New York Motorcycle Accident Law
While a driver who strikes a motorcyclist may walk away from the crash without a scratch, the motorcyclist may suffer debilitating injuries or even a tragic death. This is because they are completely exposed to the elements, lacking the structural protections against crashes that are available to occupants of passenger cars and trucks. Unfortunately, drivers in New York often fail to respect the rights of motorcyclists to use the road. When a crash happens, a victim should contact a personal injury attorney to advocate on their behalf against defendants and their insurers. Getting proper compensation for their injuries may be a complicated process, and it is best handled by a legal professional.
Drivers may act more aggressively in the vicinity of motorcycles out of hostility toward riders, or they may simply fail to notice their presence. For example, many drivers making a left turn at an intersection fail to see an approaching motorcyclist or misjudge the speed at which the motorcycle is approaching them. Regardless of whether a driver’s conduct was intentional, reckless, or simply careless, they may be held accountable for their actions through a negligence claim. The legal theory of negligence arises from the notion that each of us should use reasonable care in our actions to avoid causing foreseeable harm to others.
Negligence in the Context of Motorcycle Accidents
Applied to the context of driving, this means that drivers need to obey traffic rules, stay alert to their surroundings, yield to others when required, and refrain from poor decisions like driving while intoxicated or engaging in road rage. If they fall short of this standard, they may be held liable for any damages resulting from a crash that they caused. Damages in motorcycle accident cases tend to be substantial, since motorcyclists may suffer long-lasting or permanent injuries. Some examples include burns, paralysis, brain damage, neck fractures, and loss of limbs.
Damages Available to Motorcycle Accident Victims
Medical expenses thus are a common category of damages in these cases. Injured riders may be able to obtain compensation for surgeries, therapy, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and other forms of treatment that they receive. Victims also tend to miss substantial time from work while they recover, and they can seek compensation for the income that they lost, as well as any permanent reduction in their earning capacity. They may need to install equipment in their home to help them cope with any permanent disabilities, and they may need assistance with handling daily tasks. All of these expenses can be compensated if they can be traced directly to the accident.
Damages like pain and suffering or scarring and disfigurement also can be significant in motorcycle accident cases. Victims can recover compensation for these damages as well, even though it is not easy to set a dollar amount for them. Awards for non-economic damages will depend on the specific type of injury and how it affects a specific victim. For example, someone who works in a customer-facing position at a restaurant, hotel, or nightclub may suffer substantial losses if they sustain facial scarring in a motorcycle accident.
Comparative Negligence May Reduce Damages Award
Many careless drivers who cause motorcycle accidents try to avoid liability by pointing the finger at the motorcyclist and arguing that they actually caused the crash. Victims should be reassured by the pure comparative negligence rule used in New York. While some states prevent victims from recovering compensation if they were at fault for the accident to any degree, and other states foreclose compensation if the victim’s fault reached a certain degree, New York does not prevent victims from recovering compensation unless they were entirely at fault. However, a damages award is reduced according to their percentage of fault. If a motorcycle rider was 30 percent at fault for causing a crash because he was speeding, for example, he could recover compensation for 70 percent of his damages.
Motorcycle Accidents Resulting in Death
Family members of riders who have been killed in fatal motorcycle accidents may face serious challenges to their emotional and financial wellbeing. They should be aware that the personal representative of their loved one’s estate can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages. Wrongful death damages can cover not only the medical bills and funeral expenses associated with the victim but also their conscious pain and suffering before their death. Moreover, family members can use these actions to recover compensation for damages based on their relationship to the victim. For example, a rider who leaves behind a wife and two young children may have provided significant support and services to his family, and they can recover compensation for these losses.
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