NEW YORK PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
A Guide to Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits in New York
People choose to ride motorcycles for many reasons. For some, it’s about the fun and freedom of riding on two wheels in the open air. For others, it’s about the community, the cost-effectiveness, or even just the convenience.
Unfortunately, despite the many good reasons to ride motorcycles, they also come with a much higher risk than other types of transportation. In fact, according to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (“ITSMR”), each year there are nearly 5,000 motorcycle accidents in New York state alone, many of which result in serious injuries or even fatalities. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), nationwide motorcyclists die about 27 times more frequently in accidents than those in passenger cars.
The reasons for this are clear: riders and passengers on motorcycles are just more exposed to dangers on the road than those in other types of vehicles. Without the protection of a metal frame, airbags, seatbelts, and other safety features, riders are much more likely to be ejected from their motorcycles or sustain direct impact. And due to the relatively small size and inherent instability of motorcycles, even a minor “fender bender” with a smaller passenger car can result in severe injuries that can change the course of the rider’s life.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, the pain and discomfort may be preventing you from working or living your life as normal. Medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses may also be accumulating quickly. For the best chances of rebuilding your life, it’s critical that you get the right amount of compensation for your losses.
This guide will provide an overview of motorcycle accidents in New York, including your options for pursuing compensation. However, for the best outcome, it’s important to consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Your attorney will be able to evaluate your specific situation and help you determine the best course of action to get maximum compensation.
Table of Contents
- Finding an Attorney for Your Case
- Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
- Common Types of Collisions & Injuries
- Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance
- Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party
- Frequently Asked Questions
Motorcycle accidents and personal injury overview
New York has a “no-fault” auto insurance system, which means that vehicle owners in the state generally must carry “no-fault” insurance. No-fault insurance is also called personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. In most types of accidents, people will first turn to their own no-fault insurance for compensation for medical bills and certain other expenses — regardless of who caused the accident. This system is designed to help victims in auto accidents get compensation for their injuries much more quickly. But in exchange, they are not permitted to file lawsuits for non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering) unless they’ve sustained a “serious injury” as defined by New York’s Insurance law.
However, motorcycles are specifically excluded from New York’s no-fault insurance laws. This means that if you’re injured on a motorcycle, you do not have access to the basic compensation no-fault insurance usually provides. Instead, you’ll have to seek compensation from other sources. Some motorcycle insurance policies offer a small amount of medical coverage called “med pay.” Otherwise, your first stop for medical bills will usually be your private health insurance, or Medicaid or Medicare if you qualify.
If you don’t have any health insurance, unfortunately you’ll be responsible for paying medical bills and other expenses out of pocket — unless you can get compensation from an at-fault third party and/or their insurance. Because motorcyclists aren’t covered by the no-fault insurance laws, you are not limited in the kinds of injuries you can sue for. Any type of injury, no matter how serious, may be the basis of a lawsuit.
However, 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. 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.
To properly navigate the insurance and legal processes, it’s best to consult an experienced New York motorcycle accident attorney. Your attorney can help you identify all possible sources of compensation, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
For more information about seeking compensation, see Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance and Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party.
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
The immediate aftermath of an accident is often chaotic, and it’s not easy to think clearly, especially if you’ve been injured. But what you do just after an accident can have a lasting impact on your ability to get compensation later on. To preserve your ability to get full and fair compensation, below are a few steps you should take as soon as possible.
- Seek medical help. As with any type of accident, if anyone was injured you should call 911 immediately. It’s best not to remove your helmet or other protective gear without getting checked out by a medical professional first, as doing so can make some injuries worse. Keep in mind that even if you feel fine, adrenaline can decrease your ability to feel pain even when you’re truly injured. Internal injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or organ damage also may not be obvious right away. So no matter how minor your injuries may seem, it’s worth getting a medical examination. Documenting your condition in a medical report may also be helpful later on if you need to file a lawsuit. Be sure to keep records of all medical visits, treatments, tests, and prescriptions related to your accident.
- Call the police. Even if no one appears injured, you should still call the police. An officer will come to the scene and gather information for an accident report. If the officer interviews you about what happened, do not admit fault or even apologize. You should cooperate with the police and provide your side of the story, but only state the known facts. When the final police report is available, make sure you get a copy. If there are any mistakes, you should try to get the report corrected. An attorney may be able to help with this process.
- Exchange information. Even in a minor accident, you should exchange contact and insurance information with any other parties involved. You should also try to get contact information for any witnesses. This will help later on as you work through insurance and legal procedures. It may be a lot more difficult to get compensation later on if you don’t have the proper details for everyone involved. Again, be sure not to admit fault or apologize when speaking to others, as this could hurt your claim. It’s best to say as little as possible.
- Collect evidence. If it’s safe to do so, try to take photos and/or video at the scene of the accident. This can help your attorney and investigators figure out exactly what happened and will be an important part of your case. You should take photos or video of your motorcycle and any other vehicles (including license plates), the surrounding area, traffic lights, road conditions, injuries, and anything else you think may be helpful. Ideally, you should do this before the vehicles are moved. If you can’t take photos yourself, someone may be able to take them for you. Keep these photos in a file of all evidence you collect — including medical bills and reports, accident-related expenses, and the police report.
- Write down your account of events. The more time passes, the harder it may be to remember important details about the accident. So as soon as you can, write down your own account of what happened before, during, and after the accident. Try to include as many details as possible. Some details may seem unimportant to you, but may actually be very important to your case. This account may be helpful later on when you need to explain what happened to a lawyer and start to build your case.
- Contact a lawyer. Dealing with insurance claims while trying to manage your injuries can be very stressful. And unfortunately, you cannot rely on insurance companies to look out for your best interests. In an attempt to protect their bottom lines, insurers often take advantage of accident victims’ inexperience and try to get them to settle for much less than they deserve. There are also strict deadlines for insurance claims and lawsuits. If you miss these deadlines, you may not be able to get compensation at all. To make sure you get the appropriate amount of compensation, it’s important to get an experienced motorcycle lawyer on your side as soon as possible. (See Finding an Attorney for Your Case.)
- Report the accident to your motorcycle insurance company. Your insurance policy likely requires you to report the accident to your motorcycle insurance company. If you’re seeking compensation, there are also strict deadlines and other procedures you have to follow. When speaking with your insurer, remember that their goal is to pay out as little as possible and that they’ll aggressively defend their own financial interests. So never admit fault or give extra information that could harm your case. It’s easy to make mistakes when talking to insurers, so ideally you should have an attorney communicate with them on your behalf. You should also never agree to a settlement or sign any statements or documents before speaking to an attorney.
Common mistakes to avoid
In addition to the steps above that you should take after an accident, there are also things you should not do. Below are a few common mistakes people make after accidents. If you’ve already made one of these mistakes, be sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer may be able to help you control any negative consequences.
It’s natural when something bad happens to feel the need to apologize. But you should never apologize or admit fault to anyone after an accident. That includes the other parties, the police, insurance companies, witnesses, or anyone else. It’s best to say as little as possible.
Admitting fault can seriously damage your case. You may end up responsible for the losses of others and/or have to deal with traffic tickets. New York also follows a comparative fault rule when determining how much you can receive in damages. Under this rule, your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault. Insurance companies also look at this rule when evaluating claims. So if there’s any evidence of your fault, your compensation may be reduced. (See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party — The “comparative fault” rule).
Keep in mind that even if you truly think an accident was your fault, that may not be the case. There may be factors that contributed to the accident that you aren’t aware of. It often takes a thorough investigation by professionals to truly understand what happened and how. So you should leave the fault analysis to your attorney. Your attorney will evaluate the evidence and get the help of experts, if needed, to make sure that fault is properly assigned.
Giving too much information to the insurance companies
Your motorcycle insurance policy likely requires you to notify your insurer if you’re involved in an accident. While you should follow your policy, you should not give any detailed statements or sign anything until you’ve consulted with a lawyer.
This is important because insurers often attempt to get accident victims to settle for far less than they deserve. When speaking to you, they’ll try to get information that could help them reduce or deny your claim. They may even try to get you to admit fault for the accident. They may also ask you to sign a release form that gives them access to your entire medical history and use previous injuries or conditions as an excuse to reduce or deny your claim. To avoid these traps, it’s best to have a lawyer communicate with your insurer on your behalf.
Although you will have to cooperate with your insurer, you do not have to talk to anyone else’s insurance company. If another party’s insurer contacts you, you should not talk to them. Instead, just take their contact details and have your attorney communicate with them instead.
Waiting too long to act
After an accident, it may be tempting to wait until you feel better to contact a lawyer. But getting an attorney on your side immediately is key to building a strong, successful case. Your attorney can move quickly to preserve evidence, interview witnesses, and take over all communications related to your case, including with insurance companies.
There are also strict deadlines you need to follow to get compensation. If you procrastinate for too long, it may be too late to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. New York’s statute of limitations only provides three years to file a lawsuit. While this may seem like plenty of time, investigations and negotiations can take longer than you may think. Plus, certain types of accidents have much shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re in an accident with a city-owned vehicle, you only have 90 days to file a notice of claim against the city. To make sure you have adequate time to investigate and build a case, you should contact an attorney promptly.
Talking about your accident on social media
Many people use social media as a way to keep friends and family in the loop about their lives. But when it comes to accidents, it’s best to keep it off social media. This is because insurance companies and investigators often look at social media for evidence they can use against accident victims to reduce or deny claims. Even if your account is private, if it’s on the internet, there are many ways that information could become public or end up in the hands of insurers.
To make sure you don’t accidentally give evidence to the other parties, it’s best not to share anything at all on social media until your case is resolved. This might seem extreme, but even seemingly innocent photos of you on vacation or enjoying a hobby can be twisted to make it seem like your injuries aren’t as bad as they really are. If you need to give updates to friends and family, be sure to do it privately.
Agreeing to a settlement too soon
Since motorcycle accidents aren’t covered by New York’s no-fault insurance laws, medical bills and other expenses can pile up quickly. The financial pressure, especially if you’re unable to work, may make it tempting to settle as soon as possible.
But to get the amount you actually deserve, patience is key. Insurance companies rarely offer the amount your case is actually worth, especially early in the process. Since their goal is to pay as little as possible, they’ll often fight against a fair payout for as long as they can without going to court.
Unfortunately, if you accept a settlement amount that ends up being too little for your losses, there’s not much you can do. Accepting a settlement means you give up the right to pursue further compensation. This is yet another reason why it’s important to have an attorney. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the tactics of insurance companies and be able to defend your interests and make sure you get the right amount of compensation.
Finding an Attorney for Your Case
Finding the right attorney should be a top priority after an accident. While this may seem daunting, there are strict deadlines for filing a claim. If you miss these deadlines, you may lose your right to pursue any compensation.
Navigating insurance and legal requirements also isn’t easy to do on your own. Even minor mistakes can negatively impact your ability to get full and fair compensation — and insurers often take advantage of victims’ inexperience with claims to give them less than they deserve, or even deny claims 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 the special legal and insurance issues that apply to motorcycles.
What to bring to a legal consultation
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 the 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 York?
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, 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
What caused your accident is an important part of getting the right amount of compensation. While sometimes the cause is obvious, this is not always the case. You should never assume you know what caused an accident. There may be factors that you weren’t aware of, and there may even be more than one cause. It usually takes a thorough investigation to determine the cause or causes.
Below are a few common causes of motorcycle accidents. While many of these are the same causes for other types of accidents, some are unique to motorcycles. To determine what happened in your accident, you should gather as much evidence as possible and consult an attorney immediately. 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 is a common cause of all kinds of accidents, including those involving motorcycles. According to ITSMR, in New York approximately 80% of motorcycle accidents each year involve some kind of human factor.
Many people believe motorcyclists are usually to blame in an accident — and sometimes that’s true. For example, some motorcyclists may have improper training, engage in risky behavior, or use helmets with poor peripheral vision or tinting that can reduce visibility.
But other drivers are also often at fault in accidents involving motorcycles. Motorcycles are generally more difficult to see because of their size, which means other drivers may not notice them. As a result, those drivers may fail to yield, cut them off, or otherwise maneuver their vehicles in a way that causes an accident. Motorcycle accidents can also occur if a driver fails to accurately judge how fast a motorcycle is going or its position in traffic. Below are a few other common driver errors that contribute to motorcycle accidents:
- Distraction. Distraction is a major cause of all types of accidents. That distraction can come in many forms — such as using a cell phone, interacting with passengers, using the GPS or radio, putting on makeup, or eating. And unfortunately, it only takes a moment of distraction to cause an accident. According to ITSMR, in New York an average of almost 800 motorcycle accidents per year can be attributed to driver inattention or distraction.
- Failure to check blind spots. Carefully checking blind spots before turning, changing lanes, or backing up is an important part of driving safely. If a driver fails to do so, accidents can easily occur. Motorcycles are especially vulnerable when this happens, since they can easily fit into the blind spots of cars and trucks.
- Speeding. Speeding is another common cause of accidents. According to ITSMR, on average nearly 800 motorcycle accidents per year in New York can be attributed to unsafe speeds. But even collisions at lower speeds can have serious consequences for motorcyclists.
- Driving under the influence. It’s common knowledge that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and extremely dangerous. Still, many people choose to drive when intoxicated, leading to avoidable accidents. According to the NHTSA, nationwide 25% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes tested positive for alcohol impairment. In New York, between 125 and 150 motorcycle accidents are attributed to alcohol each year.
Lane splitting and weaving
Since motorcycles are small compared to other vehicles, they can easily pass between lanes of traffic. Riding in between two lanes of traffic is called “lane splitting” (or “filtering,” “white lining,” or “stripe riding”). Motorcyclists often lane split when there’s heavy, slow-moving traffic.
Some studies have shown that lane splitting may actually be safer due to the decreased risk of rear-ending. However, critics of lane splitting say that it increases the risk of accidents since drivers don’t expect motorcycles to be between lanes and may side-swipe or turn into them. Either way, for now you should never lane split in New York, as it’s illegal.
Recklessly weaving between cars is also illegal and dangerous — for cars and motorcycles. If you were negligent or reckless in operating your motorcycle, whether while lane splitting or changing lanes, your compensation may be reduced or denied. (See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party: The “comparative fault” rule.)
Manufacturing or design defects
Manufacturing or design defects in a motorcycle can also cause accidents, or make them more dangerous in the event of an accident. A design defect is when there’s something inherent in the design itself that makes the motorcycle more dangerous than it needs to be. A manufacturing defect is when the manufacturer made an error in manufacturing a part of the motorcycle. According to ITSMR, in New York about 5% of motorcycle accidents each year involve some motorcycle defect, such as faulty brakes, steering failure, or inadequate tires. If there’s a manufacturing or design 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 Bolm v. Triumph Corp., a motorcyclist collided with a vehicle that negligently turned across his lane of traffic. He was projected forward, and in the process he hit a metal luggage rack fixed to the motorcycle’s gas tank in front of the saddle. He suffered severe injuries to his pelvic area as a result. The jury found that the motorcycle was defectively designed, as the manufacturer should have known the placement of the rack would be unreasonably dangerous in the event of an accident.
Weather or road conditions
According to ITSMR, in New York over 14% of motorcycle accidents each year involve environmental factors such as bad weather. All types of vehicles must use extra caution when driving in weather such as heavy rain, fog, strong wind, sleet, and snow. These types of conditions can cause poor visibility and reduced traction, which are even more dangerous for riders on two wheels.
It might seem like no one is at fault in these conditions — after all, no one can control the weather. But if a driver doesn’t drive in a way that’s appropriate for the conditions, and an accident results, they may still be responsible. Examples of negligent driving in poor weather may include:
- Driving at unsafe speeds for the conditions — even if 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)
Poor road conditions are another risk for motorcycles. Since a motorcycle is smaller and only has two wheels, it’s inherently less stable than other vehicles. A passenger vehicle may not even notice these road conditions, but even minor changes in the road can have serious consequences for a motorcyclist. Examples include:
- Slick or uneven pavement
- Improper signage
- Loose gravel or sand
- Other road debris or unexpected objects
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident because of road conditions or something in the road, you may be able to pursue compensation from the party responsible for creating those hazards. In the case of road conditions, a government entity is often responsible for the road’s maintenance.
In Lomax v. State, for example, a motorcyclist slid out after hitting loose gravel on the roadway. The court found that the State of New York had allowed the gravel to accumulate and failed to warn motorists with appropriate signs or lighting. As a result, the State of New York was responsible for the motorcyclist’s damages.
Note that claims against government entities have special requirements in New York. You only have 90 days from your accident to file a notice of claim, so it’s important to contact an attorney immediately after the accident.
High performance motorcycles
High performance motorcycles, such as sport and supersport motorcycles, are lightweight and built for speed. Although these types of motorcycles make up just a small percentage of bikes out on the road, 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, while sport riders’ death rate is over twice as high as for cruiser/standard motorcycles.
This increased risk for death is likely due to the light, fast nature of these motorcycles, and the fact that they attract younger riders who tend to take more risks. Even so, 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. You should not make any assumptions about fault in your accident. Even if you think you were at fault or partly at fault, you should still consult with an attorney to discuss your options.
Common Types of Collisions & Injuries
How a motorcycle accident plays out can give clues as to why the accident happened and who might be responsible. Understanding the full extent of any injuries is also important, so that you can pursue the appropriate amount of compensation. Below are a few common types of collisions and injuries. For the best chances of a successful claim, 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. This type of accident is common. In fact, according to ITSMR, in New York approximately 40% of motorcycle accidents resulting in fatalities or personal injury each year involve a single motorcycle. Since motorcycles only have two wheels, they’re less stable than other types of vehicles. This means that they’re more likely to skid, tip, or slide, especially when the road is slick, uneven, full of potholes, or covered in sand, gravel, or other debris.
Sometimes, motorcyclists also collide with fixed objects such as:
- Guardrails or barriers
- Telephone poles
- Parked cars
But even in a single-motorcycle accident, it’s possible that another party may be liable. This may be the case if someone was negligently in the roadway, or if someone was responsible for poor road conditions or a negligently placed object. If you’ve been in a single-motorcycle accident, an attorney can help you investigate and identify all responsible parties.
Head-on. A head-on collision occurs 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. This type of accident is usually very serious due to the force of two vehicles moving towards each other.
Head-on accidents are particularly common for motorcycles 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 may happen when a motorist fails to check blind spots and maneuvers the vehicle into the side of a motorcycle. This can have severe consequences for motorcyclists, as they may easily lose control or tip over, even at lower speeds.
Pile-ups. A pile-up typically occurs where traffic is traveling at high speeds, such as on highways or freeways. It refers to one collision causing a chain reaction, resulting in multiple vehicles crashing into each other in a “pile-up.” Pile-ups are dangerous for any type of vehicle, but motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to serious injury and death.
Left-hand turn and intersection accidents. Motorcycles are much smaller than other types of vehicles, which means that other drivers may not notice them or may misjudge their speed. 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. This is due to a psychological phenomenon called “inattentional blindness,” which is when you fail to see something in plain sight because you’re focused on something else, such as other driving tasks.
These factors make left-hand turns one of the most dangerous situations for a motorcycle, as the driver may fail to yield to the motorcyclist when they should. 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.
However, keep in mind that not all left-hand turn accidents are the fault of the vehicle turning left. In Rice v. Massalone, for example, a car turned left at an intersection and a motorcycle hit the right-side door, killing the rider. The jury found that the driver of the turning car was not at fault. On appeal, the court declined to set aside the jury verdict because there was evidence the motorcyclist was riding at an excessive speed and lane changing. As a result, it was reasonable for the jury to find that when the driver entered the intersection, the motorcycle was not in the intersection or so close as to be a hazard.
Common motorcycle accident injuries
The nature of motorcycles means that riders are at greater risk for injury than those in other types of vehicles. Unfortunately, helmets, leathers, and other safety gear can only do so much. While some injuries are obvious, others such as traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage may take days or even weeks to show symptoms. Even if you feel fine immediately after an accident, it’s a good idea to get a medical checkup to rule out these types of injuries. You should also pay close attention to how you feel in the days and weeks after an accident and get medical attention immediately if you feel pain or anything else unusual.
Common injuries that motorcyclists experience in accident include:
- Road rash (skin abrasion from contact with the road), burns, and skin infections
- Facial injuries due to the lack of face protection from helmets
- Broken and shattered bones
- Neck and back injuries, including whiplash, slipped discs, and fractures
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Sprains, strains, and torn muscles and ligaments
- Head and traumatic brain injuries (from mild concussions to more severe brain damage)
- Lacerations and cuts
- Loss of hearing, speech, or sight
- Organ damage
- Loss of limbs
- Mental health issues
Often, a motorcyclist will sustain multiple injuries, many of which require long hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, or other long-term treatment. Certain injuries may also mean you’re unable to live your life as you normally do, either temporarily or permanently. For example, you may not be able to work, take care of your family, or even carry out simple daily tasks.
Since some accident-related expenses can continue well into the future, and some losses are non-economic, it’s often not easy to accurately calculate the right amount of compensation. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced motorcycle attorney who’s familiar with motorcycle accidents. Your attorney will be able to engage the right medical experts to get a full understanding of the impact of your injuries, then determine the appropriate amount of compensation to pursue.
Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance
As noted in earlier in the introduction, New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that under New York’s no-fault insurance laws, auto accident victims are generally entitled to get medical and certain other benefits under their own no-fault insurance policies, regardless of who was at fault. In exchange for these benefits, motorists generally can’t sue for pain and suffering unless they can show a “serious injury” as defined under New York’s Insurance Law.
However, motorcycles are explicitly excluded from New York’s no-fault insurance system. This means that if you’re injured while on a motorcycle, you are not entitled to the medical and other benefits available under no-fault insurance. And while some motorcycle policies do offer a small amount of medical benefits (called “med-pay”), 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 seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance or file a lawsuit. Since motorcycles are excluded from New York’s no-fault insurance laws, you will not be subject to the “serious injury” threshold for filing a lawsuit. (See Getting Compensation From an At-Fault Party.)
Below is a summary of key insurance issues for motorcycle accidents in New York. Your attorney will be able to help you determine all your sources of compensation and communicate with any insurance companies on your behalf.
Motorcycle insurance requirements
Under New York law, all motorcyclists are required to carry liability insurance. However, your liability insurance only protects you against claims from others when you cause an accident. It does not cover any losses you may experience in an accident. Failure to carry the required amount of insurance can result in fines or suspension or revocation of your motorcycle license. The minimum required amounts are:
- $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident in the case of death
- $10,000 in property damage
If you want protection for your own losses, many insurers offer optional collision insurance to cover your own motorcycle’s damage in an accident. You can also get comprehensive insurance options for property damage resulting from other events like fire, theft, or vandalism.
For medical expenses, some motorcycle insurers offer “med-pay.” 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.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Although insurance is required for all New York drivers, there are many drivers who do not have any insurance. There are also many others who only carry the minimum amount of $25,000. In most accidents, and especially motorcycle accidents, that’s way less than you’ll need if you suffer any serious injuries.
This is why uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (“UM/UIM coverage”) is so important for motorcyclists. You can usually get up to $250,000 UM/UIM coverage. “Uninsured coverage” provides compensation if you’re injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, and “underinsured” coverage provides compensation if the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your expenses.
As an example, say another driver seriously injures you in an accident and only has the minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance. If you have $250,000 in UM/UIM insurance, you’ll have up to $225,000 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 the right amount of compensation for your losses. 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 you can access benefits under your UM/UIM coverage.
Getting compensation through a third-party claim or through UM/UIM cover can take time. This means that unless you have med-pay, your health insurance will typically be your first source for compensation. This may be a private plan, a union plan, or if you qualify, Medicare or Medicaid.
Some health insurance policies exclude injuries from motorcycle accidents, so you should check your policy carefully. Many health insurance policies have high deductibles and copayments as well, which can be difficult to meet — especially if you’re not able to work due to injuries. If you have serious injuries, you may also quickly go over your policy’s coverage limits.
In addition, you should be aware that if your health insurance does pay for upfront medical costs, your insurer may put a “lien” on any claims 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. Your attorney will be able to communicate with your insurers about any liens and determine whether they’re appropriate.
If you don’t have any health insurance and can’t pay out of pocket, medical providers may 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
Although you may think of your insurance policy as a form of protection, insurers are focused on protecting their own financial interests above anything else. This means that you can’t rely on them to provide you with guidance, explain your rights, or offer compensation that’s appropriate for your losses.
Even if the representatives you speak with seem sympathetic, part of their job is to try to uncover any information that they can use to reduce or deny your claim. They’re often skilled and experienced at doing this, which means that if you don’t have the right knowledge or experience dealing with insurance companies, you can easily lose out on valuable compensation.
By hiring an experienced attorney, you can even the playing field. You’ll have someone on your side who understands how insurance claims work and who can skillfully handle negotiations. Until you’ve consulted with an attorney, you should not give any detailed statements, sign any releases or forms, or accept any settlement offers. In fact, it’s best to have an attorney to handle all communications with the insurance companies on your behalf. If the insurer refuses to provide a fair settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit as well.
Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party
The lack of no-fault insurance coverage for motorcyclists in New York means that they often have to seek compensation from an at-fault party and/or their insurer. While drivers of other types of vehicles can’t sue for pain and suffering unless they suffer certain qualifying serious injuries, this does not apply to those injured on motorcycles. When you’re injured on a motorcyclist, it’s possible to sue for all kinds of losses, including for relatively minor injuries that wouldn’t usually qualify under the “serious injury” threshold.
Note that the minimum insurance for drivers in New York is $25,000. If this 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 York’s statute of limitations, you generally have three years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from death. Although this seems like plenty of time, negotiating with insurance companies and building a strong case takes time. Insurers may even intentionally draw out the process.
It’s also important to act quickly so that you and your attorney can preserve evidence. The best evidence is often available immediately after an accident. If you wait too long, important evidence may be lost, damaging your case. Your attorney also may not have enough time to thoroughly investigate and build the strongest case possible, which can harm your ability to get compensation as well.
In addition, there may be shorter deadlines to meet. For example, if you’re 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 shorter deadlines.
Once the statute of limitations has lapsed, you will likely no longer be able to pursue compensation. If you try to file a lawsuit, the court will dismiss your case unless a rare exception applies. To make sure you meet all deadlines, you should contact an attorney promptly after your accident. Even if you think you’ve already missed a deadline, it’s worth consulting a lawyer to confirm whether an exception may apply to your case.
Valuing a motorcycle accident case
The value of every motorcycle accident case is different. How much your case is worth will depend on your injuries and losses and their impact on your life. To calculate the right value for your case, you’ll generally have to wait until you reach “maximum medical improvement.” This means you’ll have to recover completely, or as fully as you’re likely to.
This is important because assigning the right value to your case requires having a sense of the costs of all past and any expected future treatment, plus 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 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 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.
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.
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. When driving, that includes watching out for others on the road, 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 committed an error or 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. But if they were reasonable in how they acted, they won’t be liable.
- In DeLuca v. Cerda, for example, the plaintiff was riding on the back of a motorcycle when the motorcycle was hit by a tow truck driver who failed to yield when exiting a parking lot. The plaintiff sued both the driver of the motorcycle and the driver of the tow truck. The claim against the driver of the tow truck was allowed to proceed because there was evidence that he did not come to a complete stop before exiting the parking lot. The claim against the motorcycle driver was dismissed, however, as the plaintiff did not show any proof that he was negligent. Although he saw the tow truck in the parking lot, he had the right of way and was reasonable to anticipate that the truck would come to a complete stop before exiting the parking lot.
- 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’ negligent 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
Successfully bringing a claim requires conducting a thorough investigation and collecting the right evidence. Evidence may come in many forms, but common 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 “comparative fault” rule
Sometimes, more than one person contributes to an accident. When this happens, New York applies its “comparative fault” 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. Assigning fault in an accident isn’t an exact science. Any evidence of unreasonable behavior could count against you. That could include violating New York’s laws that require all riders to wear helmets and protective eyewear or other traffic violations.
In Finney v. Morton, for example, the defendant was driving about two car lengths behind a motorcycle. When the motorcyclist attempted to make a left turn, he first moved to the right side of the road, then turned abruptly to the left. The defendant saw that the motorcyclist was moving to the right and attempted to pass him, but hit him when he abruptly turned in the other direction. The trial court initially found the defendant 95% at fault and the motorcyclist 5% at fault, but upon appeal, the appeals court determined the motorcyclist should have a greater percentage of fault, reassigning 85% of the fault to the defendant and 15% to the motorcyclist.
Although you should be aware of the comparative fault 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.
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 pursuing a motorcycle accident case, it’s important to be aware that unfortunately, there’s a bias against motorcycles in the United States, including in the legal system. Many people assume that motorcyclists are less responsible and take more risks, no matter what the facts are. As a result, motorcyclists are often blamed for accidents, regardless of what really happened.
This bias can affect your case in a few different ways. 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, you and your attorney will need to gather solid evidence. 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 York. 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 York motorcycle accident attorney.
New York’s no-fault insurance laws do not cover those injured while riding motorcycles. This means that you won’t have access to no-fault insurance benefits. Instead, you’ll likely look first to any med-pay coverage under your motorcycle policy, then to your 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, or you may be able to sue the at-fault party directly.
To determine all possible sources of compensation, it’s best to consult an attorney. (See Getting Compensation From Your Insurance and Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party.)
Promptly reporting any accident is likely required under your motorcycle insurance policy. If you fail to do so, 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, give any detailed statements, sign any forms, or accept any offers 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.
Hit-and-runs are a serious offense. Whenever there’s an injury, by law you have to call the police and 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.
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.
The fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet as required by New York law doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t file a lawsuit. But New York does follow a comparative fault rule. This means that if you contributed to your injuries through your own negligence, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. (See Getting Compensation From an At-fault Party — The “comparative fault” rule).
However, figuring out the allocation of fault is not easy to do on your own, and you should not make assumptions about your ability to file a lawsuit. Instead, consult an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to determine the best path forward.
There’s no standard amount of compensation for any type of accident or injury. Your attorney will need to evaluate your case thoroughly before determining what your case is worth. The value of your case depends on how the accident occurred, the severity of your injuries, all of your present and future losses, and the impact on your life.
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.)
It’s standard for personal injury attorneys to provide a free initial consultation. Personal injury attorneys also usually work on a contingency basis. This means that if you proceed with a case, you won’t have to pay anything upfront. Instead, you’ll only pay legal fees out of any money your lawyer wins for you in a settlement or jury verdict.
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.
There is some variation in how attorneys handle fees, so you should discuss this during your initial consultation. See Finding an Attorney for Your Case for more information.
In New York, the statute of limitations generally only gives you three 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 may be resolved much later.
Some types of lawsuits also have shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re suing a government entity (e.g. an accident caused by faulty road maintenance), 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 at-fault party. 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.
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.
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.
A significant amount of lawsuit-related information will can become part of the public court record. That includes your court filings and the rulings in the case but not things like confidential medical records. 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.
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.
If you have other questions about a potential motorcycle accident case, you should contact a lawyer right away. As noted above, there are 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.