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Understanding Motorcycle Accidents in New York State: A Guide for Victims

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Peter J. Gregory
Mar 8, 2024
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Motorcycle riding offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and excitement, but it also comes with a high risk of accidents. In the Greater Rochester area, challenging weather conditions and dense traffic contribute to a significant number of motorcycle accidents each year. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to understand the legal landscape, your rights, and the steps you should take to protect those rights and seek compensation for your injuries. This brief guide outlines what victims of motorcycle accidents in New York State should know.

The Unique Risks Faced by Motorcyclists

Motorcycle accidents can be some of the most devastating incidents on the road, often resulting in significant injuries or fatalities for multiple reasons. First, motorcycles offer less protection than cars, meaning that riders are more likely to suffer severe injuries in the event of a crash. Secondly, motorcycles are smaller and less visible to other motorists, increasing the likelihood of being overlooked, especially at intersections or during lane changes.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in New York

Understanding the common causes of motorcycle accidents can help riders stay alert and possibly avoid dangerous situations. Some prevalent factors include:

  • Driver Inattention: Many accidents occur because a driver fails to notice a motorcycle on the road.
  • Speeding: High speeds reduce reaction time and increase the severity of accidents.
  • Lane Splitting: Although illegal in New York, some motorcyclists engage in lane splitting, which can lead to accidents.
  • Left-turn Accidents: These occur when a vehicle makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a significant factor in motorcycle accidents.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities

After a motorcycle accident, it's essential to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. New York follows a "no-fault" insurance system for motor vehicle accidents, which means that, in most cases, your insurance company will cover medical expenses and lost earnings up to a certain limit, regardless of who was at fault. However, this system does not apply to motorcyclists, meaning you may need to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party to recover financial damages.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

The steps you take immediately after a motorcycle accident can significantly impact your ability to recover compensation. Here are critical actions to consider:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it's important to get checked by a medical professional.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify the police about the accident. A police report can be crucial evidence in your case.
  3. Gather Evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damages to your motorcycle. Collect contact information from witnesses.
  4. Notify Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurer about the accident, but be cautious when discussing the details. Avoid admitting fault.
  5. Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer: An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help navigate the legal process, deal with insurance companies, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Victims

Victims of motorcycle accidents in New York State may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Coverage for hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, and any future medical care related to the accident.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for lost income and reduced earning capacity due to injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Property Damage: Reimbursement for repairs or replacement of your motorcycle and other personal property damaged in the accident.

The specific amount and types of compensation you may be eligible for will depend on the details of your case, including the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with injuries, medical bills, and insurance claims. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance throughout this challenging time. A lawyer can:

  • Evaluate Your Case: Offer a professional assessment of your case and the potential for compensation.
  • Handle Negotiations: Deal with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
  • Litigate Your Case: If necessary, represent you in court to fight for the compensation you deserve.
  • Provide Peace of Mind: Allow you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal complexities.


Motorcycle accidents can have life-altering consequences for victims and their families. Understanding the risks, adhering to New York's motorcycle laws, and knowing what steps to take after an accident can make a significant difference in the aftermath of a crash. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it's crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Stay safe on the road, and remember, your rights and well-being are paramount. For assistance with these matters, please contact us to learn more.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

About the author: Peter J. Gregory is a partner with MCCM Personal Injury Lawyers in Rochester, NY.  He is a trial lawyer with extensive experience resolving disputes in state and federal trial courts. As a personal injury lawyer, Gregory focuses on advising clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents caused by the carelessness or recklessness of others. Please feel free to contact him directly at or (585) 512-3506.


This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

About MCCM

McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high-quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979.  With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.

We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England.  They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts.  For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.