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ADVICE WHEN DEALING WITH A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT AND THE NEW ORLEANS POLICE

The purpose of this article is to discuss how to deal with a motorcycle accident or incident involving the New Orleans Police.  Often any motorcyclist will be faced with situations that are unexpected. Some policemen, not all, but some, are inherently biased against all motorcyclists. This is especially true when it comes to accidents/crashes and in traffic roadblocks of only motorcyclists that is a new trend. The Federal Government has programs to fund roadblocks of motorcycles in the name of safety, however they can lead to citations, impoundment of motorcycles and even arrest. How do deal with police properly is very important in all these situations.

In an accident, the motorcyclist is usually severely injured, incapacitated or unconscious. Thus in an accident investigation, others may be interviewed, especially the offending at fault driver of a car or truck, but not the motorcyclist. This often leads to an inaccurate accident report. Also, witnesses to motorcycle accidents are notoriously inaccurate in judging the speed of a motorcycle due to their unfamiliarity with motorcycles and motorcycle noise, which are often louder than automobiles and whose engines operate at higher revs.  Always try and have your side given to the officers who are writing the accident report and investigating the accident.

Most policemen know nothing about motorcycles and motorcycle accident reconstruction and are not experts in the field of motorcycle accidents. Yet they will investigate and reach incorrect conclusions, often placing blame on the motorcyclists who was in fact the victim of a negligent motorist or due to defects in roads, especially those roads under construction. Often warning signs that are required are not in place. Most highway crews are not trained and not familiar with the signs that are required to be placed to warn motorcyclists of dangers created by construction crews.

You should always try and take pictures of the accident scene and especially any defects that contributed to the crash. Always take pictures of both vehicles and the accident scene. You cannot take to many pictures. Be sure to label them with the date and time.

You should always gather all witnesses’ names, addresses and phone numbers. You need to keep the police item number of the police report and the police officers names and unit number.

Be sure to get the information on the towing company and where your motorcycle will be taken. Make sure the motorcycle is preserved and fully photographed on all sides.

Always be respectful of police officers. Do not use profanity, slang, or call them “cops”.  Police officers have the duty to enforce the laws in the community for safety of the community. Show them respect, even if you are not treated fairly. Take the high road. Address the officer as “Yes officer.” or ” No officer” and “Thank you officer.”  A bad attitude will not work well in any stressful situation whether a crash or traffic stop.

Be sure to ask for medical treatment from and ambulance or hospital if needed.

Get whatever medical treatment is needed if you are injured. You must prove all your claims and injuries should be documented with medical treatment, medical records and photographs of the injuries and your damaged helmet, boots, and clothing.

Never bad-mouth an officer. Stay cool and in control. If asked to sign a traffic ticket or criminal summons, do so or you will be taken to jail if you don’t sign. If you get angry, you cannot think straight. If placed under arrest, do not resist arrest. Ask for a lawyer and call for one a soon as possible. Do not ever touch a police officer. Keep your hands visible at all times. If you refuse an alcohol breath test, your license will be automatically suspended. The may take you to a hospital for a blood or urine test which you may have no choice to submit to. Don’t threaten to file an internal affairs complaint or go to the officers’ superiors. That is a good way to get arrested for intimidation or be subjected to improper police procedures. Do not question the authority of the officer or you may face retaliation. After the incident you can file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Department of the Police Department or the F.B.I. if needed but do not discuss this at the scene or an accident or arrest. Do not submit to any search or seizure and politely state your objection. Calls on this call for legal counsel assistance.  If the stop turns into a criminal incident you do not have to answer any questions. You may or may not have your Miranda Rights read to you before you are placed in handcuffs. What you say to the police is extremely important and takes great care when addressing the police and witnesses. You must produce your driver’s license, identify yourself and produce insurance papers and registration when stopped and operating your motorcycle. In other situations, you can’t legally be arrested for failure to identify yourself but you probably will if you refuse to do so. You should simply and only identify yourself giving your name and address and nothing else if under criminal arrest.  If in a car the police can do a limited search and look for weapons in your vehicle or on your person for the safety of the officer and no warrant is needed to do so.  If you do consent to a search, the evidence gathered can and will be used against you in court. If the police have a warrant for you or to search, always ask politely to see the warrant. Never interfere or obstruct the police. Such action can result in arrest and with criminal charges of interfering with an investigation.

Do not give excuses or stories to officers if you are under arrest. It will be used against you in a court of law.

If taken to jail, you have a right to a phone call. Make sure you contact an attorney and bail bondsman to obtain a release.

After any incident, write down all that you can remember as soon as possible and keep that for your attorney. Write down all witnesses names, addresses, emails and phone numbers.

If you are involved in a crash, it is critical you contact a lawyer who knows motorcycle cases and can try your case to a jury. The lawyer needs to preserve evidence and perhaps have an accident reconstruction expert visit the scene as soon as possible. Photos of the scene are always invaluable.

Everyone has a right to be treated fairly and with respect. However, if things go bad, file your complaints later and do not deal with the situation at the scene. This will lead to arrest in most cases.