Whether you’re on a dual-sport climbing an off-road trail or heading to the city on a touring bike along the highway, motorcycles offer recreational and transportation options for those enjoying the thrill of a good ride in the beautiful scenery Westchester provides. Too often, unfortunately, bike riders pay the price of other people’s negligence, whether it’s a pothole left by improper road care or a driver in a car sending a tweet. These commonplace oversights and distractions can lead to serious, life-changing injuries and are all too often fatal for motorcyclists.

If you have been injured in an accident, schedule a FREE consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney Westchester County relies on to obtain justice and fair compensation in serious injury matters. Reach out today and see for yourself why Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green has earned its reputation for integrity, compassion, and dedicated service.

Close-up of the front of the motorcycle destroyed the distorted wheel of a serious accident until the driver died.

Are Motorcycle Accidents Covered by No-Fault Insurance?

Under Article 51 of the New York State Insurance Law, which defines no-fault insurance in New York state, motorcyclists and their passengers are generally not covered under no-fault insurance. This is because they have explicitly excluded motorcycles from the definition of “motor vehicle” for purposes of coverage. 

Because motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault, they do not qualify for the up to $50,000 in coverage other motorists do, so examining their legal options against the at-fault party is all the more important. Additionally, motorcyclists do not face as many restrictions due to this lack of coverage, such as requiring a “serious injury” to sue.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

While each accident has its own story, motorcycle accidents tend to involve particular types of negligent actions on the part of other drivers. These include:

  • Distracted driving, such as a driver distracting themselves with a text or YouTube video;
  • Tailgating, which is when a car follows too closely and may strike the back of the bike;
  • Speeding, which shortens the reaction time needed to avoid a motorcyclist;
  • Drunk driving, which inhibits decision-making, reaction time, and awareness; and
  • Reckless driving, which is a broad term that can encompass many actions that do not show proper respect for the law or rules of the road.

Other causes can include poorly maintained road conditions, malfunctioning traffic equipment like traffic lights, or the malfunction of the motorcycle due to a manufacturer’s error.

Serious Motorcycle Accident Injuries for Riders

Motorcyclists are subject to severe crash injuries because they do not have the benefit of a car’s steel frame to protect them. Common injuries sustained by riders in motorcycle accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – even with a top-of-the-line helmet, motorcyclists are commonly subject to concussions, contusions, cerebral hemorrhaging, and a host of other brain and spinal injuries that can dramatically alter one’s lifestyle and earning potential, involve long recoveries, and require lifelong care and treatment;
  • Road rash when the cyclist is thrown from their bike and the momentum drags them across the cement. To prevent or lessen this injury, it is highly recommended to wear safety equipment like a reinforced leather jacket with armor or other gear to prevent or reduce abrasions to the skin;
  • Bone fractures from hitting the road at high speeds; and
  • Soft tissue and joint damage, such as tearing of muscles or ligaments.

With so much riding on the exercise of your legal rights, making an appointment to speak with a personal injury attorney at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green can set your case up for success from day one. Remember, evidence can disappear, witnesses can move before giving a statement, and taking early and aggressive action directed by a knowledgeable attorney will help you to prove your case.

Liability Issues in Motorcycle Accidents

To determine negligence in a motorcycle accident case, the courts will analyze whether there was a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, whether this defendant violated the duty owed to the plaintiff, and whether this violation of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury. 

New York embraces a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that, within the jurisdiction of New York, an injured party can still collect even if they are 99% at fault. Fault will be apportioned at trial should a settlement not be accepted prior, and an injured party’s judgment will be reduced by the amount of responsibility they bear. For example, if a speeding car struck a motorcyclist whose light was out and the court determined that the motorcyclist was 33% at fault due to the broken headlight, they could still recover 67% of the damages resulting from their injuries.

Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Damages

Different types of compensation can potentially be collected by a motorcycle rider who is injured in an accident. These include economic and non-economic damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation treatments
  • Lost wages from time out of work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages
  • Wrongful death

In the tragic event of the death of a rider, surviving family members will often be entitled to compensation. This includes many of the previously-mentioned damages like medical bills and punitive damages, as well as:

  • Loss of value of services for the projected lifetime of the decedent (i.e., caretaker services for children or a disabled spouse)
  • Lost inheritance
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial costs
  • Other expenses that may be unique to the case.

What if I Was Not Wearing a Helmet When the Accident Occurred? 

If you do not wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle in New York State, you are subject to a fine of $100 and up to 30 days in jail. Further, if you are riding without a helmet and another driver causes an accident, that driver can argue that your failure to wear a helmet was negligent. Further, that negligence contributed to your injuries. You might still have an opportunity to recover damages from the other driver, but they will be reduced in proportion to your level of responsibility for your injuries.  

For example, you sustain a head injury in a motorcycle-car accident that leaves you with $100,000 in damages. However, you were not wearing a helmet. Therefore, you are deemed 80% responsible for your injury—and your damages will be reduced by 80%. The most you will be able to recover is $20,000. 

Knowledgeable lawyers will tell you that, without exception, you should always wear a helmet while riding your bike. Lawyers who understand motorcycles and riding dynamics will be your best advocate. They could help you recover compensation when a negligent motorist causes a bike crash–even if you were not wearing a helmet. They do this by analyzing the accident and showing how all other evidence points to your safe riding and operation of your bike. 

A motorcycle accident attorney who understands riding culture will use available facts and evidence to show that you were not negligent, including, for example: 

  • You regularly maintain your bike’s brakes, tires, electronics, and safety systems. 
  • You have a clean riding history with no or few moving violations or accidents. 
  • At the time of the accident, you ensured that other motorists saw you with riding moves like a “SMIDSY” maneuver, where you wobble your front headlamp to alert motorists that you are approaching. 
  • You take regular riding classes to maintain and improve your skills.  
  • You were riding at appropriate speeds and under the posted limits when a negligent motorist collided with you. 
  • Your riding skills match the style and power of your bike. 

Your lawyer’s goal and strategy will be to demonstrate how the motorist’s negligence outweighed the risks you assumed when you rode your bike without a helmet. When you seek a New York lawyer to represent you in a motorcycle accident lawsuit, ask about their experience with motorcycle accident cases, particularly with fighting back against arguments that the rider’s negligence contributed to their injuries. Your ability to collect damages from a negligent driver will depend, in large part, on your lawyer’s skills and ability to assign as much negligence and liability on the motorist as the facts might allow. 

Motorcycle accident attorney Westchester County

Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is a good idea. A knowledgeable professional can offer assistance in choosing a medical specialist to document injuries, help with follow-up investigations for evidence, and inform you of your rights and potential compensation. This can provide vital context before reaching out to an insurance company to understand when a settlement is right for you and your family. Should a case not settle, an attorney can file the negligence lawsuit and represent you in court.

If you have been injured, it pays to speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer Westchester County residents have long relied on for fierce advocacy and results that speak for themselves. At Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, our Westchester County personal injury lawyers can assist at every step of your case, so schedule a no-cost consultation today.