Like any motor vehicle accident, being injured on the road is a very realistic danger that can happen to you no matter how careful you are.
However, unlike car accidents, when it comes to motorcycle accidents, there are significant differences and certain information that you should be aware of when riding your motorcycle.
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Whether you are the driver of a motorcycle or just the passenger, there is information that you need to be armed with when you’re riding your hog on the open road.
Unfortunately, bikers are about ten times more likely to be injured in an accident than people in other motor vehicles, such as cars or trucks.
The reason for this is that a motorcycle is open.
Unlike a car or truck, which has a protective exterior, front and rear end bumper, a motorcycle has no such protection.
Accordingly, you can be the safest and most cautious rider in the world, but you will still be at the mercy of other motorists, particularly those behaving recklessly, such as not paying attention to what is in front of them, speeding, texting while driving, or drunk driving.
Due to societal stigma, a person driving a motorcycle is traditionally thought of as being reckless and wild, while a person driving a car or truck is considered safer and normal.
As a result, if an accident between a motorcycle and a truck or car occurs, insurance companies will be more likely to deny the case on behalf of the motorcycle driver and attempt to prove that the motorcyclist was, to some extent, at-fault in the accident.
For this reason, a motorcyclist involved in an accident should make a prompt investigation internally.
Not only should an injured party take photographs of their injuries right away, take photographs and video of any damage to their vehicle or the other vehicles, but they should also take photographs and video of the road, street, or highway, such as skid marks or property damage caused to surrounding structures as a result of the accident.
More importantly, the injured party should call the police right away so that an investigation can be started.
Often times, the injured party may be tempted to just exchange insurance information with the other driver.
However, by not involving the police to document the incident, the insurance company and/or jury may have less information to use when deciding in your favor or accepting liability.
Take the time to contact the police to make a report.
Not only will this benefit you should you decide to make a claim for property damage, but it is especially important if you suspect that you’ve sustained some bodily injury.
Along those lines, it is equally important you go seek medical treatment right away if you suspect you have been injured.
Delaying treatment not only may cause your medical condition to worsen right away, but it could affect and undermine your case.
Oftentimes, the insurance company will argue that if your bodily injury was as bad as you were claiming, you’d seek medical treatment right away.
Although you can definitely still have a valid claim should you not treat right away, doing so makes having your claim accepted by the insurance company much easier.
Since motorcyclists are more likely to be injured, typically, a motorcycle accident can involve more serious injuries than an accident where the driver was in a car or truck.
Oftentimes, injuries involve pain and suffering on behalf of the motorcyclist, and involve expensive medical bills, in which the motorcyclist may claim future medical costs, and lost wages, including possible future wage losses.
As a result of such losses sustained by a motorcyclist, insurance companies may be more likely to take a motorcycle case to trial and not settle the case than they would if the accident involved two passenger cars.
Again, the reason for this is because they know many people on juries have a bias against motorcyclists and they’re banking on the likelihood that they may decide in favor of the car driver over the motorcycle driver.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Just because, however, there may be a bias against motorcycle riders, does not mean that the law does not offer protection for motorcycle riders and provide civil remedies against at-fault drivers.
In fact, since motorcycle riders really have no outer protection, such as with a car or truck, the injuries sustained in such accidents really highlight the negligence or carelessness of the other driver if the accident is the result of such blatant negligence, such as speeding, texting while driving, or drunk driving.
Like many motor vehicle accidents, crashes involve a range of possible factors, but inattention by a driver of a car or truck often is the most common factor.
If you can prove this or what is commonly referred to as negligence on behalf of the other driver, you have a stronger chance of obtaining a monetary award.
Defenses Raised Against the Motorcyclist In An Accident
In addition to standing behind the recklessness stigma against motorcyclists, insurance companies and the at-fault driver may decline your claim on the basis that you were “lane splitting.”
Lane splitting involves a rider operating their motorcycle between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving cars.
If an accident occurs and the motorcyclist was previously engaged in lane splitting, they may argue that such a maneuver is reckless and therefore that the motorcyclist was either solely responsible for the accident or was at least partially to blame in that their lane splitting was a contributing factor to any negligence that took place.
In New York, lane splitting is generally regarded as being illegal.
Accordingly, in such a claim, the need for an experienced attorney to conduct their own investigation and whether lane splitting did indeed take place and whether it contributed to the accident is very important.
The at-fault driver may also argue that they were not at fault because the motorcyclist was driving in the same lane as another motorcyclist and that this created reckless behavior. However, New York does not explicitly disallow this act..
Specific Motorcycle Injury Risks
The most common injuries most often associated with motorcycle accident are brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. However, there are many other injuries that emergency rooms have become familiar with. This includes:
- Internal bleeding
- Foot fractures
- Amputated limbs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Pelvic fractures
- Brain damage
Motorcycle Passenger Injuries
If you were a passenger of the motorcycle and the motorcycle was involved in an accident against a person driving a truck or car, not only may you make a claim against the driver of the truck or car, but the driver of the motorcycle may also be to blame.
Liability could belong to anyone who contributed to the cause of your motorcycle accident.
This means that if you were a passenger on the motorcycle, and if the operator’s negligence is to blame, that person can also be liable for your injuries.
Settlement Factors in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Oftentimes, an insurance company may send you a letter or give you a call almost immediately after you have your accident, and then suggest that you have a weak case, minor damages, and then make you a small token settlement offer in the hopes that you’ll accept right away and not seek legal counsel.
If that happens to you, you’ll want to contact an attorney right away to discuss your rights and options, and allow them the chance to determine if the settlement offer is good enough.
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An insurance company wants to sway you away from seeking legal counsel so that you’ll settle right away with them and resolve the claim, often for a lot less than what your injury is really worth.
However, there are a variety of factors in determining the value of your motorcycle accident case and an experienced personal injury attorney can help you with that process.
How the Parties Value a Potential Case
When deciding the “value” of a case, the insurance company and lawyers are coming up with a best guess at what a jury might award the injured person suing (oftentimes referred to as the Plaintiff), and also guessing what the person being sued (oftentimes the Defendant) would be willing to pay.
This means that each party is ultimately trying to figure what the Plaintiff would ultimately be willing to accept to settle the case before trial.
To do this, the two biggest factors in valuing the case are
- the extent of the Plaintiff’s damages, which is determined by evaluating how bad the motorcycle accident was and how significant the resulting injuries are, and
- how likely the jury is to find the Defendant at fault for the injuries, or whether the Defendant is legally liable to the Plaintiff for the injuries.
The Plaintiff’s Damages
There is no magic formula in determining how much the Plaintiff’s damages are.
However, one common factor that is usually considered is medical bills.
Since a Plaintiff’s pain and suffering is often considered subjective, medical bills are often used as a concrete demonstration to a jury that go towards pain and suffering in the sense that the more medical bills and treatment there is, including surgeries, permanent hardware in the body, and any medical permanent impairments imposed by the physicians, the greater the degree of pain and suffering theoretically the Plaintiff sustained.
Another factor that is often considered by a jury and is also more concrete are a Plaintiff’s lost wages.
Again, if a Plaintiff was unable to work as a result of the motorcycle accident, this means that they sustained a greater degree of damages.
How the motorcycle accident affects a particular Plaintiff is also key in valuing damages.
If a Plaintiff, for example, is left with a permanent limp, but was formerly a very active person who enjoyed participating in a variety of activities, such as sports, dancing with their spouse, or hunting and fishing, and their damages are based on “loss of quality of life,” this factor will likely be higher in the mind of a jury than if he had not been physically active before the injury and maintained a sedentary lifestyle.
In another example, if the motorcycle accident left Plaintiff permanently disabled in a way that does not affect their occupation or livelihood, obviously that Plaintiff’s damages for lost earning potential will be lower than a Plaintiff whose livelihood is affected by the motorcycle accident.
However, these factors are not dogma, and because every case and every jury is different, even the best analysis will still only predict pain and suffering damages within a broad range.
Whether the Defendant Will Be Found Liable
Even if a Plaintiff is valued to have sustained a large degree of pain and suffering, equally important is determining if the Defendant is liable to Plaintiff for the motorcycle accident.
If the Plaintiff has little or no evidence proving the Defendant was at fault for the Plaintiff’s motorcycle accident injuries, the value of the case goes down considerably.
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Again, a good experienced attorney is critical in determining the best theory of liability.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Policy
Finally, even if a Plaintiff has good liability and damages in that they’re valued to have sustained a high degree of pain and suffering, if the at-fault motorist had no insurance, it can still be difficult to collect any money in New York.
In such cases, the injured motorcyclist will have to file a claim under their own uninsured or underinsured motorist policy and be able to navigate and claim a successful claim against their own insurance policy. Again, having an experienced attorney on your side is the key to this.
At Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, we know how to fight and win motorcycle accident injuries.
We represent all types of motorcycle accident injuries, no matter how complex the case, how big or small the injuries, or even if the insurance company has denied your claim. Our office has the experience, knowledge, but more importantly, the guts to fight the insurance company for you.