Determining Fault In A New York Motorcycle Accident

Determining Fault In A New York Motorcycle Accident
Calendar icon May 14, 2024

When it comes to navigating the streets and highways of New York, motorcyclists often face significant hazards. Motorcycle accidents in the Empire State are unfortunately common, and one important question inevitably arises in the aftermath of a collision: “Who is at fault?” Determining responsibility in a motorcycle accident involves understanding New York’s traffic laws and the specifics of each individual case.

Fault determines how compensation claims are treated and to what extent an injured party can recover damages for their losses. Thus, this is a crucial aspect of New York motorcycle accident law.

Understanding Fault In a Motorcycle Accident

New York follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that even if a motorcyclist is partially at fault for the accident, they can still recover compensation. However, their recovery is reduced by the percentage that they are found to be at fault. Multiple factors are considered when determining fault percentages after an accident including traffic signals, road conditions, vehicular malfunction or defects, and the actions and decisions of those involved.

Common Causes Of Motorcycle Accidents In New York

In New York, motorcycle accidents can occur due to various factors. Some of the main causes include:

  • Distracted Driving: Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, or eating while driving can take a driver’s attention away from the road, increasing the likelihood of accidents involving motorcycles.
  • Lane Splitting: Lane splitting, where motorcycles ride between lanes of slow or stopped traffic, is illegal in New York and can lead to accidents if drivers are not aware of motorcyclists or if motorcyclists misjudge the space available.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed is a significant contributing factor in many motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are less stable than four-wheeled vehicles, and high speeds can make it more challenging to control the bike and react to hazards.
  • Driver Error: The most common cause of motorcycle accidents involves errors made by other drivers on the road. This can include things like failing to yield right-of-way, making unsafe lane changes, following motorcycles too closely, or simply not seeing motorcycles due to blind spots.
  • Impaired Driving: Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, coordination, and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents for motorcyclists as well as other road users.
  • Road Hazards: Poor road conditions such as potholes, uneven pavement, debris, or inadequate signage can pose significant hazards to motorcyclists, leading to accidents.
  • Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, ice, or fog can reduce visibility and traction, making it more challenging for motorcyclists to navigate safely.
  • Inexperienced Riders: Lack of experience or inadequate training can lead to errors in judgment and improper handling of the motorcycle, increasing the risk of accidents, especially for novice riders.
  • Dangerous Intersections: Certain intersections or areas with complex traffic patterns may be more prone to accidents involving motorcycles due to increased congestion and potential for driver confusion.
  • Vehicle Defects: Mechanical failures or defects in motorcycles, such as brake failure or tire blowouts, can lead to accidents. Regular maintenance and proper inspections can help prevent these issues.

Determining Fault In A Motorcycle Accident

In New York, fault in a motorcycle accident is determined based on various factors, similar to other types of motor vehicle accidents. Some key factors considered in determining fault include:

  • Traffic Laws: Violations of traffic laws by either party involved in the accident can play a significant role in determining fault. This includes violations such as speeding, running red lights or stop signs, improper lane changes, and failure to yield right-of-way.
  • Driver Behavior: The actions and behavior of each party leading up to the accident are carefully examined. This includes factors such as excessive speed, reckless driving, distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving), or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Witness Testimony: Statements from witnesses who observed the accident can provide valuable insight into what happened and help establish fault. Their testimony can corroborate or contradict the accounts provided by the parties involved.
  • Police Report: If law enforcement officers respond to the accident scene, they will typically file a report detailing their findings, including any citations issued and their assessment of the cause of the accident. This report can be influential in determining fault.
  • Physical Evidence: Physical evidence from the accident scene, such as skid marks, vehicle damage, debris, and the positioning of vehicles, can provide clues about how the accident occurred and who may be at fault.
  • Expert Analysis: Accident reconstruction experts may be called upon to analyze the evidence and provide expert opinions on factors such as vehicle speeds, points of impact, and causation. Their analysis can be crucial in establishing fault, especially in complex cases.
  • Motorcycle Maintenance and Condition: The condition of the motorcycle involved in the accident, including factors such as maintenance records, tire condition, and equipment failure, may be considered in determining fault.
  • Comparative Negligence: New York follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that fault can be divided among multiple parties based on their respective degree of negligence. Even if a motorcyclist is partially at fault for an accident, they may still be entitled to recover damages, although the amount may be reduced proportionately.

These factors, among others, are carefully reviewed by insurance companies, your attorney, and, if necessary, courts when determining fault in a motorcycle accident in New York. It’s essential for parties involved in an accident to gather as much evidence as possible and seek legal guidance to protect their rights and interests.

New York’s No-Fault Insurance and Motorcycles

In New York, the no-fault insurance system primarily applies to motor vehicle accidents and generally excludes motorcycles. Under no-fault, drivers of cars and other passenger vehicles are covered by their own insurance for medical expenses and other financial losses, regardless of fault. 

However, motorcycle riders typically cannot claim these benefits and instead rely on liability insurance to cover damages if another party is found at fault. While motorcycle riders can purchase optional coverage for medical expenses, such as Personal Injury Protection or Med Pay coverage, these are not mandatory and may not offer the same level of protection as no-fault benefits for motor vehicles. 

Motorcycle drivers in New York must ensure they have adequate liability insurance and consider additional coverage options to protect themselves in the event of an accident.

Do You Need A Motorcycle Accident Attorney?

After a motorcycle accident, seeking the assistance of a motorcycle accident attorney is often recommended. When working with a personal injury attorney with experience in motorcycle accident litigation, you have a professional on your side with  an in-depth understanding of the intricacies surrounding motorcycle accidents, including the specific laws and regulations applicable to such cases in your state. Accident attorneys can offer invaluable knowledge on how to properly navigate the claims process, ensuring your rights are protected. Additionally, attorneys are adept at conducting comprehensive investigations into the circumstances of the accident, gathering crucial evidence like witness statements and expert testimonies to bolster your case.

Moreover, having a motorcycle accident attorney by your side can be instrumental in negotiating with insurance companies. These negotiations can be daunting and complex, but attorneys are well-equipped to handle them on your behalf, striving to secure fair compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. Should negotiations fail to yield a satisfactory outcome, attorneys can also provide representation in court, advocating for your rights and presenting your case effectively before a judge and jury.

How Cellino Law Can Help 

At Cellino Law, we understand that every motorcycle accident is unique. Our attorneys are committed to providing legal representation tailored to the specific details of your case. We will carefully investigate your accident, collaborate with medical and accident reconstruction experts as needed, and negotiate or litigate on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.

Navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be a traumatic and difficult journey. If you or a loved one are struggling to understand who is at fault and what steps to take next, we encourage you to reach out to our team for legal assistance. By doing so, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands, enabling you to focus on your recovery and peace of mind. Contact Cellino Law at 888-888-8888 to schedule a free consultation today.

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Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.

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