Can You Settle A Motorcycle Crash Without A Lawyer?

More people are discovering the joys of riding the open road on a motorcycle. Between 2002 and 2022, the number of bikes registered on U.S. roadways doubled from 4.3 million to 8.6 million. If you count yourself among them, you likely understand that riding a motorcycle is as risky as enjoyable.

Though many measures protect motorcyclists from harm, accidents are still too common. Severe injuries are more likely in states where riders do not need helmets. If you have a motorcycle accident, you may be tempted to settle your claim without a lawyer. However, an attorney might improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

What the Motorcycle Accident Numbers Say

Riding a motorcycle requires more skills and attention than driving a passenger vehicle. However, it doesn’t matter how skilled or attentive you are; you are more vulnerable on a bike than in a vehicle. Unfortunately, motorcycles are less stable and afford less protection than cars. Furthermore, motorists often do not see motorcycles, making riding even more dangerous.

National Motorcycle Crash Statistics

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases crash reports and traffic safety data. In 2020, the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities for motorcyclists presented sobering details. Though the number of registered machines on U.S. roadways was lower in 2020 than in 2011, the number of people who died or sustained injuries in a crash was higher, with 4,630 fatalities and 81,706 injuries in 2011 versus 5,579 and 82,528, respectively, in 2022.

Alcohol was a significant factor in fatal motorcycle accidents. In fatal crashes involving just the motorcycle, 41% of riders were alcohol-impaired. Furthermore, motorcyclists were more likely to be impaired than any other type of driver in fatal crashes.

States without mandatory helmet laws had significantly higher rates of fatalities (57%) among those not wearing helmets versus states with mandatory helmet laws (11%). Additionally, riders were 28 times more likely to die in a crash than motorists, and more than a third of those who died did not have a valid motorcycle license. Motorcycles make up only 3% of vehicles on the road but have a higher injury and fatality rate than passenger vehicles and light trucks.

New York Accident Data and Trends

In May 2022, the New York Governor’s office delivered a press release warning of the dramatic rise in fatal motorcycle accidents, which had increased by 50% since 2019. In 2021, there were 4,931 traffic accidents in the state involving motorcycles, resulting in 200 fatalities, 1,041 serious injuries, 1,198 moderate injuries and 1,442 minor injuries.

New York State mandates all riders wear helmets, and it was the first state to do so. However, a bill in the Senate proposes to eliminate the requirement for motorcyclists over the age of 21. In 2021, data showed that of the 3,660 crashes involving helmeted riders, 174 led to fatalities, and 2,807 resulted in minor to severe injuries. The 653 accidents involving un-helmeted riders resulted in 20 deaths and 520 minor to severe injuries.

Economic Impacts of Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in injuries and fatalities than vehicle crashes. Compared to passenger vehicles, most of the costs you incur are not damage to property but to your person. An NHTSA study found that in 2019, motorcycle crashes resulted in total economic losses of $16.9 billion and $107.1 billion when comprehensive costs are included.

If you are involved in a crash, it can be costly. The financial impacts go beyond the high costs of medical care. You may also need rehabilitation and physical and mental health therapies. You could become permanently physically impaired and even experience long-term post-traumatic stress disorder. Any time you lose at work is lost income. Severe injuries can lead to permanent income impacts.

While these damages are generally calculable — meaning you can add up the receipts, bills and lost paychecks — other losses have very real impacts. You may experience pain and suffering. You might face challenges maintaining relationships or participating in daily life the way you used to before the accident. Though these impacts are not directly measurable, they are very real. If your accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for these losses.

Why Settling Without a Lawyer May Not Be in Your Best Interest

When you get into a traffic accident, the standard procedure in New York is to file a claim with your own insurance provider. This state requires insurance companies to provide no-fault personal injury protection coverage to all motorists, and motorists must carry the coverage. PIP insurance pays for your injuries, a percentage of lost wages and nominal related expenses when you sustain injuries as a motor vehicle occupant or pedestrian, regardless of who is liable for the accident.

Unfortunately, the law does not apply to those riding motorcycles. In fact, insurance companies are allowed to place an exclusion on coverage for riders, and most take advantage of this legal right. Therefore, if you sustain injuries in a motorcycle crash, you are automatically disadvantaged unless your insurance policy states that your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle.

You will most likely need to fight for compensation, even if the other party was entirely at fault. To make matters worse, insurance companies are generally biased against motorcyclists. No provider wants to part with the cash their customers pay them to protect them in an accident. They invariably work hard to reduce their financial responsibilities by finding ways to lower or deny claims. They are even more motivated when the accident involves a motorcycle.

How an Attorney Can Help

Insurance companies know how to take advantage of the law and the lack of knowledge people have when filing insurance claims. Unless you fully understand the law and your rights, you will likely not get the compensation you deserve if you settle on your own. Working with a Cellino Law attorney may lead to a more favorable outcome, whether you stick with filing an insurance claim or decide to go the legal route.

The motorcycle accident statistics show how serious crashes can be. Contrary to popular opinion and insurance provider bias, riders are not always at fault when they get into an accident. Even if you are partially to blame, New York’s comparative negligence statute entitles you to receive compensation for your losses. The amount you receive depends on your degree of fault, so it can help to have an experienced attorney on your side.

Our motorcycle accident lawyers provide the following services:

  • Performing a case review to determine potential recourse and informing you of your rights
  • Gathering the evidence and assessing the facts
  • Speaking with witnesses and interviewing relevant professionals
  • Calculating economic and non-economic damages, including projections of future losses
  • Completing and filing paperwork
  • Negotiating a settlement

Your attorney will also handle all communications with the insurance company or defense attorneys to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process and prevent you from inadvertently jeopardizing your claim.

How To Get Started With a Cellino Law Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, don’t leave your settlement in the hands of the insurance company. Cellino Law’s lawyers can help you fight for the compensation you deserve, even if you decide only to pursue an insurance claim. Getting started is simple: Contact our offices for a free case review to learn about your options and our services.

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