It is motorcycle season once again and avid bikers throughout New York are dusting off their bikes and getting ready to gear up. For some bikers, though, the season will be filled with more than just great memories of the wind against their face. Motorcycle accidents are just as common as car accidents and during some seasons, even more so. This means that all bikers need to prepare for the possibility of being involved in an accident. They also need to know what to do if that happens, and how a motorcycle accident differs from a car accident.
1) Motorcycle Injuries are Much More Serious
One of the biggest differences between a motorcycle accident and other accidents on the road is that bikers are much more susceptible to injury. Even with New York’s universal helmet law, the chances of a biker sustaining a head injury during an accident are much greater than for those in other types of vehicles.
In addition, bikers are often thrown from their bikes upon impact. When this happens, they are sometimes thrown in the path of oncoming vehicles, or they skid along the pavement, causing severe abrasions along their arms, face, and chest. Only in the worst of car accidents are passengers in the vehicle thrown from the body of the vehicle and the protection that the vehicle provides.
The fact that injuries are much more serious is a major factor in motorcycle accidents. Insurance will rarely cover the full cost of injuries, and motorcyclists will most often be left unable to work for weeks or even months after an accident. For this reason, motorcyclists typically have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to cover the cost of their injuries.
2) Insurance Issues are Different
Like other motorists, motorcyclists are required by law to carry insurance. The minimum levels of insurance motorcyclists must carry in New York are:
- 25,000 per person injured
- 50,000 in case of death of one person
- $100,000 for the deaths of two or more riders
- Optional uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance of $250,000 for one rider or $500,000 for two or more injured
These insurance requirements are not only different from those of other motorists, but the role insurance benefits will play after an accident also differs. This is due to the fact that motorcycles are exempt from New York’s no-fault auto insurance rules.
This is good news for bikers because they can file a personal injury lawsuit against another at-fault driver right away. When two motorists in passenger cars are in an accident with each other, they are typically barred from recovering compensation from the at-fault party. It is only when their injuries exceed the “serious injury threshold” that they can claim compensation.
Due to a motorcyclist’s exempt status from the no-fault rules, though, this does not apply to motorcycles. A biker does not have to reach or exceed the serious injury threshold, which they typically do anyway, but they can pursue legal action right away.
3) Motorcyclists Carry a Stigma
When two drivers are in an accident and one has met the serious injury threshold, the injured individual may take the at-fault driver to court to claim compensation. A judge or jury will typically listen to both sides impartially and come to a decision. This, sadly, is not always the case when a motorcyclist is involved.
Although more motorcyclists are out on the roads than ever before, and they are generally just as careful if not even more so than other motorists, jurors still view motorcyclists as risk-takers or daredevils. There is a misconception that bikers drive aggressively or dangerously, weaving in and out of traffic.
Of course, this type of thinking is not based in fact. Still, it will make it more difficult for motorcyclists to prove liability in a courtroom. If you want to claim compensation, though, you will need to do just that.
An attorney is a valuable resource when trying to prove liability. An attorney will collect medical documents, police reports, speak to eyewitnesses, and investigate the scene of the crash over the course of a case. He or she can then build a case proving liability by showing the jury:
- Another driver did not act in a reasonable manner to keep other motorists safe
- That driver’s negligent actions caused your motorcycle to crash
- That crash caused you to sustain serious injuries and actual losses
When these elements of the law are proven in court, a jury has no other option but to award you compensation, regardless of their own feelings on motorcycles.
4) Other Drivers do Not Watch for You
Despite the fact that New York rolls out their “Watch for Motorcycles” campaigns in early spring, other motorists simply do not watch out for bikers the same way they do other vehicles and pedestrians.
This is sometimes due to the fact that motorcycles are smaller and as such, are more difficult to see than larger vehicles. Over the fall and winter months, motorists also become unaccustomed to watching for bikers once the warmer weather hits.
However, even though other drivers may believe they have valid reasons for failing to watch for bikers, they do not. All motorists must focus on their surroundings, and those within it, at all times. When they fail to do so and motorcyclists become injured, the drivers are liable for failing to watch out for them.
A New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Knows These Differences
Many drivers do not understand the difference between a car accident and a motorcycle accident. However, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in New York will.
We understand how traumatizing motorcycle accidents can be. If you have been in one, you know the extent of injuries are typically much worse. You may even know how complicated insurance issues are, and how once settled, those benefits are still often not enough to cover the cost of your injuries.
We understand all these factors, too, and it is why we want to help. We will fight for your rights in court by building a solid case showing that another driver was at fault and should be held liable for your injuries. We will also conclusively show the extent of your injuries so you can pursue the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Do not try to handle a motorcycle accident case on your own. This is a time of healing and recovery, and it is important that you focus on that. Let us handle the paperwork of your case so you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Call us today to learn more.