A Guide to Motorcycle Accident Claims in New Jersey

New Jersey Motorcycle Injury Attorney

Motorcycles provide many riders with a lot of freedom and enjoyment — but they also come with significant risk. The relatively small size of motorcycles means they’re no match for most other vehicles in an accident. And without a protective metal enclosure, riders are much more likely to experience direct impact or get thrown from their motorcycles. This can result in serious injuries, even at low speeds.

In fact, according to New Jersey’s Department of Law & Public Safety (“NJ DLPS”), in New Jersey about 82% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), motorcyclists die about 27 times more frequently in accidents than those in passenger cars.

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you may be facing life-changing injuries, mounting medical bills, and other expenses. You also may not be able to work, perform your normal daily activities, or care for your family. Getting compensation for your losses is an important part of being able to recover and rebuild your life. 

This guide will provide an overview of motorcycle accidents in New Jersey, including your options for pursuing compensation. However, while this information can help you understand what to expect, it’s not easy to successfully navigate the insurance and legal processes on your own. For the best chances of recovering full and fair compensation, you should get the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. 

Motorcycle accidents and personal injury overview

In most kinds of auto accidents in New Jersey, drivers will first turn to their own “no fault” insurance. “No fault” insurance is also called personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. PIP insurance is required for drivers under New Jersey law, and it usually pays for medical expenses and certain other costs, regardless of who was at fault. 

However, New Jersey’s no fault laws do not cover motorcycles. This means that motorcyclists who are injured in an accident can’t use any PIP insurance they may have under an auto insurance policy. Instead, they’ll have to find other sources of compensation. Motorcycle insurance policies sometimes offer a small amount of medical coverage called “med-pay,” but in many cases motorcyclists will have to use their private health insurance to pay initial medical expenses. 

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll generally be responsible for paying medical expenses out of pocket — that is, unless you’re able to get compensation from an at-fault party and/or their insurer. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance (or inadequate insurance), you may also be able to get compensation from your own uninsured/underinsured coverage. 

Unfortunately, pursuing third-party claims can take a long time — sometimes even years. In the meantime, you may have to shoulder the burden of medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related losses. 

For more information about seeking compensation, see Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance and Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party.  

You should also consult an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can identify all possible sources of compensation, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit. 

motorcycle accident wheel

Case Study: $1 million for the driver, $450,000 for the passenger

What makes this case unique: No witnesses to the accident; same attorneys represented both the driver and passenger

What to do if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident

Getting into a motorcycle accident is often frightening and stressful — not to mention painful. Under these conditions, it can be difficult to think clearly. But what you do in the immediate aftermath of your accident can have a big impact on your ability to get compensation. To preserve your chances of getting the amount you deserve, be sure to take the steps below as soon as you can. 

If you or anyone else was injured, get medical help immediately. Ideally, you should get medical attention before removing your helmet or other protective gear, as removing safety gear without proper training can make certain injuries worse. Even if you think you feel fine at first, it’s worth getting checked out, especially if you were thrown from your motorcycle. Shock can mask pain, and many injuries may not become apparent for days or even weeks later. 

By getting medical attention right away, you can make sure serious injuries don’t go untreated. You’ll also be able to get important documentation of your injuries that will serve as evidence if you need to pursue compensation. Be sure to keep records of all medical visits, treatments, tests, and prescriptions related to your accident. 

Even if no one appears injured, you should still call the police. An officer will come to the scene and prepare an accident report. Although you should cooperate with the officer, you should never admit fault. You should also be sure to get a copy of the final police report. You’ll likely need the report to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. If you notice major mistakes in the report, you should contact the police department and ask how to correct it. An attorney may be able to help with this process. 

Getting compensation is a lot harder if you don’t have insurance and contact details for everyone involved. The police report may include this information, but if you can, it’s better to exchange information at the time of the accident. If there are any witnesses, try to get their contact details as well. As always, be sure not to admit fault during any of your interactions, as this could hurt your claim later on. 

If it’s safe to do so, you should take pictures and/or video of the accident scene. This includes your motorcycle, any other vehicles involved, the road condition, traffic lights, and the surrounding area. Certain evidence, especially at the accident scene, may be lost soon after the accident, so it’s best to do this immediately. Having this documentation can help your attorney better understand what happened. If you can’t document the accident scene, at least try to document your own injuries and the condition of your motorcycle as soon as you can. You should also keep a file of all evidence you collect — including medical bills and reports, accident-related expenses, and the police report. 

As time passes, it may become harder to remember details about your accident. So you should write down your account of events as soon as you can after the accident, when your memory is the freshest. Try to be as detailed as possible, since details that seem insignificant to you may actually be important to your case. This narrative may be helpful later when explaining the accident to your lawyer and building your case. 

Getting fair compensation for a motorcycle accident can be difficult. There are special laws that apply to motorcycles, and insurers (even your own) will aggressively defend their financial interests. They may even take advantage of your inexperience negotiating insurance claims to reduce or deny you compensation. There are also strict deadlines for filing insurance claims and lawsuits. To make sure you don’t miss out on compensation, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. (See Finding an Attorney for Your Case.)

To get any compensation from your own insurance policy, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurer. Reporting any accidents is also likely required under your policy. There are strict procedures and deadlines for getting compensation under most policies, so you should start the process as soon as possible. While you do need to cooperate with your own insurer, keep in mind that they’ll be looking for ways to reduce any payout. Saying too much can hurt your claim, so be sure to talk to an attorney before giving any detailed statements, signing any documents, or agreeing to a settlement.

Common mistakes to avoid 

Even one small mistake after an accident can have a big impact on your ability to get compensation. Below are some of the more common mistakes people make after an accident. To avoid these mistakes and others, you should seek the guidance of an attorney. 

Admitting fault

You should never admit fault for the accident to anyone. That includes any other parties involved, the police, insurance companies, witnesses, or anyone else. Even saying you’re sorry can also be interpreted as an admission of guilt, so it’s best to say as little as you can. 

Not admitting fault is important for a number of reasons. First, you may end up liable for the losses of others. Second, you may end up with traffic tickets if the police think you committed any violations. Third, New Jersey follows the modified comparative negligence rule. This means that your damages could be reduced by your percentage of fault, up to 50%. If you’re more than 50% at fault, you may not get any damages at all. Insurance companies also look at this rule when evaluating third-party claims.(See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party — The “modified comparative negligence” rule). 

You should not admit fault even if you think you really were at fault. You are not responsible for determining the cause of an accident, and there may be causes that you aren’t aware of. Figuring out what happened often takes a thorough investigation, so it’s best to leave the analysis to your attorney and experts. Your attorney will be able to evaluate the evidence and make sure fault is properly assigned. 

Giving too much information to the insurance companies

Your motorcycle insurance policy likely requires you to notify your insurer of any accidents and cooperate with their investigation. You should follow the directions as required by your policy, but you should not give any additional details or statements. In fact, it’s best to have your attorney handle all communications with any third parties, including insurers, on your behalf. 

This is because insurance companies are focused on one thing — reducing their liability. They’ll be searching for a reason to reduce or deny your claim, and you may accidentally say something that they can use against you. 

You also shouldn’t sign anything from an insurer until you’ve talked to your attorney. The documents you sign often have big legal consequences. For example, a medical release form may give your insurer access to your entire medical history, and they may use previous injuries or conditions as an excuse to reduce or deny your claim. Settlement offers also permanently bar you from pursuing additional compensation — even if you find out later that the settlement amount is inadequate.

Note that you do not have any obligation to talk to anyone else’s insurance company. If a third party’s insurer contacts you, you should decline to talk to them. Instead, just take down their contact details and give them to your attorney. 

Waiting too long to act

When you’re dealing with injuries, it can be tempting to just focus on your recovery before finding a lawyer. But this is one task that you should not put off. Your attorney will be able to take action on your behalf, including preserving evidence, talking to witnesses, building your case, and communicating with all third parties, including insurance companies.

If you wait too long to contact a lawyer, you may be barred from filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Under New Jersey’s statute of limitations, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

This might seem like plenty of time, but investigations and negotiations can take much longer than many people expect. Certain types of cases may also have much shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re in a motorcycle accident involving a public transportation vehicle, you only have 90 days to file a notice of claim against the municipality. To make sure you have plenty of time to build a case, negotiate, and file a lawsuit, you should engage an attorney promptly after your accident. 

Talking about your accident on social media

It’s common for people to use social media as a way to keep friends and family updated about major life events, such as accidents. But insurance companies and lawyers often look at social media for evidence they can use to reduce or deny claims. Even if your account is private, there are many ways that this information can become public or end up in the possession of insurers. 

As a result, you should be very careful about what you share on social media — or better yet, don’t share anything at all until you’ve resolved your case. This might seem extreme, but it’s easy to make a mistake. Even seemingly harmless photos of you enjoying a hobby or vacation can make it seem like you’re fine and that your injuries aren’t as bad as they really are. So if you have to give updates to friends and family, it’s best to do it privately. 

Agreeing to a settlement too soon

Since motorcycle accidents aren’t covered under New Jersey’s “no fault” insurance laws, medical bills can pile up quickly. Serious injuries also usually mean you aren’t able to work, and you may incur other expenses as you recover. Under these stressful circumstances, it can be tempting to accept a settlement as soon as possible.

However, to get full and fair compensation, patience is key. Insurance companies will often lowball offers, especially early on in negotiations. Their goal is to pay as little as possible, so they’ll resist paying out what you truly deserve for as long as they can. 

If you accept a settlement offer and later find out that your claim was worth much more, there’s not much you can do. Accepting a settlement offer means you give up your right to pursue a claim further. To make sure you get the appropriate amount of compensation, you should never accept a settlement offer until you’ve consulted with an attorney. 

Finding an Attorney for Your Case

Finding an attorney can feel daunting, especially when you’re trying to recover from your injuries. But navigating insurance and legal requirements isn’t easy to do on your own. There are a lot of opportunities for missteps that can harm your ability to get full and fair compensation. Insurers may also take advantage of your inexperience to give you less than you deserve, or even deny your claim completely.  

By having an attorney, you’ll have someone on your side advocating for your best interests and making sure you’re being treated fairly. Your attorney will also manage the entire process of getting compensation so you can focus on your recovery. In particular, your attorney will:

  • help you understand your rights and options;
  • investigate your case and identify all legally responsible parties;
  • establish the potential value of your claim;
  • handle all communications and negotiations with third parties, including the insurance companies;
  • gather evidence and interview witnesses;
  • engage appropriate experts to support your case, such as accident reconstructionists and medical experts; and
  • navigate complicated court procedures and legal requirements.

When searching for an attorney, be sure to choose an attorney that’s familiar with motorcycle accidents — not just auto accidents. There are special legal and insurance issues that apply to motorcycles, and your attorney should know how to handle them. 

You should also engage an attorney as soon as you can after your accident. A proper investigation and building a case can take some time, and there are strict deadlines for filing a claim. If you miss these deadlines, you may lose your right to pursue any compensation. 

When meeting with a potential attorney, you should bring any evidence you have with you. This may include:

  • medical records (bills, diagnoses, MRI/CT/test results, etc.)
  • photos or videos of the accident scene, your motorcycle, the other vehicle, and/or your injuries
  • any contact information you have for the other parties involved, their insurers, and any witnesses
  • the police report
  • your own written account of what happened before, during, and after the accident
  • any other relevant information or documents

All of this will help the lawyer better understand what happened. If your attorney believes he or she can help you and you decide to work together, a more thorough investigation will be conducted on your behalf. 

What to look for in an attorney

Your attorney can have a big impact on the success of your case, so you should choose one carefully. Here are a few things to look for when hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer:

  • Experience. Motorcycle accidents present unique issues. The attorney you choose should have experience with similar cases, motorcycle insurance, and all relevant laws. During your initial consultation, it’s a good idea to ask about the attorney’s specific experience, including how long they’ve been practicing and how many cases they’ve handled. 
  • Results. You’ll likely have plenty of choices when looking for a personal injury attorney. But even among experienced lawyers, some are able to achieve better results than others. This is why it’s also a good idea to ask for a short list of an attorney’s biggest settlements and verdicts. If an attorney can show a strong record of successful verdicts, that will tell you that they’re not afraid of bringing a case to trial. This is important, because sometimes going to trial is necessary to get fair compensation. 
  • Resources. Preparing, negotiating, and litigating a motorcycle accident case is time-consuming and expensive. That’s true even if a case settles, and a settlement is never guaranteed. That’s why the attorney you choose should have the financial resources and support to handle the case all the way through trial, if needed. They should also have connections with high-quality accident reconstructionists and medical experts. When meeting with an attorney, you can get a sense of their resources by asking about their average expenditures on accident cases. You can also ask about the most they’ve ever spent to bring a case to verdict.
  • Attentiveness. Dealing with accident injuries is stressful. Having an attorney who doesn’t pay attention to your case can make it even more stressful. An inattentive attorney may also miss crucial details that could affect the outcome of your case. To avoid these kinds of problems, you’ll want to get a sense of how an attorney will respond to you before you hire them. Ask them during the initial consultation how you can communicate with them, as well as how long they’ll typically take to return your messages. 
  • Fees. Hiring an attorney for a motorcycle accident case is almost always a worthwhile investment. But you also don’t want to be surprised by unexpected fees. For this reason, when choosing a lawyer, don’t be afraid to ask about their fee structures. Keep in mind that it’s standard for personal injury attorneys to take cases on contingency. That means you shouldn’t have to pay anything up front. The attorney will only get paid if they win money for you in a settlement or at trial. Their fee will be a percentage of your award. 

When choosing a lawyer, you should also be wary of any attorney who claims they can get you money fast. While getting compensation quickly sounds great, especially if you’re facing medical bills or you’re unable to work, this may not be in your best interest. 

A lawyer who says they can resolve a case quickly isn’t necessarily a good lawyer. And a case taking several years, like many personal injury cases do, doesn’t mean that the attorney is bad. In fact, the best way to ensure maximum compensation is to thoroughly prepare and negotiate a case. 

Unfortunately, there are many law firms who are more interested in quick payouts than getting maximum compensation. Instead of aggressively advocating on your behalf, they quickly resolve cases for smaller amounts. The smaller amounts are acceptable to these law firms because they can make up the fees by taking on a larger volume of cases. But that only benefits them, and not you, as the client. If you come across a law firm that settles a lot of cases quickly, you should consider it a red flag.

Looking for the best motorcycle accident lawyer in New Jersey

At Rosenblum Law, we understand the devastating effects a motorcycle accident can have on your life. We’ll thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances. If we’re able to take on your case, we’ll guide you through the entire process and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation. We also have relationships with medical and accident reconstruction experts who we can bring on to support your case if needed.

In addition, if we’re not the right law firm for you, we provide guidance for those looking for help selecting the best law firm for their case. We have a large network with dozens of law firms that we have pre-screened to ensure that you will get the best law firm for your specific case.

For a free consultation, call us today at 888-235-9021 or contact us through our website at www.rosenblumlaw.com/contact. We’re passionate about helping all our clients get the compensation they’re owed — and we won’t take a fee unless we win a settlement or verdict for you.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents happen for many of the same reasons other types of accidents happen. But there are also some factors that are unique to motorcycle crashes. Either way, you should never make assumptions about what caused your accident. It often takes a thorough investigation to determine all causes — and this information is critical to getting the right amount of compensation from the right parties. 

Below are a few common causes of motorcycle accidents. To understand what happened in your accident, you should get the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Your attorney, with the help of an accident reconstructionist if needed, will be able to investigate the accident and identify all possible causes.

Driver error

Like any other kind of vehicle accident, driver error is a major cause of motorcycle accidents. Many people believe that motorcyclists are reckless on the road and are usually at fault when there’s an accident — but that’s just not true. Both motorists and motorcyclists commit errors that lead to accidents. A few common examples include:

  • Distraction. Drivers may be distracted for any number of reasons, including using their GPS, toying with the radio, using their cell phones, putting on makeup, or eating. And unfortunately, all it takes is a brief moment of distraction for an accident to happen. According to the NJ DLPS, 24% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve driver inattention. 
  • Failure to check blind spots. Cars and trucks have blind spots that motorcycles can easily fit into. Still, it’s every driver’s responsibility to check blindspots before turning, changing lanes, or backing up. Otherwise, serious accidents can occur. According to the NJ DLPS, two-thirds of accidents involving a vehicle and a motorcycle occur because the driver didn’t see the motorcycle. 
  • Speeding. Speeding is another common cause of accidents. According to the NJ DLPS, most motorcyclists are going slower than 30 mph when they’re injured, but 26% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve unsafe speed. 
  • Driving under the influence. Many people know driving under the influence is illegal and dangerous, but it still happens frequently. According to the NHTSA, 25% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes tested positive for alcohol impairment. 

Many other types of errors can also lead to accidents, such as failure to yield, tailgating, sudden stops, or other traffic violations. Motorcycle accidents can also occur if a driver fails to accurately judge how fast a motorcycle is going or its position in traffic — or fails to see the motorcycle at all.

Lane splitting 

“Lane splitting” refers to a motorcycle riding between two adjacent lanes of slow-moving traffic moving in the same direction, usually in traffic jams. It’s also sometimes called lane-sharing or white-lining. 

This may sound dangerous, but research suggests that it may actually reduce the number of motorcycle accidents on the highway. And unlike some other states, New Jersey doesn’t specifically prohibit lane splitting by law. 

Still, accidents may still occur when drivers fail to look out for motorcyclists who are lane splitting. Drivers often don’t expect a vehicle or motorcycle to pass them in slow or stopped traffic. In this situation, a car may easily hit the motorcycle due to the close proximity of the car to the motorcycle and the reduced space for the car to maneuver in their lane.

Motorcyclists may also cause accidents while lane splitting if they don’t do it safely. And recklessly weaving in and out of traffic is never legal — for passengers vehicles or motorcycles. If you were negligent or reckless in operating your motorcycle, whether while lane splitting or changing lanes, you may be held partially at fault for the accident and your damages may be reduced or denied. (See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party: The “modified comparative negligence” rule.)

Manufacturing or design defects

Manufacturing or design defects may also result in accidents — or make a motorcycle more dangerous in the event of an accident. A manufacturing defect refers to an error made during the manufacturing process. A design defect refers to a defect that’s inherent in the design itself. There are many types of defects, though some examples include faulty brakes, wobbly tires, or leaky fuel tanks. 

If there’s a defect in your motorcycle that caused an accident or contributed to the severity of your injuries, you may have a claim against the motorcycle company or the manufacturer. For example, in McWilliams v. Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A., the plaintiff was hit by a car while on his motorcycle, and his leg ended up pinned between the car’s bumper and his motorcycle. His leg had to be amputated below the knee as a result. The plaintiff brought a claim against Yamaha alleging a defective design because the motorcycle didn’t have a crash bar to protect his legs in an accident. On appeal, the Third Circuit held that the lower court should consider whether a crash bar would eliminate the risk of lower leg injury without detracting from the usefulness of the motorcycle. If so, the plaintiffs could proceed with a defective design claim. 

Weather or road conditions

Poor visibility and reduced traction in weather such as heavy rain, fog, strong wind, and snow can cause all kinds of accidents. But bad weather is even more dangerous for riders on two wheels. In these situations, it might seem like no one is at fault — after all, no one can control the weather. But a driver may still be found at fault if they don’t drive in a way that’s appropriate for the conditions. Examples of negligent driving in poor weather may include:

  • Driving at unsafe speeds for the conditions — even if they’re under the speed limit
  • Following another vehicle too closely 
  • Failing to use headlights when visibility is poor
  • Driving a vehicle that isn’t properly maintained (e.g., with worn tires or broken tail lights)

Other types of road hazards can also cause accidents. Motorcycles are especially vulnerable to road hazards due to their smaller size and less stable nature. If someone else was responsible for creating these hazards, it may be possible to seek compensation from them. Examples of road hazards include:

  • Slick or uneven payment
  • Loose gravel or asphalt
  • Potholes
  • Debris in the road
  • Other unexpected objections 

High performance motorcycles

Sport and supersport motorcycles account for a small percentage of motorcycles out on the road. However, according to the Highway Data Loss Institute, they account for a disproportionate number of accident insurance claims. A study in the Journey of Safety Research also found the death rate of supersport riders is over four times higher than for cruiser/standard motorcycles. Sport riders’ death rate is over twice as high as for cruiser/standard motorcycles. 

It’s not surprising that these bikes are more dangerous — after all, they’re lightweight and built for speed. Riders of these types of motorcycles also tend to be younger and take more risks. Still, that doesn’t mean that a rider of a sport or supersport motorcycle is always at fault in an accident. And even riders who are partially at fault may still be able to receive some compensation. No matter what you think caused an accident, it’s best to at least consult with an attorney to discuss your options. 

Common Types of Collisions & Injuries

Motorcycle accidents can play out in many ways. But regardless of how they happen, they often  have serious consequences for the rider. The lack of safety features on motorcycles mean riders are often thrown off their bikes or hit directly by other vehicles. Even relatively minor accidents can result in severe injuries. 

Below are a few common types of motorcycle collisions and injuries. Understanding exactly how the accident happened and the full extent of your injuries are both crucial to a successful claim. For the best chances of getting full compensation, you should get the help of a lawyer who is familiar with different types of motorcycle accidents and common injuries. 

Common types of motorcycle accidents

Single-motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are less stable than passenger cars, meaning that they’re more prone to skidding, tipping, or sliding. Sometimes, motorcycles also collide with fixed objects such as:

  • Buildings
  • Walls
  • Guardrails or barriers
  • Fences 
  • Trees
  • Telephone poles
  • Parked cars
  • Cones
  • Signs 

According to the New Jersey State Police, over a five-year period approximately 25% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved a collision with a fixed object. But even in single-motorcycle accidents, it’s possible that another party may be responsible.

Someone or something in the roadway may have caused the accident, or someone may have negligently placed the fixed object. If you’ve been in a single-motorcycle accident, an attorney can help you investigate and identify any responsible parties. 

Head-on. Head-on collisions happen when two vehicles moving in opposite directions crash into each other. According to the NHTSA, 76% of the motorcycles involved in two-vehicle crashes were hit in the front. And according to the New Jersey State Police, over a five-year period about 24% of fatal motorcycle collisions in the state involved vehicles traveling in opposite directions. This type of accident is very serious and often fatal to the motorcyclist. 

Head-on collisions with motorcycles often occur at intersections when a vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn or u-turn. See Left-hand turns and intersection accidents below. But they can happen anywhere, especially if a motorist:

  • crosses a lane into oncoming traffic (whether due to distraction, fatigue, or drug/alcohol impairment),
  • passes improperly,
  • drives in the wrong direction, or
  • drives aggressively.

Side-swipe. A side-swipe accident occurs when a motorcycle is hit (or “swiped”) from the side by another vehicle traveling in the same direction. This usually occurs when a motorist fails to check their blind spots and maneuvers their vehicle into the side of a motorcycle, such as when changing lanes. This can have severe consequences for motorcyclists, as they may easily lose control or tip over.

Pile-ups. A pile-up typically occurs on freeways and highways, where traffic is traveling at high speeds. In this type of accident, one collision causes a chain reaction, resulting in multiple vehicles crashing into each other in a “pile-up.” These are dangerous for any type of vehicle, but motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to serious injury and death.

Left-hand turn and intersection accidents. Vehicles making left-hand turns is one of the most dangerous situations for a motorcycle. According to the NHTSA, 43% of fatal two-vehicle accidents involving a motorcycle happened when the other vehicles were turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles, and 35% of motorcycle accidents occurred at intersections. Intersection accidents often occur when a driver tries to make a left-hand turn and either doesn’t see the motorcyclist or fails to yield to the motorcyclist. 

When making a left-hand turn or approaching an intersection, it’s the motorist’s responsibility to check their surroundings. While this type of accident happens between cars, a motorcycle’s small size may make it even less visible or noticeable. Motorists may also have difficulty accurately judging the speed of a motorcycle. In addition, drivers tend to look for cars and trucks, but not motorcycles. Because they’re not “expecting” to see a motorcycle, they may fail to see the motorcycle even if it’s right in front of them due to a psychological phenomenon called “inattentional blindness.” Inattentional blindness is when you fail to see something in plain sight because you’re focused on something else, such as other driving tasks.  

Common motorcycle accident injuries

Motorcycle accidents have a lot more potential for injury compared to car accidents. Unfortunately, helmets, leathers, and other safety gear can only do so much. Even if you feel fine immediately after a motorcycle accident, some injuries, such as organ damage, can take days or even weeks to become apparent. So it’s important to pay close attention to how you feel in the aftermath of an accident. If you feel pain or anything else unusual, you should get medical attention right away.

Some common motorcycle accident injuries include:

  • Road rash, burns, and skin infections 
  • Head and traumatic brain injuries (from mild concussions to more severe brain damage)
  • Facial injuries due to the lack of face protection from helmets
  • Arm and leg injuries, especially when used to brace a fall or when directly hit by the other vehicle
  • Sprains, strains, and torn muscles and ligaments
  • Broken and shattered bones  
  • Neck and back injuries, including whiplash, slipped discs, and fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
  • Lacerations and cuts
  • Loss of hearing, speech, or sight 
  • Organ damage
  • Loss of limbs

Often, a motorcycle rider who gets in an accident will experience multiple injuries. These injuries taken together are what makes the accident so devastating. Many of these injuries require significant medical treatment, including time in the hospital, surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy. Your injuries may also take away your physical ability to live your life as usual — either temporarily, or permanently. For example, you may not be able to work, take care of your family, or even perform simple daily activities. 

All of these expenses losses from your injuries can add up quickly, and it’s not easy to calculate the full financial impact. This is yet another reason to work with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. A good attorney will engage the right medical experts to get a better understanding of your injuries and their immediate and long-term effects. This will help ensure that you seek the right amount of compensation for your losses.

Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance

As discussed in the introduction, New Jersey is one of a handful of states that require all automobile drivers to carry “no fault” insurance. “No fault” insurance is also known as personal injury protection, or PIP. Your PIP coverage generally pays for your medical expenses when you’re injured in an auto accident, regardless of who was at fault. 

Motorcycles, however, are not covered by New Jersey’s no-fault laws. Most auto insurance policies will cover a pedestrian involved in a motorcycle accident, but explicitly say that the operator and any passengers are not covered. 

Some motorcycle policies do offer a small amount of medical benefits (called “med-pay”). But many other policies don’t provide any medical benefits, unless the at-fault party was uninsured or underinsured. This means that if you’re injured on a motorcycle, your health insurance will usually be your first stop for compensation.

If you don’t have med-pay or health insurance, unfortunately, you’ll generally be responsible for any upfront medical costs. And even with med-pay and health insurance, you may still have to deal with other non-medical expenses and lost wages. To recover these losses, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance or file a lawsuit. (See Getting Compensation From an At-Fault Party.) 

Below is a summary of key insurance issues for motorcycle accidents in New Jersey. Your attorney can help you navigate them and make sure you get the compensation that’s rightfully yours. 

Motorcycle insurance requirements

Motorcycles, like other vehicles in New Jersey, must be insured. Failure to carry the required amount of insurance can result in fines, suspension or revocation of your motorcycle license, or even jail time. The minimum liability coverage for motorcycles in New Jersey is:

  • $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for bodily injury, and
  • $5,000 for property damage.

However, this liability insurance only protects you against claims from others when you cause an accident. It does not pay for your own losses. 

If you want protection for your own losses, many insurers provide comprehensive insurance options for property damage. For medical expenses, some motorcycle insurers also offer “med-pay” coverage of up to $25,000. However, med-pay is usually expensive and often duplicative of other health insurance benefits. This means that it’s usually only worth getting if you don’t already have good health coverage. 

Motorcycle policies also must provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, as described below. This coverage is usually equal to your policy’s liability coverage limit.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Although insurance is required for all New Jersey drivers, there are many drivers out on the road who do not have any insurance. There are also many others who only carry the minimum amount of $15,000. In most accidents, and especially motorcycle accidents, that’s way less than you’ll need to cover expenses. 

This is why uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (“UM/UIM coverage”) is so important for motorcyclists. “Uninsured coverage” will compensate you if you’re injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. “Underinsured” coverage will provide compensation if the driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your expenses. It’s usually possible to get up to $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident (or possibly more, depending on the insurance company) in UM/UIM coverage.  

As an example, say another driver seriously injures you in an accident and only has $15,000 in liability insurance. If you have $250,000 in UM/UIM insurance, you’ll have up to $235,000 in additional coverage for your injuries. If the at-fault driver has no insurance at all, you’ll have up to $250,000 available under your policy. 

UM/UIM can make a big difference in your ability to get compensation. Because of the increased risk of greater injuries on a motorcycle, it’s usually best to get the maximum amount of UM/UIM coverage possible. However, you’ll have to seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance first before your UM/UIM kicks in to pay. 

Health insurance

Pursuing a third-party claim or getting a payout under UM/UIM coverage can take time. This is why if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, unless you have med-pay, you’ll usually have to look to your health insurance coverage to pay for medical expenses first. This may be a private plan, a union plan, or if you qualify, Medicare or Medicaid.

However, sometimes health insurance policies exclude motorcycle accidents, so you should check your own policy carefully. Many health insurance policies may have high deductibles and copayments as well. These can be difficult to meet — especially if you’re not able to work due to your injuries. If you have serious injuries, you may also quickly reach your health insurance coverage limits.

Note that if your health insurance does pay for medical expenses up front, the health insurance company may put a lien on any claim you file later against an at-fault party. A “lien” means that they’re claiming a legal right to get reimbursed for the medical expenses they paid if you win money from the at-fault party. However, a lien is not always appropriate. The health insurance company has to show that their lien is valid. 

In Werner v. Latham, for example, the plaintiff was injured in a motorcycle accident. His health insurer paid his medical expenses, and the plaintiff also later settled with the at-fault drivers and their insurance companies. Because of limits on the at-fault driver’s liability insurance, the settlement was in an amount smaller than the plaintiff’s actual losses. The plaintiff’s health insurer tried to get reimbursed out of the settlement, but the New Jersey Superior Court found that this wasn’t appropriate, since the settlement did not fully compensate the claimant for his injuries. 

If you don’t have health insurance and can’t pay out of pocket, sometimes medical providers will still treat you and put a lien on your case as well. Again, you should seek the guidance of an attorney to make sure everyone is following the correct procedures. 

Negotiating with insurance companies

Whenever communicating with insurance companies, you should remember that they’re focused on one thing above all else: protecting their bottom line. That means they don’t have your best interests in mind, and you shouldn’t rely on them to provide guidance, explain your rights, or offer fair compensation. 

Even if the adjuster seems sympathetic, they’ll be looking for information that they can use to reduce their liability or even deny your claim. And they’re often skilled and experienced at what they do. Without the right knowledge and experience, it can be easy for them to outmaneuver you.

To even the playing field, it’s crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side. You shouldn’t give details, sign any releases or other forms, or accept any offers until you’ve consulted your attorney. In fact, it’s best to have your attorney handle all communications on your behalf. Your attorney will manage the entire process, advocate for your best interests, and make sure you’re treated fairly. And if the insurer refuses to provide an appropriate settlement, your lawyer can also file a lawsuit on your behalf. 

Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party

The lack of PIP coverage for motorcycle accidents in New Jersey often means that you’ll need to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, many drivers in New Jersey only carry the minimum liability coverage of $15,000 — and many others drive without any insurance illegally.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is inadequate for your losses, you may be able to pursue compensation from your own UM/UIM motorists coverage or sue the at-fault party directly. Your lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Below is an overview of what you should know when pursuing a claim against a third-party.  

Statute of limitations 

Under New Jersey’s statute of limitations, you typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Although two years seems like plenty of time, you should consult an attorney right away. This is important for a few reasons. 

First, you’ll have to try to get compensation from the insurance companies directly before filing a lawsuit. Negotiating with insurers can take longer than you think. The insurance company may even intentionally draw out the process. 

Second, the best evidence is often available right after an accident. If you wait too long, you may lose valuable evidence. That means your case won’t be as strong as it could’ve been. Waiting also means that your attorney may have to rush to build your case, which can result in oversights that can harm your ability to get compensation. 

In addition, there may be shorter deadlines to meet. For example, if suing a government entity, you’ll have to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of your accident. Insurance claims may also  have other deadlines. 

Once the statute of limitations has lapsed, if you try to file a lawsuit, the court will dismiss your case unless a rare exception applies. It doesn’t matter how strong your case would have been. To make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, you should contact an attorney as soon as you’re able after your accident. If it’s already been two years, an attorney can also help determine if an exception to the statute of limitations applies to your case.

Valuing a motorcycle accident case

How much compensation you should seek in your case depends on your specific injuries and the impact they’ve had on your life. To properly value your case, you’ll also generally have to wait until you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement.” This means you’ll have to recover completely, or as fully as you’re likely to. 

This is because you can only assign a value to your case if you can establish the costs of all past and any expected future treatment. You should also have an idea of the ongoing impact your injuries will have on your life. For example, certain injuries have long-term or lifelong effects, such as pain, disfigurement, or disability — or they may require ongoing treatment to provide temporary relief or prevent further problems. 

Your attorney, with the help of medical experts, will estimate the appropriate amount to seek in your case. If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will decide how much to award based on the evidence and testimony. Your damages can fall into three categories

  • Economic damages. Economic damages include compensation for monetary losses relating to your claim. Such losses may include past and future medical expenses, lost wages because you’re unable to work (or limited in the type of work you can do), and other out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, disability, and impairment. Spouses, children, and parents of injured patients may also be able to recover damages for loss of companionship and other benefits of a family relationship that were lost due to your injuries. 

These types of damages are more subjective and more difficult to calculate. But generally, when deciding how much to award in non-economic damages, the judge or jury will consider the nature of the injury, its severity, and the impact on one’s life. Note that whether you can seek these damages may depend on your auto insurance policy. (See The right to sue for pain and suffering below.) 

  • Punitive damages. Punitive damages are reserved for extreme cases involving egregiously negligent, reckless, or willful conduct — such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These damages are not intended to compensate a victim, but rather to punish the defendant for their conduct. New Jersey limits the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a case to the larger of five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000.

The right to sue for pain and suffering

In New Jersey, many auto insurance policies have what’s called a “Limitation on Lawsuit” (also known as the “verbal threshold”). If your auto insurance has this limitation, you can only sue for pain and suffering if you sustain certain permanent injuries. These qualifying injuries include:

  • loss of a body part
  • significant disfigurement or significant scarring
  • displaced fracture
  • loss of a fetus
  • other permanent injury (i.e., when a body part or organ hasn’t healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment)
  • death

While the “Limitation on Lawsuit” option doesn’t exist for motorcycle policies, if you have an auto insurance policy with this limitation, it applies when you’re injured on a motorcycle, too. 

In Koff v. Carrubba, for example, the plaintiff was injured while on his motorcycle, but maintained both a motorcycle policy for his motorcycle and an auto insurance policy for another vehicle. The New Jersey Superior Court noted that the plaintiff would be subject to the verbal threshold if he met the following two requirements:

  • The plaintiff was the owner of a vehicle insured under an auto insurance policy that has the “Limitation on Lawsuit” option, and
  • The plaintiff is either required to maintain PIP coverage or has the right to receive PIP benefits under New Jersey law.

Because the plaintiff satisfied both tests, the court held he was subject to the verbal threshold. As a result, unless the plaintiff could show that he suffered qualifying injuries, he could not recover damages for pain and suffering.

Elements of personal injury claim

If you do pursue a personal injury lawsuit, to win you have to prove four things, called the “elements” of your claim. The elements of a claim include:

  • Duty. First, you have to prove that the defendant had a duty to you. People generally have the duty to take reasonable care so as not to injure others. And drivers in particular have the duty to look out for others on the road by driving safely and obeying traffic laws. 
  • Breach. Once you’ve established duty, you then have to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. For example, you might show evidence that the driver was driving recklessly. The key question is if the defendant did something they shouldn’t have — or if they failed to do something they should have. If they behaved unreasonably (or “negligently”), they are legally liable for any injury or harm that resulted. 

This may go much further than you think. In Kubert v. Best, for example, a driver hit a motorcyclist because he was texting while driving. The New Jersey Superior court found that the texter who was not present at the scene of the accident could still be liable if that texter knew or had special reason to know that the recipient was driving and was likely to read the text while driving. Texting under those circumstances could be considered a breach of their duty to take reasonable care not to injure others.

As this case shows, it’s not always immediately clear who might be responsible in your case. Your attorney will help you identify any negligent behavior in connection with your accident.

  • Causation. Once you’ve established a breach of duty, you’ll also have to show that the breach caused your injuries. In other words, you have to show that if it weren’t for the defendants’ actions (or failure to act), you wouldn’t have been injured. While this may seem straightforward in an accident, some defendants may argue that even if they behaved unreasonably, your injuries were actually pre-existing or caused by something else.
  • Damages. Finally, you must be able to establish the damages you suffered as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. The compensation you seek may include economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. You may also seek non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the defendant for especially egregious conduct. 

If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will decide whether or not you’ve sufficiently proved that the defendants were responsible for your injuries, and, if so, the amount of damages. If certain legal requirements are not met during the process, the judge may dismiss the case.

Building a motorcycle accident case

To successfully bring a claim, you’ll need the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to thoroughly and accurately conduct the investigation and collect evidence. Evidence in a motorcycle accident case may include:

  • Photos of the accident scene (by the parties involved, police, or witnesses)
  • Medical records
  • Traffic camera, dash cam, or surveillance footage
  • The police report
  • Witness statements
  • Breath, blood, or urine test results for alcohol or drugs
  • Cell phone records (documenting an active call or texting)

Experts also play a big role in building a motorcycle accident case. Sometimes the negligence is so obvious that expert testimony isn’t necessary. But in many other cases, attorneys must work with experts to reconstruct the accident so that they can determine exactly what happened and how. Medical experts will also testify about your injuries and the impact on your life. 

When choosing a lawyer, you should look for someone who has access to highly qualified experts in the accident reconstruction and medical fields. The defendants will have their own experts testifying on their behalf, and having the right experts on your side can have a big impact on the outcome of your case. The more qualified the expert, the more likely the judge or jury will believe them at trial.  

It’s also important to engage a lawyer as quickly as possible. Not only is there a time limit for filing claims, but evidence can disappear quickly and witnesses can forget key details. Photos of injuries, vehicle damage, and road conditions are also best collected immediately after an accident. If you wait too long, you may no longer be able to get this critical evidence. Your attorney will be able to help you collect evidence so your case is as strong as possible. 

The “modified comparative negligence” rule

Sometimes, more than one person contributes to an accident. When this happens, New Jersey applies its “modified comparative negligence” rule.

Under this rule, if you’re injured in an accident in which you’re partially at fault, your damages in a lawsuit will be reduced by the percentage you’re at fault, up to 50%. If you’re 51% or more at fault, you won’t receive any damages at all. Insurance companies also use the modified comparative negligence rule when evaluating your case. 

Assigning fault in an accident isn’t an exact science. Any evidence of unreasonable behavior, including traffic violations, could count against you. 

For example, New Jersey requires motorcyclists to wear helmets. And the NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in one year alone, and 749 more lives could’ve been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. So if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your accident and experienced head injuries, it’s possible that the judge or jury could hold you partially responsible for the severity of your injuries. If they find you 30% at fault and you have $100,000 in damages, then you’ll only get 70% of the $100,000, or $70,000. If you’re found 51% at fault, you’ll get nothing. 

A real-world example of comparative negligence can be found in Stamler v. Miller. In that case, the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle when he noticed another vehicle coming towards him in the opposite direction. The vehicle attempted to make a left-hand turn in front of him, and the plaintiff quickly braked to avoid it. His brakes locked and he was injured when the motorcycle fell to the ground. The trial court found the plaintiff 47% liable based on evidence that he overbraked. 

Although you should be aware of the modified comparative negligence rule, you should not make any assumptions about how fault will be assigned in your case. Instead, consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to analyze all available evidence with the help of experts and make sure fault is properly assigned.

The litigation process

If you and your attorney decide to proceed with a lawsuit, below is an overview of what you can expect. While this may seem intimidating, your attorney will manage the entire process on your behalf and guide you every step of the way. 

  • Filing and serving a Complaint. The Complaint is a document that lays out the facts supporting each element of your claim, including how the accident happened, the defendant’s negligent behavior, your injuries, and the compensation that you’re seeking. Your attorney will prepare and file the Complaint on your behalf, which will officially begin your lawsuit. A copy of the Complaint must also be delivered (or “served”) to the defendant, along with an official notice of the lawsuit called a “Summons.” 
  • Defendant’s Answer. Once the defendant receives the Complaint, they’ll have to file an official response called an “Answer.” In their Answer, they’ll admit or deny the allegations in the Complaint. The Answer will also include any defenses and counterclaims. 
  • Discovery. After the Complaint and Answer are both filed, the discovery process will begin. During discovery, both sides will gather documents, information, and other evidence to build their cases and arguments. They’ll also engage expert witnesses and schedule “depositions” with various parties. Depositions are sworn, out-of-court testimonies in the form of question-and-answer sessions with the attorneys. If requested by the defendant, you may have to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (“IME”) as well. The IME is conducted by a doctor chosen and paid for by the defendant. The purpose is not to provide treatment or care, but to gather information about your injuries and condition that can be used in the lawsuit. 
  • Motions. Throughout the process, attorneys may make various requests to the court called “motions.” Examples include motions to dismiss (throw out the case because of a legal deficiency), compel discovery (order the other side to respond to a discovery request), or change venue (move the case to a court in another location).
  • Trial. If the parties don’t reach a settlement agreement, after discovery the case will proceed to trial. However, a settlement can still be reached any time before the judge or jury makes a decision. During the trial, both attorneys will give opening statements, present all evidence, call witnesses (including experts), and conclude their cases with closing arguments. The judge or jury will then decide who wins the case and the amount of damages, if any (called the “verdict”).
  • Appeal. Once the trial is over, the losing side may decide to “appeal” to a higher court. An appeal is basically asking the higher court to review the actions of the trial court and make sure the law was properly applied. If you win an appeal, it’s possible to reverse the decision of the trial court. 

The amount of time it takes to go through the litigation process varies from case to case. It will depend on how complicated your case is, how busy the court is, and how willing the parties are to cooperate and negotiate. Most motorcycle cases settle at some point during the process, but if a case goes through a full trial, it can take several years. 

Bias against motorcycle riders

When you pursue a claim, you should be aware that, unfortunately, there’s a bias against motorcycle riders in the United States. Regardless of the facts, many people believe that motorcyclists take more risks and are less responsible out on the road. While it’s true that some motorcycle riders take risks and drive irresponsibility, that’s also true for drivers of any other type of vehicle. 

Still, this bias can negatively impact your case. For example, the officer who comes to the accident scene may believe it’s your fault, which may affect the police report. Or the defendant’s lawyer or insurer may only offer a lowball settlement, knowing they’ll likely have an advantage if the case goes to court. Or in a lawsuit, a jury may decide in favor of the defendant, give you lower damages than you deserve, or assign you an unfair amount of the fault. 

To overcome this bias in a motorcycle case, solid evidence is extremely important. Documenting the scene and getting the contact information of witnesses can make a big difference in the outcome. You should also make sure you work with an attorney who understands this bias and will fight against it. 

Settlements and mediation

Throughout the entire legal process, your attorney will negotiate with the other side to try to resolve the case out of court. Resolving a case out of court is called a “settlement.” 

A settlement may be reached through direct negotiations, or the parties may agree to mediation. Mediation is a proceeding where a neutral third-party, called the mediator, helps the plaintiff and defendant reach a settlement. Mediators are often retired judges, attorneys, or other court personnel. 

There are no set rules for a mediation. Instead, it’s usually guided by the mediator’s own style and method. The mediator will listen to both sides and make sure everyone gets a chance to tell their story and ask questions. The idea is that this process will help both sides come to an understanding and fair compromise. Of course, sometimes that isn’t possible. If you can’t reach a compromise through mediation, you can still proceed with your case in court. 

Both sides to a lawsuit usually prefer to settle, because it helps avoid the lengthy, expensive, and uncertain trial process. But defendants still want to pay out as little as possible, and sometimes they may not offer a fair settlement, especially early in the process. It’s best not to rush settlement negotiations. In general, the faster you settle, the lower the settlement amount. Fast settlements are typically for an amount much less than your case is truly worth. 

You should also never accept a settlement offer until you’ve consulted with an attorney. Once you accept a settlement, you give up your rights to pursue the claim any further. You need a skilled negotiator on your side to get the best possible outcome. Your attorney will review all evidence and engage the right experts to confirm a fair value for your case. If you can’t reach a fair settlement, your attorney should be prepared and willing to go to trial. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you likely have a lot of questions about your case. Below are answers to some common questions we receive about motorcycle accidents in New Jersey. But keep in mind that every case is different. If you’d like to discuss the specifics of your case, you should contact a New Jersey motorcycle accident attorney. 

Who should pay for my medical bills?

New Jersey’s no-fault laws do not cover those injured while riding motorcycles. This means that unlike other types of auto accidents, you won’t be able to access your PIP coverage. Instead, you’ll likely look first to any med-pay coverage under your motorcycle policy, then to your private health insurance. 

You may also be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault party. If their insurance isn’t enough to cover your expenses, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may be another source of compensation. 

Keep in mind that settling any kind of insurance claim or lawsuit takes time. In the meantime, you’ll be responsible for shouldering the costs. It’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible so they can help you figure out the best way to get compensation for all your accident-related losses. 

(See Getting Compensation From Your Insurance and Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party.)

What should I tell my insurance company after a motorcycle accident?

Promptly reporting any accident is likely required under your motorcycle insurance policy. If you fail to do so, it may be considered a breach of your policy and your insurance company could raise your rates or even cancel your insurance. 

While you should give the facts required by your policy, you should not offer any extra information or give any detailed statements until you’ve consulted with a lawyer. In fact, it’s best to have your lawyer handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf. 

If anyone else’s insurance company contacts you, you should refuse to speak to them. You do not have any legal obligation to tell them anything, and they’ll be digging for information to use against you. Instead, take down their contact information and tell them that your attorney will reach out to them on your behalf. 

See Getting Compensation From Your Insurance — Negotiating with insurance companies for more information. 

What should I do if I was injured in a hit-and-run accident?

Hit-and-runs are a serious offense. Whenever there’s an injury or property damage, everyone involved must wait for the police to arrive. Hit-and-run drivers are subject to penalties, including fines, jail time, and license suspension. 

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and the other driver immediately disappeared (or gave false information and left), you should get the help of an attorney as soon as possible. Your health insurance may cover initial medical expenses, but your attorney will explore all other possible sources of compensation. They may even be able to help track down the driver. 

If the driver is located, you may be able to pursue compensation from them. If you can’t find the driver (or if the driver doesn’t have insurance), your attorney can also help you get maximum compensation from your uninsured motorists coverage.

See Getting Compensation From Your Insurance and Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party for more information about getting compensation. 

How do I know if I can file a personal injury lawsuit?

It’s usually difficult to know if you can file a lawsuit without consulting an attorney. An attorney will first have to establish that the deadline for a lawsuit under the statute of limitations hasn’t passed. He or she will then review any available evidence to determine whether the facts support a claim. 

Even if a lawyer can’t help you pursue compensation from another party, it’s still worthwhile to get the help of a lawyer to get maximum compensation from your own insurance. 

See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party for more information about pursuing a lawsuit. 

Can I file a claim even if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?

The fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet or other protective gear doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t file a lawsuit. But New Jersey does follow the modified comparative negligence rule. This means that if you contributed to your injuries through your own negligence, your damages will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault, up to 50%. If you were 51% or more at fault, then you won’t be able to recover damages at all. 

So if you weren’t wearing a helmet as required by New Jersey law, it’s possible that a judge or jury could find that you contributed to the severity of your injuries. But figuring this out is not easy to do on your own, and you shouldn’t make assumptions about your ability to file a lawsuit. Instead, consult an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to determine the best path forward. 

How much is my case worth?

The value of your case will depend on many factors. There’s no “standard” amount of compensation for any type of accident or injury. 

Your attorney will work with investigators and experts to determine how much to seek based on the circumstances of the accident, your injuries and their impact on your life, your expenses, and the conduct of the defendants. Possible damages may include:

-economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses; 
-non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, impairment, or disability; and
-punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious. 

(See Getting Compensation From an At-Fault Party — Valuing a motorcycle accident case.)

How much will it cost me to bring a personal injury lawsuit?

Personal injury attorneys typically offer an initial consultation free of charge. It’s also standard for personal injury attorneys to take cases on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t have to pay them up front. Instead, their attorneys’ fees will come out of any money they win for you in a verdict or settlement.

Personal injury attorneys usually advance litigation expenses as well, such as fees for depositions, copying records, and engaging experts. These expenses will also be reimbursed from any verdict or settlement. 

How much time do I have to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit?

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations generally only gives you two years from the date of accident to file a lawsuit. This deadline may only be extended in very limited circumstances. Note that this is the deadline for starting a lawsuit. It maybe resolved much later.

Some types of lawsuits also have shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re suing a government entity, you’ll generally have to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident.

If you miss the deadline for filing a claim, your lawsuit will be barred and you won’t be able to recover compensation from the defendant. When you consult with an attorney, they’ll be able to confirm whether the statute of limitations has lapsed, and if not, how much time you have left to file a lawsuit.

Will I have to go to court?

It’s possible. Most personal injury cases settle without going to trial, but there’s no way to predict whether or not your case will settle. 

If the defendant and their insurance company won’t agree to a fair settlement, your case may go to trial and you’ll have to appear in court. Throughout the litigation process, you’ll also have to attend other proceedings, such as negotiations, depositions, and medical examinations. 

If you do have to go to court and make other appearances, your attorney will guide you through the entire process. 

How long will a lawsuit take?

Every accident is different, so unfortunately there’s no set time period for resolving a claim. If a case is particularly strong, it may settle in a matter of months. Other cases can take years, especially if they go all the way through trial.  

The first step is consulting with an attorney. Your attorney will review all available evidence and decide whether they can take on your case. If you both decide to proceed, your attorney will then investigate further and start to prepare your case. They’ll also begin negotiations with the defendant and their insurer. 

If the defendant won’t agree to a fair settlement, your attorney may proceed with filing a lawsuit. The attorneys will continue to negotiate, and there will be a period of discovery and motions. If the parties still don’t reach a settlement during this time, the case will ultimately go to trial. 

The above process can take a lot of time. How long your case takes will depend on the complexity of the case, the strength of the evidence, and how busy the court is. The cooperation of the defendant, their insurer, and other parties involved in the case will also affect the timeline. 

Will my case or settlement become publicized in the media?

Lawsuit records will generally become part of the public record. That includes your court filings and the rulings in the case. While not every case will be picked up by the media, it is possible. 

If you settle out of court, you may be able to keep many sensitive details and the settlement amount out of the public record. Your attorneys can also draft the settlement agreement in a way that obligates the parties to keep the details confidential. 

What should I do if a loved one died in a motorcycle accident?

If your loved one died in a motorcycle accident, you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney right away to evaluate your case. You may be able to bring a wrongful death action and pursue damages for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and other losses. While money can’t truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, it can provide a sense of justice and help provide financial stability for those left behind. 

The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better. Preparing a wrongful death lawsuit requires a great deal of investigation and important evidence may be lost over time. There are also legal deadlines for filing a wrongful death action. 

What if I have other questions about motorcycle accident claims?

If you have other questions about a potential motorcycle accident case, you should contact a lawyer right away. As noted above, there time limits for filing a claim. If you wait too long, it may be too late to pursue compensation. 

At Rosenblum Law, we understand the devastating effects a motorcycle accident can have on your life. We’ll thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances. If we’re able to take on your case, we’ll guide you through the insurance and legal processes, engage the right experts, and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation.

For a free consultation, call us today at 888-235-9021 or contact us through our website at www.rosenblumlaw.com/contact. We’re passionate about helping all our clients get the compensation they’re owed — and we won’t take a fee unless we win a settlement or verdict for you.

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