New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Since you're here, we assume that you're considering contacting a New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer about a potential claim. If that's true, there are a few things you should know about our firm:
- We offer free, no-obligation case reviews. If you think you have a motorcycle accident claim, you have nothing to lose by speaking to us about your case, and much to gain.
- We represent victims of negligence and malice because we believe everybody deserves a voice.
- We work on a contingency fee basis. If you retain us to handle your claim, you pay us nothing out of pocket.
- Time is of the essence. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents is 2 years.
Motorcycle Accidents Statistics
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 4,976 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes (the highest number since 2012). There were an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists injured in the same time period.
Motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 4 percent of all people injured. Motorcyclists were also 18 percent of all occupants (driver and passenger) fatalities and 4 percent of all occupants injured.
Many times, the motorcyclist is not at fault for the accident. Frequently, inexperienced or inattentive motor vehicle drivers fail to see the motorcyclist in their mirrors. Drivers of SUVs, tractor-trailers, and buses can easily miss motorcyclists.
In other instances, they may spot the motorcycle but not give them proper space on the road. This scenario can cause the biker to get sandwiched between two vehicles. The biker may be at risk during lane changes, curves in the road, or turns.
Weather and road factors are also a consideration. Finally, defects of the motorcycle and driver error can cause issues, as well.
If another driver’s negligence causes an injury, the motorcyclist may be able to get damages. Damages may include compensation for physical and psychological injuries, lost earnings, or pain and suffering. Often, motorcyclists have to confront insurance companies, as well as the other driver, to get compensation for their losses and injuries.
What Are The New Jersey Motorcycle Laws?
To operate a motorcycle in New Jersey, you must have a motorcycle license. You can also ride with an “M” endorsement on your driver’s license or commercial driver’s license.
Before you can ride your bike, you must register it. To get that done, you need motorcycle insurance. You must also have a bike inspection. New Jersey requires the following insurance minimums:
- $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $30,000 bodily injury coverage per incident
- $5,000 property damage per incident
New Jersey has specific laws governing the operation of motorcycles, as follows:
- Every motorcycle operator must wear a securely fitted protective helmet. The helmet must be of a type approved by the federal Department of Transportation. It must have a strap and be reflective on both sides. (N.J. Stat. §39:3-76.7).
- Motorcyclists must wear face and eye protection. Options are a windscreen, goggles, or a face shield. (N.J. Stat. §39:3-76.8, §39:3-76.9).
- The handlebars may not be higher than the operator’s shoulders. (N.J. Stat. §39:3-76.3).
- The motorcycle must have a muffler system designed specifically for motorcycles. (N.J. Stat. §39:3-76.4).
- Passengers are only allowed on motorcycles designed to carry more than one person. The motorcycle must have footrests for the passenger. (N.J. Stat. §39:3-76.5).
- The motorcycle must have at least one rear-facing mirror.
- Motorcyclists may not split lanes.
- Motorcyclists are not required to use turn signals.
If you were in an accident and didn’t follow all of these laws, don’t worry. A skilled personal injury lawyer may still be able to obtain a settlement for you.
Insurance Coverage & Motorcycle Accidents
New Jersey has a combination of city roads and natural scenery, making it a great place to ride a motorcycle. However, riding on the roads in New Jersey can also be dangerous.
Many cars don’t check for motorcycles when they’re driving. According to the state of New Jersey, motorcyclists are the most vulnerable on the road. Motorcyclists are over 28 times more likely to die in an accident than occupants in a car.
In 2016, there were 2,200 accidents involving motorcycle drivers in New Jersey. Of the 2,200, 69 ended in death. Statistically, motorcyclists involved in accidents in New Jersey have an 82 percent chance of injury.
Motorcyclists in New Jersey Cannot Get No-Fault Coverage
Another hitch for motorcyclists in New Jersey is the lack of no-fault insurance.
No-fault insurance also called personal injury protection or PIP is a specific type of insurance. It covers medical bills for the injured party in an accident, regardless of fault. Some PIP coverage can also include lost wages. This type of insurance is beneficial for motor vehicle operators who may get injured in a crash.
Motorcyclists, however, are often explicitly excluded from PIP coverage in New Jersey. In other words, if you sustain an injury in a motorcycle accident, the other driver’s PIP coverage will not apply to you.
You also cannot use your motor vehicle PIP coverage for your medical bills. And, of course, you likely wouldn’t have any PIP coverage for your motorcycle.
If you did find a provider who offered PIP for motorcyclists, it would be an add-on and would be quite expensive. Like many motorcyclists, you would be looking for other ways to cover your medical bills.
The lack of PIP coverage for motorcyclists means you may have to sue to recover financially. Sometimes health insurance providers or union plans may cover your bills. Much of the time, however, motorcyclists are excluded from those policies, as well.
Even if you can recover from your health insurer or union, they may require you to go after the other driver to offset their costs against your recovery.
For motorcyclists injured in New Jersey, it is critical to consider a lawsuit against the party that may have been at fault.
Types of Compensation Available To Motorcycle Accident Victims
In New Jersey, there are three main types of compensation available to motorcycle accident victims (with two being more likely):
- Economic: Most motorcycle accident victims will try to pursue economic damages before all others. Economic damages include current and future medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-Economic: Non-economic damages include those for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other psychological damages.
- Punitive: It is very rare to get punitive damages for a motorcycle accident in New Jersey, but it may be possible. Punitive damages punish the responsible party, but they are only awarded in cases involving actual malice on the part of the other driver, or willful and wanton misconduct. In other words, if the other driver hit you on purpose, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
Family members of motorcyclists killed in an accident may receive wrongful death damages, which cover many different types of financial compensation.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
It is important to note that New Jersey is a comparative negligence state.
Comparative negligence means that if the motorcyclist was partially at fault, their recovery would be reduced by their percentage of fault. So if a court found you to be 35 percent at fault for the accident, you could only receive 65 percent of the damages available.
The Verbal Threshold May Bar Recovery
Additionally, motorcyclists may be subject to the “verbal threshold” in New Jersey. A verbal threshold is a limitation on lawsuits that an insured driver can choose on their insurance for a cheaper premium.
The verbal threshold means the motorcycle rider must be able to show evidence of serious and permanent injuries before they can recover damages. The injuries listed according to New Jersey law (N.J. Stat. § 39:6A-8(a)) are:
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
The Statute of Limitations: You Have Limited Time To Take Action
The statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents in New Jersey is two years from the date of the accident, the same as for all personal injury suits. In other words, any claim you plan to file based on your accident must be started within two years.
While two years may seem like a long time, it can go by in the blink of an eye. That’s why you must get help from an attorney as soon as you can after your accident.
How Can A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help?
Due to the complex nature of the motorcycles laws, insurance coverage, and damages in New Jersey, it is imperative that you get an attorney’s help. It can be confusing to navigate the complex legal waters of your potential claim.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can assess your situation and guide you on the best ways to get your medical expenses covered. A good attorney can also help you figure out what other recovery is possible.
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
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Discuss Your Case with Our New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today
The NJ motorcycle accident attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble are experienced in uncovering the evidence that is important to help you and your family. We work with law enforcement, investigators, and accident re-constructionists to shape your case and steadfastly pursue just compensation on your behalf. Contact us online or call us at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817. Together, we will examine all documents and evidence related to your accident efficiently and thoroughly. In order to win your case and get the rightful compensation, you need an experienced legal team right by your side.