Can I Bring a Lawsuit for my Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
As the weather warms and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) social distancing measures continue, many who have been stuck inside, and who have been staring at their parked motorcycles all through the winter will bring them out on the road. Unfortunately, a portion of them will be injured in collisions. It is important to speak with an attorney who understands the differences in how New York State law treats motorcyclists and their passengers, as opposed to car and truck drivers, and pedestrians.
In New York State, motorcycles are specifically excluded from No Fault Insurance Coverage.
Motorcyclists' injuries can be much worse than those suffered by car or truck drivers because a motorcyclist (or a passenger on a motorcycle) travels with their body exposed. When a collision occurs, often, the motorcyclist’s body is struck directly, unlike a car or truck, where the exterior may shield them from direct impact.
Notably, motorcyclists in New York are generally denied No Fault coverage under state law, which covers drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accident. In fact, Insurance Law 5102(f) specifically excludes motorcycles from the definition of motor vehicles with respect to calculating No Fault Insurance coverage. What that means is that you will probably not be covered by New York State's No Fault insurance to cover your medical bills or lost wages if you are a driver or passenger on a motorcycle no matter how badly you are hurt.
However, if you are a pedestrian or another driver involved in a collision with a motorcycle and are injured, you will probably be covered by New York State No Fault insurance.
Because motorcyclists and their passengers are not covered under No Fault insurance, they are not bound by the same restrictions that drivers, passengers and pedestrians with respect to filing a lawsuit.
When can I sue for my Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
Generally speaking, in order to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, a person's injuries must qualify as "Serious Injur[ies]" under Article 51 of the N.Y.S. Insurance Law. Remember, this typically does not apply to motorcycle drivers or passengers.
Insurance Law section 5102(d) states: “Serious injury” means a personal injury which results in
loss of a fetus;
permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person's usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
However, as stated above, motorcyclists and their passengers are not covered by New York State No Fault insurance, so the above list does not apply to them.
It is possible for a motorcyclist or their passenger in New York State to bring a lawsuit for injuries that do not qualify as "serious" pursuant to the Insurance Law above. This is a "trade off" for not being covered under No Fault Insurance.
If you were injured in a collision as a motorcycle driver or passenger anywhere in the Bronx, Yonkers, New York City, Westchester, Rockland, or surrounding areas, it is important to speak with an attorney who is familiar with the particulars of motorcycle collisions sooner rather than later, because there are strict time limits for filing lawsuits in the state.
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