household) and/or policies to increase the amount of coverage available to you.
Let’s say you have two cars in addition to your motorcycle. If the motorcycle and both vehicles have uninsured/underinsured coverage and stacking, you can combine the coverage limits and seek compensation from both/all policies for the combined amount of all three vehicles. Stacked Insurance is a great way to protect yourself and your family in case of an accident. While premiums for stacked insurance coverage can be higher, they are well worth the cost.
While filing a claim or suing for compensation might not be the first thing on your mind after a motorcycle collision, it’s important that you don’t wait too long to start the process. Pennsylvania does have a deadline for filing personal injury claims, including those as a result of a motorcycle accident.
The statute of limitations is two years, so you’ll need to file the claim within two years of the accident. If you try to file a claim after the statute of limitations, the court may bar your claim. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean a judge has to rule on your case within two years – you just need to file before then.
While an injured motorcycle driver or rider has two years to initiate formal legal action, waiting two years, two months, two weeks or even, possibly, two days after a motorcycle accident to seek out the best motorcycle accident law firm in Lancaster is not a good idea. The moment an accident happens, insurance companies circle the wagons and deploy their lawyers and investigators, all in an effort to pay you as little compensation as possible. That’s where Lancaster’s top motorcycle accident attorneys come in. The best and most experienced lawyers put insurance companies and their representatives on notice, right away, of their involvement on your behalf so that they are not allowed to contact you anymore. Next, it is critical to preserve off of the material evidence from the accident and scene and make sure that the appropriate witnesses are interviewed. Then, while making sure that you are getting the medical care and treatment you need, Lancaster’s motorcycle accident lawyers build a strong and valuable case for you, with the only goal being to ensure that you and your family receive maximum financial compensation to protect you now and into the future.
It’s so important, that it bears repeating. While you have up to two years to file a claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company, there are a myriad of reasons to reach out to a top motorcycle accident attorney right away. Setting up the claim early on helps keep the witnesses and the evidence fresh. Waiting several months or a year may mean that your witnesses’ memories have faded, and important evidence could be destroyed or lost within that time.
Another reason to file early is that can bump up the timeframe in which you’ll get your compensation. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need money for expenses or medical bills – especially if you’re unable to work after the accident.
What happens immediately following your motorcycle accident can be crucial for winning your claim later on, but not everyone knows what to do. Here’s a step-by-step guide for taking care of yourself after a motorcycle crash, retaining the right law firm and pursuing your personal injury claim.
If you’re the motorcyclist, you almost always want to seek medical treatment after the accident – even if you suspect that you only have a few scrapes and bruises. Some people may decline going to the doctor or hospital after a crash because they’re worried about being unable to pay their medical bills – but, by refusing treatment, it can have harmful effects in the long run.
Even seemingly “minor” injuries, like back pain or whiplash, could still result in years of pain if you don’t get treatment from a doctor within a reasonable timeframe. Additionally, availing yourself of the medical care you need right away creates a formal record of your injuries. Insurance companies love to deny motorcycle accident victims’ claims on the basis that there is no documentation immediately or shortly following a motorcycle collision. If you have medical coverage under your motorcycle insurance policy you can use it to treat with whomever you want, so long as the treatment is reasonable, necessary and directly-related to the injuries you sustained in the accident – even specialists.
If fault for the accident lies with the other party, using a motorcycle injury lawyer Lancaster PA can help ensure you get compensated for your loss of income, out-of-pocket medical bill expenses, and pain and suffering.
If there is an injury, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible for the eventual claim you’ll be making against the other party. The compensation you receive from the claim will probably come from the at fault driver’s insurance company – but before you can receive a payout, you’ll need evidence that the accident caused your injury, proof of the medical bills you received, and documents for any other compensation you’re seeking.
Don’t forget to obtain medical bills and proof for every single appointment you have for the injury – not just the initial diagnosis. This may include:
If you’re unable to work after the injury, you may also want compensation for lost wages, but you’ll need proof that you couldn’t work and documents for how much you lost in wages.
Immediately after the accident takes place, you’ll want to get the at-fault driver’s insurance information as well as their contact information before either of you leaves the scene of the accident.
Even if you’ve suffered significant injuries from the accident and it wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t expect a lot of sympathy from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They may try to disprove your claim, or do everything they can to pay you as little money as possible.
If you’re facing the insurance company alone, you are at a major disadvantage and will likely not receive the compensation you deserve.
This is where top motorcycle accident lawyers in Lancaster, PA can come in – the right attorneys can ensure that you have everything you need for your claim, and that your case isn’t overlooked or blown off by the insurance company.
Even if you don’t think you need an attorney, it’s still worth getting a consultation from one – the information you learn from just one consult with a lawyer can be invaluable for winning the claim. At Georgelis Injury Law Firm, we meet with our motorcycle accident clients free-of-charge to discuss their claim, answer their questions and give them the advice and guidance they need. Even better, there is never a charge for the time we spend during the case interacting with the insurance companies, conducting an investigation, building your claim and, most importantly, talking with you whenever you have questions, concerns or information to share. At Georgelis Injury Law, we only get paid if and when we obtain compensation for you and your family.
Even if you’re not at fault, there are certain steps you can take to try and avoid motorcycle collisions and be as safe as possible on the road.
This depends on the driver. Not all motorcyclists in Pennsylvania have to wear a helmet. If you’re over the age of twenty-one and have completed a motorcycle safety course or have two years of riding experience, you don’t have to wear a helmet under Pennsylvania law – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Helmets are proven to reduce motorcycle fatalities, and data from 2017 shows that helmets saved the lives of 1,870 motorcyclists on the road across the country.
Depending on the injury, the defendant’s insurance company could try to use the lack of a helmet against you if you’re not wearing one during the collision.
A high-risk area for motorcycle accidents is intersections, especially ones that see a lot of traffic during the day. If you’re driving through an intersection, it’s important to be on the lookout for automobile drivers that aren’t being as careful – some drivers may make illegal U-turns, turn too wide, or turn too soon – and this can result in a crash.
Although you’re only responsible for yourself, paying a little extra attention to intersections can mean the difference between avoiding a crash or becoming a statistic on fatalities.
If you’re not familiar with Pennsylvania motorcycle laws or you’ve recently relocated to the state, you may assume it’s okay to lane-split. Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle wants to pass another vehicle, and maneuvers in between two cars by following the white dotted line.
This maneuver can be dangerous for even experienced motorcyclists, and it’s illegal to perform in Pennsylvania. If you do lane split in Lancaster, PA, and you end up in an accident, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sue the defendant since you’ve broken the law.
Bad weather can make it hard for even automobile drivers to navigate the roadways safely, let alone motorcyclists. If you have to ride in bad weather, be sure to study up safety techniques for whatever challenge you’re dealing with – whether it’s rain, wind, or thunderstorms.
Alcohol and impaired driving play a role in 40% of single-fatality motorcycle crashes. Before you hit the pavement, make sure you’re completely sober. Not only does impaired riding put you at significant risk for injury or death, but it can also spell danger for other motorcyclists or vehicles that are on the road.
Although motorcycles make up around 3% of registered vehicles, they were responsible for 14% of the traffic fatalities that occurred in 2017. While you can use the tips above to make sure you’re as safe as possible, that doesn’t mean you won’t still end up in a motorcycle accident – and when you do, you may want a motorcycle injury attorney Lancaster PA by your side.
Not only can a lawyer help during the crucial stages of building your case and filing your claim, but they can also ensure that you get as much compensation as you deserve from the insurance company. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with a motorcycle injury attorney Lancaster PA, call Georgelis Injury Law Firm at 1-800-HURT-NOW today. We have recovered millions of dollars for those hurt in motorcycle and other accidents and on the job, and we can help you, too. Check out our 5-star Google reviews to see what our clients are saying!
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