Every year, thousands of people are involved in motorcycle accidents in New York. Because a motorcyclist doesn’t have the protection of an exterior vehicle frame, a deadly motorcycle accident is far more common than a deadly car crash. In New York City, motorcycle riders account for just 2 percent of all vehicles but 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Serious injuries like broken bones, burns, traumatic head injuries, and spinal cord injuries are also common injuries suffered by motorcyclists in traffic accidents. Last year, nearly 4,500 people visited the ER with motorcycle-related injuries.
Here is what you should know if you or a loved one has been involved in a New York motorcycle crash.
Why Are Motorcyclists Prone to Injury?
The experience of riding a motorcycle is unlike anything else. Unfortunately, what makes a motorcycle so enjoyable is also what makes it dangerous.
- A motorcycle’s frame-free design means riders suffer a direct impact during a collision.
- With two wheels instead of four, motorcycles are more likely to lose traction or be knocked off-balance. Something as minor as a small branch or gravel in the road can be a hazard for any motorcyclist who rides over it.
- Because motorcycles don’t take up much room, they can be difficult for vehicles to see. If a driver relies only on mirrors before changing lanes, they could collide with a motorcyclist already in that lane.
Some of these factors can be controlled. But combining risk factors, such as riding a motorcycle along winding roads during a storm, can be a recipe for disaster.
Common Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident
Many injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident happen when the motorcycle collides with another vehicle. The force of impact can break bones, cause traumatic brain injuries, and damage the spinal cord. Other injuries, like burns and skin lacerations, occur when the driver hits the road.
Some of the most common types of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident include:
- Road rash, a serious skin abrasion that can cause scarring and nerve damage if left untreated
- Facial fractures
- Burns from coming into contact with the tailpipe
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Concussion and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Wearing protective gear like helmets, durable jackets and pants, and heavy boots and gloves can provide some protection. However, injuries can still occur even if a rider is wearing all the recommended gear.
Treatment and Recovery Expenses
The right treatment depends on the type and degree of the injury suffered. Treatments can be divided into three categories:
- Minor treatment with at-home recovery. For injuries like burns, scrapes, and contusions that do not require a hospital stay, the motorcycle rider may be treated on the scene or at the emergency room and released. Broken bones that do not require surgical repair are also considered “minor,” though they may feel anything but.
- Hospitalization or long-term care. Serious injuries involving multiple broken bones, surgery, or head or spinal injuries can require a hospital stay or even a stint in a nursing facility. These injuries often require physical therapy to help the injured person regain their pre-accident mobility.
- Lifelong care. Traumatic brain injuries, limb amputations, and other serious injuries may require a lifetime of care. You may need to make changes to your home or vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair or pay for a home health aid to help with certain tasks.
Each of these treatments comes at a cost. This is why it is crucial to consult a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident—and certainly before you accept a settlement offer from your insurance company.
New York’s Insurance Coverage Laws
New York is a no-fault state. This means that each driver’s insurance policy must pay for their medical expenses, lost earnings, and other costs stemming from a car accident, no matter who is at fault. But this no-fault law does not apply to motorcyclists. Riding a motorcycle is considered an “inherently dangerous” activity. This means many motorcycle riders miss out on the legal and financial protections that auto drivers enjoy.
However, there is a silver lining. Because motorcycles are “inherently dangerous,” motorcyclists can sue another driver even if they have suffered only minor injuries. Auto drivers, on the other hand, are only permitted to sue if they have suffered serious injuries in a crash. This allows motorcyclists to recover compensation that would not be available had they suffered the same injuries while riding in a car.
To legally operate a motorcycle in New York State, riders must carry liability coverage. This includes at least $10,000 of property damage coverage, $25,000 of bodily injury coverage, $50,000 of death coverage and bodily injury coverage in multiple-injury accidents, and $100,000 of death coverage in multiple-death accidents. Unfortunately, these limits are rarely enough to compensate someone who has sustained major injuries in a motorcycle crash.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, there are a few important steps to take.
Contact the police and make a report.
It is not always possible to talk to police at the scene, especially if you sustained injuries. But it is important to get the facts on record as soon as possible after the accident. Your recollection of events can be very valuable, whether you eventually settle with the other driver’s insurance company or pursue your claim in court.
Seek medical treatment and follow recommendations.
Recovering from a motorcycle crash can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Yet it is important to follow treatment recommendations. This includes attending follow-up appointments to ensure your recovery remains on track. Failing to follow medical recommendations can reduce the compensation you are entitled to. The other driver may argue that they are not responsible for injuries you failed to treat promptly.
Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer.
Insurance companies are interested in settling your claim for as little as possible. To get all the compensation you are entitled to, you need a motorcycle accident lawyer who knows the ins and outs of New York’s laws. A motorcycle accident lawyer, like the experienced team at Halperin & Halperin, P.C. can put their resources behind investigating your claim, detailing the damages you have suffered, and fighting for every penny you deserve.
Compensation Available for Motorcycle Accidents in New York
Any settlement or court judgment you receive can include several different categories of damages. Not all these categories apply in every case.
- Property damage. You should be able to recover damages to make you “whole”—that is, to put you in the same financial position you were before the accident. This means paying to replace or repair your damaged motorcycle, gear, and any other property damage sustained in the accident.
- Medical bills. This includes both the amount you (or your health insurance company) has already paid as well as any future expenses you anticipate. Eligible medical expenses include ER fees, transportation or ambulance costs, medications, and medical equipment.
- Lost wages. Unless you returned to work immediately following your accident and never needed to take time off for medical appointments, you could be entitled to compensation for any lost wages you suffered.
- Lost future income. If you are unable to return to your previous job, or any job, you may receive a lump sum based on your projected future earnings.
- Pain and suffering. Those who have suffered severe injuries can be compensated for the pain and suffering they went through during and after the accident. This can include costs associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other conditions that can affect your daily life.
When a motorcycle accident victim passes away because of their injuries, their personal injury claim is converted to a wrongful death claim. The victim’s surviving family members can bring this wrongful death lawsuit on the victim’s behalf.
The compensation available in wrongful death cases is similar to the compensation available in personal injury cases. Some additional categories include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of support
- Loss of love and companionship
The type and amount of damages available will depend on factors like the victim’s age, income, occupation, number of children or dependents, and projected lifespan.
Let Halperin & Halperin, P.C. Fight for Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, do not delay. There exist strict time limits for filing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in New York State. Missing such deadlines can prevent you from recovering anything at all. You need a motorcycle accident lawyer with experience and a proven record of success. Visit to fill out a short contact form or give Halperin & Halperin, P.C. a call today.