You are here because you have questions about motorcycle accidents and you want to make that are responsible pay for their negligence. This page was created by our experienced personal injury lawyers to inform motorcyclists and their families about their legal rights.
Under existing New York legislation, motorcycles are considered “motor vehicles,” just like cars, vans, SUVs, and everything else that navigates the city’s streets by a “power other than muscular power.” Bikers are bound by the same “rules of the road,” and protected by the same rights. In fact, New York is America’s 7th most “motorcycling” state, with over 345,000 registered bikes! You can find an exhaustive list of New York City’s driving regulations here.
America’s Motorcycle Accident Epidemic
But in practice, biking is very different from driving a car, especially where accidents are concerned. In fact, motorcycle accidents have reached epidemic proportions in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:
“in 2008, motor vehicle crash-related deaths involving cars and light trucks reached an all-time low in the United States. At the same time, however, motorcyclist deaths reached an all-time high, more than doubling between 1999 and 2008.”
Can I File A Lawsuit After My Accident?
While the use of motorcycles has always presented unique, and inherent, dangers, this increase is extremely troubling. It’s also difficult to explain. One reason may be that there are simply more bikers than ever before. Every day, bikers expose themselves to harm by the very nature of riding a motorcycle. Motorcycles:
- are uniquely open to elements
- leave bikers exposed to direct impact, rather than surrounded by a protective cage of metal
- are less stable than cars, two wheels vs. four
- are small and light, and even low impact accidents can cause more serious injury
- less visible on the road
Even so, many motorcycle accidents cannot be blamed on the risks that one naturally assumes by climbing on a bike. In fact, there are few accidents that were not, at least in part, contributed to by an act of negligence. If negligence caused your accident, you may be able to pursue justice in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is Negligence?
The concept of “negligence” is at the foundation of most personal injury cases. When someone has a duty to perform a certain action properly and fails to do so, they can be found negligent.
For example, driving is an inherently dangerous activity. Because of the dangers involved, drivers have a duty to drive as carefully and safely as possible, both to protect others and themselves. If a driver actively disregards driving laws, operating their vehicle in a reckless manner, and this action causes an accident, victims can hold the driver accountable for their injuries.
But few real-life situations are that cut and dry. Looking back on an accident, many bikers come to believe that they were at least partially at fault. This reaction is normal and, in many cases, accurate. But thankfully, New York is one of only 13 states to apply a standard of “comparative negligence” to civil lawsuits. In effect, comparative negligence says that, even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you can still recover compensation from another negligent party.
The 3 Most Common Causes Of New York Motorcycle Accidents
Where accidents are concerned, nothing is as simple as it seems. In most cases, no single factor can be pointed to as the definitive cause. Instead, personal injury lawyers must recreate an accident as faithfully as possible, and identify the potential causes. This process is known as “reconstruction.” Having determined the most likely causes, an attorney then begins investigating all parties involved for negligent conduct.
If it can be conclusively proven that a biker was operating their motorcycle properly, and someone else’s negligence caused an accident, victims stand to secure significant compensation.
So where does negligence commonly hide?
1. Driver Negligence
According to an influential study completed in 1981, the Hurt Report, “approximately three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve collision with another vehicle, usually a passenger automobile.” Many of these horrific accidents could have been prevented if drivers had used the appropriate caution on the road.
- Drunk Driving – Every year, drunk drivers kill around 10,000 people in traffic collisions.
- Driver Inattention – Driving doesn’t mix well with most other activities. Texting, applying makeup, or simply changing the radio can take driver’s eyes off the road – and cause serious accidents.
- Driver Fatigue / Drowsy Driving – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that police receive nearly 100,000 reports annually of accidents caused by driver fatigue.
- Reckless Driving – This category covers all major traffic violations.
If you were the victim of driver negligence, and have sustained serious injury in a motorcycle accident, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer to review your case.
2. Motorcycle Malfunction
The Hurt Report found that vehicle failure accounted for only 3% of all motorcycle accidents, most of which were caused by punctured tires. And although this number is relatively low, motorcycle malfunction can kill. Like all vehicles, motorcycles are intensely complicated machines. Out of tens of thousands of individual parts, each must be produced and maintained in excellent condition.
If any one designer, engineer, or factory worker fails to exercise proper care in the manufacture of a motorcycle, there can be devastating consequences. Thankfully, vehicle producers can be held accountable for injuries caused by their disregard for others’ safety.
3. Improper Road Design & Maintenance
According to the Hurt Report, “roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of accidents.”
Civil engineers and construction contractors often have a part to play in accidents. When a road, street, or highway is defective in some way, governmental agencies and their employees can be held accountable for any accidents that occur as a result. In the past, designers and contractors have been found liable for defects including:
- Damage to pavement, like potholes, caused by years of wear and tear
- Lack of drainage, allowing water to pool dangerously
- Insufficient or nonexistent guardrails along curves or embankments
- No traffic signals where they are obviously necessary
Think back to where your accident happened. Was the roadway safe, free of hazards that could have been easily removed?
Insurance In New York
Bikers have fought social bias for years. They’ve been unfairly labeled as hooligans and gang members, and the mass media does little to help. We know differently. Our mission is to protect bikers, rather than vilify them.
In New York State, you must have specific motorcycle insurance to ride your bike. But this isn’t necessarily another example of bias. Studies have shown that motorcycle accidents are 35 times more likely to result in fatality than those involving only passenger automobiles. In fact, New York’s motorcycle insurance requirements are surprisingly sensible.
But there’s a little twist to the insurance you have to buy in New York. While car owners must purchase “no fault” auto insurance, which limits their ability to file civil lawsuits, motorcyclists do not. As a biker, you have every right to consult a lawyer and consider your options.
Should I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Generally, the compensation you can receive in a lawsuit will be commensurate with the severity of your injuries. If you are suffering only from minor injuries, filing a normal insurance claim may be your best bet. But insurance companies rarely offer enough to cover recovery from serious injuries. In most cases, accident victims are better served by consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The attorneys at Banville Law fully understand that the days and weeks following a serious accident can be extremely challenging.
- Are you watching your medical expenses rise?
- Have you been forced to take time off work?
- Was a death involved in the accident leading to a lost income for the family?
- Are you concerned about future medical provisions?
You may be hurt, and overwhelmed by the situation, but we want to help. At Banville Law, your full recovery is our only priority. In fact, we always work on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay us nothing unless we win your case. Give us the privilege of fighting for your rights and taking some of these worries away.
Banville Law maintains its primary office in Manhattan, we handle motorcycle accident claims across New York State, including:
- The Bronx
- Staten Island
- Long Island
- Nassau County
- Suffolk County
- Westchester County
- Rockland County
- Orange County
- Putnam County
Contact our lawyers for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.