What Are the Necessary Elements of a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

A Cycle Attorney Primer

I recently had a conversation with someone who had been in a bike vs. deer accident (and lived to tell the tale!).

motorcycle-accident-claim-elementsThis person totalled their bike, had injuries, and so naturally, after taking care of their injuries, they made a wise decision and reached out to me, seeking my advice as a NJ motorcycle accident lawyer.

Their main question boiled down to this: “How do I file a claim to recoup my medical bills, property damage and other damages above and beyond what my insurance policy covers”?

In short, and to put it bluntly, as is our way in New Jersey – ”Who do I sue?”

Unfortunately, in this type of motorcycle accident, there is simply no one to sue.

As a lawyer, I obviously find this situation tragic. While I suppose one could argue that the deer is at fault if they ran into the road, it’s unlikely that Bambi’s insurance will cover your lost wages.

Which brings me to the true topic of this post. What elements need to be in place in order to file a personal injury claim in a motorcycle accident case?

First of all, let’s briefly differentiate types of claims

If you have motorcycle insurance that covers damage to your bike, you will want to initiate that process as soon as possible to recover the money you’ll need to get your bike fixed.

In order to have a viable single party personal injury claim, three elements must be in place.

  1. An accident with injuries – This probably goes without saying, but let’s go ahead and say it anyway, because I’ve seen a lot in my years as a motorcycle injury lawyer. There is a threshold for injuries to be eligible for compensation in New Jersey. To file a legal personal injury claim in a New Jersey traffic accident, you need to establish that you’ve suffered “serious injuries.”
    In New Jersey, your injuries qualify as serious if you experience death, dismemberment, severe disfigurement, or significant scarring. It also includes displaced fractures, loss of a fetus, or a potentially permanent injury. A potentially permanent injury is defined as one in which the injured body part or organ will no longer function properly, even with medical treatment, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
  2. An at-fault party – Next, someone must actually be at fault. This usually means there is another vehicle involved, and the driver of said vehicle is at fault. But, it could also include, for example, a municipality which improperly maintained surface streets, leading to potholes, loose asphalt or gravel.
    While this is a difficult case to make, it’s not impossible, and my firm has in fact won such cases when the facts were on our side, and could be established by the police.
  3. A Funding Entity – By this, I mean that there must be an at-fault party, and they must be properly insured. In a two-party accident with another insured driver, for example, if the other party is at fault, their insurance company is the funding entity which will ultimately cover your medical bills and other expenses. If there is no at-fault party, as in the motorcycle hitting a deer situation I described above, there will be no funding entity for that reason, and thus no one from whom to collect damages.
    This could also be the case if the at-fault party is uninsured. If you have an accident involving an uninsured driver for instance, you are unlikely to recover any damages because there is likely no money available. An uninsured driver is unlikely to have the resources to cover your medical expenses, legal fees, lost wages and so forth.
    In the case of a single party accident where a municipality, state agency, corporation or other party is found to be at fault due to improper road maintenance as described above, whoever is insuring that government or company will be the funding entity.

So assuming that these three elements are present, it’s possible that you may have standing for a motorcycle accident claim.

And as you can see, there are some complexities to be straightened out and discussed, even if you’re not sure there is an at fault party in the picture.

Let me answer your questions regarding the elements of a strong personal injury case.

Because there is never a fee for my consultations, I encourage you to call with any questions you have regarding single party accidents.

Contact New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer Lee Gaber, Esquire now at 1-888-292-5352, for more information. Free consultations available for Pennsylvania accidents as well.