Motorcycle Accidents Present Special Issues

by John L. Perticone on Feb. 03, 2021

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident 

Summary: People injured in motorcycle accidents confront obstacles to reimbursement not encountered by the typical car accident.

The sad truth is that motorcycle riders are more frequently injured and more seriously injured than other drivers. [ DMV Statistics ] Despite the efforts of motorcycle organizations to publicize the problem and promote awareness, we hear the same refrain time after time: “I didn’t see him”. Every motorcyclist has experienced cars turning in front of them as if they were not there. Too often even the most attentive rider cannot avoid contact with a car or escape a serious accident without lying the bike down.

Unfortunately, injured motorcycle riders cannot claim the protection of the No-Fault Law should they become involved in an accident. A motorcycle is not a motor vehicle within the definition of the No-Fault Law and, as such, an injured motorcyclist is not entitled to medical and lost wage benefits under the No-Fault Law. For an injured motorcyclist, out of pocket expenses for medical treatment and lost wages can be a significant burden.

On the other side of the coin, motorcyclists can obtain compensation for those out of pocket costs in addition to pain and suffering from a negligent driver. Indeed because of the way that the laws are structured it is actually easier for a motorcyclist to recover damages than it is for an individual injured in a car. This is because an injured motorcyclist, unlike an driver of a car, can commence a lawsuit against a person who contributed to the cause of the accident without satisfying the “serious injury threshold” as it is defined in New York Insurance Law. This difference allows an injured motorcyclist to commence a lawsuit for injuries that are mild, minor or non-permanent.

An injured cyclist may also have recourse to his or her own underinsured or uninsured (UM/SUM) motorist coverage. The additional insurance coverage that may be purchased by a motorcycle owner from his or her own insurance company can provide this additional layer of protection. For example, if the driver who caused the accident carried only the minimum $25,000.00 in liability coverage, and the motorcyclist had a policy with SUM coverage of $100,000.00, the total insurance available to the injured motorcyclist would be $100.000.00. Without the SUM coverage, only $25,000.00 in insurance would be available - an amount that could be used up quite quickly if it is needed to pay medical bills and lost earnings.

When there is a motorcycle accident, the results can be devastating. Victims are often left with significant, permanent injuries. A good personal injury attorney will be able to hold the negligent driver accountable for the accident and assist in uncovering any and all insurance coverage that may be available to provide compensation for injuries and costs. I have regularly and successfully represented victims of motorcycle accidents. Call me with any questions.

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