Our Erie motorcycle accident attorneys are often contacted by motorcyclists who have questions related to motorcycle crashes and motorcycle accident injuries. In this article, we answer the top five questions about motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania.
- How common are motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania?
- Can I sue the other driver for full damages, even though Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state?
- If I wasn’t wearing a motorcycle helmet, can the insurance company deny my claim?
- When will I receive money for my motorcycle accident claim?
- Why is the insurance company saying I am partially at fault for the motorcycle crash?
How common are motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania?
Motorcyclists love Pennsylvania. We have some of the most beautiful motorcycle routes in the country. In 2017, there were over 845,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania and over 377,800 registered motorcycles.
The NHTSA reports that motorcycle fatalities increased by 5.1 percent from 2015 to 2016. They accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. Even though motorcycle fatalities decreased in Pennsylvania during 2017, motorcycle crashes accounted for approximately 16 percent of the total fatalities statewide that year. In 2017, we lost 185 individuals in motorcycle accidents, and another 3,052 people were injured in crashes.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists will always be at risk of an accident because they cannot control all conditions and factors when they ride. However, state laws do allow motorcyclists to seek compensation for damages when another party is responsible for the accident.
Can I sue the other driver for full damages, even though Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state?
Pennsylvania is considered a no-fault insurance state for automobile insurance. However, Pennsylvania drivers can choose to purchase full tort insurance coverage or limited tort insurance coverage. With limited tort insurance, accident victims are restricted in their ability to pursue damages from another party even if that party is completely responsible for causing the traffic accident. Many people purchase limited tort insurance because the premiums are less expensive compared to the premiums for full tort insurance.
However, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to serious and life-threatening injuries in an accident because of a lack of protection. Occupants in cars and trucks are protected by the metal frame of the vehicle, seat belts, airbags, and other safety measures.
Therefore, an exception for motorcyclists exists that allows a person injured while riding a motorcycle to seek and recover full tort damages even if the person has limited tort insurance coverage. An insurance adjuster may try to convince you that you are not entitled to compensation under Pennsylvania’s insurance laws. Do not rely on the information provided by an insurance company. Always consult with an experienced Erie motorcycle accident attorney to determine your legal rights after a motorcycle crash.
If I wasn’t wearing a motorcycle helmet, can the insurance company deny my claim?
This is a tricky question and an issue that many insurance companies try to use in their favor.
Pennsylvania requires all riders under the age of 21 years to wear a motorcycle helmet. However, riders 21 years of age and older can choose not to wear a motorcycle helmet if they take and pass an approved motorcycle safety course or if they have at least two years of motorcycling experience.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, that fact could impact your insurance claim depending on the facts in your case. If you are under 21 years old or you do not meet the requirements for opting out of wearing a helmet, you are breaking the law. The insurance company may allege that you were negligent by breaking the law. Under the state’s comparative negligence laws, your compensation should be reduced or denied outright because of your negligence.
Insurance companies will use any argument they believe might be successful in reducing their liability for an accident. If you suffered a head injury, the company might argue that had you been wearing a helmet, you may not have been injured or the injury may not be as severe. Because you were breaking the law, you do not deserve compensation.
If you were not breaking the law or you suffered an injury that wearing a helmet would not impact, the insurance company will have a difficult and uphill battle trying to argue negligence based on these grounds. Consulting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is strongly suggested in these situations.
When will I receive money for my motorcycle accident claim?
If you have no-fault insurance, you may receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages after you provide proof of the financial loss to your insurance provider. No-fault insurance pays claims without requiring proof of fault for the accident.
However, if you are pursuing a claim against another party, you will not receive compensation until your case is settled. The factors in your case determine how long your case may take to resolve. Factors that impact the length of a case include:
- How long it takes for you to recover from your injuries?
- Whether you suffered permanent disabilities or impairments.
- Disputes related to fault and liability.
- The need for expert witnesses to evaluate the accident to determine the cause of the crash and identify the party responsible for causing the crash.
- Whether you need to file a lawsuit to resolve your claim.
Our Erie motorcycle accident attorneys work diligently to settle your insurance claim as quickly as possible while protecting your right to recover full compensation for your claim.
Why is the insurance company saying I am partially at fault for the motorcycle crash?
Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative fault standard when apportioning compensation for a motor vehicle accident. According to the modified comparative fault rules, if you are partially at fault for the cause of the motorcycle crash, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the crash. If you are 51 percent or more at fault for the crash, you receive no compensation for your claim.
Therefore, insurance companies often try to blame motorcyclists for the crash to avoid paying the claim or reduce the amount of compensation they must pay for the claim. Some companies may use unfair stereotypes of riders to convince a jury that the motorcyclist was reckless or careless, so the rider must be partially at fault for the crash.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer is familiar with these insurance tactics and how to develop a defense against these allegations.
Do You Have Additional Questions About a Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accident?
To schedule a free legal consultation with our Erie motorcycle accident lawyer, call The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066.