Your Guide to Motorcycle Accident Laws in New York: Know Your Rights

Motorcycle Accident

Is there anything more exciting than zipping down our New York roads on your trusty motorcycle? Motorcycles are a blast to ride, but accidents involving them are very common. More than 6,000 motorcyclists died in accidents in 2021, accounting for 14% of all traffic fatalities nationwide and 18% of all traffic fatalities in New York.

If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle crash, you could use the help of a Queens motorcycle accident lawyer. Here’s what to know about motorcycle accident laws from a motorcycle accident lawyer in Queens.

How Motorcycle Accidents Differ From Car Accidents

All types of traffic accidents have the potential to be deadly, but motorcycle accidents are much more dangerous than the average car crash. Cars offer protections, such as seatbelts and airbags, that motorcycles don’t have.

As any experienced Queens motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you, motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic. In a motorcycle accident, bikers can be flung from their rides 20 feet or more down the road. They can suffer painful road rash, lacerations, burns, and traumatic brain injuries.

The laws affecting motorcycles are a bit different, too. New York is a no-fault state, meaning drivers can claim for an accident with their own insurance company. However, New York’s no-fault law doesn’t apply to motorcyclists. That’s because the state doesn’t consider motorcycles “motor vehicles.”

What does this mean for you? Essentially, you can’t make an insurance claim for your medical bills if you have a crash. However, it is possible to sue another driver if their negligence caused the accident.

Moreover, you don’t have to meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold to do so. Drivers covered by no-fault insurance must meet this threshold if they wish to sue, but the law makes an exception for motorcyclists.

Laws Affecting Motorcycle Accidents

Other laws affecting motorcyclists include:

  • Comparative fault: In some states, you can’t recover damages unless you’re less than 50% or 51% at fault. New York, however, allows you to collect compensation even if you’re 99% at fault for the accident. The court will determine your liability for the accident and then reduce your compensation accordingly.
  • Helmet laws: New York requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. If you fail to wear a helmet and have an accident, this could affect your settlement amount. You may also have to pay fines.
  • Lane splitting: Lane splitting involves driving between lanes to avoid traffic. Doing this can be tempting when the highway is packed with cars, but it’s wise to avoid this temptation. Not only is lane splitting dangerous, it’s also illegal. Stay safe and refrain from zipping between cars.
  • Right of way: Motorcyclists must yield right of way when required, just as all other drivers. Failure to do so could affect your settlement.
  • Statute of limitations: New York gives motorcyclists three years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you can’t recover any damages.

How Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?

Like car accidents, motorcycle accidents can happen for many reasons, including the following:

  • Driving between lanes: Also called lane splitting, this is illegal, as mentioned above.
  • Speeding: Motorcyclists love the thrill of speed, but the risk of a serious accident isn’t worth it.
  • Sudden stops: Motorcyclists who follow too closely behind other cars can have an accident if the car in front of them stops suddenly. This can cause riders to be thrown from their bikes.
  • Distracted driving: Accidents can happen if you’re distracted by your phone or a passenger riding on your bike.
  • Driving while intoxicated: Most bikers know not to hop on their ride after a few too many drinks, but some ignore reason (and the law) regardless, with predictably bad outcomes for them and others on the road.

What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident

If you want a fair settlement after your accident, here’s what to do:

  • Collect evidence at the accident scene, including pictures of your bike, the other driver’s car, and factors that might have contributed to the accident.
  • Gather witness statements while at the scene. Ask witnesses for their contact information so your Queens motorcycle accident lawyer can call them later.
  • Report the accident to the police. In New York, you must make a report within ten days if the accident involved more than $1,000 of property damage.
  • See a doctor, even if you think you’re not badly hurt. Some injuries don’t become apparent until well after the accident, so you could end up with long-lasting problems if you don’t seek care promptly.

Talk to a Queens Motorcycle Accident Attorney Now

If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, call a Queens motorcycle accident attorney immediately. Our firm has successfully represented many motorcycle accident victims for hit-and-runs and rear-end collisions, and we’d love to do the same for you.

For a free consultation with a Queens motorcycle accident lawyer, call Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC, at (888) ASK-ELLIOT.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a common injury in motorcycle accidents?

Road rash is a very common injury in motorcycle accidents. An impact can send riders skidding across the pavement, leading to severe road rash if they’re not wearing good protective gear. Other common injuries include broken bones, head injuries, and spinal injuries.

How long does it take to recover after a motorcycle accident?

Depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries, it could take a few months or even years to recover after a motorcycle accident. Some victims never recover completely.

What are some common causes of motorcycle accidents?

Speeding and failure to yield are two common causes of motorcycle crashes. Distracted driving, driving while intoxicated, and poor weather conditions contribute to crashes as well.

What should you not do after a motorcycle accident?

Never admit fault to anyone at the accident scene, even if you think you somehow contributed to the accident. Admitting fault could affect your case. Ideally, don’t give a statement to anyone until you’ve spoken with a Queens motorcycle accident lawyer.