Motorcycles are fun, but they also present greater risks than other motor vehicles for several reasons: (1) a motorcyclist is exposed to direct impact between his body and the pavement or other vehicles; (2) two wheels are less stable than four; (3) cars and trucks are much bigger and heavier than motorcycles and thus, in an impact between them, the motorcyclist takes the biggest impact; and (4) other drivers just don't notice, see or observe motorcycles. Because of this last fact, drivers often cut motorcycles off, or fail to yield to motorcycles, or follow motorcycles too closely, or open their car doors into motorcycles, or rear-end motorcycles. Even a slight impact can knock the biker from his motorcycle and cause serious injury.
Motorcycles are also more prone to accidents caused by poor roadway maintenance or construction. For example, a poorly drained road might cause a car to have to wade through a deep, long puddle, but that same puddle might cause a biker to be thrown from his bike. Thus, poor drainage, clogged culverts, potholes, steep shoulders and other roadway defects are much more dangerous to motorcyclists than to other vehicle drivers and occupants. A biker injured by a road defect can bring a claim against the city, town, county or even the State that owned and maintained the roadway.
Another cause of motorcycle accidents is poor design or manufacture of the bike itself. Some bikes might have a throttle that sticks, or faulty brakes, or defective forks, defective fuel lines, defective welded parts, defective bolts, defective tires, or other defective parts that can cause an accident.
Motorcyclists in New York need to be aware that insurance and liability rules are different for motorcycles than for cars. For example, most motorcyclists do not have "no-fault" insurance (which is required only for cars, but not for bikes). Another example: When you are hurt in a car accident, you generally cannot sue the negligent, at-fault driver unless you have suffered a "serious injury" as defined by law. But if you are injured on a motorcycle, you can bring a claim against the at-fault driver even for minor injuries.
New York Motorcyclists are ill-informed about the insurance they should have. Most are underinsured. At Michaels & Smolak, we educate our biker clients on what motorcycle insurance they need.
The biggest single danger facing motorcyclists can be summed up in one word: Motorists. Drivers of four-wheel vehicles such as cars and trucks just don’t “see” motorcycles. They don’t see them because they are on the lookout for other cars and trucks, not smaller vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles. That’s why we at Michaels & Smolak always tell our biker friends that they should assume they are invisible.
But the fact that many motorists overlook motorcycles does not let them off the hook if they hit the motorcyclist. To the contrary, New York law requires motorists to not only look out for motorcycles and others in the roadway, but to actually see them. Drivers are required to see what is there to be seen, and an excuse such as, “I looked both ways but just did not see him” will not do.
Picking a jury in a motorcycle case must be done with great skill and care? Why? Because so many people harbor prejudices against motorcyclists. They think, “it’s his own fault he got injured so badly because he chose to ride a motorcycle, and everyone knows how dangerous those are”. But that is not an acceptable way of thinking, at least not on a New York State jury. Under New York law, a jury cannot blame a motorcyclist for his injuries merely because he chose to ride a motorcycle. Under our law, a biker has an absolute right to be on the roadway on his or her bike, and has a right to expect other motorists to respect his or right of way and to look and see him or her. This must be carefully explained to jurors, and jurors who harbor such prejudices must be removed from the jury.
Motorcycle injuries are usually more severe than car accident injuries. Paralysis, sever scarring, sever concussions and brain damage, amputations, spinal cord injuries, fractured bones, and death, are all too common in motorcycle accidents.
The Syracuse, NY motorcycle accident lawyers of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured in motorcycle collisions and for other injuries to cover their medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.