The 79th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is upon us. With it come thousands of bikers. And while we all do our best to drive even more safely and cautiously during this time, there will inevitably be a few accidents during this time.
The following are legal tips for what to do if you are involved in such an accident:
1. Do Not Leave the Scene – This may seem obvious, but it is a Class 6 felony if you leave the scene of an accident. All drivers are required by law to immediately stop when they are involved in an accident – regardless of who caused the accident. Drivers also have a duty under the law to render “reasonable assistance” to anyone that is injured as a result of the accident. “Reasonable assistance” is not defined by statute, but would include calling 911.
2. Call Law Enforcement – It is a Class 2 misdemeanor if you fail to give notice of an accident to law enforcement when someone has been injured in the accident or there is obvious property damage to the vehicle(s) or motorcycle(s). Call law enforcement right away and inform them that there has been an accident.
3. Exchange Information with the Other Driver - You are required by law to provide the other driver your name, address, and the name and address of the owner and license number of the vehicle/motorcycle you are driving if involved in an accident. That is all. Keep your conversation with the other driver to a minimum. You never know what they may try to use against you later if a lawsuit is initiated.
4. Take Pictures – Take pictures of the scene, the damage to the vehicles/motorcycles, skid marks, etc., and provide them to your insurance company.
5. Do Not Guesstimate – Unless you were looking at your speedometer when it happened or you have a ruler in your back pocket, do not estimate or “guesstimate” how fast you were going or how far behind or close you were to the other driver. Certainly, be helpful and cooperative with the officer investigating the accident, but unless you know for certain, do not guess or estimate. This information could be used in a later lawsuit.
6. Call Your Insurance Company – Most, if not all, insurance policies require that you report any accidents you are involved in. Do it and help them investigate the claim.
7. Contact an Attorney – If you are severely injured as a result of the accident, or an insurance company is not paying on the claim, call an attorney who may be able to help you. The litigation attorneys at Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun are experienced and knowledgeable in this area.