Motorcycle Season – Stay Safe!

Let’s just say that motorcycle safety has nothing to do with the guy on the right. Unless you are a stunt person, this is probably inadvisable. However, even seasoned riders need some safety reminders after a long winter.

The first thing to do before venturing out on the open road is to check your bike – make sure you have the right amount of fluids, check the tires, check the brakes. Make certain your bike is in top running condition. The unexpected happens often enough without having to worry about whether your motorcycle is fit for the road.

Speaking of being fit for the road, make sure that YOU are in peak condition before take-off. That means being well rested, and more important, being clear-headed. It may be warming up out there, but no beers, not even one, before getting on the road. The number one cause of motorcycle accidents is driving under the influence. In that category also is driving when exhausted. Given that the only thing between you and that semi is protective clothing, you have to be wide awake with all reflexes ready to respond.

It is also prudent to check the weather report. While it may not snow during spring, it does rain – a lot. First, remember that a spring rain affects visibility; yours and other drivers out there. A biker is at a tremendous disadvantage in that other drivers do not always see you coming. That means you need to wear bright clothing, and you need to stay an extra safe distance away from cars and trucks. That way, you can avoid some very dangerous skids. Be aware of broken pavement, potholes (there are many of them after winter), and oil spills. And, if it is a real downpour, you might consider postponing your ride for a sunny, dry day.

So now you are on the road. Feel that wind in your hair? Feel the freedom? Feel the thrill? Stop right there. You need to pay close attention to where you are going and how fast you are going. Remember, it’s been several months since taking your bike out. So, now is not the time to imagine you are traveling with the gang from “Easy Rider.” Look out, you took that turn too fast. Oh, and do not slam on the brakes! Well, you made it through, but that was pure luck. Please take those turns cautiously.

So, you are going along again – proud of yourself for getting out of that rough turn in one piece. Just then a dog runs out in front of you. Wow, it’s a good thing you learned to use your front brake so effectively. You stop just in time, and you even make time to collect the dog, read his tags and call his owner. Good for you.

As you go on your way, remember not to swerve in and out of lanes between cars and trucks, to keep your speed reasonable, and to stay alert. Keep your eyes moving. Bike riding really rocks, but no one who has ever mastered the “art” has ever said it was easy. It is not. And, it shouldn’t be. Stay safe out there, and enjoy the season!

Medical Care: Don’t Overdo It

After you’ve been injured in an accident, often someone will call an ambulance to take you to the hospital. This is nearly always a good idea to insure that your injuries are not serious or worse, life threatening. Hopefully, you will be found intact and released. But the attending physician always will advise you to follow up with your own doctor. If your own doctor finds there is nothing wrong with you that requires further treatment, then likely there is no reason to retain a personal injury attorney.

But if you have an injury that needs treatment, generally, your doctor (or doctors) will perform standard diagnostic tests and conduct examinations to assess your condition. In some instances, they might want to examine you multiple times before declaring you in good health. They will review your medical history as well as the history of the accident, and question you, in-depth, about any pain or discomfort you feel. They also may consult with specialists and refer you for MRI’s, or CT scans. Your own doctors should conduct a comprehensive review of your health to make certain there are no hidden injuries.

Whether you have soft tissue injuries such as disc herniations, or a severe brain injury, this detailed medical assessment is crucial so that you may live a healthy and pain-free life; or so that, if you can’t, you will be able to receive financial compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as for lost wages. What could go Wrong?

The Doubter

Now more than ever, the typical juror is naturally suspicious of personal injury claims. Despite your personal injury attorney’s best efforts, the odds are that there will be people in the jury box who actually resent anyone suing an insurance carrier. They might fear their own rates will go up due to “unnecessary” compensations. Maybe some of them have had friends or family members who were sued for negligence. Or, just maybe some of them lack empathy. That is just the type of juror you will “lose” if your attorney tries to claim that every health problem you’ve ever had is somehow related to this one particular accident. He/she may doubt that you needed all of those expensive MRI’s, and so many months of physical therapy. That doubt hurts your doctor’s credibility, which in turn hurts your credibility. And when it comes to any personal injury trial, your doctor’s credentials and credibility can make or break your case.

It is no picnic having to schedule and go to all of those medical appointments. Some of
them might be uncomfortable and time-consuming. And, if it comes to the point that you have to testify, remembering the details of all of those tests, medical examinations, and treatments could be difficult for you to remember.

Does This Sound Right To You?

Something to consider is whether all of these tests and treatment make any sense. For example, if you injured your leg and your doctor sends you for an MRI of your shoulder, does that sound right to you? Probably not, and it won’t sound right even to an empathetic juror – or, to an insurance carrier, for that matter.

Or, if one of your doctors sends you for a specific test but does not require seeing results, does that sound right to you? No. And it won’t sound right to anyone else, either. In a courtroom, the test would appear to be unnecessary, and a doubtful juror might wonder why an insurance carrier should have to pay for it.

Building A Case

Remember that the strongest case is one that does not require a whole lot of building. A client is legitimately injured. The injury is serious enough to require compensation. All the client’s medical providers concur on the seriousness of the injury. The injured client’s attorney is well prepared, knowledgeable, and experienced. Therefore, it is a solid case.

Just like your sworn testimony, your actual case should be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Embellishment not only is unnecessary, it also can be damaging.

If You Have An Accident, Absolutely, Positively, Don’t Do These Things

As we all know just by life experience, anyone can have an accident, and it can happen anytime or anywhere. On top of that, there are countless different types of accidents; may you avoid all of them. But, if you don’t, and if you ever have an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, remember that there are some common errors you need to avoid, as well as common sense actions you need to take.

I cannot estimate the amount of times clients have told me, “I had a car accident, but I didn’t think I had been injured that badly – so, I just left the scene and went home.” That is really never a good idea. The slightest injury could turn into a serious one that has an impact on your life in the short-term or, worse, in the long-term. For instance, if you work construction and you permanently injure your back, that injury can cost you your job and threaten the well being of you and your family. Even if your job requires you to work at a computer all day a serious back injury could preclude you from working a full eight-hour workday.

Among the more serious injuries are head injuries which we have discussed numerous times. It is quite common for an individual to suffer a serious head injury and not know it for hours or days. Hours lost without any medical care or diagnostic tests could cost you more than just your job; it could cost you your life.

Bottom Line?

Regardless of how “normal” you might feel after an accident, you need to seek medical care. Of course, the other unfortunate consequence of walking away from an accident when you’re seriously injured is you put any personal injury lawsuit in jeopardy. Remember, always, that insurance carriers are not your friend. Their goal is not paying you compensation you may deserve, it is, rather, making more money for their shareholders.

For some people, making a fuss and complaining about being injured is embarrassing. They would prefer to just leave the scene, go home, and relax with a cup of tea. If you are one of those people, you will have to get over your inhibitions. Remember that anytime you are injured in an accident that could have been avoided but for someone’s negligence, you are entitled to seek compensation. And just leaving the scene without seeking medical attention could destroy any chance of that. Don’t do it.

And, By The Way…

To the extent that you can, never leave the scene of an accident without gathering the necessary information you may need later on such as witness names and contact information, witness accounts, police reports, and the name and contact information of the persons or entity responsible for the accident.

Of course in extreme circumstances – and they sadly do happen – that might not be possible. That is, if you are unconscious and alone, you will have only the first responders to rely on for information, and later your doctors. However, in most situations, even when someone is severely hurt, he/she is not unconscious, and therefore capable of collecting some information. No information could mean no case.

For example, let’s say you’re on the subway and notice the train is traveling especially fast. Maybe there are no seats and you’re forced to grab a strap handle for balance. Then, suddenly, the train comes to an abrupt stop, you fall, and suffer an injury. But instead of keeping your head, you get off at the next stop. What you should have done is seek out a New York City Transit Authority official or employee; if you have a cell phone, take photographs; talk to witnesses and get their contact information; and pay attention to where the train was (between stops, for example), when you were hurt. Truth is, if you are injured on a bus, train, or subway car and just leave, defense attorneys will be happy to hear that. And your attorney will not. The City of New York’s position will be: prove it. Your attorney will be hard-pressed to do so.

Accidents Also Happen Indoors

Accidents can happen just walking through an office building or department store. You could slip and fall on a wet floor and injure your ankle, knee, back, arm, or hand. If something like this happens to you, immediately report it to the building owner, store owner or manager. Just because you don’t believe you have fractured a bone, does not mean you aren’t seriously hurt. Soft tissue injuries can be significantly debilitating and might require surgery. Keep in mind, not all injuries look serious, but all injuries should be taken seriously.

After you’ve spoken with the appropriate building official, make sure to capture all the information we’ve already discussed: witness names and contacts, photographs, and police reports. And, of course, get medical attention sooner rather than later.

If the building official wants to call you an ambulance, don’t resist. What’s the worst that could happen? You’re ok? Great, better safe than sorry.

Even though being injured in a serious accident is stressful, it is important to stay as calm as you can. You need to have your wits about you to take the right actions and document as much of the event as possible. Your actions and documenting as much of the accident as you can, may help you to win compensation later on, if you need it.