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NEW YORK CITY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYER
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, our experienced New York City motorcycle accident lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP can help. For more than three generations we have been serving people who have been injured by the negligence of others.
We have significant experience representing injured motorcyclists and understand how important securing fair compensation is after a serious injury. Our New York City personal injury lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP recently won a $5.1 million judgment for a motorcycle rider who was injured in a crash. Altogether, we have recovered more than one billion dollars for our clients.
Will Insurance Cover My Motorcycle Injuries?
When a motorcyclist incurs injuries in an accident, one of the most common questions asked is, “Who will pay for my medical bills?” Because motorcycle accidents often lead to injuries requiring intensive care, victims often incur large bills. Knowing how to obtain compensation following a motorcycle accident can help motorcycle accident victims and their families achieve peace of mind.
New York is one of a handful of states that observes a no-fault system for insurance matters. When you sustain injuries in an accident, your own insurance policy will provide reimbursement for damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. You may be eligible to receive compensation up to the limits outlined in your policy.
Exceptions to this rule exist, however. Injured motorcyclists may step outside of the no-fault system and file a traditional fault claim, even after only sustaining minor injuries. Motorcyclists enjoy exceptions to the no-fault system under New York state law. When an at-fault driver does not have enough coverage to pay for a victim’s injuries, motorcyclists may also obtain compensation under their underinsured/uninsured motorist policy.
Filing a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company requires the guidance of an NYC motorcycle accident attorney. A lawyer can help determine what a claim is worth and demand fair compensation. In fact, getting an attorney involved early in the process can cause an insurance company to take a claim more seriously.
New York Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
All registered motorcycles in the state of New York must be insured. Minimum coverage requirements for motorcycle insurance are:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person
- $50,000 total bodily injury per accident
- $50,000 per person for death
- $100,000 for multiples deaths per accident
- $10,000 for property damage
These are only the minimum requirements. Given the higher risk of serious injury in motorcycle accidents, it may be wise to consider higher limits for greater protection, as well as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect you in case of an accident caused by a driver with insufficient or no insurance.
A Staggering Fatality Rate for Motorcycle Accidents
As reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), fatality rates for motorcyclists per mile driven were 26 times that of passenger vehicle occupants in a recent year.
Although they comprise only three percent of all registered vehicles and less than one percent of vehicle miles traveled, motorcycles account for close to 15 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. Sadly, many motorcycle collisions are caused by drivers of other vehicles.
How Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
Regardless of the type of motorcycle, motorcyclists face a higher risk of injury than occupants of other vehicles. Motorcycle accidents can occur in many different ways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2016:
- Of the 5,421 motorcycles involved in fatal accidents, 2,976 (55%) were involved in collisions with other moving motor vehicles.
- 72% of motorcycles involved in two-vehicle traffic crashes were impacted in the front.
- 23% of motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with fixed objects.
- 2,625 fatal two-vehicle crashes involved a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, such as a car or truck.
- In 41% of the fatal two-vehicle accidents involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
Recovering Compensation after a Motorcycle Accident in New York City
Under state insurance and liability laws, motorcycles are treated differently than cars and other passenger vehicles. Within the meaning of no-fault insurance laws, a motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle. A motorcyclist is not covered or entitled to receive medical and lost wage benefits under the no-fault law.
However, injured motorcyclists can bring a claim against the responsible party to recover compensation for their injuries and losses. As they are not subject to the no-fault threshold, even motorcyclists with less serious injuries are eligible to file a claim.
Motorcycle Laws in New York City
A motorcycle injury claim may depend on many factors, including the laws that govern motorcycle use in the city. In general, motorcycle operators need to follow the same rules of the road as other motorists regarding, for example, speed, driver distraction, and yielding the right of way.
In order to operate a vehicle in the state of New York, a driver must possess a Class M or MJ Operator’s license. This requires passing a driver’s test and a road test. Operators over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license and a motorcycle operator learner’s permit will be exempt from taking the road test.
Once a motorcycle operator obtains a valid license, he or she will have to observe all the rules for riding on New York State roadways.
- All motorcycle riders must wear a helmet that meets US DOT federal motor vehicle safety standards.
- All motorcycle operators must wear eye protection that conforms to the American National Standard Institute regulations.
- If carrying a passenger, a seat and footrest are required.
- A motorcycle helmet speaker may only have one earphone.
What is the Required Equipment for Registered Motorcycles?
Additionally, all motorcycles registered in the state of New York must also have the following minimum equipment:
- Brakes on both wheels (exceptions exist for historic motorcycles produced before 1971)
- Directional signals (exceptions exist on vehicles manufactured before 1985)
- A horn
- One red rear reflector
- A headlight, taillight, stop lamp, and license plate lamp
- A rearview mirror
- A muffler
- Handlebars that are the shoulder height of the rider or lower
Does NYC Allow Lane Splitting?
New York also has laws that pertain to sharing the road; no more than two motorcycles may operate side by side at one time. Additionally, New York law prohibits the practice of lane splitting, or going in between lanes to pass cars.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Even when a rider takes all the required precautions and follows the letter of the law, he or she can still sustain injuries in an accident. Unfortunately, most motorcycle crashes lead to some sort of injury, ranging from minor to catastrophic and permanently disabling.
- Road rash. Road rash is one of the most commonly reported consequences of crashes. It occurs when a rider slides across the pavement and sustains abrasions to the skin. Road rash may require intensive medical treatment and surgery.
- Head injuries. Even with proper helmet use, a motorcycle rider can sustain a concussion or more severe traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident.
- Spinal cord injuries. Severe trauma suffered in a motorcycle accident can cause damage to the nerves housed within the spinal column. Spinal cord injuries can cause lifelong sensory or motor problems.
- Broken bones. Since motorcycles lack the basic protections of cars, even a minor motorcycle accident can result to fractures, particularly to the ribs, arms, and legs.
- Nerve damage. A motorcyclist can tear or otherwise damage nerves in a crash, resulting in loss of sensation or painful neuropathy.
- Trauma to the lower body. Burns, broken bones, and crush injuries to the lower body can result from a bike falling on top of a rider during a crash.
- Internal bleeding. Motorcyclists can sustain serious trauma that leads to organ bruising or bleeding, a life-threatening emergency.
- Permanent disfigurement or injury. The injuries a rider sustains in a motorcycle accident can be permanent, leading to scarring or other forms of permanent damage.
- The abrupt nature of a crash can cause loss of a limb in some cases, particularly when a rider gets pinned to the ground after an accident.
- A violent crash on the roadway can lead to a permanent injury like paraplegia or quadriplegia.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcyclists have an equal right to use the roadway, but sometimes motorists simply don’t notice them. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t as attuned to motorcycles as they are other cars. This can create a dangerous situation for riders that often results in accidents. Motorcycle accidents have a variety of causes, many stemming from driver negligence.
- Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of all car accidents, including those involving motorcycles. Cell phone use and texting, although prohibited by law in New York, still contribute to hundreds of accidents throughout the state each year.
- Operating under the influence of alcohol presents a serious risk to all motorists, especially motorcyclists. Because their vehicles are smaller and not as visible, a drunk driver may not see them as readily as they would a car.
- Speeding plays a significant role in many crashes, and can prove devastating to motorcyclists. While a motorist may walk away from a crash involving a speeding driver, a motorcyclist may sustain life-threatening or permanently disabling injuries.
- Failure to check a blind spot is a unique hazard for motorcycle riders, as a motorcyclist may easily fit within a blind spot.
- Failure to yield the right of way. This type of accident is particularly common because drivers don’t fully comprehend how fast a motorcyclist is going, leading to disastrous consequences.
- Hazards on the road can present a unique danger to motorcycle riders. Potholes, gravel, uneven pavement, and road debris may be annoyances to the average driver, but could cause serious and potentially life-threatening issues for motorcyclists.
- Inclement weather, like road hazards, can be dangerous for the average motorcyclist. Slick roadways and decreased visibility can cause crashes, especially when combined with other elements like driver inattention.
Trial Lawyers for Motorcycle Accident Cases in New York City
If you were injured in a New York City motorcycle accident, contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff, LLP to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys will fight tenaciously for the compensation you deserve.