Experienced Attorneys Representing Victims Of Motorcycle Accidents In Hamburg
Motorcycle accidents are often horrific and life-altering for victims. In the U.S., for example, nearly 80% of these accidents result in injury or death. In New York, motorcycle accidents cause more than 150 deaths per year. Often, these accidents are of no fault of the motorcyclist. In fact, around two-thirds of accidents are caused by other motorists failing to yield the right of way.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering. At Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, we protect clients from undervalued settlements from insurance companies, work to make sure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, and manage the entire legal process, so that you can focus on getting better. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Western New York, we want to help.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been In A Motorcycle Crash
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, your health and safety are the most pressing concerns. Seek medical attention immediately. If you’re unable to contact first responders, witnesses or other motorists should contact authorities for you. A few other helpful tips include:
- Move from harm’s way – If you’re able to, you should move to a safe place near the accident scene if you’re in the path of oncoming traffic.
- Call 911 – Even in minor accidents, you should contact police. Do not walk away from an accident without talking with law enforcement, even if you do not notice physical pain or property damage.
- Speak with investigators – Police officers on the scene will collect statements from affected parties. Provide as much detail as you can remember regarding the steps that led up to the accident, but do not admit fault.
- Collect evidence – If you’re able to, take photos and videos from the scene using your cellphone. Additionally, collect names and phone numbers of any witnesses, note the weather and road conditions, and document any physical or property damage. Be sure to ask for the name and insurance information for other motorists involved in the accident.
- Do not admit fault – When talking with law enforcement, other motorists, witnesses at the scene, or insurance companies, do not admit fault. This is important. Any admission of fault can hurt your case.
One of the most important steps you can take after you’ve been in an accident on your motorcycle is to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can file claims on your behalf, manage any settlement negotiations, and serve as your advocate throughout your recovery process.
Common Questions About Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Motorcycles
If you or someone you love have been injured, or even killed in a motorcycle accident, you probably have a lot of questions. Here, our experienced personal injury attorneys answer some of the most frequently asked questions. At Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, we offer free consultations that allow us to address any specific questions you might have about your specific motorcycle crash.
How common are motorcycle crashes in New York?
Motorcycle accidents are common in New York, and often, they result in significant injuries for the motorcyclist. In fact, according to state statistics, motorcycle accidents result in nearly 4,500 emergency room visits each year and almost 150 deaths per year.
What causes motor vehicle accidents involving motorcycles and how often is it the motorcyclist’s fault?
Unfortunately, this type of accident is rarely caused by the motorcyclist. The most common reasons for a motorist-caused accident include:
- Unsafe lane changes, e.g., failing to check a blind spot or signal a lane change
- Opening car doors into oncoming traffic
- Reckless driving and excessive speed
- Driving under the influence
- Following too closely
- Sudden stops
- Driver inexperience
Ultimately, motorists who cause a motorcycle accident may face civil or criminal liability. By hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, your attorney can help determine who was at fault and help protect your rights.
How does hiring a personal injury attorney help me?
A personal injury attorney helps you build a case and manage the legal process in a number of ways. Your attorney may help with:
- Filing legal paperwork
- Investigating the cause of your accident
- Determining who is at fault
- Contacting witnesses and law enforcement
- Working with experts to recreate the accident
- Filing claims on your behalf
- Meeting with the negligent party’s lawyers
- Negotiating with the negligent party’s insurance company
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help you protect your rights, fight for the maximum amount of compensation available to you under the insurance policies and personal injury law and manage your case so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Do I have to talk to the insurance companies?
Unfortunately, victims are often harassed by insurance companies and lawyers of the negligent party. You are not legally required to discuss your case with insurance companies or lawyers for the other parties in the car crash. By retaining your own attorney, you protect your rights and your attorney can deal with the insurance companies and other lawyers. Once you hire an attorney, be sure to forward any correspondence from any insurance companies or other lawyers.
The insurance company is offering me money to settle. Should I accept the deal?
Sometimes, insurance companies will try to bully victims or offer undervalued settlements/compensation for your injuries. Never accept a settlement offer without talking to an experienced personal injury attorney. Your lawyer is your advocate against aggressive behavior, make sure your rights are protected and help you understand all of the terms of any offer to settle your case.
How are motorcycle accidents different from car accidents?
People have asked me about the differences between motorcycle cases and car accident cases, and one of the major differences is the fact that motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance. When you’re in a car, certain insurance coverage protects you when it comes to paying for medical expenses, replacing lost wages, and covering incidental expenses to a certain extent.
With motorcycles, however, there is none of that because no-fault protection doesn’t apply. If you don’t have good health insurance of your own, you could be in big trouble as far as your medical problems are concerned.
How important is supplemental coverage?
Injuries related to so many motorcycle claims can be very, very catastrophic. If you don’t have health insurance available to help you with this, it could put us in a deep hole as far as your lawsuit is concerned because the coverage on the other side may be limited. If you get hurt because of someone’s negligence, they may have only $500,000 in coverage – and your injuries are likely to be worth far more than that.
If that’s the case, you may have so much in medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance that we could be in a difficult situation. The biggest thing when it comes to coverage on your motorcycle is to carry supplemental coverage for your motorcycle. If you’re injured and the person who injured you has only minimal coverage of around $25,000, your supplemental insurance can be a lifesaver. We tell everybody to get up to half a million dollars in coverage and have half a million dollars in supplemental coverage.
What if I was forced off the road?
Many times, drivers of motorcycles are forced off the road by other vehicles because the other driver didn’t see them. If there was no contact, the other vehicle takes off and leaves the scene and we never find out who it was, you may be out of luck. There are provisions in the New York State Law that says unless there’s contact between a vehicle and the motorcycle – and we don’t know the identity of that vehicle that may have ran you off the road – then you’re going to be in trouble.
It’s important to try to at least get some identification of that vehicle. If that does happen to you, maybe there’s some video in the area. Many people have their own home security systems that have video and show the road, and it might be the difference between finding a car and not finding a car.
What if I was partially at fault?
Under New York law, even if you’re partially at fault for causing an accident it doesn’t extinguish your right to recovery. There’s a thing called comparative fault, which means that more than one person can be responsible for an accident. Many times, jurors are left to determine how much a car was responsible for the accident and how much a motorcycle was responsible for the accident.
Can I file if I was a passenger?
Passengers of motorcycles have just as many rights as anybody else to recover from their injuries. In those situations, you may have two insurance policies to go after. Say it’s a motorcycle/car accident. If the car did something wrong, you may be able to find some coverage for your pain and suffering and other damages through that car insurance policy.
You could also go after that insurance on that motorcycle if we can show that the motorcycle driver also did something wrong in causing the accident. As a passenger on a motorcycle, you might be in a better position than the rider as far as getting full compensation for your injuries from all the options at your disposal.
Can I file if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?
Although we always encourage our clients to wear helmets for their own protection and safety, it is still possible to bring a claim in situations where you’re injured on a motorcycle while you weren’t wearing your helmet. Depending on the nature or extent of your injuries, and which body parts were injured, your damages may not be affected by whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time. You shouldn’t limit yourself by deciding against bringing an action because you weren’t wearing a helmet.
Types Of Compensation For Victims Of Motorcycle Wrecks
Victims of motorcycle accidents face new financial and physical challenges. They may be suffering from horrific pain, disfigurement or emotional distress. Medical fees, lost wages and vehicle repairs create new financial stresses. Victims are entitled to compensation for any and all emotional, physical and financial costs associated with the accident. There are two types of compensation: compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages cover any out-of-pocket and future costs related to the accident and are provided to make a victim “whole” following an accident. Compensatory damages may help cover:
- Medical bills and physical therapy costs
- Lost wages, future loss of income
- Property damage
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of normal life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
In cases in which gross negligence or malice was a factor, victims may be entitled to punitive damages. This type of compensation acts as a financial punishment for the negligent party, and it is awarded by a jury if your case goes to trial. Your lawyer will help you determine if you are entitled to punitive damages.
Call Today For A Free Case Evaluation
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, we want to help. Our attorneys are experienced in cases involving motorcycles, and we can help you protect your rights. We want you to earn the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. Call us today at 888-655-6122 or send us an email using our online form. We want to help you learn more about your legal options and answer your specific questions.