It sometimes feels as though all the motorcycles that call the streets of Buffalo home seem to go into hibernation during the winter months. Come warm weather, and they’re back again, roaring down the streets, causing older generations to grumble endearingly about “hoodlums” and “noise pollution”. Cruising around cars and traffic that meander lazily along a measured way of life, motorcyclists leave a lust for life in their wake. If the city is an urban wilderness, then the motorcycles are the wolves: untamable, wild and free.
At least that is what a motorcyclist will tell you. As a practicing attorney, I have yet another perspective on the matter, one that will hopefully help motorcyclists be safe while on the road. You see, the problem with motorcyclists is that they are not as stable as automobiles. Therefore, motorcycle accidents are frequent and tragic. Especially in the late spring and early summer, they become more the stuff of headlines than legends.
Motorcycle accident victims are the most susceptible because they do not have the protective shell, seatbelts and airbags of a vehicle. Moreover, even when they are following the law, accidents occur because other drivers simply did not see them coming. As a motorcycle accident lawyer, this is by far, the most common defense I hear. Those accidents are much more serious typically as far as the injuries go. The damages to the vehicle that the motorcyclist is driving are typically much worse. The bikes are often demolished and totaled, and the person themselves are typically facing a long uphill battle regarding recovery.
Another important issue is that because of the high risk of injury in an accident, New York State no-fault benefits are not offered to motorcyclists. What that means is your options for treatment are much more limited. You should hope that you have good medical insurance on your own and if you don’t, you’re going to have an even harder time finding doctors to treat the injuries that you are dealing with.
One of the first things you should do if (God forbid!) you happen to be a victim of a motorcycle accident, is to call an attorney who can help you understand what compensation is available to you. Preferably, a qualified lawyer who knows how to handle these kinds of cases, and who maybe also rides a motorcycle. This is actually important because they will then understand what you experienced, and are already aware of what situations pop up through no fault of yours.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, make sure you remain at the crash site. If you are too injured to move, stay where you are and wait for emergency personnel. If you can move without causing additional harm to yourself, you should collect evidence from the crash site. Take photos of the vehicles involved in the crash and of the surrounding area. Take pictures that show the entire crash site as well as damaged vehicles and injuries. Make sure to collect the contact information for all parties involved in the accident as well as for witnesses. Get a copy of the police report and make sure you get proper medical attention and treatment. Motorcycle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and deaths to motorcyclists. It is extremely important to preserve all evidence and uncover all sources of legal and financial responsibility.
Not Wearing Helmets
Although in New York State that’s quite rare because it’s against the law and it’s obvious to any police officer that you might pass, some states don’t have that same law. If, in fact, you’re ever involved in an accident like that, you do have a right to compensation if it’s somebody else’s fault for causing the accident. The difference is going to involve the extent of the damages you’re entitled to, especially if wearing the helmet would have prevented those injuries. For example, if you broke your leg, then you are entitled to full compensation because wearing a helmet didn’t come into play at all regarding that injury. However, claiming head trauma or a traumatic brain injury will be much more challenging because the defense will be able to argue that your defenses would have been less or not occurred if you had worn your helmet. If you’re ever in this circumstance or you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should call somebody immediately who is a qualified personal injury attorney for assistance.
- Regardless of the laws in your state, always wear a helmet.
- If you have a passenger, insist they wear helmets too.
Assuming You’re Visible
Accidents involving motorcycles, in Buffalo and Western NY, usually occur because of negligence. Many car drivers overlook motorcycles because of their small size. Not seeing motorcycles, drivers turn into them or cut them off. Additionally, a lot of people have their windows rolled up while they innocuously blast Hotline Bling. If such individuals did not see you, they probably did not hear you either. The consequences of such a situation can be disastrous. These accidents can include:
- Running a red light or stop sign without seeing the approaching motorcycle
- Failing to yield right-of-way to the motorcycle, particularly during lane changes
- Failing to check blind spots for motorcyclists before changing lanes
As a motorcyclist, you must assume responsibility of your own safety first and not trust in those around you, no matter how well-meaning they may be. If they cannot see you, and they cannot hear you, you cannot leave your well-being in their hands.
- Do not entrust your safety, your life to others, because every driver on the road may not be able to see or hear you approach.
- Always ensure you can compensate for the mistakes of drivers around you.
Inviting Passengers Before You’re Ready
Because you are not protected by the New York State No Fault insurance or the No Fault statute, medical bills become the responsibility of the person who is injured. We look to the other car for any medical payments provisions, but can also add unreimbursed medical expenses caused by your crash as a component to your claim.
Passengers are along for the ride, so they can’t control the operation of either the motorcycle or the other car that’s involved. They are a pure plaintiff. The focus then is on what are the damages that they’re dealing with? What are the nature and extent of the injuries that they are suffering through? That really is how we approach those cases and where the value lies, and we look at it from an investigation standpoint of how the accident happened but also the biomechanics of what that passenger went through.
- You are responsible for the life and safety of your passenger.
- Do not invite a passenger to ride with you unless you are sure you are ready to do so.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, do not despair. You can fall back on the experienced motorcycle injury attorneys at our Buffalo office to help you through it. Call us to schedule an appointment, and let us do the rest.