Houston-based injury and accident attorney, John Zaid, provides some sound advice for what not to do following a motorcycle accident – or any vehicular accident. —Ed.


Even if you are a very safe and responsible motorcycle rider, you may have the misfortune of getting into an accident at some point. And if it does ever happen, you should know exactly what to do to prevent causing further problems by avoiding one of these common mistakes.

Never  admit fault at the scene

When it comes to determining fault, very few vehicle accidents are cut and dried. Your perception of what happened might not be entirely accurate, even if you think you were the one who caused it. That’s why you should never tell the other driver or a police officer that you accept blame for the accident. You should even avoid apologizing, as your kindness might be misinterpreted.

It’s okay to inquire about the well-being of the other driver and passengers and to be perfectly polite and courteous, but that’s all. Your sincere apology or admission of involvement in the cause of the accident could later be used against you by your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance. Simply stick to the facts and you’ll be less likely to have your own words used as a reason not to pay for damages to your motorcycle or costs related to injuries you may have sustained.

Never  agree to just “forget about It”

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is a hassle, so it’s no surprise that many people are tempted to say, “Let’s just forget about it,” and go their separate ways. But even if it was just a minor fender bender, you should file a report with the police. Having no official report of what happened may give your insurance company a reason not to cover damage to your motorcycle or medical bills.

Getting the other driver’s information is not enough – the info they give you may not even be accurate. You should be especially wary if the other driver tries hard to persuade you not to get law enforcement involved, as this could be an indication that they’re unlicensed, uninsured or even have a warrant out for their arrest. Any of those circumstances would work in your favor if you end up having to take legal action.

When you do give your account to the police, be sure to recount the facts only. Don’t include what you think might have happened, how you were feeling at the time, or anything else that an insurance provider may be able to use to get out of covering your costs.

Never  assume you’re not hurt

In many cases, injuries that result from vehicle accidents don’t rear their ugly heads until hours or days after the accident. Even though you may have just been bumped and you feel perfectly fine in the moments after the accident, you could begin to feel pain associated with whiplash or other injuries later. It’s best to assume that you might be hurt and get checked out by a medical professional just in case.

Keep in mind that if you tell the other driver, the police and/or your insurance provider that you weren’t injured but then feel delayed symptoms of an injury later, you make it easier for insurance companies to claim that your injury is not related to the accident. The point is that it’s better to be safe than sorry if there’s any chance that the accident will result in a financial burden later on.

Never  immediately call your insurance company

There is a common misconception among drivers that calling your insurance company is your first priority after an accident. This is simply not the case. In fact, you should not talk to your insurance company at all before you make an official report and get checked out by a medical professional. Depending on the situation, you may even want to speak to attorney before you contact your insurance provider.

Keep in mind that insurance companies will always look for a way not to cover your claim, so they may try to get you to say something that lets them off the hook. That’s much more likely to happen if you’re still frazzled from the accident. Regardless of whether you decide to work with a lawyer or not, don’t talk to the insurance agent until you’re calm, clear-headed and prepared to give your account of the accident in a factual way.

Being in a motorcycle accident is bad enough already without throwing a wrench into the mix by doing or saying something you shouldn’t. Your first concern is always your own safety. But once you have established that everyone is okay, take a moment to collect your thoughts, review these tips and address the next steps.


About the Author: John Zaid is an avid legal blogger and a Houston motorcycle accident lawyer. When he’s not advocating for his clients, he enjoys sharing his experience and expertise through writing on a variety of online publications. For more information, visit his firm at www.ZaidLaw.com.

  • notfishing

    Never jump right up unless you’re in the middle of the road. Even then think about crawling to the curb.

  • john phyyt

    Removing helmet can be a minefield; remember spinal protection. New Shoei has emergency removal tags; great idea but even so . if there is no compromise to air-ways leave the helmet on. ( if you are on your own; leave it on and say it is for safety issues) Good way of not speaking to people and making an idiot of youself.

    • Mahatma

      By crashing you’ve allready made an idiot of yourself…

      • Vrooom

        You presume it’s the rider’s fault.

      • Rick D Leonard

        Seriously? I’ll tell me friend when I visit him in the trauma center. He mistakenly thinks the 2 ton car turning in front of him put him there.

        • Mahatma

          Oh dear.Too early for jokes it seems…Endless apologies

          • brunssd

            Not for funny ones.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Please stop talking

      • Leon Foonman

        Learn how to spell before you call someone else an idiot. Moron!

        • Mahatma

          So much love here

  • Alexander Pityuk

    №5. Jump up with half of your bones broken, in terrible pain, one arm not working, one foot facing backwards; and lunge to your bike to hit the kill switch. Now you can pay some attention to the 30 ton truck moving towards you at 80 mph…

  • SRMark

    Some very good advice here. And remember, if you can, that you may have hit your head. Your recollection of events my not be the best. Go to the ER and get yourself checked and give adrenalin time to move through your system. Then the pain my kick in and you will be in the right place.

    • CookedDragon

      I can vouch for this. I got hit, but was able to ride my bike off the highway and to an exit on a side street. I waited for the police for a report and got a ride back home. I jumped in my truck, drove back to my bike and loaded it. Then drove to the ER.
      It took me several days to get the bike out of the truck because I couldn’t even get into the back of it anymore I was in so much pain that I felt none of for a couple hours after the accident.

  • MikeinDenver

    What a surprise the attorney gives a one sided take on insurance. A little less bias would be great MC.com.

    • Gruf Rude

      Selling insurance, Mike?

      • MikeinDenver

        Nope but I know it in and out. I’m just saying this piece has a clear bias. So take it with a grain of salt.

        • Gruf Rude

          Having represented my State’s Department of Insurance for over six years, I’m familiar enough with insurance companies to recognize that very little salt is required here . . .

          • MikeinDenver

            If you say so. There are certainly shady insurance companies and you get what you pay for. On the flip side there are plenty of shady attorneys.

            I handled claims for a time and not once did I set out to not pay something. If the contract covered it or could reasonably be construed to cover it we did. It is a contract so if you did something that isn’t covered and don’t receive coverage you can only be upset with yourself.

          • Gruf Rude

            Big, well-respected insurance companies are no guarantee. My Department passed a reg requiring the use of OEM parts for new vehicle repairs. I had to defend that reg all the way through our state supreme court against one of the biggest auto insurers in the country – they wanted to use aftermarket parts and they did NOT want to disclose that fact to the insured . . . I found one of the top health insurers in the country sitting on over a half-million dollars of local “unclaimed funds.” They claimed they couldn’t locate the folks they owed the money. Took me all of an afternoon to find 90% of those folks . . .

          • MikeinDenver

            I don’t disagree that life insurance not tracking down beneficiaries is not acceptable however we are talking motorcycle. As for the OEM parts thing that is great, if people want to pay more. It should be an endorsement not standard coverage for people that don’t want to pay for it. I will also say there is a difference between the for profit ones and the mutuals. The for profit ones no matter how big are about the bottom line.

          • Gruf Rude

            Health insurance, not life – those were payments owed to local health care providers and local sick folks. In the OEM repair situation, the use of substituted (inferior) parts was NOT being disclosed to the insured.
            “Bottom line” was profit, just as you noted – and it was done underhandedly. “Bottom line”, the insurance companies have EARNED this article’s ‘bias’.

          • MikeinDenver

            I don’t know why you keep getting off track. If the insured wasn’t paying for them why would they expect them? As for earning a reputation, injury attorneys have some of the worst reps of any “profession.” And they more than deserve it.

          • Gruf Rude

            The insured WERE paying for insurance; the health insurance company was not paying the benefits and keeping the money, claiming they could not locate the (easy-to-locate) beneficiary. (On a side-note, if they could not locate the beneficiary, they were required to turn the unclaimed funds over to the State after 2 years so the State could try to locate them. I got involved when an audit showed they had been keeping the money for years.) Point being, the big name insurance company was stiffing the insured, delaying/denying payment under the contract and was not trustworthy.
            As to injury attorneys’ reputation; the work they do is out in the open, subject to close scrutiny by the VERY adversarial insurance companies’ representatives. See John B’s post re: TAGLINES, below. Admittedly, insurance companies bad-mouth them; they cut into profits – and as you recognize, profits are the bottom line . . .

        • Kevin Duke

          I’d be willing to see your perspective for Four Things Never To Do After a Motorcycle Accident.

  • Sunshine1011

    LAWYER UP!!!

  • John B.

    We live in multiple realities. In the context of a motorcycle crash, assume the following is true even though you don’t want it to be:

    1. TAG LINES ARE BULLSHIT!

    “Like a good neighbor State Farm is there”
    “You’re in good hands with Allstate”
    “Nationwide is on your side”
    “Not tonight, I have a headache”

    An insurance policy is a contract between the insured (you) and the carrier. As such, when you have a claim you and the carrier become adversaries. The carrier wants to pay as little as possible, or ideally nothing; and, you want to maximize your coverage. Insurance companies handle millions of claims a year, employ thousands of attorneys, and hold billions in assets. In short, it’s not a fair fight.

    Insurance policies have a declaration page which sets forth your insurance coverage followed by many pages which contain exclusions that limit your coverage. If you’re not an insurance coverage lawyer (yes that’s a specialty) you likely don’t understand these exclusions well enough to tell your story in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize coverage. By necessity, injury attorneys like John Zaid develop a secondary expertise in insurance coverage. Talk to a lawyer before you talk to the insurance carrier. Once you’re represented by counsel the insurance carrier must get your attorney’s permission before contacting you. That makes the carrier behave better.

    2. NO ONE GIVES YOU THE MONEY YOU DESERVE UNLESS YOU HAVE YOUR FOOT ON THEIR THROAT AND YOU’RE PRESSING DOWN – Insurance companies have large muscular throats. Enough said!

    3. ASSUME IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GO THROUGH A MOTORCYCLE CRASH WITHOUT BEING HURT AND YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY TO TELL YOU WHETHER YOU HAVE COMPENSABLE DAMAGES IN THE JURISDICTION WHERE THE INCIDENT OCCURRED

    4. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FULL AND ACCURATE RECOLLECTION OF PAST EVENTS AND A SINGULAR OBJECTIVE REALITY DOESN’T EXIST – Injury lawyers are great storytellers.

    5. Many INJURY ATTORNEYS OFFER A FREE CONSULTATION. Call an injury attorney’s office and say, “I’ve been in a crash and want to talk to an attorney about my case.” You’ll get royal treatment. If not, find a new lawyer.

    6. BEWARE THE VAGARIES OF THE LAW – As a law student, I clerked for an old judge. When we discussed cases he would often warn, “Beware the vagaries of the law.” Finally, I asked what that meant. He said, “Years ago, my wife filed for divorce on the grounds I was impotent and could not fulfill my marital obligations. At the same time, my secretary filed a paternity suit against me,which alleged I fathered her newborn child. Due to the vagaries of the law, I lost both cases!”

    I didn’t create this world. I just live here.

    • Craig Hoffman

      That “vagaries of the law” story is hilarious. Maybe he dosed up on Viagra for his mistress – LMAO

      • John B.

        That was back in the 1900s, well before Viagra! I have a different theory, but it’s not something I want to put in writing.

    • MikeinDenver

      The carrier owes only a certain amount, not more not less. It is a contract simple as that. It is your job to understand what the coverage is you are paying for. Then you don’t end up expecting something that you didn’t contract and didn’t pay for.

      • John B.

        Your comment above is undeniably true and misleading. About what I would expect from an insurance guy, and considerably less comforting than, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

        You imply coverage and the amount owed pursuant to the policy are always clear cut issues. In fact, reasonable people often disagree as to both coverage and damages, and in many cases insurance carriers deliberately make a low first offer because they know many people do not know better. In truth, the information gap between carriers and their insureds saves carriers billions of dollars every year. And, those sappy commercials with comforting taglines perpetuate the problem.

        When terrorists took down the World Trade Center Towers, the insurance carriers asserted the attacks were a single occurrence, which cut in half the amount the carriers owed pursuant to the policy. After 5 years of litigation, a federal court jury found the event was a single occurrence for some insurers, and two occurrences for others (“beware the vagaries of the law”); a multi-billion dollar difference in the amount the insurance carriers owed. You could say coverage and the amount owed were less than clear cut.

        MOrons can rest assured the insurance carrier’s first offer is rarely their best offer, and the carrier is your adversary, and not your friend. If you don’t believe me Google, “Bad Faith Verdicts.”

        • MikeinDenver

          Those low offers you speak of may not seem low to the person on the receiving end. If they think their pain and suffering is only worth $500 why should they receive more? If they think it is fair then be done with it. I am more specifically speaking of the mutuals and not the shareholder companies in my comments. The for profit companies are yes out for the bottom line. As a mutual there is not a drive to make every last penny for the next quarterly meeting.

          Here is the thing if you are filing a claim against another carrier you are not their policyholder. They only owe you what they are legally responsible for. If I was a policyholder of an insurance company that just overpaid every single claim that came though my rates would go through the roof or the company would become insolvent. That certainly isn’t what I want.

          • John B.

            You’re moving the ball on me Mike.

            We were talking about first party claims (where there’s a contract between the insured and the carrier), and not third party claims. If a person’s stolen motorcycle has a $10,000 market value, an uninformed insured might take $7,500. Carriers use rigged software to justify their offer, then when the insured tries to replace his bike for $7,500 he finds he needs $10,000. This happens thousands of times every day, and carriers do it intentionally.

            MO is a site for motorcyclists, and not an appropriate forum to spread insurance company propaganda. Stop misleading your fellow riders! Save your palaver for the next PLRB conference.

          • MikeinDenver

            So because the insured is uninformed he gets a pass? Try that with a police officer. Ignorance isn’t a defense. You should know what your vehicle is worth and be able to provide examples if need-be. I’m not spreading propaganda, I’m trying to make sure people have a better experience by taking some responsibility for their own assets and contracts.

            You clearly have a bias for uninformed people that should be handed the world.

          • John B.

            When they sell you a policy they tell you, “Nationwide is on Your Side.” Then when you have a claim you have to deal with someone like Mike. That says it all.

          • MikeinDenver

            Way to twist words.

    • Jackie Jackson

      You forgot “Jake from State farm”.

    • g8rb885

      Episode of “All in the Family” Archie Bunker asks the insurance agent ” I thought you were the good hands people?” Response : “sometimes all you get is the finger.”

  • Wes Janzen

    My ST3 doesn’t have a tip over sensor, so my priority has always been: 1) check to see if I’m about to get run over, 2) hit the kill switch. Back in my dirt days when I was learning to ride, I had the luxury of taking stock before I got up. Not so on the street, most of the time.

    I’ve crashed a fair amount in the winter, but the only time I’ve ever reported it or claimed it on insurance was when the guy rear-ended me. He would have been in better shape with the insurance company had he gotten on the brakes hard enough after hitting me the first time to not hit me again. As it was, my self congratulations over keeping the bike upright faded the moment the second hit sent me up over a curb and onto my side, with the frame coming down right on the curb. I was a little sore and got checked out at the clinic where I worked, but I was fine. The bike, not so much. I’m sure he was wondering how he ended up with a $5000 claim on his insurance for an incident which left him with only a broken license plate holder on his front bumper.

  • CookedDragon

    I also learned the hard way that insurance companies can pretty much do whatever they want. After I got hit, I had a police report putting the other driver at fault. Even with that, the driver’s insurance didn’t like the circumstances of the accident and I was only able to get 50% compensation from them, and I had to fight to even get that.

    • MikeinDenver

      Sorry to say that is only to the uninformed. If you know your way around you will understand how to get your just compensation. Now every case is different so I cannot comment about your specifics but in general it is about knowing how to go about it. 90+% of people don’t.

      • CookedDragon

        There is much more to it than I posted. Way too much to even bother spending the time typing here. I ended up breaking about even all things considered so it wasn’t the end of the world.

      • A Nony Mouse

        Nobody should have to be an expert in everything. It should not be allowed to have a system so rigged that common folk get screwed over.

        • MikeinDenver

          The insurance departments in each state make sure it isn’t rigged. That said, we are talking about protecting your financial well being and assets. If you don’t care enough to understand it at least then I don’t know what to tell you. This isn’t the same as most purchases.

          • A Nony Mouse

            It isn’t, but it should be. It should be clear and in plain english. Instead it’s in lawyer english. People do care, but with the majority of citizens being classified as ‘poor’, which according to wealthy people also indicates they are stupid, then how can you say it is the citizens job to understand all the fine print? That’s absurd.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Best advice of all is to realize that insurance is not a commodity. Research your carrier and spend your money with the good ones like USAA or Amica and really protect yourself.

    Lawyers charge 33 to 40%, plus expenses. You may not need one, but if you do, you can always get one. Just signing up with a lawyer right from the get-go is often a mistake. Research your lawyers too. Some are good, some are excellent and some are “mill” operations that turn out tons of settlements and are more interested in volume than quality for their clients. The ones that advertise on TV are generally the ones to run away from.

    In the end, as in everything else in life, if one wants a better outcome, do your research, don’t be a lemming, or a brainless moron.

    • John B.

      General Adjusters are big dogs on the liability/claims side. If you sustain serious injuries, you (or your lawyer) have to convince a committee of these guys to get paid, and GA’s are great at saying “NO.” Listen to this guy, he knows what he’s talking about!

      Wow, a GA who rides! Isn’t that the triumph of hope over experience?

      • Craig Hoffman

        Say hello to my garage. Just picked up a Husaberg TE300 to go with the FE450, so I have twin Husaberg dirt bikes. The CR250 belongs to a friend who lives in FL and comes to CO to ride once or twice a year.

        It occurred to me, the MC habit is slightly out of control. Thank God I have an understanding wife 😉

        Turned 54 today! Been riding since I was 11, can’t help it at this point…

        • John B.

          Happy Birthday! Enjoy!

        • Kevin Duke

          Yeah, HBD! Since your FLA buddy rarely visits, maybe I can come over and ride his bike with you! 😉

          • Craig Hoffman

            Come on over. It is an old ’01 CR, but it is meticulously maintained and very fast. The ’01 was a good year for trail friendly power. I like to take it out once in awhile just to blow the doors off of and irritate my merry band of middle aged KTM riding friends. :)

        • Ser Samsquamsh

          Lots more room in there for more bikes!

  • throwedoff

    If you are in an accident with an insured driver that is at fault depending on the state the accident is in, you will be dealing with that driver’s insurance company. I was in an accident with a Geco insured driver in one of my pickups. I submitted the police report along with my claim. They still held out for almost a month stating they were trying to determine who was at fault. Once they authorized the body shop my truck was at to begin work we fought with them for three months over every little detail. They wanted to use aftermarket parts on my truck to repair it. I told them my truck was not built with aftermarket parts, and it was not going to be put back together with aftermarket parts unless they were going to pay me for the diminished value those parts would cause. The entire time I had a rental car they were paying for as well. After about six weeks, I would get a call from the rental car company saying that the insurance company told them my vehicle was complete, and I had to return the vehicle. I would then call the body shop, and the owner would get it straightened out. That guy loves to take on the insurance companies and is not afraid to tell his customers they are getting screwed by their insurance companies. Never give in to an insurance company. They will bitch and cry, but if you know your rights (study your states insurance regulations), you can make them pay to make you whole.

    • you_will_never_get_out_alive

      I had a similar deal years ago. A guy backed into me and destroyed the front of my car. When the cops got there he started yelping “why did you hit me?, didn’t you see me in front of you?” (we were in a parking lot) I was floored and told the cop that he had backed into me but the position of the cars could have been me hitting him. Luckily for me the passenger was a drunken idiot and he mumbled something that I didn’t hear but the cop did – “yeah we didn’t see her behind us before we backed up” Busted. But what really killed me was when I called his insurance company on Monday morning to find out how to proceed with my repairs the guy told me they were still trying to figure out who was at fault. I told him that it was all in the police report. He then said oh yeah well we don’t go by the police report. WTF? Then why call them in the first place? My insurance company ended up paying for the repairs and they went after the other one to get their money back which they did.

      • Dan

        Again, similar. Driving on the interstate at 70 MPH in my civic. A young man and his GF slammed into the back of me and pushed me off the road into the trees.
        I managed to bring the car back to the road side and when the cops got there, the GF had changed into hot pants and an extra small halter and told the cops that I was changing lanes with no blinker (I was on cruise digging the tunes, had a semi next to me so no lane change possible) and the cop said it was a matter of he said she said. It totaled my civic and I only had PIP ins. I told the cop he hit me from behind so why no ticket and also, look at the damage. If he was doing even 80 MPH there would be a lot less. The Estimator said that he figured the boy was running about 100MPH or better to do that much damage to a car moving in the same direction. Fight for your rights, cops are more frightened to say yes or no than ever so they take the lesser drama and we pay for it. Just glad I was not hit like that on my bike.

  • Craig Hoffman

    One other comment for you guys, as I work in the industry. Protect yourself with Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage and lots of it, especially on your motorcycle!

    There are many people out their driving with no insurance or only state required minimum limits coverage. Say you are catastrophically injured. Even if you have good health insurance and disability benefits, you are still in trouble unless you have coverage that pays for your uncovered expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.
    You can theoretically litigate against an at fault driver all you want, but if they have no assets you are not getting anything from them.

    Another factor is when you claim against an at fault driver, you are making a “3rd party” claim. The carrier does not have a contract with you. When you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury claim, it is with your own carrier, who has a contract with you. Insurance companies are under a greater obligation when dealing with their own insureds, who paid money for protection.

    Sad thing is, I agree with a lot of the angry comments about carriers. I deal with them too, and am amazed at some of the crap they pull. You may find it hard to believe, but my employer actually lets me be fair, and I enjoy helping people out of difficult situations. I actually get complimentary feedback on a regular basis :)

    • Thomasinwonderland

      Exactly-you can get cheap rates on liability insurance because the insurance companies know it is unlikely that your light bike will cause personal injury to that cager. If you have a rider that is hurt and you are at fault that is another issue-low limit polices put you at risk if you often carry riders. Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if the other guy is at fault and has insufficient insurance and the companies know that you will likely be the one with high dollar injuries-so it will cost you more for that coverage-but look into it and consider it. (I am a lawyer and a bike owner-so this is free advice)

  • Jim Douglas

    Good advice on the INSURANCE scam portion coming from a LAWYIAR. So, my question is why bother with INSURANCE at all. ATF wants to put into practice an Assurance program wherein not only do you not need INSURANCE but you do not need LICENSING? It is a sound approach and anyone who wins a major lottery could in fact Assure themselves and to hell with scheming INSURANCE CORPORATIONS>

  • Butterfras

    I went to the business in front of where my husband was hit on his bike and asked nicely if they had cameras and If they did could I view them. Sure enough the footage saved my husbands butt. The officer was being an ass and gave my husband 2 tickets and placed the blame on him. The officer had to correct the accident report in Austin, the tickets we’re dropped and the other guys insurance took full blame.

  • Jackie Jackson

    What is really going on here. bmp

  • L P

    These are true for any accident

  • Lena

    I had a serious accident two years ago..thought I had whiplash. Helped drag the bike out of a ditch, doubled on the back of a bike to the party, danced and drank all night. Next day I found it difficult to move. Got a lift home, had a shower and some breakfast and got a lift to the hospital. Walked in and was told to fill in forms before someone could see me. Ended up I fractured my neck in three places, broke two ribs and smashed up my knee. My advice is, if possible, don’t get up and wait for the ambo!