While few things are more pleasurable than a motorcycle ride on a beautiful summer day, motorcycle accidents are unfortunately the cause of some of the most serious injuries that happen on New York roadways. According to the most recent numbers from the New York Department of Health, there are on average around 141 motorcycle accident deaths in New York State each year. Additionally, over 4,400 New Yorkers are treated in expensive emergency rooms and another 1,500 New Yorkers go to the hospital each year due to motorcycle crash injuries. These accidents leave victims with injuries that are often life-altering, along with tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in medical expenses each year.
Needless to say, in order to fully recover from their injuries and get their lives back on track, accident victims require significant compensation, but New York laws make recovering damages complicated. I’ll tell you more about how best to recover damages after a motorcycle accident and when a New York motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to help.
Understanding No-Fault Compensation For Motorcycle Accident Victims
If you’ve ever been in a motor vehicle accident in New York, you’re likely aware that the state follows what is known as the “no-fault rule” for accidents. This means that after an accident, the victim must first file an insurance claim against their own policy, not the other driver’s, even if the other driver was responsible. For minor fender benders, the law does not cause significant problems for most drivers. If you are lucky enough to leave a motorcycle accident with minor injuries, you will simply file a claim with your own insurance company.
However, motorcycle accidents are often far more serious than motor vehicle accidents, leaving victims with severe and life-altering injuries and incredibly costly medical bills. Luckily, in these cases the law is on the victim’s side, and the victim can legally pursue a claim against the at-fault driver as long as their injuries qualify as “serious.” The catch here is that the injuries must be deemed “serious” according to very specific legal definitions, so working with a qualified New York motorcycle accident lawyer is often in the victim’s best interests.
Compensation for Severe or Catastrophic Injuries
As you can imagine, serious or catastrophic injuries are not uncommon in motorcycle accidents, as the driver of a motorcycle is often unprotected and thus far more vulnerable to injuries, especially at high speeds.
However, while you may feel that your injuries are serious after a motorcycle crash, before you can legally pursue a claim against the at-fault driver, New York law has to agree. Serious injuries include things like bone fractures, permanent disfigurement, and injuries that disable the victim for 90 days or more within a six-month period. In addition, if an injury causes the permanent inability to use a body part in the same manner as before the accident, the injury will be considered serious under law. You can read more about serious injuries in an in-depth blog post here.
The Role of Comparative Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents
Another plus for motorcycle accident victims when it comes to New York law is that New York observes what is known as the comparative negligence rule. This means that if your injuries are deemed serious under law, even if you were somewhat at fault for your accident, as long as your percentage of fault is less than the at-fault driver’s, you can recover damages.
For example, let’s say you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your motorcycle accident, and in court the judge finds that because of this, you were 20 percent at fault for your injuries and the other driver was 80 percent at fault. In this case, the total amount of your award will be reduced by the percentage to which you were at fault. In this case, if your case is worth $200,000 and you were 20 percent at fault, you would receive $140,000.
In cases where comparative negligence comes into play, a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney can be immensely helpful. Not only will they have experience with similar cases, but they will have experts on hand whose expertise can support your case and ideally reduce your percentage of responsibility.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
After a motorcycle accident, you can claim both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include things like hospital bills and other economic losses you suffered because of an accident. Keep in mind that beyond hospital bills, you can also claim any out-of-pocket expenses that you accrued due to the accident including:
- All medical treatments
- Physical therapy
- In-home care
- Specialist treatments
- Future medical costs
- Lost income due to work you missed during recovery
- Future lost income due to your injuries
- Property damage to your motorcycle or other property
To claim damages for any future expenses or lost income, you will need to have accurate documentation. A good motorcycle accident attorney can help you gather what you need from doctors, employers, and others.
The second type of damages, known as noneconomic damages, can be trickier to determine, as they cannot be easily assigned a specific dollar value. Some examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Mental and emotional trauma or distress after an accident
- Pain and suffering due to chronic injuries, permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Because both types of damages can be difficult to determine accurately, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney with experience in motorcycle accident cases. They can often help you recover significantly more compensation than you could on your own.
When to Work With a Lawyer
Because injuries after a motorcycle accident are often severe and costly, a lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome when it comes to compensation. The New York motorcycle accident attorneys at Buttafuoco and Associates have helped many accident victims receive the compensation they need to return to normal life after a harrowing motorcycle accident. We have successfully fought against many insurance companies that are unwilling to offer fair compensation and will fight for you, too.
Get in touch with us today for a free consultation at 1.800.NOW.HURT.