New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Whether you enjoy riding your motorcycle on warm, sunny days, or you ride as your primary form of transportation, you face a risk for accident and injury whenever you climb on your bike. Even if you wear your helmet, dress properly, and ride defensively, you cannot control the actions and behavior of the other motorists with whom you share the road. If you are in need of a New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer, please contact us today.
Drunk driving, drugged driving, drowsy driving, and distracted driving represent just a few of the dangerous behaviors that put you at risk for a motorcycle accident.
Your gear is the only protection you have between your body and the road if a careless motorist crashes into you on your bike. Severe, catastrophic, and sometimes deadly injuries often follow these collisions; injuries that could be prevented if motorists were to drive carefully, follow the rules of the road, and watch out for motorcycles.
If you live in New Jersey and have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can advocate for you and help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Contact the skilled New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP for a free case evaluation today. We serve clients throughout the Garden State, so contact us at the office most convenient for you—Edison and Newark.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Results in Motorcycle Accident Cases
The seasoned legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP has more than four decades of experience representing motorcycle accident victims and other victims of preventable injuries. The firm’s dedication to client advocacy, client service, and case preparation has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in damages for clients injured in motorcycle crashes.
Two recent examples of case results include a $536,000 settlement for a motorcyclist who suffered injuries after a driver in a parked car opened his door and caused an accident, and a $525,000 settlement for a biker who suffered injuries after a motorist ran a stop sign and struck the client’s motorcycle.
These results are only examples, of course, and do not guarantee a specific financial outcome for your motorcycle accident case. Each claim has distinctive facts that increase or decrease its value. However, the qualified motorcycle accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP have the experience and resources to build the strongest-possible case against those who caused you harm, giving you the best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Bikers Can Suffer Severe Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcyclists in traffic accidents often suffer severe, even life-threatening injuries. Those lucky enough to survive a crash may nevertheless face a long recovery and lasting disabilities from their injuries. Some common preventable injuries that motorcycle accident victims sometimes confront include:
New Jersey Law requires all motorcyclists, regardless of skill level or age, to wear a helmet when riding. Yet, even when wearing a proper helmet, bikers risk suffering head trauma in a motorcycle accident. Helmets can reduce the severity of a head injury, but they cannot always prevent injury entirely. Even helmeted riders can suffer a fractured skull or traumatic brain injury (TBI), for example.
Mild TBIs, more commonly called concussions, can leave riders with lasting health complications like chronic headaches and fatigue. Motorcyclists who suffer moderate to severe brain injuries can face a lifetime of impairment related to their injuries. Severe brain injuries frequently cause permanent damage that impacts cognitive skills, sensory processing, communication, behavior, and overall mental health.
The impact of a collision often throws motorcyclists from the saddle to the ground or against another vehicle or roadside object, inflicting debilitating and painful back injuries like broken vertebrae, slipped discs, and bulged discs. Many back injury victims must undergo one or more surgeries to correct the damage caused by an accident. Unfortunately, surgery does not always alleviate the pain and discomfort from a back injury. Victims frequently face a lifetime of pain management that can include taking addictive painkillers, receiving regular injections, or having a pain management device implanted into the body.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Bikers can also suffer a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle collision. Spinal cord cells differ from other cells in the body in that they do not automatically regenerate or repair themselves when damaged. Minor spinal cord injuries can cause swelling and lead to temporary paralysis and loss of feeling, among other symptoms. More severe injuries can cause permanent damage leading to permanent loss of function of limbs and of sensation in parts of the body. The extent of loss that a spinal cord injury victim suffers depends on the severity of the injury and its location on the spinal column.
Those who suffer cervical spinal injuries in the neck face a risk of tetraplegia, which is total paralysis from the neck down. Injuries that occur lower on the spinal column typically result in less functional loss. For example, injuries in the thoracic region in the mid-back portion of the spinal column can cause paralysis from the waist down, among other loss of sensation in the arms and trunk. Spinal cord injuries also inflict significant financial trauma: treatment of some injuries can cost upwards of $1 million in the first year alone.
Motorcyclists risk suffering severe road rash in a traffic accident. Road rash occurs when a biker gets thrown from a bike and slides along the road surface. The resulting friction can burn, tear, and wear away clothing and the skin layers beneath. Severe road rashes inflict thermal burns, lacerations, avulsions, and abrasions all-at-ones. Dirt and grime from the road surface embed into the skin, posing a risk of life-threatening infections.
Similar to a severe heat burn, bad cases of road rash take a long time to heal and can leave victims with impaired function and permanent, discolored scarring (sometimes referred to as a “traumatic tattoo”).
In some New Jersey motorcycle wrecks, a rider’s legs get crushed or pinned under the motorcycle or another vehicle. Blood may stop flowing into those appendages, putting victims at risk for infection and death. Doctors always do their best to restore blood flow and revive limbs, but sometimes these efforts do not succeed. In these cases, doctors usually have no choice but to amputate the affected limb, leaving the victim with severe physical and emotional pain and lifelong disability.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Four years after an accident that caused serious injuries, a jury ordered Passaic County to pay a New Jersey man $2.65 million. The man sustained injuries when he hit several potholes and then collided with a van while riding his motorcycle. His injuries from the accident included broken ribs, a collapsed lung, fractured back and shoulder blade, and nerve damage to his bladder, bowel, and groin.
In the years following the collision, he could not work, had undergone several surgeries, and was still receiving medical treatments. In addition to the $2.65 million award, the man also received more than $756,000 for medical expenses. Passaic County paid the damages from its general revenue accounts.
While the number of motorcycle accidents in the nation has decreased in recent years, nearly 5,000 people still lose their lives each year in motorcycle crashes, and many more suffer serious injuries.
If you have sustained injuries in a New Jersey motorcycle crash, you deserve answers to your legal questions. Here are some of the questions our motorcycle accident clients and prospective clients frequently ask. As always, for answers specific to your case, ask an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
What risks do motorcyclists face?
Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die, and five times more likely to sustain injuries, in a crash than are occupants of passenger vehicles. Why such a big difference? Simple: motorcycles lack the protective features of cars, trucks, and SUVs. In a collision, riders have no steel frame, airbag, or seat belt to protect them.
Motorcyclists also must contend with factors that put them at higher risk of an accident overall. Motorcycles cut a thin profile, and have only a single headlight. This makes them less-noticeable to other motorists than other vehicles. Motorcycles also face greater hazards from uneven or slippery road conditions. As in the example above, a pothole that a car or truck would ride-over with barely a bump can throw a motorcycle out of control.
Does New Jersey law require me to wear a helmet when I am riding?
Yes. In New Jersey, all motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a DOT-approved helmet when riding. A DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet is one that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. The Department of Transportation doesn’t actually test helmets to ensure that they meet this standard, but rather depends on helmet manufacturers to test and self-certify a helmet’s compliance and to affix a permanent emblem on the helmet stating that it complies with the standard. The Department of Transportation then acquires random samples of helmets that it sends to an independent lab to test it and ensure ongoing compliance.
Non-compliant helmets not only risk being pulled off the shelves, but the manufacturer of the helmets may also incur a fine for each non-compliant helmet.
Do other state laws govern motorcyclists?
Yes. Motorcyclists must obey all traffic laws, the same as any other motorist. Additionally, New Jersey motorcyclists must:
- Obtain a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on a basic or commercial license.
- Complete a basic motorcycle rider safety course.
- Register the motorcycle.
- Use eye and face protection, including approved goggles or a motorcycle helmet with a face shield.
- Must not use extended handlebars that extend above the rider’s shoulders.
If I wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, can I still pursue compensation?
Probably, but you might not have the ability to recover as much money as you would if you wore a helmet. Liability for a motorcycle crash comes down to who failed to exercise appropriate care that might have prevented the accident or injury. Failing to wear a helmet doesn’t necessarily prevent the accident or absolve another driver for negligent actions, but it does put a biker at higher risk for catastrophic injury, and a jury or insurance company may well blame the rider for that extra injury.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we understand why riders often want to go without a helmet. As lawyers, however, we must advise everyone who straddles a motorcycle in the Garden State to always wear a helmet, for their own safety, and because it’s the law. It’s also the law that other drivers need to exercise their duty to drive responsibility—and when they don’t, we can help you.
I was doored on my motorcycle. Who is liable?
Dooring can cause motorcyclists terrible injuries. For those unfamiliar with the term, dooring occurs when a parked or stopped motorist opens a vehicle door into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. The rider has virtually no time to react and either collides with the door or takes dangerous evasive action.
Bikers hurt because of doorings typically have legal rights against the motorist who opened the vehicle door. Speak with an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney to learn more.
My motorcycle accident happened because a driver turned left in front of me. Is the driver liable?
Generally, a driver has a legal liability for an accident caused by turning left into the path of a motorcycle. Speak with a lawyer about the specific facts of your crash to determine the scope and extent of the motorist’s potential legal liability.
Are motorcyclists required to have insurance in New Jersey?
Yes. New Jersey law requires all motorcyclists who have registered their bike in the state to carry the following liability insurance coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for total bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
Insurance companies also frequently offer additional, optional coverages for New Jersey motorcyclists, such as:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Personal Injury Protection
- Comprehensive and collision coverage
- Roadside assistance coverage
- Accessory coverage
Will my PIP policy pay for the injuries I suffered in a motorcycle accident?
PIP is insurance that covers your own medical and related expenses in a crash, no matter who is at fault.
New Jersey requires that car and truck drivers obtain a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy to register their vehicles in the state. Motorcyclists, in contrast, do not have a legal obligation to carry PIP coverage. They may want to, however, considering the relatively high likelihood of sustaining injuries in a motorcycle crash.
Do not assume that the PIP coverage you carry for your car or truck also covers you when you ride your motorcycle. It probably does not. Insurers consider motorcycle riding a higher-than-average-risk activity, so they typically want to charge you extra for covering you against injuries you sustain in a motorcycle collision. If you don’t know that you have paid for that extra coverage, call us. We can check your policy to see if you do carry PIP.
Will I get less compensation because I was riding a motorcycle in a crash, not driving a car?
We cannot predict the outcome of any claim, but know this: Your rights as a motorcyclist are no different from your rights as a passenger vehicle driver. As a law firm, we work tirelessly to hold others accountable for harming motorcyclists, and to push back against the prejudices that some motorists have against motorcycle riders. To us, your injuries are worth just as much as anyone else’s, and we fight hard to make sure insurance companies and defense lawyers see things the same way.
What is the statute of limitations in motorcycle accident cases?
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases—such as motorcycle accident cases—is two years from the date of the accident, in most cases. This means that, if you intend to file a lawsuit against an individual or entity with a legal liability for your motorcycle accident injuries, your lawyer must take action within two years. If this deadline expires before you have taken legal action, then you may lose your rights altogether. Speak with an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident injury attorney right away to protect your rights.
How much compensation can I get through a motorcycle accident personal injury lawsuit?
We cannot answer that question without knowing more about your case. The amount of money you may recover through a personal injury lawsuit depends on the facts and circumstances of your New Jersey motorcycle crash.
Some of the considerations attorneys, insurance companies, judges, and juries take into account in determining the appropriate amount of money for a motorcycle accident victim to receive include:
- The severity of the motorcyclist’s injuries.
- Past and future medical expenses associated with the injuries.
- The pain and suffering inflicted by the injuries.
- The amount of past and future wages the injury causes the motorcyclist to lose.
- The cost of repairing or replacing the motorcycle involved in the crash.
- The scope of any disabilities the injury forces the motorcyclist to contend with into the future, and the impact of those disabilities on the biker’s life.
- The overall impact of the injuries on the motorcyclist’s life and wellbeing.
What determines if I have a case against someone for my motorcycle accident injuries?
Lawyers look at the facts and circumstances of a New Jersey motorcycle accident to evaluate who has a legal liability for it. Liability basically boils down to determining who took dangerous actions or made bad decisions that led to the crash and injuries? In a motorcycle crash, the other driver is always a likely culprit, but others may also have a legal liability for the biker’s injuries, including the other driver’s employer, the bike’s manufacturer, and (as described above) even the local road department that failed to maintain a safe road surface for motorcyclists.
Experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident injury attorneys take care to evaluate not just who has a potential liability, but also, who has the financial resources (usually through insurance coverage) to pay damages to the client.
My husband died in a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver. Can I obtain compensation?
You may have the legal right to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is filed on behalf of the deceased’s family members, including spouses, children or grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and others who were financially dependent on the deceased.
Some of the damages a grieving family member may recover through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the deceased’s final injury
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of benefits, such as pension or vacation time
- Physical or mental pain and suffering experienced by the deceased as a result of his or her injuries before death
Speak with an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident attorney to learn about your legal rights after a tragic motorcycle accident takes the life of a loved one.
Could someone besides the other driver be liable in my motorcycle accident case?
Yes. As we described above, other individuals or entities may face liability for injuries you incur in a New Jersey motorcycle wreck. So, for example, do not assume you are out of luck just because the motorist who hit you has minimum insurance coverage. Working with an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident injury attorney is the most surefire way to figure out who has a legal liability for your accident injuries, and to discover parties you might not have thought of.
Do I have to have an attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Practically speaking, yes. In most motorcycle accidents that are caused by someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, it is absolutely imperative that you hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who is well-versed in the complexities of New Jersey’s personal injury law.
People might tell you that you can go it alone or be your own attorney—especially the insurance companies. Ignore them. It takes the steady hand of an experienced attorney to recover the maximum compensation a person needs and deserves after a New Jersey motorcycle accident. Individual accident victims who think they can save money by representing themselves inevitably get rolled by insurance companies and defense lawyers who convince them to take far less money for their injuries than they deserve, and to which the law entitles them.
After a New Jersey motorcycle accident disrupts your life, contact a seasoned motorcycle accident injury attorney for a free case evaluation.
Recouping Loss After a New Jersey Motorcycle Accident
New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state for cars and trucks, meaning that by law, drivers of those vehicles must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage that protects them against medical and disability-related costs related to their own physical injuries in a crash, regardless of who caused the accident.
But not motorcyclists. Garden State bikers do not have the same legal obligation to purchase PIP coverage under New Jersey law, and motorcycle insurance issuers in New Jersey generally do not even offer PIP coverage even as an add-on benefit that bikers can purchase separately. Likewise, motorcyclists who also own a car cannot count on their auto insurance’s PIP component to cover them if they get hurt in a motorcycle crash. New Jersey auto insurance policies typically exclude motorcycle accident injuries from PIP coverage.
So, unlike car and truck drivers, New Jersey motorcyclists tend to have fewer insurance options to pay for injuries they sustain in a bike wreck. If they carry health insurance, that may cover some of the medical costs associated with a crash, but not all of them, and of course, medical costs only represent one of many financial impacts an accident can have.
Instead, motorcyclists—more than others who drive on New Jersey roads—often have to count on the at-fault party’s liability insurance or other assets to pay for the costs flowing from a crash.
That means that New Jersey motorcyclists may have to take legal action against those parties in New Jersey courts, seeking damages to compensate the injured motorcyclists for:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospitalization, X-rays, lab tests, surgery, aftercare, followup doctor visits, prescription medication, and travel expenses to and from the doctor/hospital
- Future medical treatment costs when a motorcycle accident leads to severe or catastrophic injuries requiring extensive recovery or ongoing long-term nursing care until death
- Costs for rehabilitation including visits to specialists, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and mental health professionals, who help accident victims regain lost function or cope with permanent injuries
- Lost wages for missing work as a result of the motorcycle accident, injuries, hospitalization, and recovery
- Future lost wages when severe motorcycle accident injuries prevent someone from returning to work or seeking future employment
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Decreased quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Punitive damages in the rare cases where injuries occurred because of someone’s gross negligence or intentionally-harmful conduct.
In addition, if you have lost a loved one in a New Jersey motorcycle accident, you may have the right to seek compensation for damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Speak with an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer today to learn about your rights under those tragic circumstances.
Your Next Steps After a New Jersey Motorcycle Accident
First things first: always report your New Jersey motorcycle accident to local police (it’s the law) and always seek medical care after a bike wreck whether or not you feel like you suffered injuries. Never, ever try to tough it out. We get that many who ride motorcycles take pride in their toughness. This, however, is not one of the situations where that kind of self-sufficiency does you any good. In fact, it can do you significant harm.
“I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
Many major, life-threatening injuries do not necessarily show symptoms right away. Plus, seeking a doctor creates critically-important records of your treatment that you will need in seeking compensation through any legal process.
After taking care of those preliminaries, follow these steps to further protect your rights:
- Keep proof of economic loss. Recovering the compensation you need depends, in part, on having proof of the out-of-pocket costs a New Jersey motorcycle accident has inflicted on your life. Keep copies of all medical bills and expenses related to your treatment such as travel costs, medication, assistive devices, or anything else you think might be relevant. Better off to save too much than not enough; your attorney can help you determine which items matter most. If you’ve missed work, keep old pay stubs and previous years’ tax returns, too.
- Leave it to your attorney to communicate with other involved parties. Insurance companies are not your friends, so it’s best to avoid talking to them. Let an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer handle those communications instead.
- Don’t accept an early settlement offer. Insurance companies want to avoid paying out large settlements or even larger court-ordered damages. One way they do this is by offering accident victims a quick settlement soon after an accident, before lawyers get involved. These early settlement offers typically undervalue a claim. Speak to an experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer first before making any decisions.
- Avoid social media for now. Insurance companies and defense legal teams will investigate every aspect of your life to find a way to avoid financial responsibility for the motorcycle accident. You do not have to close down Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., but you will likely benefit from not posting anything until your case is settled or litigated.
Get the Legal Help You Need From Our New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP online, start a chat with us, or call our New Jersey offices in Edison or Newark at (877) 505-2368 for a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your motorcycle accident and injuries.
If you choose us to represent you in your motorcycle accident claim, we take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, collecting attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you related to your injuries. You will never pay out-of-pocket costs for our personal injury services.