If you ride a motorcycle in Kansas or Missouri, you are probably used to getting unfriendly looks from motorists and passersby.
It doesn’t matter if you are dressed in a business suit riding a high-end cruiser, people assume you are in a biker gang and up to no good. Even if others don’t assume you’re a criminal, they are still often annoyed by having to share the road with you and your bike and drive accordingly.
Failing to give adequate space when passing, pulling out in front of motorcycles, and driving aggressively around bikes are a few things motorists do that endanger bikers on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, when accidents do happen, motorists almost always blame the biker and, all too often, law enforcement and insurance agents agree.
The Best Defense Is a Good Offense
The first step in disproving the negative stereotypes against bikers is to be a responsible biker to begin with. Not only will this help you avoid an accident, but it will work in your favor if you should find yourself in a legal battle with a motorist who ran you off the road. If you are in the habit of practicing the following safe motorcycle practices, it will be easier for you to make a claim if you are the victim of an accident:
- Know the law. You will have a much stronger claim if you were following the motorcycle laws of your state at the time of your accident, so make sure you know the law regarding helmets, lane splitting, daytime headlight use, and licensing.
- Wear safety gear. Even though helmets are not required in either Kansas or Missouri, you will protect not only your claim, but your life by wearing one, along with a sturdy jacket, gloves, and riding boots.
- Ride defensively. You owe it to yourself to ride as if everyone else is out to get you—because many of them are. Be very aware of cars that may not see you and allow them plenty of room. They may be infringing on your rights, but you won’t win a battle of wills with a car or truck, so be cautious.
- Maintain your bike. A well-maintained bike will be safer, but it will also be proof of your responsibility as a rider. Even if the bike is totaled in the crash, a good repair record will strengthen your case.
- Take a rider improvement course. Certification of rider education is not required in either state, but courses are available and are valuable for making you a better rider and supporting your claim that you didn’t cause an accident.
- Carry insurance. Both states require that motorcyclists carry liability insurance on their bikes. Be sure your coverage is within the law, and, better yet, purchase additional insurance to provide extra coverage.
Most bikers in Kansas City don’t need to be told that these steps will protect them on the road, but they should also be aware that providing evidence and documentation that you have taken these steps could help your claim if you are in an accident.
Beating the Legal Bias
If the worst happens, and you are the victim of a car or truck driver’s carelessness, you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle. Given the accepted stereotypes that motorcyclists are risk takers, gang members, and scofflaws, you may find yourself having to prove your case. After an accident, do the following:
- Stay calm. Don’t play into the tough guy stereotype by overreacting following a crash. You may be angry that you were cut off, but you must remain calm and let the facts speak for themselves.
- See a doctor. Chances are, this will be unavoidable, but even if you don’t feel you are seriously injured, you should see a doctor anyway. Road rash can get badly infected days after the injury and a record of medical treatment will help your claim later.
- Gather evidence. If you are able, take photos at the scene and ask for contact information from witnesses. This may not be done by law enforcement, especially if it’s a minor accident, and you will need the evidence later.
- Know your rights. Knowing the motorcycle laws of your state will be helpful in protecting your claim. A motorist could blame the accident on your sharing a lane with another motorcycle or blame your injuries on your lack of a helmet, but these are legal actions on your part and should not be used against you.
- Hire a motorcycle attorney. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney—better yet, an attorney who also rides—will be able to provide the best defense as you take on the biases against you.
Have You Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also order your FREE copy of our book, "KC Biker Bible."