Motorcycle accident cases are complex, often involving serious injuries to the motorcycle rider and thousands of dollars or total loss in property damage to the motorcycle. With approximately 122,000 motorcycles in New Jersey and 385,000 in New York, statistics show the growing popularity of riding motorcycles.
As more people ride motorcycles, statistics show an increase in motorcycle accident injuries and deaths. Read on as our motorcycle accident lawyer with Sadaka Law describes the legal processes involved in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
For help from our team at Sadaka Law with your motorcycle injury case, call our law firm in New Jersey at 1-800-810-3457 or in New York at 201-266-5670.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
If you have an accident while riding your bike in New York or New Jersey, follow these steps.
- Get medical help immediately for yourself and anyone else who might have injuries. Do not remove any protective gear, as the shock from the accident can mask pain, and you might injure yourself further. Get copies of any medical documentation of your injuries for your own records and for your motorcycle accident attorney.
- Call the police to file a police report. Request a copy of the report and verify that the information is correct. If you notice errors on the report, your attorney can help you have the police department correct the report. Never admit fault.
- Get both insurance and contact information from the parties involved. Also, collect contact information from witnesses.
- Take pictures and video of the accident scene. Include photos of injuries, damage to your bike and surrounding property, and damage to the other vehicle.
- Write down your remembrance of the events as soon as possible. While you still grasp the details, write down everything you remember from the accident. Your record will be important if you take your claim to court.
- Call a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer. If you already have a motorcycle attorney, contact them immediately. If you don’t, or if you would like a second opinion on your case, call our motorcycle law firm at Sadaka Law.
- File your motorcycle accident claim with your insurance company. You may be able to file your claim with the other party’s insurance provider instead. Ask your attorney to compare coverage and recommend under which policy to file your claim. Let your attorney advise you before speaking to the insurance agent.
Common Injuries to a Motorcycle Rider in an Accident
Because a motorcycle rider has very little protection from injuries when riding, even low-impact accidents can result in severe injuries. Common injuries for motorcycle riders include:
- Cuts, scrapes, or road rash
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Disfigurement or amputation
- Traumatic brain injuries
Helmets save lives, and New York and New Jersey require riders and passengers of all ages to wear a helmet.
In New York, all riders and passengers must wear a DOT-approved helmet. Additionally, drivers must wear eye protection in the form of goggles, safety glasses, or a face shield attached to their helmet. Violations of the helmet law can incur a $100 fine, 30 days in jail, or both.
New Jersey also requires helmets of the appropriate size for the rider’s head, with a chin or neck strap, and reflectorizing on both sides of the helmet. You may wear half helmets if they are DOT-approved.
How Do I File Insurance Claims for My Injuries and Damage to My Bike?
Speak with your motorcycle accident lawyer to determine if you should file your motorcycle accident claim with your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company.
Motorcycle Insurance in New Jersey
New Jersey requires motorcyclists to carry a minimum of:
- $15,000 of bodily injury liability for a single person
- $30,000 for total bodily injury liability for two or more people
- $5,000 in property damage liability coverage
Liability coverage does not protect you or your bike in an accident. You can add optional coverages to supplement your insurance policy in the event of an accident, including comprehensive, collision, MedPay, and towing and labor coverage.
Medical payments insurance helps you cover your own medical expenses after an accident in a no-fault state. Unlike Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, it will not help you cover lost wages or additional costs beyond your medical expenses.
Motorcycle Insurance in New York
New York requires motorcyclists to carry a minimum of:
- $10,000 in property damage liability coverage
- $25,000 injury liability and $50,000 death liability for a single person
- $50,000 injury liability and $100,000 death liability for two or more people
Auto insurance has the added requirement of uninsured motorist coverage. Neither motorcycle nor auto insurance requires PIP coverage, meaning that you could be responsible for your own medical bills after a motorcycle accident if the negligent driver of the other vehicle is uninsured or underinsured to cover your medical expenses.
What If Insurance Denies My Claim?
Insurance companies regularly deny insurance claims for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in accidents. Each has massive legal representation in every state they serve. Even your own insurance company has a legal team ready to dispute your claim in court.
In addition, neither New York and New Jersey offer personal injury protection (PIP) to motorcyclists. PIP coverage is what pays for your medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy, and more after an accident. Even with MedPay, you only receive coverage for your medical expenses rather than additional losses due to your injuries.
The insurance company through which you choose to file your claim may either deny your claim or offer to pay far less than your injuries are worth. The company wants you to take its first offer instead of paying fair compensation for your injuries and associated costs.
If the insurance company denies your claim or makes a lowball offer, discuss your options to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit with your attorney.
How Do I File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
The processes to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit are nearly identical in New Jersey and New York. Your attorney will follow the steps below to take the defendant to court and help you seek appropriate compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve never taken an insurance claim to court, you should know that if you attempt to file the claim with the other party’s insurance company, you will likely have to sue the other driver. Their insurance company will represent them in court.
If you filed your insurance claim with your insurance company, you can name the company directly as the defendant in your motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Filing a Complaint
In both New York and New Jersey, your motorcycle accident lawyer will help you file and serve the complaint. Your attorney will draft the complaint and deliver it to the court and arrange to have a copy sent to the defendant (a.k.a., “served”) along with the Summons, the official notice of a lawsuit.
The complaint includes the details of your claim. It includes your injuries, property damage, negligent behavior by the defendant that contributed to your injuries, and your recounting of the events of the accident.
The Defendant’s Answer
The defendant will have to file an official “answer” to your complaint with the court, including admitting or denying allegations in the case, defending statements, and counterclaims about wrongdoing on your part that led to the accident.
The discovery process is the case-building period. The attorneys for the plaintiff (you) and the defendant both gather documentation, deposition testimony, evidence, and expert witness reviews of the case facts. The defendant may also require you to get an independent medical examination (IME) for a second opinion on your injuries from their preferred doctor.
Discovery typically lasts six months to one year, although the timing could be longer for a more complex case.
During discovery, attorneys on both sides can request that the court enforce the cooperation of the other side’s legal team with a Motion to Compel Discovery. They might also file a Motion to Change Venue to move the case to a new court for the case arguments.
The defendant may try to file a Motion to Dismiss the case (to preclude the trial before a court hearing). Just because either side files a motion with the court does not mean that the court will grant the motion.
The Court Trial
Many cases resolve in settlements before ever reaching trial. Insurance companies often decide to cut their losses before having to pay accumulated attorney fees and court costs. However, your case could go to trial if the insurance company still believes it has a good chance in court.
If you and the defendant have not reached a settlement by the end of discovery, the case will go to trial. A judge or jury will hear evidence and witness testimony and determine whether to award compensation and how much.
At any time during the trial, you and the defendant may still settle before the judge or jury turns in a verdict.
What If I’m Partly at Fault?
New York and New Jersey are both comparative negligence states, but they differ as follows.
In New York, that means that if the court determines that you’re 20% liable for the accident, it will reduce your award by 20%. So, if the court initially awarded $100,000, but you were 20% responsible, you will receive $80,000.
New York is a pure comparative negligence state, so even if the court hypothetically determines that you were 80% liable for the accident, you could still recover 20% of any compensation awarded.
However, New Jersey is a modified comparative negligence state. If you were more than 50% liable for your injuries, you would not receive any compensation for your claim. However, the court might consider separation of liability for specific damages. For example, your liability may exceed 50% for head injuries if you weren’t wearing a helmet but could be 20% for other injuries in your accident.
In a case where the court determines you are more than 50% liable for certain injuries, you would not receive compensation for costs associated with those injuries. However, you could still receive adjusted compensation for your other injuries.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim or Lawsuit If the Road Was Bad?
Yes, you can file a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit if the road condition caused the accident. However, you will only have 90 days to file with the court since you will need to sue the municipality or other responsible government organization for poor road upkeep.
Contact our motorcycle accident lawyer at Sadaka Law to learn more about pursuing compensation from a government entity for your injuries.
Statute of Limitations to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim
The statute of limitations in New York and New Jersey to file a personal injury claim for a motorcycle accident is usually two years from the date of the accident. However, under specific circumstances, you may only have 90 days to file your motorcycle accident lawsuit, such as against the municipality if you were involved in an accident with a public transportation vehicle.
What Compensation Can I Pursue in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
You can pursue economic, non-economic, and punitive damages in your motorcycle accident lawsuit.
Economic damages include medical costs, lost wages, physical therapy bills, and property damage to your bike, phone, jewelry, or riding gear. These damages seek to repay the financial stresses brought on by your accident.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, diminished quality of life, stress disorders, disfigurement, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and more. The court may assign a value to add to your compensation for these non-fiduciary conditions as a result of your motorcycle accident.
You may also wish to pursue punitive damages if the other party’s negligence in the accident seemed dangerous, malicious, or immoral. The court might award punitive damages to deter similar behavior by the defendant in the future.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident?
The final settlement amount for a motorcycle accident lawsuit varies from case to case. It may be a few thousand dollars or a few hundred thousand. Your motorcycle accident settlement will depend on the extent of your injuries, shared liability for your injuries, and what types of compensation you wish to pursue.
How Can an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer From Sadaka Law Help Me Build My Case?
Our personal injury lawyers will do behind-the-scenes work to research your accident, get expert testimony, and seek additional sources of evidence. We can:
- contact experts like orthopedic surgeons or neurologists about your injuries
- research legal precedent in similar cases
- procure additional footage of your accident from alternate angles, such as from nearby security cameras
- review police reports, medical records, and driving history
- reconstruct the accident
Our knowledgeable attorneys also know how to address a jury that may not include a single motorcycle rider. We can build a strong case and help to enlighten a jury despite their unconscious biases that a motorcycle accident must be the motorcyclist’s fault. We can teach the jury about the safety precautions that motorcyclists must learn in order to legally ride a motorcycle.
Too often, motorcycle accidents result in a fatality for the motorcycle rider. They leave behind family, friends, and loved ones who suddenly have to deal with the expenses of medical treatment, funeral costs, and loss of income from a primary household contributor.
If you recently lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, know that the immediate family of the biker has legal recourse to pursue compensation for their loss. New York and New Jersey have similar wrongful death laws, but you should speak with your motorcycle accident attorney to learn what you may be able to pursue in your state.
In New York, the only person who can file a wrongful death claim is the representative of the estate of the deceased. The executor usually files on behalf of the deceased’s dependents, including their spouse and children.
Possible compensation to pursue would include wrongful death expenses and survival compensation if the deceased survived for a period after the accident. Your family may be able to seek expenses and compensation for:
- Medical bills to treat the deceased after the accident
- Funeral costs
- Lost income that the decedent would have earned in their lifetime
- Lost value for household services such as yard work, cooking, or other contributions
- Pain and suffering of the decedent after surviving the accident
- Loss of companionship
For those things that do not have a direct monetary value, the court will estimate a value, such as for loss of companionship or the value contributed to the household for certain chores.
Compensation awarded in a wrongful death claim will be distributed to the spouse and any dependents according to division by the court. Compensation awarded for survivorship will disburse to the decedent’s estate, and the executor of the deceased’s will and trusts will distribute the additional funds according to the deceased’s wishes.
How To Get a Motorcycle Endorsement in New York
New York offers a Class M or Class MJ motorcycle endorsement. The Class MJ is a junior motorcycle operator license for riders between 16 and 18. New York does not require a motorcycle learner’s permit for riders over 18.
The process to get a motorcycle endorsement includes a written test and a road test. New York does not require a motorcycle safety class, but taking one can replace the road test to get your motorcycle endorsement. A safety course may also lower your motorcycle insurance premiums.
How To Get a Motorcycle Endorsement in New Jersey
In New Jersey, you may apply for a motorcycle endorsement to add to your existing New Jersey Driver’s License or apply for a motorcycle license if you don’t already have a New Jersey Driver’s License. The state requires all riders to first apply for and drive with a motorcycle learner’s permit, although riders over 18 can waive the permit requirement if they pass an approved Basic Rider Course (BRC).
Riders under 21 must hold their learner’s permit for six months before applying for their motorcycle endorsement or license, while riders over 21 can hold their permit for three months before applying for a motorcycle endorsement or license.
New Jersey requires all riders under 18 to take the Basic Rider Course (BRC) approved by the New Jersey Motorcycle Safety Education Program (MSEP). Riders over 18 can take the course as an option to waive the permit requirement to apply for a motorcycle endorsement. Riders seeking a motorcycle license must still obtain their learner’s permit first.
Taking the MSEP BRC will allow motorcycle endorsement applicants to waive the requirements for the written and road tests and help lower insurance premiums.
Licensing and endorsement requirements include a written test and a road test. Riders who don’t take the MSEP BRC will need to pass both tests to receive their motorcycle endorsement or license.
How Do I Find a Reputable Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
At Sadaka Law, we represent motorcyclists in New York and New Jersey. We have over 30 years of experience pursuing justice for injured clients. Whether a negligent driver, poor road conditions, public transport collision, defective manufacturing, or some other reason caused your motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm can help you seek adequate compensation.
Insurance claims for motorcycle accidents often lead to legal proceedings for bikers and their families. Our experienced legal team at Sadaka Law can help build your case against the insurance company in a motorcycle accident personal injury case, or against the negligent party who cost your loved one their life in a wrongful death lawsuit.
We follow our core values to use our strength, our compassion, and our experience to help injured clients right the wrongs committed against them. Our mission at Sadaka Law is to be passionate advocates for our clients during the most trying times of their lives. We promise to dedicate ourselves to our clients and remain persistent in the pursuit of justice.
Contact Us at Sadaka Law After Your Motorcycle Accident in New Jersey or New York
At Sadaka Law, we care deeply for each of our clients and their families. Call us today to help you with your motorcycle accident lawsuit in New Jersey at 1-800-810-3457 or in New York at 201-266-5670.