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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

How to File a Lawsuit for Motorcycle Accident in New York - Everything to Know

Every personal injury claim starts with someone being hurt by another party's negligence or wrongdoing. The rules for recovering compensation vary depending on the type of case and other factors.

Likewise, New York has a statute of limitations in place for motorcycle accident cases and other personal injuries. Therefore, victims must act quickly.

It's often wise to work with motorcycle accident lawyers in New York. Contact The Law Office of Carl Maltese to schedule a free consultation. Continue reading to learn more about filing a lawsuit in this state.

An Overview of Personal Injury Law and Motorcycle Accidents

An Overview of Personal Injury Law and Motorcycle Accidents

New York uses a "no-fault" car insurance system, so vehicle owners in this state must have what's called PIP (personal injury protection). People will generally use it first to compensate for medical bills and other expenses, even if they didn't cause the motorcycle accident.

The no-fault insurance system was designed to quickly help auto accident victims receive compensation for injuries. However, they cannot file a lawsuit for any non-economic damages (pain and suffering) unless they sustained a severe injury, which is defined by New York's laws.

Motorcycles are excluded from the no-fault insurance law in New York. Therefore, injured motorcycle riders don't have the basic compensation options available to them.

Ultimately, motorcyclists must seek compensation from various other sources. Sometimes, insurer policies offer medical coverage, but victims often use their private health insurance to cover medical bills. Likewise, Medicare and Medicaid may be available.

Unfortunately, those who have no health insurance are responsible for paying their medical expenses out of pocket. The only other option is to receive compensation from the at-fault party or their auto insurer.

However, motorcyclists aren't covered by the no-fault insurance laws. Therefore, they can sue for their injuries and non-economic damages.

Personal injury cases can take years to finish. This means the victim has to deal with lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses until they recover compensation.

The legal process can be challenging to navigate, so it's wise to consult with the best motorcycle accident lawyer in Long Island. They will help victims identify compensation sources, negotiate with the insurance companies, and file a lawsuit when appropriate.

New York's Motorcycle Laws - An Overview

Ultimately, New York has specific motorcycle laws in place, and drivers who don't follow the safety regulations will be penalized. Here are a few things to note:

  • Motorcycle riders require a Class MJ (junior) or Class M license, which requires them to pass the road and written tests.

  • Motorcyclists must wear eye protection and a motorcycle helmet approved by the US Department of Transportation.

  • Motorcycles should be inspected once per year by a technician certified by the state.

  • All motorcycles should be registered with the state. This registration renews each year on April 30.

  • Motorcyclists must carry liability insurance on their vehicles.

Victims who follow the rules and are still injured in a motorcycle accident have the right to seek compensation for their injuries.

Steps for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Accident

After being injured in a motorcycle accident in New York, victims often wonder what to do. They're not thinking clearly because they were hurt. However, it's important that they follow these steps to preserve their right to compensation later:

1. Seek Medical Attention

If someone is injured during a motorcycle crash, they should call 911. The motorcyclists should not remove their helmet or protective equipment until they're checked out by a doctor or EMS professional because that could make the injuries worse.

Even if the victim feels fine, they should go to the doctor. Adrenaline can lower the body's ability to feel pain, and some internal injuries may not be obvious immediately.

Documentation related to the victim's condition can be used as evidence later in a lawsuit. Usually, this is the first thing an attorney looks for.

2. Call Local Law Enforcement

Though New York doesn't require anyone to contact local law enforcement after a motorcycle accident, it's still a good thing to do. Officers will arrive at the accident scene to gather information and create a police report.

Many times, the officer will interview witnesses and the victim. It's wise not to apologize or admit fault. Cooperate with the cop, but only state the facts. Request a copy of the police report and check it for mistakes.

3. Exchange Information with Other Drivers

Even in a minor motorcycle accident, it's wise to exchange insurance information with the other parties involved. Ask potential witnesses for their contact details, as well. This will help the attorney later.

4. Collect Evidence

If it's safe, take videos and photos of the motorcycle accident scene. This may help the investigators and attorneys determine what happened and might be important for the case.

Take photos and videos of these things (if possible):

  • Road conditions

  • Traffic lights

  • The surrounding area

  • The motorcycle

  • Other vehicles (with license plates)

  • Any injuries

  • Other things one might think are helpful

5. Write Out the Account of Events

As time passes, it will be harder to remember crucial details about the motorcycle accident. The victim should write down their account of what happened after, during, and before the incident, including as much information as possible.

Even if something seems unimportant, write it down. This account could be helpful later when explaining the situation to the lawyer.

6. Hire a New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

It's often stressful to deal with insurance claims while managing injuries. Unfortunately, the other driver's insurer isn't focused on the victim's best interest. An adjuster will likely take advantage of the injured party, hoping they settle for less.

Motorcycle accidents in New York can lead to severe injuries. Therefore, it's wise to speak with a personal injury lawyer and hire a team of legal professionals to handle the case.

7. File a Claim with the Insurance Company

In most cases, victims of motorcycle accidents will report the incident to their insurance company. Many times, there are deadlines and procedures to follow when seeking compensation. Remember that the insurer's goal is to pay out as little as possible. Don't admit fault or provide information that isn't required.

It might be better to allow the New York motorcycle accident lawyer to deal with the insurance company on the victim's behalf. This will prevent problems later on.

8. The Attorney Investigation

Many times, motorcycle accidents are financially draining on the victim. Though a personal injury claim might be the first step, it could go to court. Before that happens, the lawyer will investigate the incident and gather evidence to prove fault, causation, damages, and liability.

The investigation can take quite a while. Therefore, the New York motorcycle accident lawyer will often start the process while fighting with the insurance company for restitution. They can also explain how to file a lawsuit for truck accident in New York.

9. Document and Value Damages Sustained

Throughout the investigation, the personal injury attorney will work with the victim and their doctors to document the injuries. Once medical treatment is complete, the lawyer will assess the damages, calculating their value.

In a motorcycle accident case, damages can include these things:

  • Medical expenses

  • Travel expenses

  • Out-of-pocket costs related to the accident

  • Lost wages

Non-economic losses are also included, though they are harder to value and quantify. Typically, victims of motorcycle accidents have serious injuries and may never fully recover. Therefore, they could get more for their pain and suffering. Likewise, the attorney might also determine if punitive damages are justified.

Property damage claims aren't included in the personal injury case. They're often settled before everything else.

10. Demand Letters and Negotiations

The motorcycle accident lawyer will prepare a settlement demand letter and send it to the at-fault party's insurance company. This starts the negotiation process to settle the injury claim and includes:

  • Details of the damages and injuries

  • The part of the law holding the party responsible for damages

  • A description of how the other driver caused the injury

  • Demand for a specific amount of money to settle the claim

Sometimes, the insurance company accepts the demand, though it will often issue a counteroffer or completely deny liability. Usually, both sides take several weeks to discuss potential settlement amounts.

However, when the insurance company refuses to settle for a fair amount, the motorcycle accident lawyer will likely advise the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit. They can also assist with how to file a lawsuit for bicycle accident in New York.

11. Preparing/Filing the Personal Injury Lawsuit

A personal injury claim starts with a complaint and summons. The injured person files the complaint, which contains the information about the incident. New York motorcycle accident lawyers often send this to the court and serve the defendant a copy.

The at-fault party has a deadline and must file an answer to the complaint during that time. Typically, insurance companies will hire a defense attorney to respond. Sometimes, the insurer will decide to pay the settlement to avoid court, but this might not happen.

12. The Discovery Phase and Other Motions

If the insurer doesn't agree to pay the settlement offer, the case moves to "discovery." New York motorcycle accident lawyers use various tools to find evidence and information from the other party, which include:

  • Depositions

  • Subpoenas

  • Interrogatories

  • Requests for documents

  • Requests for any admissions

Typically, discovery is the longest part of the personal injury lawsuit because both parties are building their cases.

In the end, the parties have a chance to settle the case before it heads to trial.

13. Trial and Verdict

The trial is the next step. Here, both parties will present evidence to the jury, which deliberates and comes back with a verdict.

A victim's New York motorcycle accident attorney can file an appeal if they don't like the verdict. However, there are rules in place for this.

Likewise, the other party might file an appeal. If they don't, it might take many months before one receives the money they were awarded. Initially, the check goes to the attorney. Once it clears, it's used to pay the lawyer's fees and other things before the funds are disbursed to the victim.

Mistakes to Avoid After Motorcycle Accidents in New York

In addition to not hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, there are many other things a victim shouldn't do during a personal injury case. These include:

1. Admitting Fault

It's natural to apologize after something bad happens, such as a motorcycle accident. However, the victim shouldn't admit fault or say they're sorry to anyone, including witnesses, insurance companies, the police, or the at-fault driver.

Admitting fault could seriously damage the case. Victims could be responsible for traffic tickets and the losses of others.

New York uses the comparative fault rule to determine how much a person can receive in damages. Therefore, the victim's compensation award is reduced by their percentage of fault.

Sometimes, victims think their motorcycle accidents are their fault, though that may be untrue. There could be factors related to the accident that they weren't aware of. Ultimately, it's wise to let a personal injury attorney conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

2. Waiting too Long

After a motorcycle crash in New York, it's tempting to wait to contact a lawyer. The victim is likely in pain and worried about so many other things.

However, the attorney requires time to build a strong motorcycle accident case. They must preserve evidence, handle communications with the insurance companies, and interview witnesses.

Likewise, New York has a statute of limitations of just three years to file the lawsuit. This seems like a lot of time, but negotiations and investigations can take much longer than one thinks.

3. Giving Information to the Insurance Company

While most policies require the holder to notify the insurer of a motorcycle accident, it's unwise to give a detailed statement or sign agreements initially. Speak to a lawyer first; they will handle communications with the insurance companies.

Many times, insurers try to get motorcycle crash victims to settle for less than they deserve. If the victim provides information, the insurance adjuster might reduce or deny the claim. It's always best to use a lawyer to speak to the company representatives. They will determine what should be signed and when.

4. Agreeing to the First Settlement

Motorcycle accidents are not covered by the no-fault insurance law in New York. This allows victims to sue for medical bills and other damages. However, the injured party might be unable to work, and the financial pressure will build up. Therefore, they may want to settle as soon as possible to get some compensation.

Patience is crucial in motorcycle accident cases if the victim wants to get fair compensation. Insurance companies won't offer what the claim is worth, especially in the beginning. They want to pay out as little as possible and will fight until threatened with court.

Unfortunately, if the victim accepts a settlement amount that doesn't cover their losses, they cannot sue again. This is just one more reason to hire a reputable attorney.

5. Using Social Media to Explain the Motorcycle Accident

People often use social media to update friends and family members about their lives. However, when it comes to motorcycle accidents in New York, it's wise to avoid saying anything about the incident.

Insurance companies will often look at the victim's social media accounts for evidence to use against them. Even if the settings are private, there are ways to find the information.

The victim deserves fair compensation, and the best thing to do here is to stay off social media until the motorcycle accident case is resolved. Though it sounds extreme, even photos of a vacation or hobby can be twisted around to indicate that the injuries aren't that bad.

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries One Might Sustain

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries One Might Sustain

Motorcycles are designed in such a way that riders are at great risk for serious injuries if they're in an accident. While leathers, helmets, and other safety gear can help, they won't protect from everything.

Some injuries after a motorcycle crash in New York are obvious, but internal organ damage or a traumatic brain injury might take weeks before symptoms show up.

Even if the victim feels fine after the motorcycle accident, it's wise to get checked out by a doctor to rule out "hidden" injuries. Likewise, they should pay attention to how they feel weeks after the incident.

Here are a few common injuries that motorcyclists might experience after an accident:

  • Mental health problems

  • Loss of limbs

  • Organ damage

  • Loss of sight, speech, or hearing

  • Cuts and lacerations

  • Traumatic brain or head injuries (including severe brain damage and mild concussions)

  • Torn muscles or ligaments

  • Sprains or strains

  • Spinal cord injuries (such as paralysis)

  • Neck/back injuries (including fractures, slipped discs, and whiplash)

  • Broken bones

  • Facial injuries

  • Road rash, skin infections, and burns

Hire a New York Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Most motorcycle accidents cause severe injuries to the riders because there is less protection available. This leads to people dealing with lost wages and medical expenses.

New York has many rules in place regarding auto accidents, though motorcyclists have more leeway than other drivers. Still, it's wise to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to recover compensation for injuries sustained. Call The Law Office of Carl Maltese to schedule a free consultation today.


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