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Motorcycle accidents can be dangerous and exact a heavy toll on everyone involved. Because motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than other types of vehicles, motorcyclists must always be aware of their surroundings and wear proper protective gear to avoid injuries. If you or someone you know owns a motorcycle, there are certain statistics and safety precautions you need to know in order to avoid injury, and ensure the safety of others on the road.

Fast Facts: NYS Motorcycle Safety & Accident Statistics

  • Only 2% of registered vehicles in New York City are motorcycles, yet they are involved in 14% of all traffic fatalities
  • 56% of motorcycle rider fatalities were under 35 years old
  • Almost 100% of motorcycle fatalities are male 
  • Most accidents involve a motorcyclist, and another motor vehicle being at fault—not just the motorcyclists themselves
  • Approximately 450 motorcycle injuries occur every 100 million vehicle miles traveled
  • Most motorcycle crashes occur on city streets or in densely-populated areas in the Hudson Valley, such as Newburgh, rather than on highways or rural roadways

NYS Motorcycle Safety & Accident Statistics

Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in New York

  • Driving while intoxicated. According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 28% of all motorcycle fatalities involve riders with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08%.
  • Poor motorcycle training. Most motorcyclists believe they’ve had enough practice and professional training prior to riding. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Most motorcycle accidents occur in New York due to incompetent riding skills and technique.
  • Riding without a license. According to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT,) 43% of fatal accidents involve an unlicensed driver. Take the time to go through the proper channels – not just because it’s the law, but because doing so will save your life.
  • Low visibility. According to NY DOT, the types of injuries and accidents on record indicate that many are caused by low visibility on behalf of the motorcyclist. This is largely due to unsafe gear such as immobile helmets that limit the peripheral vision of the rider, as well as tinted visors that prove especially dangerous in low-light conditions.
  • Riding in bad weather. Due to the higher difficulty of operating a motorcycle, bad weather poses a much higher threat for motorcyclists compared to other types of vehicles. Slippery roads caused by rain and snow are among the most common weather-related causes of motorcycle accidents in NY. So if the weather is ever rainy or particularly icy, it may be a smart idea to leave the motorcycle at home.
  • Defects from manufacturing errors. Having your bike regularly serviced and inspected could save your life. This is especially true when purchasing a bike from a neighbor or online when you cannot trust that the stranger selling it to you is fully aware of any fixes that need to be made. Never ride a new motorcycle home from a shop or a stranger’s house. Instead, you should first have it transported to your nearest auto body shop to have it inspected thoroughly.
  • Speeding and weaving through traffic. Thanks to the slim nature of most motorcycles, many cyclists believe themselves capable of speeding between lanes of traffic. Lane splitting is not only risky but illegal in New York. Weaving between cars—especially at high speeds—multiplies a cyclist’s risk of death and injury. Remember that motorcycles are bound to the same rules of the road as any other New York state vehicle. Waiting in traffic like everyone else certainly beats breaking bones and risking the lives of yourself and others.

Other Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

  • Drivers unaware of motorcyclists nearby
  • Speeding, both on the part of the motorcyclist or other drivers
  • Sudden stops, which can cause rear-end accidents
  • Lane splitting or unsafe lane changes
  • Left-turn accidents, particularly if a car driver is not paying attention
  • Car doors opening in the path of an oncoming motorcycle
  • Dangerous road conditions like crumbling or loose pavement
  • Lack of signaling or signage from another driver

Most Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents

Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents in New York

  • Concussions
  • Brain trauma
  • Severe road rash
  • Broken bones 
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Mental health issues
  • Paralysis
  • Burns from exploded parts

Best Ways to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

Practice Safe Motorcycle Habits

Motorcyclists can also lessen the odds of being injured, or even being in an accident in the first place, by observing proper road safety techniques. These involve properly signaling to other cars and pedestrians, observing the speed limit, maintaining an ample distance behind any car, and avoiding riding the motorcycle during inclement weather.

Opt for Anti-Lock Brakes

For bikes with anti-lock brakes, the fatality rate is 31-percent lower than disc brake or combined brake systems, as per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but not every motorcycle is so equipped.

Wear Proper Safety Gear

  • Helmets: NYS Law requires the use of motorcycle helmets for both drivers and passengers. Statistics from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health show that helmets reduce cyclists’ risk of death by 37% and head injury by 69%. This is significant because the same organization also reported head injuries asthe leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

    The best motorcycle helmets are made with several layers of shock-absorbing insulation, surrounded by other composite materials to protect your head from a collision or impact. The safest helmet is a “full-face” helmet, followed by a “3/4” or “open” helmet. Most experienced and safety-conscious riders prefer the full-face coverage. Studies have shown fully 45% of all crash impacts occur in the chin and face area, the area protected only by full-face helmets.

    Helmets are tested and certified by the US Department of Transportation and by the Snell Foundation. The latter has slightly different and more stringent standards than the DOT standard.
  • Gloves: Many motorcycle riders also opt to wear gloves, which can protect your hands if you fall from your bike, and improve your grip on it to ensure your hands don’t slip from the brakes and throttle. 
  • Jackets & Pants: Motorcycle jackets and pants are specifically made with leather and other materials to protect your body and skin from road rash and other injuries. Jackets and pants designed for motorcycling include a variety of impact and skid-resistant reinforcements in the shoulder, elbow, back, knee and hip areas. These inserts protect from impact and the abrasion of sliding on asphalt at speed.
  • Boots: A study performed by the Marine Corps Safety and Force Preservation shows that wearing protective motorcycle boots reduces the risk of open wound injuries by 90% and the risk of any other foot injury by 45%. These are stiff, resist twisting that can fracture bones and are often reinforced so that a falling motorcycle won’t cause injury to the rider’s feet.

NYS Motorcycle Laws

Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits

New York State law puts a time limit on when an injured motorcyclist can file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the crash, called a statute of limitations. In any personal injury case, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident.

When a motorcycle accident results in a fatality, a wrongful death suit may be filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Here again, there is a statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of death. In this case, New York law does not go by the date of the accident. The deceased might not have succumbed to his or her injuries immediately after the crash.

Do NY No-Fault Laws Apply to Motorcycles?

New York state has a no-fault law for any car accident. This means that insurance companies must pay for all lost earnings, incidental costs, and medical expenses directly relating to car accidents. However, this law does not apply to motorcycle accidents. This is because many states, including New York, see motorcycles as inherently more dangerous than regular automobiles.

As a result, all motorcyclists are required to carry their own private insurance anytime they ride. This will protect them from having to pay out-of-pocket for any exorbitant medical expenses. That being said, New York state law does make a few allowances for motorcycle riders.

Serious Injury Threshold for Injured Motorcyclists

One example is that motorcycle riders in New York aren’t subject to the serious injury threshold that automobile drivers are. The serious injury threshold was written to prevent New York drivers from making claims or proceeding with a lawsuit when they don’t have serious injuries.

But motorcyclists being exempt from this threshold means that they can press claims whenever they are injured, even if said injuries are minor. Similarly, motorcyclists can press a claim even around the no-fault law and threshold.

Who’s At Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?

Any case will need to identify who’s at fault for the accident and whether a prosecuting case holds water. Individuals might be at fault, or it may truly be a no-fault case due to factors outside of the rider’s control, such as inclement weather or manufacturer defects. Any motorcyclist pressing a claim must prove that the defendant breached their duty to care and that the breach resulted in the rider’s injuries, among other aspects.

What You Need to File a Lawsuit Following a Motorcycle Accident

New York motorcyclists must abide by several laws in order to successfully initiate a lawsuit. To file a claim, you will first need:

  • A legal license to drive a motorcycle in the state of New York
  • Proper vehicle registration
  • A certificate of inspection for every 12 months
  • Proper liability insurance

Once you have these documents ready, you will need to search for a trustworthy motorcycle accident attorney in your area. They will tell you if any additional documents are needed, and handle the majority of the legal process for you to minimize errors and delays.

Motorcycle Accident Settlements in New York

In New York, any motorcyclist in an accident can press charges if they believe they are not at fault. Motorcycle collision lawsuits allow for compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other damages. But the success or failure of a particular claim or lawsuit depends on several factors.

How Long Do Motorcycle Cases Take?

In New York, motorcycle crash lawsuits and other cases are difficult to estimate in terms of time. Some cases are relatively open and shut while others may take many months or years. This is why appropriate representation for a New York motorcycle accident is necessary whether you are a victim or claimant.

Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

Some motorcycle injuries only require minor care and recovery time is low. These include cuts and bruises or minor broken bones. As a result, medical treatment and hospital costs are usually quite low.

Other motorcycle injuries require more long-term care. These include injuries like extensive damage to the limbs or several broken bones. These might involve longer hospital stays and even in-home care for a few months. Naturally, medical bills will be high, and weeks or months of lost salary must be taken into account when calculating compensation.

Motorcycle injuries requiring physical therapy are also common. These are long-term costs and treatment requirements. After adding in loss of salary, the overall cost of compensation can be quite high. Total damages that may be awarded in a case can be quite substantial.

New York Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you’re in need of help following an accident, you can call 855-468-7626 to book a free consultation with motorcycle injury attorneys at Sobo & Sobo. They’ve got over 50+ years of experience winning motorcycle accident lawsuits for injured victims across New York State.