Category Archives: Accidents

Why Would You Need a Motorcycle Lawyer?

You’ve had a motorcycle accident. Do you need a lawyer? Does it matter if the lawyer is experienced with motorcycle accidents?

Why you should contact a lawyer immediately after your accident

You’ll be better off when contacting a lawyer as soon as possible, even before an accident to learn what not to do. Your statements will likely be misunderstood from the moment police arrive and take your statement; EMS, nurses and doctors ask you what happened; to telephone conversations with insurance representatives who are trained to ruin your case.

A motorcycle lawyer will now how to deal with your medical bills and treatment

Immediately after the accident, motorcyclists have to deal with the confusing issue of who will pay the medical bills. Even hospitals, doctors and lawyers often get this wrong. When the wrong insurance company is billed you can become responsible for the medical bills.

Many personal injury lawyers do not know you aren’t entitled to No-Fault or how your medical bills will be paid!

Motorcyclists do not get No-Fault insurance which pays for medical bills and lost wages in a car accident. If you don’t have health insurance coverage, you won’t be able to find doctors to treat you. You’ll need a motorcycle lawyer who can get doctors to treat you on a lien (when the doctor agrees to get paid at the end of your case). Although the money to pay the medical bills comes out of your settlement, it increases your settlement by the same amount because the defendant is responsible to pay you that money.

A motorcycle lawyer who deals with this regularly, has the ability to get the medical treatment you’ll need such as orthopedic surgery, therapy, plastic surgery and dental treatment without you having to pay for it up front.

A motorcycle lawyer knows the serious injury threshold for Cars does not apply to Motorcycles

To receive money for pain-and-suffering, motorcyclists are not required to prove they have a serious injury which is required for the occupant of a car. This is an important benefit to motorcyclists because it is very complicated and difficult to prove, even if you had surgery. Lawyers who are not experienced with motorcycle accidents are often unaware of this.

Many lawyers do not know you don’t need to prove a serious injury! We even got a call from a lawyer at a very large law firm advertising on TV for motorcycle accidents, asking for advice about proving a serious injury for one of their motorcycle accident cases.

We know how to prove your motorcycle accident wasn’t your fault!

Determining and proving liability (who’s at fault) in a motorcycle accident is different than a car accident. There are some laws which provide a benefit to motorcyclists and help prove the driver of the car was at fault.

Motorcycle accidents are almost always caused because the driver didn’t see the motorcycle. Understanding why the driver didn’t see you helps to prove the driver is at fault for causing your motorcycle accident. Understanding other aspects such as why a motorcycle cannot stop as fast as a car is also important to prove the driver is at fault.

Which accident lawyers handle motorcycle accidents?

Very few personal injury lawyers are experienced with motorcycle accidents. Many lawyers don’t even want motorcycle accidents. We do!

We have been advertising for motorcycle accidents in FullThrottle NY/NE Magazine since the magazine started and for several years were the only motorcycle accident lawyers in the magazine. 

Who do I sue, the Driver or the Insurance Company?

Why you want to know who to sue

Many of our clients ask if we will sue the driver or the insurance company. Some riders don’t want to sue the driver but don’t mind suing the insurance company. Sometimes, riders are not injured and just want to be reimbursed for the damage to their motorcycle and need to know who to sue.

Why isn’t the insurance company sued?

The lawsuit does not name the insurance company as a defendant because the insurance company didn’t cause your accident and doesn’t own the vehicle. The insurance company only indemnifies their insured. This means that the insurance company agreed to pay for claims against the person you are suing. The insurance company also provides an attorney at their expense to defend the lawsuit.

How much can you sue for collision damage?

If you were not injured and want to file a lawsuit only for damage to your motorcycle because you did not have collision coverage, you can file a lawsuit for:

  • up to $5,000 in Small Claims Court or
  • up to $15,000 in District Court in Suffolk or Nassau County or
  • up to $25,000 in New York City Civil Court.

These courts have fill-in-the-blank forms and a clerk can help you fill them in.

Who do you have to sue for collision damage?

In a Small Claims Court lawsuit for damage to your motorcycle, it should be sufficient to file a lawsuit against the driver and registrant of the vehicle.

Who do you need to sue for injuries?

In a lawsuit for personal injuries it is extremely important to name every possible defendant. There are several reasons, one of which is to make sure that every available insurance policy is available to pay for your injury.

A personal injury lawsuit should name as defendants, the:

  • Driver
  • Registrant of the vehicle
  • Title owner of the vehicle, and
  • Any named insured on the policy.

It is possible for the same person to be the driver, registrant, title owner and insured but there could be several people and/or companies.

John Doe could be the driver of a car registered to his wife Jane Doe which is owned by her father Joseph Rowe whose name is on the title and whose wife Josephine Rowe is listed as an insured on the policy. There could be one or more insurance policies insuring this car. It’s important to search for all insurance policies.

If you need to file a lawsuit for injuries caused by a motorcycle accident, you should always call us, the motorcycle accident lawyers, immediately.

Are You Required to Lay Your Motorcycle down to Avoid an Accident?

Motorcyclists are always getting blamed by insurance companies, so here are two situations where they may blame you no matter what you do, but the law is on your side.

In the usual motorcycle accident where a car is making a left turn and crossing your path in front of you, does it matter if you lay your bike down to avoid the accident or if you try to avoid the accident in another way?

Motorcycle layed down on road

We had a case on LI, New York, where a motorcyclist put his bike down to avoid hitting a car pulling out of a driveway in front of him. The insurance company refused to pay, arguing that motorcyclist put his bike down for no reason other than he was unnecessarily afraid.  The insurance company also claimed that the car was stopped before the accident, remained stopped at all times and there was no contact.

That argument was unsuccessful and the driver was found to be 80% at fault. The motorcyclist was 20% at fault because it was found that he could have taken evasive action earlier than he did, not because he put his bike down.

In an accident where the motorcyclist kept going straight and was hit by a car making a left turn, the insurance company argued the reverse. The argument was that the motorcyclist should have laid down his motorcycle to avoid the accident.

In that case, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court ruled against the argument but only because there was no evidence to support the argument that the motorcyclist should have put his bike down.

That could leave open the possibility of an accident reconstruction expert providing the evidence to claim that laying the motorcycle down would have avoided the accident. However, I can’t believe a court would ever rule that a motorcyclist could be negligent for choosing how to be injured.

In summary, it shouldn’t matter to your case whether you put your motorcycle down without hitting the car or if you hit the car because you didn’t put your motorcycle down.

If you had a motorcycle accident in New York, whether you put your motorcycle down or not and whether or not there was contact with the car, please call us immediately for a free consultation at

1-800-HURT-911   1-800-487-8911

 

Is a release for liability valid against a motorcycle school?

Most people are familiar with signing a release for liability also called a liability waiver when participating in various recreational activities such as skydiving. Before being allowed to participate, an employee requires you to sign a release in case you’re injured because of their negligence. Sometimes, the release is on the back of your admission ticket.

People usually believe they can’t file a lawsuit because the signed a waiver of liability but that’s usually not true. In fact, that’s the reason for the release, to make you think you can’t have a lawsuit. Most lawyers are aware that these releases have no legal significance and will be happy to represent you if you are injured.

One of our clients was injured at the bottom of a toboggan run In New York. His admission lift ticket had a release for liability. He was an engineer and easily identified the negligent design he was staring at when he was injured.

New York State General Obligations Law § 5–326 prohibits an owner or operator of a recreational facility from enforcing a release given by someone who has paid for the use of the facility.  This is why we were able to represent that client.

However, these releases are sometimes enforceable. For instance, when the activity is instructional rather than recreational such as a motorcycle school. Just a few years ago, this issue was decided in a case against a motorcycle school in Queens, New York (Boateng v Motorcycle Safety School, Inc. 51 A.D.3d 702, 858 N.Y.S.2d 312, 2008 N.Y. Slip Op. 04455).

The motorcyclist signed up for a two day rider training course at a motorcycle school. On the second day, it was raining and you guessed it, there was a motorcycle accident. The motorcyclist filed a personal injury lawsuit after being injured in the accident because she was not trained for riding in the rain. The motorcyclist claimed that the motorcycle school was negligent in proceeding without giving proper training and instruction on how to ride a motorcycle in the rain.

Rain drops on a motorcycle

The New York State Supreme Court held that the release was not valid and allowed the case against the motorcycle school to go forward but the decision was appealed by the motorcycle school to the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court.

The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Supreme Court and held that the release was valid because the motorcyclist participated in a course of instruction provided by the motorcycle school and was not participating in recreational activity.

The Appellate Division also ruled that the release was clear in stating that the motorcyclist was aware of the risks and assumed the risks associated with participating in the motorcycle riding course. Since the release was ruled to be valid, so was the assumption of risk.

Consequently, the lawsuit was dismissed and the rider was not able to be compensated for the injury.

If you are ever injured and think you don’t have a case or cannot file a lawsuit, always speak with a lawyer to make sure.  We always provide a free consultation.

If you’re a motorcycle school on Long Island or in New York and would like a free consultation, please call Attorneys Phil Franckel and Rob Plevy at 1-800-HURT-911.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month

May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month so we’re hanging billboards at Costco stores.

NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proclaimed May, as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in the State of New York. The proclamation speaks to motorcyclists’ awareness of safety and drivers’ awareness of motorcycles.

The proclamation states, “WHEREAS, Each year, motorcycle riders are killed by drivers who do not see them; greater public awareness must be achieved in an effort to reduce the numbers of fatalities;”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2011 to 2012, there was an increase of 7 percent of motorcyclists killed and a 15-percent increase of motorcyclists injured.

Most of these accidents happen because drivers just never see the motorcyclist. ABATE is doing a great job of placing motorcycle awareness signs on the roads but everyone needs to get involved.

We’ve been helping raise awareness of motorcycles on the road with our campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®. Every year, we give out lawn signs, bumper stickers, magnetic bumper stickers and large magnetic car signs.

Look for our motorcycle awareness billboards at LI Costco stores in May. BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE® and the 1-800-HURT-911 logo gets nearly 1 million views on our billboards at Costco warehouse stores in Suffolk and Nassau every May.

Motorcycle awareness billboard

How a Motorcycle Accident Verdict Came To Be

A motorcyclist in a head-on collision with a pickup truck was awarded a total of $6,338,491 when he suffered amputation of his leg below the knee, multiple fractures, implanted hardware, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (complex regional pain syndrome), and post-concussion syndrome.

How was this amount determined? The following itemization is illustrative of how a verdict for injuries is rendered. In this case, although the defendant claimed that the motorcyclist was 100% at fault, the motorcyclist was found to be only 15% at fault and the total amount awarded was reduced by 15%.

$589,480 Past Medical Cost
$1,846,780 Future Medical Cost
$107,232 Past Lost Earnings
$362,499 Future Lost Earnings Capability
$1,250,000 Past Pain And Suffering
$2,182,500 Future Pain And Suffering

Total Award $6,338,491
Total Award less 15% = $5,387,717.35 net award to the motorcyclist

Did a car cut off your motorcycle?

Did you put your motorcycle down to avoid hitting a car which cut you off?  Maybe you were run off the road or struck a car, curb or pole because a car cut you off but did not hit you.

The driver of the car may have done the right thing and stopped, but now you find that the police officer did not identify the car on the police accident report!

If you or a witnesses didn’t write down the license plate number, you can’t sue the driver because you don’t know their identity and you can’t file an uninsured claim because the car didn’t contact you or your motorcycle (But we still may be able to get money for you).

Why didn’t the police officers identify the other car on the police accident reports? Because they don’t understand the law.  I just sent a letter to the NYC Police Commissioner requesting a change in their policy.

Until then, if you put your motorcycle down because of a car which did not contact your bike, take a photo with your cell phone of the car showing the license plate number; ask someone to write down the license plate number of the car; make sure that you get the names and telephone numbers of all witnesses and call us immediately at 1-800-487-8911.

Even if you don’t know the identity of the car that cut you off and there was no contact, we may be able to help you. We got money for quite a few clients in this situation! Just call us immediately at 1-800-487-8911.

Read the letter to NYC Police

 

When Courtesy Causes an Accident

Most everyone has been courteous and waved on a car in traffic.  Unfortunately, sometimes courtesy can cause an accident and you can be found at fault for waving on a car.

For instance, the driver of a car in the right lane of a street may waive on a car coming out of a parking lot or cross street without thinking about traffic coming up from behind in the left lane.  The car coming out of the cross street may proceed without seeing another car coming from behind the courteous driver in the left lane but not seeing a motorcycle is even more of a possibility.

A similar incident (not in New York) was responsible for the death of a motorcycle sheriff’s deputy who was escorting a float in a parade. The motorcycle deputy was moving up along the left side of the float to block the intersection.  Just then, the driver of a truck pulling the float waved on a car, signaling that she could proceed to make a left turn in front of him.  The car drove around the float and ran head-on into the motorcycle deputy, killing him.

Although it was alleged that the motorcycle deputy was at fault, the jury found that the courteous truck driver pulling the float was 95% at fault and the driver of the car was 5% at fault for causing the accident.

The sheriff’s deputy was an experienced motorcyclist being an 11 year veteran of the motorcycle unit.  This type of accident is extremely difficult to avoid because you may not be able to see that a courteous driver is motioning to another car.

If you see the car to your right slowdown or stop when another car is on the right, it would be appropriate to be cautious.  A driver who is being waved on will likely have his or her vision partially blocked by the courteous car.  Everyone knows that car drivers often don’t see motorcycles.  This is one of the times when you probably will not be seen.

Next time you’re feeling courteous, think twice about whether traffic coming from behind you could be at risk because of your action.  It could be a fellow motorcyclist.

Can I Get Money for Injuries If I Was Driving without a License? Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about the fact that lack of a driver’s license has nothing to do with negligence.

If you did not have a driver’s license, you can sue someone else for causing your injuries. If you were driving, had an accident and did not have a driver’s license, it does not mean that you caused the accident.

Likewise, if the person who caused your injuries did not have a driver’s license, the lack of a driver’s license does not mean that person was negligent or is responsible for your injuries.

Consider this example: You are driving a motorcycle without a license and while stopped at a red light, you are hit in the rear by a car. If you had a driver’s license, would the accident have been avoided? Was the accident caused because you didn’t have a motorcycle license? Of course not.

In Firmes v. Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance Corp., a New York (second department) decision, the court held that the motorcyclist’s operating a motorcycle without license did not bar recovery and that evidence regarding the motorcyclist’s lack of license, registration, and insurance could be excluded (cannot be used against you).

In another recent New York Appellate Division (fourth department) decision in Huff v Rodriguez also known as Huff III, the court stated “It is well settled that the absence or possession of a driver’s license relates only to the authority for operating a vehicle, and not to its manner of operation.” “Thus, the absence or possession of a driver’s license is not relevant to the issue of negligence.” (emphasis added)

However, the Appellate Division stated that the fact that a person does not possess a driver’s license may be relevant with respect to the issue of that person’s credibility if the person lies about having a license. In other words, whether that person can be believed with respect to other aspects of his or her testimony if he or she lied about having a license.

In Huff III, the plaintiff’s lawyer asked the defendant whether she had a New York State driver’s license on the date of the accident. When she replied that she did, the plaintiff’s lawyer confronted her with an abstract from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which indicated that on the date of the accident she held a learner’s permit, not a license.

The jury was able to review evidence that she did not have a driver’s license at the time of the accident and could use the evidence to decide whether this was a significant lie causing them to disbelieve the rest of her testimony; whether it was an unimportant lie; or just an error.

The Appellate Division stated that the lower trial court properly allowed the DMV abstract to be admitted into evidence because the court instructed the jury that evidence concerning defendant’s lack of a driver’s license had nothing to do with the accident or negligence. Among other things, the trial court said “. . . In other words, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you can be unlicensed and the operation of your vehicle has nothing to do with negligence.

If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident in which you were operating the motorcycle without a valid license, please call New York motorcycle accident attorney Phil Franckel for a free consultation at

1-800-HURT-911
1-800-487-8911

Also see:

Can I Get Money for Injuries If I Was Driving without a License? Part 1

Can I Sue for My Injuries If I Was Drunk?

Is a Bar Responsible for Injuries Caused by a Motorcycle Parked on the Bar’s Sidewalk?

Jerad M. Zarnoch sustained very serious injuries when he was struck by a motorcycle which had been parked on the sidewalk in front of The Varick Bar and Grill. Mr. Zarnoch was standing on the sidewalk when Jeffrey J. Williams got on his motorcycle and seconds later Mr. Zarnoch was pinned against the building.

Mr. Zarnoch sued Mr. Williams but (looking for an additional insurance coverage) also sued The Varick Bar and Grill alleging that because of the special use doctrine, the bar should be responsible for his injuries. The special use doctrine is a legal principle that transfers the duty to keep public sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition from the municipality to the landowner when permission has been given, by a municipal authority, to the landowner to interfere with a street solely for private use in a way that is not connected with the public use.

If The Varick Bar and Grill had a permit from the municipality allowing it to use the sidewalk for parking motorcycles, the bar would become responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. However, The Varick Bar and Grill did not have authority from the municipality to use the sidewalk for its own private parking lot.

The Supreme Court of the State of New York agreed that the bar owed a duty to Mr. Zarnoch to keep the “sidewalk motorcycle parking lot” safe and a jury awarded Mr. Zarnoch a substantial amount of money. The bar appealed and The Appellate Division reversed the trial court, setting aside the verdict against the defendants and dismissing the complaint.

The Appellate Division ruled that the special use doctrine does not apply because there was no defective condition in the sidewalk which caused the accident and the bar did not have a permit or authority to utilize the sidewalk as a motorcycle parking lot.

Without municipal authority to use the sidewalk for parking motorcycles, The Appellate Division said that the bar “had no duty to maintain, repair, supervise or control the sidewalk with respect to vehicles parked on it. Plaintiff’s (Mr. Zarnoch) position on the sidewalk ‘was no different from that of any other passerby’ using the public sidewalk.”

Thus, if The Varick Bar and Grill had a permit allowing motorcycles to be parked on the sidewalk, it would have been liable to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. However, even if they had a permit they would not have been liable because The Appellate Division found that there was no sidewalk defect that caused the injuries.