There is a common belief that motorcyclists are riskier, more dangerous drivers than other motorists. At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we know that this is not true. In fact, motorcyclists are some of the safest and most skilled drivers on the road. While they do sometimes cause accidents, most motorcycle accidents are the result of other drivers’ carelessness, recklessness, or wrongful conduct.
Specifically, some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving, including using a cellphone behind the wheel
- Speeding and/or driving too fast for current conditions
- Driving under the influence of alcohol/while intoxicated or impaired
- Running red lights and stop signs/disobeying other traffic control devices
- Failing to check vehicle blind spots for motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other drivers
- Changing lanes or merging without checking for motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other drivers
- Failing to yield the right of way to motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other drivers
- Turning across an oncoming motorcyclist’s path
- Following too closely (“tailgating”)
- Passing unsafely/unlawfully
- Opening a car/vehicle door into an oncoming motorcyclist
- Aggressive or reckless driving, including road rage
- Defective road conditions
When other drivers are careless or reckless, motorcyclists are the ones who suffer the most. If you were injured in an accident caused by another driver or other outside factors, such as a defective roadway or vehicle, Wolf & Fuhrman LLP can help you fight for the just compensation you deserve.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
As mentioned earlier, motorcyclists tend to sustain pretty serious injuries in accidents.
Arms - There is a human instinct to reach our arms out to catch a fall. This can save you from injury to a more vulnerable part of your body, like your head or chest, but it often results in serious harm to your hands, arms, and shoulders. You can experience dislocations, tears, fractures, and permanent nerve damage.
Legs - Lower extremity injuries are extremely common in motorcycle accidents. This can include injuries to your calves, knees, feet, and ankles as well as your pelvis and hips. It's not uncommon for legs to hit the ground first and experience the brunt of the damage. Sometimes these injuries are lifelong and disabling.
Muscles - Muscle damage can lead to paralysis. It is often caused by deep road rash, punctures from bones or objects upon impact, and tearing from the force of the impact.
Head - If you were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, your risk of head injury was reduced by 69%. It might have even saved your life. However, you can still experience things like traumatic brain injury, tooth loss, and facial fractures. If you were not wearing a helmet, you are much more prone to those injuries as well as road rash, scarring, and disfigurement.
Neck & Spine - After your accident, you may discover you have fractured or sprained vertebrae or herniated discs. Permanent complications such as paralysis occur in about 20% of all injuries involving the spine.
Skin - During a motorcycle accident, people are often thrown off their bikes and skid across the road. This can scrape of layers of skin, fat, and even muscle, possibly resulting in skin grafts, scarring/disfigurement, or paralysis from muscle damage.
Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in New York?
The simple answer is yes. In the state of New York, all motorcycle riders are legally required to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. This includes both the driver and any passengers on the motorcycle.
The helmet must meet certain requirements in order to be considered compliant with New York state law. Specifically, the helmet must be approved by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and have a DOT sticker or label on it indicating it is compliant.
In addition to the helmet requirement, New York state law also mandates all riders wear eye protection, unless their motorcycle has a windshield that meets specific requirements. Wearing goggles, glasses, or a face shield on a helmet are all considered eye protection.
If you choose to violate the helmet law in New York, it can result in a traffic violation and a fine. In addition, failure to wear a helmet could potentially result in serious injury or death in the event of an accident.
Does No-Fault Insurance Cover Motorcycle Accidents in New York?
In New York, no-fault insurance does not cover motorcyclists. This means that, unlike after a typical car accident, you cannot file a no-fault insurance claim (also known as personal injury protection, or PIP, claim) with your insurance provider and receive compensation for certain damages, regardless of who was at fault. Instead, you must prove that the other driver (or another party) was at fault for the crash and file a claim with their insurance company or sue the at-fault party directly.
In a successful motorcycle accident lawsuit, you can recover compensation for your:
- Medical bills and other related medical expenses
- Future medical care costs, including rehabilitation/physical therapy
- In-home assistance and medical care costs
- Lost income, wages, and employment benefits
- Lost future earnings
- Lost or diminished earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses
Unfortunately, because motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance, they generally cannot receive compensation while a claim or lawsuit is pending. If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with our firm right away. Our Bronx motorcycle accident attorneys can review your case and help you take the next steps in your physical and financial recovery.
Who Is Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?
Because motorcyclists in New York are not protected by no-fault insurance, it is important that you (and your attorney) establish who was at fault for the accident. Typically, by identifying the at-fault party, you can identify who is legally responsible for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. As motorcyclists are not afforded the protections of no-fault coverage, they need not establish a serious injury as defined by the Insurance Law § 5102(d) in order to recover damages.
Depending on the details of your situation, any of the following parties could be liable:
- A careless or reckless motorist
- Another negligent party
- A manufacturer of a defective vehicle/vehicle part
- A municipal entity that failed to conduct proper road maintenance
- A construction/design company that created a defective roadway
This is not an exhaustive list; our Bronx motorcycle accident attorneys can help you determine who is liable for your damages and aggressive advocate for your maximum recovery.
What If You Were Partly at Fault?
Often, the other party’s insurance company will fight motorcycle accident claims. The insurance adjuster might argue that you were partly at fault for the accident. What happens if this is true?
Under New York’s pure comparative negligence rule, you can still file a claim or lawsuit and recover compensation for damages if you were partly at fault for the motorcycle accident that led to your injuries. Because the state operates under a pure comparative negligence rule, there is no fault threshold you must meet. In other words, you do not have to prove that the other person or party was more at fault for the crash than you were.
However, it should be noted that, if you are found partly at fault for the crash, you cannot recover the full amount you are seeking in damages. Instead, your financial recovery will be reduced by your degree of fault. For example, say you were driving five miles over the speed limit when you were hit by someone who ran a red light, leaving you with serious injuries and $100,000 in damages. If the ultimate fact finder—the jury at trial—finds you 20 percent at fault because you were speeding at the time of the collision, you could only recover up to 80 percent of the amount of your damages, or $80,000. Similarly, an insurance claim adjuster would modify their settlement to reflect the percentage of negligence they believe to be applicable.
Being found at fault for a motorcycle accident—even partly—can make a huge difference in your recovery, as well as your ability to pay your medical bills and everyday expenses while out of work. At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we know how important it is that you receive the maximum settlement or verdict you are owed so that you can heal and move forward with your life. Our attorneys know how to push back against common prejudices against motorcycle riders and present our clients’ cases persuasively and powerfully. We are ready to assist you with your case and fight for every penny you deserve.