Motorcyclists in New York state are not afforded the same protections as other motorists under New York law. The generous benefits provided by New York’s no-fault law are not shared by motorcyclists, even though they are even more vulnerable than drivers of passenger vehicles and are exposed to the same hazards on the road as everyone else.
However, motorcyclists are required to have a different kind of insurance and have another crucial advantage after an accident: It is easier for motorcyclists to file a personal injury lawsuit than it is for drivers.
New York is a no-fault state, which means its drivers must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage by law. PIP coverage is acquired as part of an auto insurance policy and covers all types of injuries sustained by drivers or passengers, irrespective of who was at fault for the accident. New York’s PIP covers medical costs, economic losses, and even death benefits.
The amount someone purchases is the maximum they are entitled to recover with a PIP claim. PIP coverage starts at $50,000 in New York, and drivers can choose the extent of their coverage. The coverage also includes economic losses of up to $2,000 per month or 80% of monthly earnings (whichever is less) for up to three years. Those unable to perform daily chores due to an accident receive $25 per day for replacement services.
New York State Insurance Law 5103(a)(1) states that only those who are occupants of the vehicle involved in an accident and are explicitly not the operator of a motorcycle are entitled to the no-fault protections in their own auto insurance coverage. In other words, a motorcyclist is not covered by New York’s no-fault law and, therefore, is not entitled to PIP coverage.
Instead, all motorcyclists in New York state are mandated to have liability insurance, which does not include PIP but includes, at minimum, a bodily injury liability of $25,000 per individual ($50,000 per accident), $50,000 per individual in death liability ($100,000 per accident), and damage liability of $10,000 for property. Motorcyclists can also opt for comprehensive coverage, which covers damages outside of collisions, such as theft or vandalism, but which still only covers the blue book value of the motorcycle.
Liability for a collision involving a motorcycle usually rests with the driver of the automobile because most crashes are the result of drivers failing to spot motorcyclists before colliding with them. The PIP insurance of the passenger vehicle driver covers the motorcyclist’s damages up to at least $25,000. However, this is often far from enough to cover the full extent of serious injuries and other out-of-pocket costs, especially if the driver only has minimum PIP coverage.
Conversely, if a motorcyclist strikes a pedestrian by accident, the pedestrian is entitled to first-party benefits provided by the motorcyclist’s liability insurance. In this case, the motorcyclist’s liability insurance pays damages to the pedestrian.
However, motorcyclists have the advantage that they are not required to prove serious injury to file a personal injury lawsuit; it is enough that they can prove that they were involved in an accident.
This is beneficial for the motorcyclist because the law effectively recognizes the motorcyclist’s added vulnerability on the road and the likelihood that the motorcyclist may have sustained severe injuries from a collision due to that vulnerability.
Since there is no need to prove the severity of an injury, a personal injury lawsuit is the default recourse for a motorcyclist hit by a car. Indeed, motorcyclists are often forced to file personal injury lawsuits to have a chance of reclaiming the full extent of their damages after a collision with a car.
There is often an unfair bias against the motorcyclist in an accident claim involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, but the Syracuse motorcycle accident lawyers at Catalano Law believe in fighting on the side of motorcyclists injured in Central New York and the Southern Tier.
We work based on a contingency fee, which means you are not required to pay for a personal injury lawsuit unless we obtain a settlement for your injuries. This eases the financial burden on our clients as they focus on rebuilding their lives. If you are a motorcyclist considering a personal injury lawsuit, contact Catalano Law today.