How New York Helmet Laws Affect Motorcycle and Bike Accident Claims
Bicycles and or motorcycles are common forms of transportation in the state of New York. While a bicycle is seen as a relatively safe and convenient way to travel for adults and children, operating a motorcycle is considered an inherently dangerous endeavor. A motorcycle accident is more likely to result in significant bodily injury. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, 5,336 motorcycle crashes led to property damage and personal injuries in 2011. Nearly 2,000 New York residents per year sustain serious bicycle injuries that require hospitalization, based on New York State Department of Health statistics.
In order to curtail the number of people killed or seriously hurt in motorcycle accidents, New York helmet laws were enacted for all motorcyclists and their passengers. Bicyclists only have to wear helmets if they are under 14 years old. Understanding state helmet laws is imperative for cyclists because failure to comply can be detrimental when filing an insurance claim or potential lawsuit.
The Sanders Firm knows that the emotional and financial consequences of a bicycle or motorcycle accident in New York can be extremely difficult for the victims and their families. For more than 45 years, their NY auto accident lawyers have used their legal expertise and substantial resources to secure jury awards and reach multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of their clients.
New York insurance coverage
New York laws require motor vehicle owners to obtain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policies. PIP covers the medical treatment and a portion of the lost wages for anyone injured in the insured’s vehicle. Since New York is a “no-fault law” state, the insured’s medical bills and other necessary expenses will be paid with his PIP coverage regardless of who is at fault for causing the accident. Under New York insurance laws, if a bicyclist is hurt in an auto accident, the vehicle owner’s PIP coverage will pay for the basic economic losses of the bicyclist. Motorcyclists are not eligible to receive PIP coverage and must have their own private insurance.
Sometimes a bicyclist will sustain pain and suffering and other non-economic losses after being hurt in an auto accident. The bicyclist must have been seriously injured in order to pursue a lawsuit against the vehicle owner’s insurance company. Some of the serious injuries that may make a bicyclist eligible for non-economic damages include dismemberment, bone fracture, permanent loss or use of a body organ, limited use of a bodily function, or death. A motorcyclist doesn’t have to satisfy the serious injury threshold in order to file a lawsuit against the vehicle owner’s insurance company for damages.
New York helmet laws and accident claims
Motorcycle and bicycle cases can be particularly challenging. When motorcyclists and young bicyclists are traveling, they are required to wear helmets in order to minimize the severity of any head or neck injuries that may occur in an accident. The insurance company will review the case in order to determine if the motorcyclist or bicyclist complied with New York helmet laws and traffic statutes at the time of the accident. The insurance company will likely argue that the cyclist shares liability or contributed to his injuries if he violated the laws. As a result, it could prevent the injured cyclist from receiving the full amount of damages he would have otherwise been entitled to receive in the insurance claim or court case.
In a case involving a motorcyclist or bicyclist injury, several factors must be taken into consideration. If the cyclist had a head or neck injury but didn’t wear a helmet, the cyclist may be deemed reckless or partially responsible since he failed to mitigate the injuries. Whether the cyclist wore a helmet may not be a legal issue if he didn’t sustain any serious injuries to the head or neck.
File a bicycle or motorcycle injury lawsuit in NY
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, or Long Island, you may be eligible for compensation. To learn more about your rights and liability in regards to New York helmet laws, contact The Sanders Firm for a free consultation. 1-800-FAIR-PLAY (800-324-7752).
- Biker's Rights, http://www.bikersrights.com/states/newyork/newyork.html
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, http://www.iihs.org/laws/HelmetUseCurrent.aspx