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What to do if you have a motorbike accident

Whether you’re a biker or are involved in an accident with one, here are some pointers to help you handle the situation.

Motorbike that's been involved in an accident

Stay put

As in a car accident, you could be committing an offence if you leave the scene of a motorbike crash you’re involved in before giving certain details.

Failing to stop – which is often called ‘hit-and-run’ – can have serious consequences.

If you do commit a hit-and-run offence, you face a large fine, receiving up to 10 penalty points on your licence. You could even get up to six months behind bars.

When personal injury or death is involved, things are even more serious. But fleeing the scene of even a minor collision in which there’s just superficial damage is also an offence.

Stay calm

Emotions tend to run high after an accident, but it’s important to stay as calm as possible.

Getting angry or starting an argument won’t help, and it can potentially alienate witnesses.

Not losing your temper and staying in control will also have a calming effect on those around you.

Check for injuries

After an accident, the most important thing to do is make sure no one – including you – is seriously hurt, and to remove any new or additional dangers.

As with all first aid, it’s crucial to assess the situation before doing anything else. If you're going to put yourself at risk by tending to the injured, don’t.

Next you should check anyone injured for responsiveness, simply by talking to them. If they respond normally, talk to them calmly until the emergency services arrive.

Should I remove a motorcyclist’s helmet after a crash?

If another motorcyclist is injured at the scene, you should not take off their helmet – it’s dangerous as you don’t know if they’ve sustained head injuries.

You should leave it on unless they’ve stopped breathing, as this overrides any concerns about head or spinal injuries. If this is the case, remove the helmet carefully and perform CPR.

If the injured person is unconscious, you should ensure that their airway is clear and that they’re breathing, and check their circulation.

St John Ambulance is one organisation that offers further advice on what you can do in an emergency.

Make the scene safe

After a crash, once everybody is safe, you should turn off engines, switch on hazard lights, and try as much as possible to warn oncoming traffic of the incident.

Should I phone the police if I’m in a motorcycle crash?

If the situation has created a hazard for other people or traffic, or if someone’s injured, you should call the police on 999 straight away.

If someone other than you is hurt or there’s damage to another vehicle or third-party property (including streetlights or signs etc), you must stop and give them your:

  • name and address

  • the vehicle owner's name and address

  • your registration number to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details.

If you don't give your name and address, you must report the accident to the police as soon as you can, and certainly within 24 hours.

If someone else who's involved in the accident has left the scene without exchanging details, or if they refuse to give you their details, you should call the police.

If you injure or kill a dog, horse or farm animal, you must report it to the police.

If it’s a minor incident – with no injuries and no damage caused to any third-party property or vehicle, for instance – you don’t need to involve the police.

Get witnesses

Try to get any witnesses to give you their details as they may prove useful when you need claim or report to the police.

Make further notes about the accident

Any further notes you can make about how the accident happened could help you later on, when you need to make a claim.

If you have a camera, take plenty of pictures of the scene. Try to get a street name, a junction sign or a distinctive landmark into one of the shots, so that the location is easily identifiable.

If the state of the road was a factor in the accident, take pictures of it to use as evidence.

Under the terms of most motorcycle insurance policies, you should report an accident as soon as it’s safe to do so to your insurer. They will then create a record and tell you what happens next.

Should I tell my insurance company about a minor motorcycle accident?

Yes. In the same way you should always report minor car accidents, you should always report minor motorbike scrapes.

Even if there’s no one else involved and there is only minor damage that you don’t intend to claim for, your insurance company expects to be informed.

Your riding history forms part of your personal profile which insurers rely on when they calculate your premiums.

It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily lose out – but it does mean that if you ever put a claim in for something else and your insurer discovers undeclared damage from previous incidents, you might find yourself in hot water.

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Keeping premiums down after a motorbike accident

After an accident, insurers may consider you a greater risk, and so hike up your motorbike insurance premiums.

If you find insurance costs too much after an accident, you could try adjusting your voluntary excess or level of cover, which could bring prices down. Or read our guide for tips on how to get cheaper motorbike insurance.

Prevention is better than cure

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has a useful guide full of tips on how you can avoid the five most common motorcycle accidents.