Motorcycle accidents can be dangerous and exact a heavy toll on everyone involved. They usually involve some amount of injury—and due to the inherent riskiness of motorcycles, the severity of these injuries are often severe. Even for seemingly clear-cut cases, motorcyclists pressing claims often face stiff resistance from defendants.
If you’re involved in a New York motorcycle accident, either as a defendant or claimant, you need to know about the laws regarding these types of incidents, and all the options available to you before moving forward.
New York Motorcycle Laws
New York state has a no-fault law for any car accident. This means that insurance companies pay for all lost earnings, incidental costs, and medical expenses from car accidents. However, this law does not apply to motorcycle accidents. This is because many states, including New York, see motorcycles as inherently more dangerous than regular automobiles.
As a result, all motorcyclists need to carry their own private insurance anytime they ride. This will protect them from having to pay out-of-pocket for any exorbitant medical expenses. That being said, New York state law does make a few allowances for motorcycle riders.
An example of this is that motorcycle riders in New York aren’t subject to the serious injury threshold that automobile drivers are. The serious injury threshold was written to prevent New York drivers from making claims or proceeding with a lawsuit when they don’t have serious injuries.
But motorcyclists being exempt from this threshold means that they can press claims whenever they are injured, even if said injuries are minor. Similarly, motorcyclists can press a claim even around the no-fault law and threshold.
Top 5 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in New York
- Poor motorcycle training. Most motorcyclists like to think that they had enough practice and professional training prior to riding. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Most motorcycle accidents occur in New York due to incompetent riding skills and technique.
- Riding without a license. According to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT,) 43 percent of fatal accidents involve an unlicensed driver. Take the time to go through the proper channels – not just because it’s the law, but because doing so will save your life.
- Low visibility. According to NY DOT, the types of injuries and accidents on record indicate that many are caused by low visibility on behalf of the motorcyclist. This is largely due to unsafe gear such as immobile helmets that limit the peripheral vision of the rider, as well as tinted visors that prove especially dangerous in low-light conditions.
- Riding in bad weather. Due to the higher difficulty of operating a motorcycle, bad weather poses a much higher threat for motorcyclists compared to other types of vehicles. Slippery roads caused by rain and snow are among the most common weather-related causes of motorcycle accidents in NY. So if the weather is ever rainy or particularly icy, it may be a smart idea to leave the motorcycle at home.
- Defects from manufacturing errors. Having your bike regularly serviced and inspected could save your life. This is especially true when purchasing a bike from a neighbor or online, when you cannot trust that the stranger selling it to you is fully aware of any fixes that need to be made. Never ride a new motorcycle home from a shop or a stranger’s house. Instead, you should first have it transported to your nearest auto body shop to have it inspected thoroughly.
- Speeding and weaving through traffic. Thanks to the slim nature of most motorcycles, many cyclists believe themselves capable of speeding between lanes of traffic. Lane splitting is not only risky but illegal in New York. Weaving between cars—especially at high speeds—multiplies a cyclist’s risk of death and injury. Remember that motorcycles are bound to the same rules of the road as any other New York state vehicle. Waiting in traffic like everyone else certainly beats breaking bones, and risking the lives of yourself and others.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in New York
- Only 2% of registered vehicles in New York City are motorcycles, but they are 14% of traffic fatalities
- 56% of motorcycle rider fatalities were under 35 years old
- Almost 100% of motorcycle fatalities are male
- Most accidents involve a motorcyclist, and another motor vehicle being at fault—not just the motorcyclists themselves
- Most motorcycle crashes occur on city streets or in densely-populated areas in the Hudson Valley, such as Newburgh, rather than on highways or rural roadways
Why Motorcycle Accidents are So Common
Motorcycles (typically) ride on two wheels. This makes them less stable than vehicles that ride on four wheels. They’re also smaller and lighter than cars, so small impacts do a much greater amount of damage.
Finally, motorcycles are more dangerous because of their small size. Other drivers will fail to notice a motorcycle more frequently. They may accidentally cut the motorcycle off or follow it too closely.
Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents in New York
Here are the most common injuries motorcyclists sustain in an accident:
- Burns from exploded parts
- High levels of abrasion on the skin and flesh/road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Brain trauma
- Mental health issues
Any number of factors can play a role as to the severity of injuries from an accident. However it’s important to remember that even if you believe your injuries are relatively minor, you should still be examined by a medical professional.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Step 1: Call 911. No matter whether you are riding a motorcycle or are in an automobile, you should immediately call 911. Motorcycle injuries for you or another victim can be incredibly dangerous, so rapid medical help is always absolutely necessary.
Step 2: Exchange contact information. Even if no one is injured, you should still exchange contact information between yourself and any victim or witnesses present. This will help you down the line should any legal issues arise, whether you’re the defendant or a victim.
Step 3: Document the damage. The crash should be documented as best you can—without tampering with the vehicles themselves. Emergency responders will take their own photographs and collect evidence for any potential case.
Step 4: Seek a lawyer that specializes in motorcycle accidents. After dealing with injuries and exchanging insurance and contact information, your next step should be to hire legal representation. Motorcycle accidents and their resulting lawsuits or personal injury cases can be complicated.
There are many factors to juggle and it’s difficult for those who aren’t already experts to successfully represent themselves. A personal injury or motorcycle injury attorney is your best bet—preferably one with years of experience specifically in motor vehicle and motorcycle cases.
What You Need to File a Lawsuit Following a Motorcycle Accident
New York motorcyclists must abide by several laws in order to successfully initiate a lawsuit. To file a claim, you will first need:
- A legal license to drive a motorcycle in the state of New York
- Proper vehicle registration
- A certificate of inspection for every 12 months
- And proper liability insurance.
Once you have these documents ready, you will need to search for a trustworthy motorcycle accident attorney in your area. They will tell you if any additional documents are needed, and handle the majority of the legal process for you to minimize errors and delays.
Motorcycle Accident Settlements in New York
In New York, any motorcyclist in an accident can press charges if they believe they are not at fault. Motorcycle collision lawsuits allow for compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other damages. But the success or failure of a particular claim or lawsuit depends on several factors.
Who’s At Fault?
Any case will need to identify who’s at fault for the accident and whether a prosecuting case holds water. Individuals might be at fault, or it may truly be a no-fault case due to weather or manufacturer defects in the motorcycle. Any motorcyclist pressing a claim must prove that the defendant breached their duty to care and that the breach resulted in the rider’s injuries, among other aspects.
How Long Do Motorcycle Cases Take?
In New York, motorcycle crash lawsuits and other cases are difficult to estimate in terms of time. Some cases are relatively open and shut while others may take many months or years. This is why appropriate representation for a New York motorcycle accident is necessary whether you are a victim or claimant.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries
Some motorcycle injuries only require minor care and recovery time is low. These include cuts and bruises or minor broken bones. As a result, medical treatment and hospital costs are usually quite low.
Other motorcycle injuries require more long-term care. These include injuries like extensive damage to the limbs or several broken bones. These might involve longer hospital stays and even in-home care for a few months. Naturally, medical bills will be high, and weeks or months of lost salary must be taken into account when calculating compensation.
Motorcycle injuries requiring physical therapy are also common. These are long-term costs and treatment requirements. After adding in loss of salary, the overall cost of compensation can be quite high. Total damages that may be awarded in a case can be quite substantial.
New York Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
The need for good New York motorcycle accident attorneys and representation is crucial. No matter which side of the case you’re on, only appropriate legal help will guarantee that you obtain your compensation or victory.
If you’re in need of help following an accident, you can call the motorcycle injury attorneys at Sobo & Sobo right away at 855-468-7626. They’ve got years of experience with New York motorcycle accidents and other automotive cases. Whatever you need, they can provide.