In New Jersey and New York, the mandatory no-fault insurance coverage provides benefits to the majority of motor vehicle accident victims in the event of a crash. The no-fault law in both states, however, excludes motorcycles.
So, in the event of an accident, motorcyclists do not have recourse to personal injury protection (PIP) insurance for payment of some of their losses. However, those injured in motorcycle accidents have the right to sue the at-fault driver and/or other parties for their injuries.
If you have been injured while riding your motorcycle in New Jersey or New York, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help. Contact our motorcycle accident attorneys today for a free consultation.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Motorcycle Accident?
Unfortunately, the majority of motorcycle accidents result in serious injury. It is not uncommon for motorcycle riders to sustain injuries such as:
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Amputation injuries
- Severe burns
- Road rash
It is important to understand that the outcome in one motorcycle accident claim may be very different from that of another. With this in mind, there really is no “average” amount of compensation accident victims should have the expectation of recovering.
Rather, the verdict or settlement in your claim will depend on your specific losses. These can be divided into economic and non-economic damages:
Economic Damages in Motorcycle Accident Claims
Generally, those injured in motor vehicle accident claims in New Jersey and New York must turn to their own insurance for coverage of certain economic losses. PIP insurance covers:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Out-of-pocket expenses for related services, such as home-based healthcare and household assistance
No-fault accident benefits are subject to the limits of the PIP policy, as well as limitations posed by state law.
However, in a fault-based claim, victims can pursue compensation for all economic damages. Therefore, if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you can file a claim for the totality of your economic losses, including:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses for assistive devices, home and vehicle modifications, household services, travel to and from medical appointments, etc.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you can recover these damages regardless of whether you meet the threshold for “serious injury” that applies in car accident cases and claims involving other vehicles. Unfortunately, given the seriousness of the injuries suffered by most motorcyclists in accidents, the economic damages in your case are likely to be high.
Non-Economic Damages in Motorcycle Accident Claims
Another major way that motorcycle accidents differ from other kinds of vehicle accidents in no-fault states is the ability to pursue compensation for non-economic damages. Whereas most accident victims must suffer what is legally defined as a serious injury to seek this type of compensation, the victims of motorcycle accidents do not have to meet any special conditions to sue for pain and suffering and other losses.
The non-economic damages you may be able to recover in your motorcycle accident claim include:
- Pain and suffering (i.e., compensation for the physical pain and psychological distress you experience as a result of the accident)
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
Because non-economic damages do not have a clear-cut monetary value, it is difficult to say what kind of payout you can reasonably expect for pain and suffering and other losses. It is in your best interest to contact a motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case and determine the compensation you may be due.
For a free legal consultation, call (201) 585-9111
How Do I Recover Compensation for a Motorcycle Accident?
There are two primary ways to recover damages after a motorcycle accident:
- An insurance settlement payout
- A verdict at trial
The majority of accident claims are resolved through settlement between claimants and the insurance company. However, in the event that a fair settlement cannot be reached, your only recourse may be to file a lawsuit and take the case to court.
Insurance Settlement Payouts for Motorcycle Accidents
When you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, ideally the carrier will offer to compensate you fairly for your losses. Unfortunately, this scenario rarely occurs without a fight.
The insurance company may offer to settle your claim, but the amount is typically only a fraction of what you deserve. Alternatively, the insurer may refuse to pay out, potentially arguing that you were at fault for the accident or disputing the damages in your claim.
In either of these scenarios, it is important to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer who can handle the insurance company on your behalf. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company with the goal of obtaining a fair settlement.
You can accept an insurance payout at any time, but you should discuss this decision with your attorney first. The settlement offer should adequately compensate you for both your current losses and additional damages in the future.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Generally, insurance companies want to avoid the cost of litigation. However, it is not uncommon for carriers to dispute claims involving significant damages.
With this in mind, it is important for you and your lawyer to be prepared to take your case to trial. At trial, your attorney will present evidence, call witnesses, and make an argument for why you deserve the compensation you are seeking.
During trial, it is possible that the legal counsel for the insurance company will seek to resume settlement negotiations. A courtroom verdict usually costs more than a settlement payout, and the defense may try to avoid the expense of an unfavorable judgment.
Before settling, you and your attorney should discuss the benefits of accepting the payout versus proceeding with the trial. There is always an element of uncertainty in how a jury or judge will rule in your case, and it is important to weigh the potential compensation you may be awarded compared to the offer that is on the table.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Motorcyclists who have been injured in accidents face a number of challenges in pursuing the compensation they deserve for their injuries and damages. You only have one opportunity to recover compensation, so it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can build a strong claim on your behalf and identify all of your legal options for recovery.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free case review. Our attorneys serve clients in Fort Lee and all of New Jersey, as well as New York City and the surrounding areas.