Much like other cities in New York, Kingston news agencies report on
motorcycle accidents throughout the warmer months. I am sure that you are keenly aware that
these accidents involve serious injuries to the rider, such as fractured
limbs, broken ribs, severe lacerations, head trauma, spinal injuries,
and sometimes death.
Experienced Kingston motorcycle accident attorneys understand that motorcycle
crash litigation involves the interplay between the unique circumstances
encountered by bike riders, the causes of motorcycle accidents, insurance
law, accident reconstruction issues, and the rules of negligence.
Civil litigation commenced by a biker injured in a motorcycle accident
will be founded in a claim of negligence. This means that the plaintiff-biker
alleges that the defendant owed him a duty to not cause the harm that
was caused, that the defendant breached that duty, the breach was the
cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and finally that he has suffered damages.
As with any type of vehicle involved in a roadway crash, there exist innumerable
causes by which the motorcycle accident occurred. But unique to motorcycles
is there slender profile as compared to four-plus wheeled vehicles. Such
makes them harder to see, but nonetheless car drivers must still look
out and see what there is to be seen. Additionally, because bikers ride
without being within the comfort and safety of an interior cabin, slight
and serious injuries are more likely to happen when a motorcycle is involved
in an accident.
In fact, there were over 40,000 motorcyclist fatalities from 2002 to 2011,
and over 800,000 motorcyclists’ suffered non-lethal injuries during
those years. These numbers are staggering, but more so when one compares
them to injury or fatality rates suffered by accidents involving passenger
cars. In 2011, the passenger car fatality rate was 8.90 percent per 100,000
vehicles, while the fatality rate for motorcyclists was 54.66 percent.
Death rates are high even though the majority of motorcyclists wear helmets
while riding. For example, over 160 New York bikers died in roadway crashes
during 2011, even though the rate of helmet use in New York is approaching
100%. Part of this high percentage is due to the fact that New York requires
motorcycle riders to wear helmets while riding. Unfortunately in spite
of high helmet usage in New York, helmets were worn by 146 out of the
170 New York motorcyclists killed in 2012.
For those motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets or in a case where
the motorcyclist himself is otherwise accused of wrongdoing that may have
contributed to his or her injuries, the doctrine of comparative negligence
will still allow the motorcyclist the opportunity to recover damages from
the other driver.
Comparative negligence in New York will allow a plaintiff to recover damages
even though he or she might have been partially to blame for the injuries
resulting from a crash. The clearest way to phrase it is: each party will
pay their fair share of damages. In illustration, if the motorcyclist
suffered $100,000 in damages and a jury found him 10% at fault and the
other driver 90% at fault, then the motorcyclist can still recover $90,000
from the defendant.
A recovery such as this will
not be precluded by New York no-fault lawsbecause that law does not apply to motorcyclists. Moreover, a suit can
be commenced even when the biker’s injuries are not “serious”
as defined in the no-fault statute. But insurance will still play an important
part in the litigation. That is because the amount of insurance held by
the motorcyclist will impact the amount of recovery that he can collect
from the defendant.
As mentioned above, negligence will be the theory upon which the motorcyclist’s
case will rest and there must be proof of a duty owed to the plaintiff,
breach of that duty by the defendant, proximate causation, and damages.
A highly contentious part of the litigation will be the issue of causation.
Experienced Kingston motorcycle accident attorneys will use experts to
reconstruct the accident scene for the jury. The driver’s rate of
speed, visibility conditions, and weather conditions will all play a part
in the reconstruction. By reconstructing the scene, experts will show
how the accident and resultant injuries could not have happened but for
the defendant-driver’s negligence.