It may not have the warm temperatures offered by some other states that allow for year around riding, but New York still has more than 363,000 motorcycles registered in the state and almost three-quarters of a million licensed riders. It also saw a 30% jump last year in the number of fatal motorcycle crashes.
Unlike cars and other vehicles that surround drivers and passengers in a protective steel frame, motorcyclists find themselves dangerously exposed to injury in a crash while riding vehicles that lack stability and crashworthiness. It is not surprising that data released by the federal government shows that motorcycle riders are more likely to die or be injured in a crash than drivers and passengers riding in other types of vehicles.
When a careless driver or other negligent party causes you to be injured or a family member killed, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the physical pain, emotional harm and other damages that you endured. The assistance of a New York motorcycle accident lawyer provides you with options for pursuing justice and fair compensation.
Should You Hire A New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Crash data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that eight out of every 10 motorcycle accidents end with the rider in bad shape and being transported to a local hospital. A motorcycle crash is a violent event with serious, long-term consequences for motorcyclists and their families, but the knowledge, skills and compassion of an experienced, motorcycle accident lawyer can help them to get through it.
Legal implications from motorcycle accidents
Whether you are recovering from serious injuries or mourning the death of a loved one, a consultation with a lawyer with a background in personal injury law and motorcycle accidents provides sound legal advice and services, including:
Being a trusted and dedicated advocate looking out for your interests
The parties responsible for causing a motorcycle accident have insurance companies with claims adjusters, investigators and defense lawyers whose job is to prevent you from receiving the compensation that you deserve. When you retain the services of a New York motorcycle accident lawyer, you have someone committed to using their skills and training to aggressively fight to recover the damages you have been forced to suffer.
Knowing how laws that protect drivers of other vehicles do not apply to motorcyclists
The no-fault law in New York pays the medical bills and lost wages of victims of motor vehicle accidents, but it does not apply to operators of motorcycles and their passengers. A lawyer gives motorcyclists left unprotected by the no-fault law an advocate capable of pursuing a claim against the driver or other party who was at fault in causing an accident whether through a negotiated settlement or by filing a lawsuit in court and taking the case to trial.
Handling insurance companies
A common practice engaged in by some claims adjusters is to contact the victims of an accident before they have hired or spoken with a lawyer. They want to get a statement that can be used later to weaken or defeat any claim for damages you may file against their insured. They may even offer to quickly settle your claim, but regardless of the reason for their call, keep in mind that insurance companies do not make money by paying claims.
Your motorcycle accident lawyer ensures that any information provided to an insurance company is accurate and cannot be used to weaken your claim for damages. The lawyer also ensures that any settlement of the claim that you agree to accept is fair by knowing the value of your claim based on experience handling similar cases on behalf of other victims.
Investigating and gathering evidence to build a strong case
The success of your claim for damages depends on the evidence your lawyer gathers and presents in support of it. The evidence must prove that negligent, careless or reckless behavior on the part of another party caused you to be injured and incur damages for which you should be compensated.
Even though most claims result in negotiated settlements, your lawyer knows that a strong claim supported by evidence capable of being used at trial has the best chance of convincing an insurance company to settle for its full value. Unless a claim can be proven in court, insurance companies have no incentive to negotiate an earlier settlement.
A lawyer protects your rights
A lawyer’s knowledge of the law can be essential to protecting your right to compensation. For instance, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for damages caused by a motorcycle crash is three years in New York. However, if your lawyer determines that a pothole or other condition of a roadway caused you to crash, the law requires that notice of the claim be given within 90 days to the municipal agency responsible for the road.
Potential Forms of Compensation
The compensation that you receive for the injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in New York depends on the damages you incurred. You may potentially recover damages from any of the following three categories of compensation:
- Special: Special compensation reimburses you for out-of-pocket losses that you have as a result of a motorcycle accident. These may include fees charged by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers. It also includes the cost of medications prescribed by your doctors, medical equipment, physical therapy and rehabilitation services, diagnostic testing and laboratory services. Lost wages and projected loss or reduction of future earning capacity caused by your injuries may also be included. Repair or replacement of your motorcycle for damage done to it in the accident is another item of special compensation.
- General: Unlike special compensation proven through the use of bills, receipts, work records, and invoices, entitlement to general compensation is more subjective. Pain and suffering is an element of general compensation, but proving that it exists can be challenging. Your lawyer may rely upon evidence of the extent and severity of the physical injuries you suffered in the accident, the length of time to recover from them, and the overall disruption the ordeal caused in your life.
- Punitive: Awards of punitive compensation for injuries in a motorcycle accident are rare in New York because it is reserved for those situations where a person engages in outrageous conduct that causes injury to another.
How Much Does A New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Cost?
The fees and expenses to hire a lawyer to enforce your right to compensation against the party whose negligence caused you to be injured probably exceed what most people could afford. Most New York personal injury lawyers agree to delay being paid through a contingent fee arrangement. Payment of a legal fee is contingent on a favorable outcome in the case either through a settlement or an award after trial.
Contingency fee arrangements are common in personal injury cases. They offer a method for someone who is injured and lacks the financial resources to pay legal fees to hire a lawyer. In exchange for agreeing to defer payment unless and until you win your claim for damages, New York allows lawyers in the state to receive a percentage of the amount you recover.
The percentage a lawyer may charge is either 33.3% or a sliding scale. The sliding scale method computes the legal fee as follows:
- 50% of the first $1,000 recovered;
- 40% of the next $2,000;
- 35% of the next $22,000; and
- 25% on any amount in excess of $25,000.
State law requires that any contingent fee arrangement be agreed upon in writing by the lawyer and the client and specify the method to be used to compute the legal fee.
Costs and expenses
Legal fees are not the only expense associated with filing a claim for damages after a motorcycle accident. There are many costs and expenses that a lawyer advances as they are incurred while pursuing your claim for damages, including:
- Court filing fees.
- Deposition costs.
- Fees charged by providers for medical records and police reports.
- Copying costs.
- Fees paid to expert witnesses.
The fee agreement must indicate how the costs and fees advanced by your lawyer will be repaid. New York offers two options. The first option computes the legal fees earned by the lawyer on the net recovery after deduction of the costs and expenses advanced by the lawyer. This first option makes you liable for payment of costs and expenses in the event you do not win your claim.
The second option protects you from owing anything for costs and expenses in case you do not settle the claim or win an award after trial. If there is a recovery of damages, the legal fee is computed on the gross recovery without any deduction for costs and expenses. The result is a slightly greater fee to the lawyer to apply toward the costs and expenses that were advanced, but this method eliminates the risk that you may be responsible to repay the costs and expenses in the event that you lose.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in New York
The NHTSA reports that speed was a factor in 32% of fatal motorcycle accidents compared to 18% for accidents involving only passenger vehicles. Speed limits the amount of time a driver or motorcycle rider has to make decisions and react to changing conditions.
Failing to yield the right of way
Vehicles making turns into the path of motorcycles is a common type of accident that can seriously injure or kill the operator or passenger on a motorcycle. Failing to yield accidents also occur when motorists attempt to get through an intersection ahead of a red light or ignore a stop or yield sign and collide with a rider whose motorcycle is in the intersection.
Alcohol or drug impairment
Drugs and alcohol, either separately or in combination with each other, affects judgment, vision, reflexes, concentration and other factors motorists need to maintain safe control over their vehicles.
Unsafe lane change and use
Changing lanes without checking blind spots causes collisions when drivers fail to notice a motorcycle and crash into it. Motorcycle riders increase the risk of colliding with another vehicle when they engage in lane splitting. Riding a motorcycle between lanes of traffic is not only illegal in New York, but it is also an unsafe practice that causes accidents.
Potholes and road hazards
Loose gravel, sand, uneven pavement, potholes, and other debris and road hazards cause accidents by making it difficult for riders to control their motorcycles. When the poor condition of a road causes an accident, you may have a claim for damages against the state, city or county agency that has responsibility for maintaining it.
Does not wearing a helmet affect an injury claim?
When you make a claim for damages against a person whose negligence caused you to be injured in a motorcycle accident, that person has the right to defend against it with evidence showing that your own negligence caused or contributed to either the accident or the severity of your injuries. This is referred to as comparative negligence and means that the damages you may otherwise have been entitled to receive will be reduced by the percentage to which you were at fault.
Your motorcycle accident lawyer may try to prove that failing to wear a helmet was not a factor contributing to causing the accident or the injuries you suffered. It really depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. For example, if the only injury you have is a broken leg caused by a driver hitting your motorcycle while you were stopped for a red light, a judge or jurors may not consider the lack of a helmet as a factor.
How To Hire A New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
The idea of working with an attorney can seem overwhelming and difficult which is why we’re here. If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle incident in New York and want legal advice, contact us immediately. Here are the steps to our simple, streamlined process:
1. Contact us here and inform us of your situation (be as detailed as possible)
2. Our legal aid team will collectively evaluate your situation and forward your case to one of our vetted attorneys who specializes in cases similar to yours
3. An attorney who’s already aware of your situation will consult with you free of charge to gain a better understanding of how they can help you best