Under the NYS Insurance Law, motorcycle operators and their passengers are not able to obtain no-fault insurance coverage which pays for medical bills, lost income and other expenses. However, there is a potential benefit to a motorcyclist who is hurt in a motorcycle accident and seeks to file a lawsuit for “pain and suffering”.
§ 5104(a) of the New York Insurance Law provides that when no-fault insurance is available, such as for an operator or passenger of a car, the injured person will not have a right to recover money for personal injuries unless that person has a serious injury.
§ 5102(d) of the New York Insurance Law defines what a “serious injury” is. Unfortunately, just in the last few years, New York courts have interpreted the law in a way to make it very difficult to prove an injury is serious and the courts have dismissed many cases with injuries you would think are serious.
Even some injuries that a rational person or doctor would consider to be serious, such as a serious back injury; torn rotator cuff (shoulder); torn meniscus (knee) or any other torn ligament, have been ruled by the courts to not be serious enough under the no-fault law and those cases were dismissed.
The benefit to motorcycle riders and passengers is that since they are excluded from obtaining no-fault benefits, when hurt in an accident, a motorcycle occupant does not have to prove that an injury is serious. Thus, a lawsuit on behalf of a motorcyclist cannot be dismissed because the injury is not serious enough. As long as someone else was negligent in causing the accident, the motorcycle occupant will be able to recover money for pain and suffering even for a scratch.
We’ve been asked many times and there are many searches coming to our website for
Q: “If I’m on a motorcycle and get hit by a car doesn’t no-fault mean I’m not at fault?” or Q: “Does no-fault mean that I’m not at fault if I’m on a motorcycle?”
A: No, it doesn’t. Likewise, it does not mean that the car which hit your motorcycle is not at fault. No-Fault has nothing to do with whether or not you are considered at fault for causing an accident.
Easy Answer: Think of no-fault as insurance that pays your medical bills and lost wages when you’re injured while sitting in a car or if you are a pedestrian.
No-Fault refers to the type of insurance coverage and the New York State laws about that coverage. No-fault usually applies only to car accidents and pedestrians struck by a motorcycle. No-Fault provides certain insurance benefits including medical payments, lost wages and other benefits, without looking at who’s at fault when determining whether you are entitled to those benefits. That’s why it’s called No-Fault.
Back to the question about fault, whether or not you will be considered at fault and how this will affect you. You may think that you are at fault but that doesn’t mean you are at fault.
Even if you are at fault, you may be only partially at fault for your motorcycle accident. This means that the car which hit you is also partially at fault. Under New York State law, if you were only 20% at fault, then you are entitled to receive 80% of your damages.
As an example, your motorcycle may have been struck by a car making a left turn in front of you but you were found to have been traveling over the speed limit or not looking in front of you and you failed to brake. If you are awarded $650,000 for a broken ankle but you are found to be 20% at fault, your award will be reduced by 20% for a total of $520,000.
We won a $465,000 jury verdict for a motorcyclist who struck a car which was making a left turn in front of him. The jury found the driver 100% at fault and our client had a torn meniscus in his knee and had arthroscopic surgery.
We just won a summary judgment motion against a driver where the motorcyclist struck a car pulling out of a parking lot to make a left turn. Summary judgment means that the court found the driver to be 100% at fault so the jury will never get to decide who is at fault. Also, when we win summary judgment, our client is awarded 9% interest on the amount the jury awards.
Do not try to decide if you are at fault for causing your motorcycle accident, without speaking with Attorneys Phil Franckel and Rob Plevy.
Even if you think you are definitely at fault, you may not be. For instance, you can be drunk while operating your motorcycle and convicted of DWI yet the car which struck you can be 100% at fault for causing your motorcycle accident.
Call Phil Franckel right now for a free – no obligation consultation 1-800-HURT-911 1-800-487-8911
It’s ironic that the problem with No-Fault billing which insurance companies face today is extensive and fraudulent medical treatment billed by doctors for treatment of soft tissue injuries sustained by people in cars. The majority of the fraudulent treatment in New York State has been reported to occur in just two counties, Brooklyn and Bronx.
It’s ironic because most motorcyclists avoid getting medical treatment. In motorcycle accidents resulting in minor injuries, I have yet to see a client with a minor injury receive anything more than one or two doctor visits. Motorcyclists tend to have the type of personality that avoids medical treatment if possible. They care more about their motorcycle than they do about their own injuries.
The amount paid out on many No-Fault claims for soft tissue injuries in a car accident can cost as much as the hospital and surgical treatment provided to an injured motorcyclist.
Additionally, while insurance companies claim that there is much fraud with medical treatment for soft tissue injuries, there is probably never any fraud involving medical treatment for an injured motorcyclist with a fractured ankle, leg or a broken arm. A fracture (broken bone) and the treatment including surgery are easily documented.
Finally, there are far fewer motorcycle accidents than car accidents because there are fewer motorcycles than cars and because most motorcyclists do not ride in the winter.
In summary, while motorcycle accidents often cause more serious injuries, they are not always more expensive; there would probably be no medical billing fraud; and there are far fewer motorcycle accidents.
There are differences of opinion among motorcyclists as to whether no-fault should be required for motorcycles. Many motorcyclists including ABATE are against no-fault for motorcycles because of fear that the increased cost of the insurance premium could prevent some motorcyclists from affording motorcycle insurance.
Motorcyclists who have been injured and a motorcycle accident and who do not have health insurance always argue that no-fault should be required for motorcycles.
I believe that the cost of no-fault coverage for motorcycles would be inexpensive but knowing how insurance companies operate, they would likely overcharge.
No-Fault insurance coverage for New York motorcycle accidents?
Do motorcyclists or motorcycle passengers have No-Fault insurance coverage (PIP)? Short answer: No
Does motorcycle insurance pay a death benefit? Short answer: No. No-Fault insurance pays a death benefit when a driver or passenger of a car is killed in an accident. However, if there is only the minimum $25,000 insurance, it is increased to $50,000 in the event of a death.
Motorcyclists are often confused as to whether they have No-Fault insurance coverage for motorcycle accidents because No-Fault is a listed coverage on motorcycle insurance policies.
Even worse, hospitals, doctors and even health insurance companies incorrectly believe that motorcyclists are covered by no-fault when injured in a motorcycle accident.
Do not give your motorcycle insurance info to the hospital or any doctors, even if they tell you they have to have it. They must bill your health insurance.
If you have any questions or difficulties with the hospital or doctors or don’t have any health insurance, we’ll be happy to answer your questions for free. Just call us days/nights/weekends at 1-800-HURT-911 | 1-800-487-8911.
What is No-Fault insurance coverage?
Think of No-Fault as health insurance with some additional benefits. No-Fault insurance coverage is often referred to as PIP or Personal Injury Protection.
Basically, No-Fault insurance coverage pays for medical treatment, other expenses and lost wages to a person injured during the use and/or operation of a car including the operator or passenger of a car or a pedestrian hit by a car or a pedestrian hit by a motorcycle.
While No-Fault benefits are usually paid because of a car accident, they can also be paid for an injury caused while using a car, such as while getting into or out of a parked car. New York State requires minimum No-Fault coverage of $50,000.
Some motorcyclists think that they can receive No-Fault insurance coverage benefits when they are injured in a motorcycle accident. Some people think that No-Fault insurance coverage doesn’t protect motorcyclists but is available for passengers on a motorcycle who are injured in an accident. After all, why would No-Fault coverage be listed on a motorcycle insurance policy if there was no coverage? No-Fault is listed on a motorcycle insurance policy because it covers a pedestrian hit by a motorcycle.
What law says that NYS No-Fault Insurance doesn’t cover motorcyclists?
Article 51 of the New York Insurance Law is also known as “The No-Fault Law”.
Article 51 § 5102(f) provides the definition of a motor vehicle and states, “‘Motor vehicle’… shall not include… a motorcycle, as defined in subsection (m) hereof.”
§ 5102(m) states, “Motorcycle” means any motorcycle, as defined in section one hundred twenty-three of the vehicle and traffic law, and which is required to carry financial security pursuant to article six, eight or forty-eight-A of the vehicle and traffic law.
§ 5103(a)(2) “Entitlement to first party benefits” extends entitlement of no-fault benefits to “The named insured and members of his household, other than occupants of a motorcycle…”
Consequently, New York State No-Fault insurance benefits are NOT available to motorcyclists on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or their passengers.
So, why is No-Fault coverage listed on my NYS motorcycle insurance policy?
The reason that you will see No-Fault insurance coverage listed on your motorcycle insurance policy is that pedestrians struck by a motorcycle ARE covered by No-Fault insurance. (Anybody not occupying the motorcycle or another vehicle who is injured by the motorcycle is covered.) This can be found at § 5103(a)(1) which provides entitlement of no-fault insurance benefits to “Persons, other than occupants of… a motorcycle, for loss arising out of the use or operation in this state of such motor vehicle.”
The image below shows PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP) which is No-Fault, but notice that it also says PEDESTRIAN
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be unable to obtain costly MRIs, surgery, physical therapy and other medical treatment if you did not purchase medical insurance. Medical bills for motorcycle accidents usually cost between $30,000-$50,000 and can cost much more. I’ve already had one case with over $800,000 in medical bills. Without insurance coverage to pay for medical bills, it is difficult to get the medical treatment you need. However, we can usually get you the treatment you need including surgery even if you have no medical insurance and no money by paying the doctor from your case.
One benefit of not having no-fault coverage
The one benefit of not having no-fault coverage is that unlike when injured in a car accident, motorcyclists don’t need to prove they have a serious injury. A motorcyclist can file a claim or lawsuit for just a scratch, while someone in a car can not file a lawsuit unless they can prove they have a serious injury.
How to Get Medical Treatment for Motorcycle Accident Victims
If you are injured in a New York motorcycle accident without medical insurance, we can refer you to dentists, plastic surgeons, doctors, surgeons and MRI facilities who have agreed to treat injured motorcycle accident victims on a lien. A lien is a promise to pay from your motorcycle accident settlement. The person or company who caused your accident and injuries because of their negligence is responsible to reimburse you for your medical bills.
Many accident lawyers do not know MRI facilities who will do an MRI on a lien or doctors who will do surgery on a lien. Additionally, many accident lawyers will not agree to sign a lien, but I always agree to sign liens for my clients.