New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Help for Victims of Motorcycle Collisions
There are 85,557 miles of roadway in New Jersey and approximately 150,000 motorcycles. Those are pretty good numbers, except when you consider that those bikes have to share the roads with about 3.5 million automobiles, 3.2 million trucks, and 24,000 buses.
As a motorcycle rider, you are well aware of the exhilarating feeling of cruising down the Millstone Valley Byway or coasting through the Pine Barrens. But, you’re also very aware of the dangers that await around every curve and at every intersection. This is why you pay so much attention to your surroundings and have worked so diligently at being an excellent rider.
Unfortunately, drivers of trucks and passenger vehicles don’t have the same relationship with the vehicles they zoom around in. They’re driving to meet a delivery deadline, commuting to work, running errands, or dropping the kids off at school. For them, driving is a convenience, a chore, and a bore. That’s why they fiddle with the radio, talk on their phones, text, and check Facebook at stoplights. These activities are potentially deadly to anyone on a motorcycle.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you’re likely facing expensive repairs to your bike, injuries that will keep you from working for a while, and escalating medical bills, or worse. That’s a huge price to pay for someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or just plain reckless driving. Fortunately, New Jersey law allows you to make a civil claim for restitution from the party that caused your accident and injuries. But, to secure a settlement worthy of the injuries you’ve suffered, it is vital that you seek the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney in New Jersey. Princeton law firm Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. has been successfully representing New Jersey injury victims for over 20 years. Call us today for a free consultation at (609) 240-0040.
It is crucial that riders always wear protective clothing and a helmet when out on the road.
What Are Some Types of Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents in New Jersey can happen for a variety of reasons, but usually some combination of inattention, inexperience, and intoxication is at the core.
- Motorcycle Collisions Involving Another Vehicle: Car drivers tend to be unaware of motorcycles on the road and not realize how much space riders need to maneuver safely through traffic, which can cause motorcycle accidents in a number of ways. Tailgating can lead to rear-ending a motorcycle, especially because motorcycles can stop much quicker than cars. Even a small tap from behind can be disastrous. When cars pull out of parking spaces or turn across lanes without noticing the much smaller vehicle traveling alongside them, they can collide with motorcyclists who are sometimes moving at a considerable speed. Right-of-way violations are a common cause of motorcycle accidents, and intersections are one of the most dangerous places for riders to be in. Car drivers may be generally unaware, and a moment of distraction, such as reaching for a coffee or changing the music, can lead to an accident.
- Single Vehicle Motorcycle Accidents: Inexperienced motorcycle riders, particularly those with no formal training, are the most likely to be involved in an accident. However, while many collisions do happen because a rider lost focus momentarily, handled the bike improperly, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are other times that an incident is out of the rider's control. Some single motorcycle wrecks happen when a motorcycle driver tries to avoid another hazard. For example, if a car cuts off a motorcycle, this forces the rider to brake suddenly and swerve. If the motorcycle then loses control, but does not meet with any other vehicles, it is considered a car crash, and the other driver still bears some degree of responsibility. The same situation can happen with pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals in the roadway.
The Dangers of Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is the act of driving a motorcycle between cars or trucks that have stopped, typically done to try to move through and avoid a traffic jam. Since motorcycles are smaller and narrower than most vehicles on the road, they can fit between other vehicles and move along the lines that indicate each lane.
This is incredibly dangerous and also not legal in New Jersey, which means you can end up with a ticket or much worse. Motorcycles are required to stay within their lanes when traffic has stopped, just like other vehicles. There may not be a law on the books that clearly states lane splitting is illegal, but motorcyclists can be cited by police for failure to keep right while driving. More importantly, motorcyclists driving between lanes can be seriously injured by other drivers who are surprised by the sudden appearance of a motorcycle beside them.
Is Lane Splitting Considered Negligence?
Lane splitting can be seen as an act of negligence. While there is no strict definition of every possible negligent act, the general rule is that any action that a reasonable person would not take is considered negligent. So we must consider: would a reasonable person split lanes while operating a motorcycle?
You might argue one way or another, but an insurance company will certainly consider lane splitting to be an act of negligence. This is important because New Jersey uses comparative negligence when it comes to filing an insurance claim with another driver's insurance company. Should you be hit by a driver while you are lane splitting, any claim you file with that driver's insurance will likely pay out less because they will argue you acted negligently by weaving between traffic.
Comparative Negligence and Lane Splitting
While degree of negligence is important for insurance claims, it also comes into play if you file a lawsuit against another driver after a collision. Comparative negligence is used to determine responsibility in an accident, and therefore liability as well. The amount of negligence you engaged in, which contributed to an accident, can be used against you and will diminish any damages you are awarded after a civil case. An experienced lawyer by your side can argue on your behalf, but by avoiding lane splitting, you can reduce your own liability following an accident.
The way comparative negligence works in New Jersey actually makes it so you cannot recover any compensation if you are more than half at fault for an accident. This means that if a court decides you were more than 50% at fault for an accident, then you cannot obtain any damages. Keep that in mind while driving a motorcycle. Serious accidents are bad enough, but carelessness on your part can make it even worse.
Common Injuries Suffered in New Jersey Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents rarely end well for the rider. More than half of motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle, usually a passenger car. Obviously, in a motorcycle car collision, the motorcycle rider is at a much greater risk than those inside the car. Whether they involve another vehicle or not, almost all motorcycle collisions result in some type of injury to the rider, and close to half of these injuries are serious. Some of these can be prevented by wearing protective equipment while riding, such as a leather jacket and chaps, boots, and a helmet. Some can’t.
Riders often suffer from:
- Head Injuries: Although New Jersey requires all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, head injuries are still a common result of motorcycle accidents. Head injuries can range from mild concussions to fractured skulls and brain damage. Traumatic brain injuries have devastating and lifelong effects. The full extent of a brain injury is not always apparent right away, so some of the signs to watch out for include decreased motor function, weakness, dizziness, nausea, inability to control limbs and extremities, personality changes, and impaired mental function. Head injuries can leave victims unable to care for themselves and in need of ongoing care to get through each day.
- Spinal Cord Injury: Neck injuries are quite common in motorcycle accidents. Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic. The spinal cord controls all of your bodily functions, and damage to it can leave you with partial or complete loss of sensation or movement. Paraplegia and quadriplegia are the result of spinal cord damage. Even if a motorcyclist is fortunate enough to escape paralysis, it is possible to experience spinal cord compression or a herniated disk, both of which are very painful and can have life-altering effects.
- Dismemberment or Disfigurement: Losing a limb, whether it’s a total or partial amputation, can pose a significant risk for future health problems because of blood loss, infection, and inflammation. It’s not uncommon for someone who’s suffered dismemberment to undergo numerous surgeries for complications from nerve and tissue damage, abscesses, scarring, and arthritis. Disfigurement may also be caused from scarring and facial injuries that require reconstructive or plastic surgery.
- Road Rash: Road rash is a slang term for injuries caused by exposed skin scraping across pavement. While rarely fatal, road rash injuries are very painful and can result in significant scarring.
- Muscle and Soft Tissue Damage: Impact to the body following a motorcycle accident - whether it’s the body hitting the ground, another vehicle, or a stationary object - can cause severe muscle and soft tissue damage. Nerve damage can result in full or partial paralysis.
- Broken Bones: Motorcycle accidents often result in multiple broken bones throughout the body - from hand fractures to fractures of larger bones, like the femur and tibia.
Compensation for Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for any of the following damages:
- Property damage and loss
- Current medical bills
- Bills for future related medical procedures
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of limb
- Full or partial paralysis
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Costs of household and vehicle modifications (such as wheelchair ramps, etc.)
- Permanent injury or disability
- Lost wages from missed work
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Reduced earning capacity
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Punitive damages
Wrongful Death Damages
If you’ve lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you and your family may be able to seek compensation for any of the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before they died
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits (such as medical benefits and retirement benefits)
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Loss of love, affection, companionship, guidance, etc.
- Loss of household duties the deceased performed (such as childcare, accounting, vehicle and property maintenance, chores, etc.)
- Punitive damages
Contact a NJ Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorney Today for Help
Motorcycles can be a fun, exciting, and economical way to travel, but they’re not without risk. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you deserve to be compensated for your losses. But don’t expect the liable party’s insurance company to offer you an adequate settlement; they will try to get you to take the smallest payout possible. To get the settlement you deserve, you’ll need an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer. Call the legal team of Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. today at (609) 240-0040 for a free consultation.
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