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Motorcycle Accidents

Albany Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

People ride motorcycles for a number of reasons. Riding is low-impact exercise that burns calories. It builds muscle, makes the brain work harder, and elevates mood. Despite its advantages, without a doubt, riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car. Per vehicle miles traveled, the risk of a fatal accident is nearly 29 times greater on a motorcycle, as stated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

What Makes Riding Motorcycles More Dangerous?

It is inherently riskier to ride a motorcycle than to drive a car for several reasons:

  • Motorcycles are smaller and less visible than larger passenger vehicles. Other drivers may miss them in their blind spots or simply fail to register their presence on the road.
  • Motorcycles are less stable than four-wheeled cars and trucks. Potholes, uneven pavement, water, gravel, or debris on the road can be serious hazards for bikers. Braking or swerving in an emergency can cause a rider to lose control of the bike.
  • Motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. In a crash, they can be thrown from the bike and are more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be seriously injured or killed.

How Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?

As with all motor vehicle accidents, there are many contributing factors to motorcycle crashes, and many involve human error. A leading cause is failure of other motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles on the road. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Negligent left turns: Drivers executing left turns at intersections may misjudge distance and speed and turn into the path of oncoming motorcycle moving through a green light. In some cases, drivers focused on executing the turn and looking for larger vehicles, simply fail to register the approaching motorcycle.
  • Unsafe lane changes: A driver who fails to signal and check blind spots before changing lanes may collide with a motorcycle in the lane the driver is entering or cut the motorcyclist off.
  • Tailgating: Following too closely is dangerous. It does not allow enough time to react in case the driver in front has to stop suddenly. Tailgating is particularly risky when a 4,000 lb. passenger vehicle is following a motorcycle.
  • Speeding: More than 11,000 people in the U.S. were killed in speeding-related crashes in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of all traffic fatalities, including deaths on motorcycles, 29% involved speeding.
  • Dooring: When an occupant of a parked vehicle opens a car door into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist, it can have devastating consequences. Dooring can cause serious injuries to riders, including traumatic brain injury, fractured bones, internal organ damage, and injury to the spine.
  • Head-on collisions: When a car strikes a motorcycle head-on, it can be catastrophic for the rider. This type of crash can occur when a fatigued or intoxicated driver veers into the lane of oncoming traffic, or when a driver goes the wrong way on a one-way road.

What Are the New York Motorcycle Laws?

To operate a motorcycle in New York, you need a Class M or Class MJ operator's license. You can obtain a Class M license by passing a written test, a pre-licensing course, and a road test. If you already have a Class D or DJ driver's license, you can apply for a motorcycle learner's permit (Class M or MJ) before getting a full Class M license.

All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear helmets that comply with the standards set by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, regardless of age. Motorcycles must be designed and equipped to carry passengers. Passengers are required to have a separate seat and footrests.

Motorcycles must have certain equipment, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, mirrors, and turn signals. Handlebars must not be higher than the shoulders of the operator when seated on the motorcycle.

Like other motor vehicles, motorcycles must be insured with liability coverage. The minimum liability coverage requirements in New York are $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 for property damage per accident.

Lane splitting (riding between lanes of traffic) is illegal in New York. Motorcycles are expected to follow the same rules as other vehicles regarding lane usage.

What Are the Legal Challenges of Motorcycle Accident Claims

Motorcycle accident claims can face several legal challenges due to various factors unique to these cases:

  • Bias and Prejudice: There can be inherent bias against motorcyclists, often leading to assumptions that the rider was at fault. This bias might affect the way the case is perceived by insurance adjusters, jurors, or even law enforcement officers.

  • Serious Injuries: Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries due to lack of protection compared to car drivers. Severe injuries can result in extensive medical bills, long-term treatment, and ongoing rehabilitation, which can complicate the claim.

  • Difficulty in Determining Fault: Determining fault in a motorcycle accident can be complex. Factors like road conditions, visibility, actions of other drivers, and the motorcyclist's behavior before the accident can all impact the determination of fault.

  • Limited Insurance Coverage: In some cases, the at-fault driver might not have sufficient insurance coverage to compensate for the damages, leaving the injured motorcyclist struggling to recover the full extent of their losses.

  • Challenges in Proving Damages: Documenting and proving the extent of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future financial impacts, can be challenging. Gathering evidence and building a strong case is crucial but can be difficult after a severe accident.

  • Negligent Motorcyclists: Sometimes, the motorcyclist's actions could contribute to the accident. This can complicate the claim process, especially if the motorcyclist is found partially at fault.

  • Complex Legal Process: Legal procedures involved in filing claims, dealing with insurance companies, and navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, especially for someone dealing with injuries and recovery.

To overcome these challenges, it's crucial to:

  • Seek Legal Counsel: A knowledgeable attorney experienced in motorcycle accident cases can help navigate the complexities and advocate for fair compensation.

  • Gather Evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible at the scene, including photographs, witness statements, and police reports.

  • Document Injuries: Keep detailed records of medical treatments, expenses, and the impact of injuries on daily life.

  • Understand Insurance Policies: Understand your insurance coverage and consider options like underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage that might apply in case the other party has insufficient insurance.

Navigating the legal challenges of motorcycle accident claims often requires expertise, patience, and a comprehensive understanding of the legal process. Consulting with a legal professional specializing in these cases is highly recommended.

How Do You Get Compensated for a Motorcycle Crash in Albany?

No-fault insurance laws in New York do not apply to motorcycle accident claims. To seek fault-based compensation, it is not necessary to prove you have suffered a serious injury. If someone else caused your motorcycle accident and injuries, you are entitled to file a claim for compensation against the at-fault party. Your best chance of winning the maximum recovery is to have an experienced Albany motorcycle accident lawyer by your side.

At Russell Friedman Law Group, we are a trusted team of attorneys who are committed to putting your best interests first. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another, call us at (518) 520-4667 to schedule a free consultation.

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