Archive for the ‘ Auto Accident ’ Category


Do I Need Special Insurance If I Drive Both a Car and a Motorcycle?

November 25, 2019

In short, the answer is that you need to meet state minimum insurance requirements for both your car and your motorcycle. Both vehicles must also be registered with the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before you are permitted to drive them.

Vehicle Insurance

Before you can register your car or motorcycle, you must have the proper insurance for each vehicle. Every driver will need to bring proof of insurance to their local DMV. Here is a quick rundown of minimum insurance requirements. A licensed insurance agent can help with making sure a vehicle will have appropriate insurance.

For a car, the minimum insurance requirements are as follows:

  •       Liability coverage for injuries to first person: $25,000
  •       Liability coverage for injuries to additional persons: $50,000
  •       Liability coverage for property damage: $25,000
  •       Uninsured or underinsured coverage (in case the other driver is uninsured or underinsured): $50,000

For a motorcycle, the minimum insurance requirements are as follows:

  •       Liability coverage for injuries to first person: $25,000
  •       Liability coverage for injuries to additional persons: $50,000
  •       Liability coverage for property damage: $10,000
  •       Uninsured or underinsured coverage: $50,000

Drivers can often save money each month by bundling insurance plans for multiple vehicles with the same company. It is important to keep in mind that the cost of many accidents can exceed the above coverage limits. Additionally, should a vehicle become harmed or destroyed in an incident other than a traffic accident, drivers won’t likely be covered unless they have proper comprehensive coverage.

For those reasons (and more), many choose to carry insurance coverage for both their car and motorcycle that exceeds state minimum requirements.

Vehicle Registration

In Indiana, drivers must register cars and/or motorcycles within two months of purchase or moving from out of state. If purchasing either vehicle from a dealership, sellers may be able to handle vehicle registration directly with the DMV on their customers’ behalf. Buyers should confirm this before assuming vehicle registration has been completed.

In order to obtain car registration, vehicle owners must complete a VIN inspection, present a valid driver’s license, and be prepared to complete an emissions inspection within two years of registering (an emissions inspection will need to be completed every other year to retain your vehicle’s registration). Be sure to bring the car title (or if held by the auto lender, proof of ownership such as the lien agreement), proof of residency and proof of insurance.

For motorcycle registration, drivers must complete a VIN inspection, as well as have a valid motorcycle driver’s license. Additionally, proof of home address (residency), proof of social security number and proof of the state’s motorcycle insurance minimum liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage is required. Currently, the cost for registering a motorcycle in Indiana is less than $30 before taxes.

For more information about how an Indiana attorney can help you with your motorcycle accident case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.



3 Tips for Choosing the Right Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney

November 05, 2019

If you were injured in a car accident, you should start working with a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation for medical bills and more. Here are three tips to help you find the right attorney for your case.

Check Years of Experience

First, the attorney that you select to help you with your car accident case should have a thorough understanding of Indiana traffic laws. The top car accident attorneys know how unique each car accident can be. They will be able to spot and address each crucial nuance involved in your case.

Second, your attorney should have a good intuition when it comes to investigating. That is, knowing the right questions to ask, the right evidence to collect, and even the right attitude during the discovery phase of personal injury claims. Gathering evidence and testimonies can be tedious. Good attorneys know how to prioritize their investigation and get key evidence fast.

Third, a skilled car accident attorney will feel at ease in high-pressure situations, including depositions or jury trials. They are not easily discouraged or intimidated by changing circumstances or strong opposition.

Research Fee Structure

While the standard fee structure for personal injury is around 30% of awarded damages, some car accident attorneys may charge more. An attorney that charges more may or may not be worth the extra cost. However, in many cases, attorneys with the highest amount of experience and success charge more because their clients tend to win more.

On the flip side, just because a car accident attorney charges less than someone else doesn’t mean the attorney lacks the experience or ability to get the job done. Either way, you should definitely examine the firm or attorney’s fee structure in addition to the track record to get a better idea of whether or not those fees are worth the investment.

Establish Trust

A qualified attorney will need to know all the details of your car accident case. As such, you need to feel that you can trust the attorney you choose. An attorney who makes you feel small and insignificant may not inspire the honesty and courage your personal injury claim will require of you.

Additionally, car accident lawsuits can be a long and arduous process. Those who remain patient are the ones who win their cases and receive compensation for damages. Furthermore, the best attorneys will help you manage your expectations for the long journey ahead so that you do not feel misinformed or alone.

Attorneys who build a strong relationship with their clients will remain in contact with them, providing regular updates and making sure that their clients’ questions and concerns are addressed at all times. You need to feel that your personal injury attorney is deeply invested in your case, even while they juggle other cases. The right attorney will make sure that you know you are a priority to them. 

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.



Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?

October 25, 2019

In the state of Indiana, personal injury claims for motor vehicle accidents have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In personal injury law, a statute of limitations is the time limit in which the plaintiff (the individual suing for damages) may file a claim for a personal injury lawsuit. Individuals suing the responsible party for damages must do so within the statute of limitations, or else they risk losing an opportunity to seek compensation.

Those injured in a car accident must seek medical assistance as soon as possible to determine the extent of the injuries. Waiting too long could result in Indiana courts dismissing the claim since it is more likely that any injuries were caused by events after the car accident.

What Are Some Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

There are some exceptions to the standard two-year statute of limitations. However, most exceptions actually shorten the time frame rather than extend it. Here are a few examples:

  • Individuals who seek to hold an Indiana government organization responsible for injuries and property damage are allowed a nine-month statute of limitations from the date of the car accident.
  • Individuals who seek to hold an Indiana city or county responsible for damages in a car accident case are allowed only a six-month statute of limitations.
  • Minors are not allowed to file a personal injury claim for themselves. Therefore, they are allowed a two-year statute of limitations from the date of their 18th birthday.

While there have been rare exceptions granted to plaintiffs seeking damages after the standard statute of limitations, most people who attempt to file a personal injury claim late often see their case dismissed by Indiana courts.

What Is Involved with Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

When filing a personal injury claim after a car accident, Indiana courts grant the defendant (the individual or organization you claim to be at fault for the accident) an opportunity to respond to the claim.

If the defendant does not admit guilt, then your attorney will begin building your case. Both sides proceed to gather evidence through the discovery phase before taking your personal injury case to court.

Most personal injury lawsuits take anywhere from six months to three years in the state of Indiana. Because of the length of time it may take to defend their case, as well as court costs, many defendants make a settlement offer to the plaintiff early on in the process. 

Is It a Good Idea to Accept a Settlement Offer?

Not all settlement offers are fair. That’s why you should allow a personal injury attorney to guide you through the process. They will be able to advise you whether it is in your best interest to take the settlement or to settle your case in the courtroom.

Your entire personal injury case doesn’t need to be resolved within the two-year statute of limitations. It is only required that you file your intent to sue (known as your complaint) within the statute of limitations.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.



What Happens If I Get into an Accident in a Rental Car?

September 24, 2019

Most of us know what to do when our vehicle is involved in a car accident. However, the steps to follow may not be quite so clear if we get into an accident driving a rental car.

For the most part, many of the same things apply in a rental car as they do for your personal vehicle. For example, you will want to make sure that anyone injured is being taken care of, or that an ambulance is on the way to assist.

You will also want to make sure to move your rental car out of the way of traffic, take pictures of the damage, exchange information with the other driver, call the police, request an accident report and, if feasible, take down names and contact information of any witnesses present.

The At-Fault Party

As with any car accident, the at-fault party will be held responsible. Therefore, the at-fault driver’s insurance is required to cover the cost of the rental car’s repairs. The same holds true for any injuries resulting from the car accident. Whether or not you feel injured at the time of the accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can confirm that you are okay.

It’s important to note that frequently the costs associated with car accident injuries exceed auto insurance caps. If this is the case, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation for any medical bills, lost wages and damages incurred in an auto accident. Even if you were injured while driving a rental car, if the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, it may be in your best interest to initiate a personal injury claim.

Sometimes, the at-fault party is uninsured. That’s why it is important for every driver to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance. While Indiana requires a minimum of $50,000 for uninsured/underinsured insurance, car accident injury costs can easily exceed that amount. Talk to your insurance provider to see if it is a good idea to add more coverage.

Substitute Vehicle Coverage

Before renting a vehicle, it is important to confirm with your regular car insurance provider that you have substitute vehicle coverage. This will ensure that any rental vehicle you book has the same coverage as your personal vehicle.

Using the Rental Company’s Insurance

Even if personal insurance offers substitute vehicle coverage, it may be worth considering adding the rental company’s insurance options. This could protect you from having to pay large deductibles to your own insurance company in the event of an accident. Additionally, rental car insurance can keep your regular insurance premiums from spiking as a result of an accident.

Adding a Collision Damage/Loss Waiver

Occasionally, rental car companies are not able to rent out vehicles involved in accidents because they have to be repaired. To cover these costs, rental car and insurance companies offer damage and loss waivers to drivers. Without the waiver, the rental car company may try to hold drivers responsible for loss of revenue while the car is being fixed (this is known as “loss of use”). This may include charging a daily fee for the vehicle while it remains under repair. Fees can be as high as the normal rental rate.

Many people who have substitute vehicle coverage with their own insurance providers opt to take the collision damage waiver (CDW) or collision loss waiver (CLW) for the reasons described above. However, many recommend that drivers avoid taking the additional coverage of CDW/CLW. It is best to consult with your own insurance company before accepting or declining CDW/CLW coverage.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.


Truck Accidents 101: Laws in Indiana

September 17, 2019

On average, 3,000 to 5,000 people die each year in vehicle accidents involving trucks. Over three-fourths of those injured in a truck accident are not truck drivers. In spite of stringent federal and Indiana state regulations, commercial vehicles remain the most deadly cause of fatal accidents in the country.

Indiana State Regulations

In the state of Indiana, the Motor Carrier Services Division (MCS) of the Department of Revenue (DOR) monitor and enforce commercial trucking laws and regulations.

The size and weight of the average truck pose a serious threat to the safety of non-commercial drivers. As such, all truck drivers must have an adequate amount of rest and steer clear of any substances that may impair their state of mind. These substances include alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs.

Additionally, those in charge of loading commercial trucks must adequately distribute the weight in a way that does not prohibit the driver from being able to maneuver the vehicle.

Lastly, not all roads allow commercial trucks. They must adhere to state traffic regulations, which restrict them to roads that give them adequate space.

Federal Regulations

Many federal regulations are similar to those in the state of Indiana. However, when injuries occur in a truck accident, the most strict laws will bear greater authority in a personal injury lawsuit.

Federal regulations address how often a truck driver must inspect all the equipment in their vehicle. Brakes, tires, hitches, and more must meet federal requirements. Those who manufacture the equipment parts must also maintain minimum quality standards to make sure they are not endangering the truck driver and other drivers on the road.

All federal regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles are moderated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) within the US Department of Transportation.

Liable Parties in Commercial Trucking

If you or someone you love is injured in a truck accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but liable parties may try to coerce you into accepting responsibility for the truck accident.

In a traditional vehicle accident, only the drivers involved are potentially liable for injuries and property damage. In a truck accident, however, several organizations and individuals may share the blame for injuries and property damage. The truck driver may be liable. Both state and federal regulations place a greater burden of care upon them, and they are required to take adequate breaks and maintain their vehicle equipment.

The company that hired the driver may also be liable. They are ultimately responsible for the negligence of their drivers. The loaders may also be liable. Whether it’s a loading company or a few individuals, they are expected to follow state and federal regulations when it comes to weight distribution. Lastly, the vehicle parts manufacturers may be liable for defective parts.

There could be as many as four different individuals or organizations that share liability for your injuries. Because each of these groups knows the gravity of the situation, companies will be eager to put the issue to rest before having to present their negligence to a courtroom.

Seeking Compensation After a Truck Accident

Speaking with an Indiana truck accident attorney will help you take on personnel representing the truck driver. Also, your attorney can help you seek compensation for hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

For more information about how an Indiana truck accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.


What Are My Rights if I am in a Car Accident While Using a Ride Share?

June 22, 2019

Ride share apps like Uber and Lyft have made life easier for millions of Americans, who for a variety of reasons, choose or need to use a car service to get around.

Ride shares are convenient in areas where it’s not easy to get a taxi, cities without widespread public transportation and metro areas where the fare for an Uber or Lyft may be cheaper than a traditional cab.

However, the uncertainties of life apply to ride shares too – accidents happen. If you’re injured as a result of an Uber accident or a Lyft accident, Stewart & Stewart Attorneys is here to help.

Big Questions: Who’s Liable and Who Pays?

As with any driver working for a company, accidents involving Lyft or Uber drivers can be complex. If you do get into an accident while using one of these services, you should enlist the help of a qualified attorney to help with your claim. This is important whether you are a passenger that gets injured in an accident involving a ride share program or if your vehicle is in a collision with an Uber or Lyft driver.

For injury liability, the driver’s personal insurance will be the first place to go, but most personal insurance policies have provisions in them that exempt business use. Those companies won’t pay out for damages and injuries to passengers while the insured is on the clock even though the vehicle is not part of a fleet owned by Uber or Lyft.

The good news is that Lyft and Uber both carry third-party insurance that provides up to $1 million per accident for personal injuries and property damage. But this won’t kick in until all avenues regarding the driver’s personal auto insurance plan have been exhausted.

If another driver is at fault, there are two ways you can be protected.

First, as in any auto accident where the other party is at fault, you would seek damages from that person, either through his insurance carrier or a personal injury lawsuit.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover your injuries or is unknown (in a hit-and-run accident, for example), Uber and Lyft also carry uninsured/underinsured coverage. Similar to ride share companies’ third-party insurance, this policy also provides up to $1 million per accident.

In unique cases (such as when damages total more than $1 million), lawsuits against Lyft and Uber themselves can be filed, but this is a tricky avenue to pursue because ride share drivers are independent contractors; therefore, the legal responsibility of the company isn’t as cut-and-dry as it would be if drivers were employees with a commercial driver’s license.

If You’re a Driver: Document, Document, Document

It’s important to note that these $1 million policies are also in place to protect Lyft and Uber drivers and their property.

If you’re driving for a ride share and you’re involved in an accident, be sure to document everything so you’re protected as much as you possibly can be. Take photos of damage, get license plate and contact information of the other driver(s) and call your insurance. Lyft and Uber also have emergency hotlines that you can call in case of an accident.

Having the necessary documentation will get you back on the road faster, because Uber doesn’t allow drivers to pick up passengers while they investigate to determine fault in an accident. If your vehicle is damaged, you may not be able to work again until Uber inspects your vehicle and finds it satisfactory to pick up passengers again.

Uber and Lyft Accidents are Complex

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash involving a ride share driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve. We will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give your Indianapolis auto accident lawyer a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


Five Things Semi Truck Drivers Want Regular Car Drivers to Know

June 15, 2019

People driving cars can get easily frustrated at semi-truck drivers. Traveling at a slower speed in a passing lane, making wide turns and taking time backing up are things that many of us have been inpatient with at one time or another when we’re in a hurry to get somewhere.

Conversely, the opposite is also true.

Semi-truck drivers have plenty of complaints about the car drivers they share the streets and highways with. To avoid added stress on the roads, keep in mind these facts about semi-trucks and their drivers.

Semi-trucks can only go so fast

Some trucks, especially the larger and heavier ones, can’t go as fast as most cars on the highway. Some max out at 65 miles per hour, which is slower than the 70-mile-per-hour, speed limit found on highways in Indiana. Be mindful that the truck may not be able to go faster than it is, especially if it is passing another vehicle and temporarily slowing down the left lane.

If you pass, do it quickly (and on the left)

Car drivers know all about the blind spot. It’s that space near the rear of your car where the mirror won’t show an oncoming vehicle, and you also can’t see it by looking directly to your left or right.

Due to the size of semi-trucks (plus the fact that there is no rear-view mirror), the blind spot is lengthened, so if you’re going to pass a truck, do it quickly. Do not ride alongside a semi-truck since there’s a good chance the driver won’t be able to see you.

Also, only pass trucks on the left. Drivers are more accustomed to watch for passing vehicles in the left-hand lane rather than the right.

You might see a placard on the back of a truck that reads, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Heed that advice.

It takes longer for trucks to stop

Be careful not to cut off a semi-truck, especially if you’re approaching stopped traffic. Even an alert driver with a perfectly maintained truck requires more distance than your car to come to a stop. Also, consider the fact that many trucks on the road need service or, in some cases, may not be fit to be on the road. That could lead to worn breaks or total break failure. A driver may also be tired or looking at his GPS, which could slow his or her reaction time. The bottom line: give the truck enough space to come to a stop.

Don’t assume a truck will make a perfect turn

Even the most expert semi-truck driver is not in complete control of his trailer during a turn. This is called “off-tracking,” meaning the trailer will not follow the same path of the cab when it makes a turn. The back of a trailer can easily drift into a neighboring lane while the turn is taking place, so even if it requires you to stop for an extra moment, give a turning truck some extra space and time to complete the maneuver.

Truck drivers are people too

Regular car drivers should exhibit some patience when dealing with the shortcomings of these semi-trucks. Remember that some of the things a semi-truck can’t do isn’t the fault of the driver. Also, be mindful that the driver is likely on a tight deadline, puts in long hours and is away from his family for days at a time while he earns a living.

Given their size, truck accidents can be devastating, particularly for smaller cars that are involved. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a semi-truck, call Stewart & Stewart. We know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve. We will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give your Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


Do Roundabouts Reduce Accidents?

June 04, 2019

Indiana is implementing roundabouts more and more as a way to reduce accidents and traffic congestion. According to the Department of Transportation, roundabouts also reduce fuel consumption, air pollution and construction costs, while increasing capacity and enhancing the aesthetics of an intersection.

At the end of 2016, more than 256 roundabouts were constructed in our state, with over 100 located in one town!

Get Familiar with the Roundabout

If you haven’t encountered a roundabout, or if you’ve seen one but had no idea about what to do, the state has provided this handy brochure.

Are Roundabouts Really Safer?

Roundabouts can be intimidating. Entering the circle, especially at times of heavy traffic, can be daunting. It leads to many opponents of roundabouts saying that they cause more accidents.

This is a myth.

Various DOT studies across the country show that crashes overall are reduced by 39 percent in a roundabout compared to a traditional four-way intersection.

Other safety statistics:

  • 76 percent reduction in crashes involving injuries
  • 30-40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 90 percent reduction in a crash that leads to a fatality

What Makes Them Safer Over an Intersection?

In a typical four-way intersection, there are 32 points where vehicles can collide with each other. This is taking all the ways of travel into account–crossing through the intersection, making a right-hand turn and making a left-hand turn.

In a roundabout, the points of collision are reduced to eight. This is because cars are not crossing or turning left into a roundabout.

And when there is a crash in a roundabout, speeds are usually low enough to prevent serious injury or death. Most roundabouts are designed for cars to travel around 15-25 miles per hour in them, and the one-way, counterclockwise flow of traffic eliminates the possibility of a head-on collision.

Another key reason that roundabouts are safer than intersections is that they remove the variable of the red light or stop sign. There’s no instance of someone trying to beat a changing yellow light or running a stop sign when dealing with a roundabout.

They also cut down on traffic back-ups that red lights can cause. Due to the flow of traffic being more consistent and continuous with roundabouts, rear-end and chain-reaction accidents are virtually removed from the picture. A multistate study revealed that a roundabout reduced traffic delays by 89 percent and vehicle stops by 56 percent.

Why is There Opposition to Roundabouts?

Fear of the unknown is attributed to the roundabout’s lack of general popularity in the United States. A study in the state of Washington surveyed drivers’ opinions of a roundabout before it was constructed and after it had been in operation for a number of months. The first survey showed that only 31 percent of people favored a roundabout, while 41 percent strongly opposed it.

After those same people got to drive in the roundabout, the number of people in favor of it doubled to 63 percent. The amount who strongly opposed it also dropped sharply to 15 percent.

While roundabouts are generally considered safer for the public, accidents do happen, especially those involving bicyclists and pedestrians. If you have been injured or a loved one has died in an accident involving a roundabout, contact us for a free consultation. Stewart & Stewart is your Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer, and we know what it takes to get our clients the money they deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


Four Ways a Delivery Truck Accident is Different from a Car Accident

June 01, 2019

Not all auto accidents are equal.

Naturally, the size of the vehicles involved will make a difference in damage and injuries, but did you know that it can even effect the way the law finds those responsible?

Delivery Truck Accidents on The Rise

With the increase in popularity of ecommerce sites like Amazon, along with big-box retailers like Target and Walmart increasing their online presence, there are more delivery trucks on the road than ever before.

And it’s not just UPS and FedEx. Food trucks, flower delivery trucks and many more are also sharing our local roads.

There are four major differences between regular car accidents and delivery truck accidents.

1. Driver Inexperience

Most large vehicles require some sort of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Some drivers may be on the road with very little training, or they may not have a CDL at all. Drivers need to compensate for the added weight of the larger vehicle, more stopping distance and dealing with trucks with only manual transmission.

Delivery truck drivers also may not be used to driving this different vehicle in rainy, snowy or icy conditions. Many are also going to unfamiliar places, so they may be paying more attention to their GPS than the current situation on the road.

Lack of experience in any of these areas can cause a crash, and many times, it is serious.

2. Greater Risk of Injury

Due to the size and weight of the vehicle, an accident involving a delivery truck will likely cause more damage than a standard automobile accident. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is struck, many times serious injuries or death will occur. More cars are totaled and passengers suffer debilitating injuries in accidents involving large trucks.

3. Maintenance History of the Truck

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires trucks to have documented maintenance history and companies that own trucks usually will keep detailed records as well. However, lack of maintenance (especially brake and tire failures) still account for a large part of truck crashes. Sometimes, the truck owner or operator has good intentions, but repairs made on the truck are faulty. There is a much larger paper trail when a truck is involved in an accident, especially if it is a fleet vehicle.

4. Truck Accidents Usually Bring Multiple Liable Parties

In a standard auto accident, legally-speaking, we are generally only dealing with the driver. In a truck accident where the driver is performing his job for an employer, liability becomes much more complicated. Potential responsibility falls on any of these parties:

  • Truck driver
  • Employer of the truck driver
  • Truck manufacturer and truck parts manufacturer
  • Truck maintenance company and mechanics

Delivery Truck Accidents are Complex

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash caused by a delivery truck driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve and we will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


10 Safe Group-Riding Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

May 27, 2019

Motorcycling is a passion for some people and many enjoy riding together in groups just for the journey, rather than traveling to reach a destination. Unfortunately, motorcycling can be a dangerous hobby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that four out of every five motorcycle accidents result in a serious injury or death.

When motorcycling in a group, preparation and communication are essential for a successful, enjoyable ride.

Here are ten tips to ensure a fun and safe group ride.

1. Prepare Via a Pre-Ride Meeting

All riders need to be on the same page and a pre-ride meeting can ensure that. Start by going over your route, what the destination is, and what (if any) stopping points you have along the way. There should be no confusion among the drivers, since that could lead to problems on the road. Providing the address of the destination is also helpful, so riders can plug it into a GPS app on their phone in case they get separated from the group. Also, discussing how tolls will be handled if there are any that need to be paid on the route can prove to be helpful. In addition, at least one rider should carry a first-aid kit and a tool kit.

2. Follow the Leader

In your pre-ride meeting, designate a leader. This person should be an experienced rider and needs to know the limitations of the group so that he or she can set a safe pace and not perform any maneuvers that may be over the skill level of some riders. The leader also needs to relay hand signals to the rest.

3. Assign a Tail Rider

The tail (or sweep) rider is the last rider in the group. This person should also be one of the more experienced riders in your group. They can keep an eye on the entire pack in front of them, giving them a chance to help riders who get stuck or separated in traffic to safely catch up to the rest of the group.

4. Gear Up

Safety is paramount. Wear a full-face helmet, long pants and sleeves made of a thick, protective material (like leather), eye protection, and boots that cover your ankles. Add reflective pieces to your gear and bike, and always use your headlight (even during the day) so you give yourself the best chance to be seen by other motorists.

5. Stay Together

Now it’s time to hit the road! The leader will want to be sure to minimize the possibility of the group getting separated. This is especially important at traffic lights. If a light is about to turn red, slow down and stop at the light (if it is safe to do so) to keep your group together. If you’re the leader and you notice a light change just as you’re passing through the intersection, try to find a safe space to stop on the side of the road to wait for the rest of the pack to get the green light and catch up with you.

6. Ride in a Staggered Formation

You’ll want to be sure to ride in a staggered formation in order to keep a safe distance between you and your fellow riders. Staggered means the leader should be on the left side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the leader but on the right side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the second bike but back on the left side of the lane, and so on.

7. Keep a Safe Distance

The staggered formation helps with this point. But you’ll also want to keep a safe distance from vehicles ahead of the pack. Staying two seconds behind any vehicle or a fellow rider is a good rule of thumb.

8. Passing Vehicles

Riders should pass other vehicles one at a time. All motorcycles in the group should maintain their staggered position in case a situation occurs where the passing lane gets congested when only half of the group is able to make the pass. If this happens, the leader should keep the rest of the group behind him or her in the right lane until all members can safely make the pass.

9. Take Breaks

Find out how comfortable your most inexperienced rider in the pack is, and then determine when and where to take breaks. It’s important not to pressure a new rider out of their comfort zone. The most novice rider should also be placed in the middle of the pack. This way, they can follow veteran riders in front of them with confidence, and they also won’t have to worry about aggressive drivers or other potential pitfalls that the tail rider may have to deal with.

10. Don’t Succumb to Peer Pressure

If you are a novice motorcyclist and you feel that the ride is above your skill level, or you otherwise feel uncomfortable, safely leave the group. Signal to the tail rider that you’re pulling off. Since you will have the destination loaded into your phone, you can always meet the rest of the group there at your own pace. Thanks to the convenience of cell phones, the rest of the group won’t have to worry that you are lost or can’t find your way back home.

Unfortunately, even the safest motorcyclist can be the victim of an accident thanks to a driver who isn’t paying attention. Most studies find that 60 percent of multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of the driver in a car or truck.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died in a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free consultation. The attorneys at Stewart & Stewart are experienced in motorcycle accidents in Indiana and know what it takes to get clients the compensation they deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.