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How is Liability Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?


As the weather gets warmer, many people enjoy taking their motorcycles out on the road. Although riding on a motorcycle can be recreational and a fun way to travel, it can also be extremely dangerous due to the inherent risks that can come with it. While some crashes might arise as a result of bad weather conditions — or even a motorcyclist’s own recklessness — more than half of the motorcycle accidents in New York State involve another vehicle.   

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by another’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation. But regardless of how badly you may have been injured, liability must first be established in order for you to recover for your economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, there can be several parties who are at fault for the collision and may held accountable for your injuries.   

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

All drivers on the road have an obligation to operate their vehicles safely and avoid collisions. Significantly, your eligibility to receive monetary recovery for your motorcycle accident injuries will hinge upon whether someone else’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused your injuries.

Importantly, not every motorcycle accident arises due to the carelessness of another motorist. In some cases, a manufacturer or a municipality may be the party responsible for the condition that caused the accident. It’s essential to investigate a motorcycle accident thoroughly to determine all potential sources of liability.

Motorcycle accident liability can commonly arise due to:

  • Hazardous road conditions — a municipality may be held responsible for your injuries if they had prior written notice of a road defect, such as a pothole, and failed to timely repair it.
  • Mechanical failures or design defects — a manufacturer may be liable for your damages if the accident was the result of a problem with the mechanics of the motorcycle, or a flaw in its design. 
  • Driver negligence — The operator of another vehicle on the road may be named in a personal injury lawsuit if the motorcycle accident was caused by their carelessness, recklessness, inattention, driving under the influence, speeding, or failure to obey traffic control devices.

While no-fault insurance covers medical expenses for car accident victims in New York State, it does not apply to motorcyclists. However, if your injuries were the result of another’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses, time lost from work, and out-of-pocket expenses in a personal injury lawsuit. You may also be awarded monetary recovery for the pain and suffering you experienced in connection with your motorcycle accident injuries.  

New York’s Comparative Negligence Law

In many cases, it’s common for the defendant’s insurance company to argue that the motorcyclist was to blame for the accident in an attempt to avoid paying out on your claim. Critically, New York follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that even if your actions partially contributed to the motorcycle crash, you may still be entitled to recovery — as long as you were not 100% at fault. For example, if a jury found that you were 40% to blame for the accident, and another motorist was 60% responsible, the amount of recovery you’re awarded would be reduced by your 40% share of fault.   

Contact an Experienced New York Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle accidents can result in severe injuries, permanent disability, or even fatality. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by another’s negligence, it’s crucial to ensure that party is held accountable — and you receive the compensation you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. provides effective counsel and aggressive advocacy to help motorcycle accident victims obtain the best possible outcome in their cases.

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.