Motorcycle laws in New Jersey include some statutes unique to the state but also laws common in most other states. For instance, New Jersey’s Helmet Law requires that all motorcyclists wear a helmet, regardless of their age—this is a relatively uncommon statute, as many other states allow riders of a certain age to make this choice.
Just as motorcyclists must abide by state-specific laws, drivers of cars, SUVs, and trucks must always follow the law. When a motorist fails to abide by driving-specific laws and strikes a motorcyclist, the motorist must pay the cost of the accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer in Hackensack to file your case so that you can focus on your recovery.
Motorists in New Jersey Must Abide by Safety-Specific Laws
More than two-thirds of motorcycle accidents happen because the motorist fails to spot the motorcyclist. This indicates that motorists—not motorcyclists—are most likely to cause a motorcycle accident.
Some laws in New Jersey are specific to safety. When motorists violate these laws, they endanger others (including motorcyclists). Such laws involve:
New Jersey law prohibits motorists from using handheld devices in any manner.
This means that illegal forms of distracted driving include:
- Talking on the phone while holding the phone
- Recording videos
- Taking photos
- Choosing audio media (songs, podcasts, audiobooks)
Using a handheld device is not the only form of distraction that can cause a motorcycle accident. While these types of distracted driving may not be prohibited in New Jersey statutes, they can certainly qualify as negligence.
Such types of distraction include:
- Eating and drinking
- Engaging in discussions (either via handsfree phone or with others in the vehicle) that take your attention away from driving
- Staring at sights inside or outside of the vehicle
- Tending to pets or children in a vehicle
- Taking one’s eyes or mind off the road for any other reason
Motorcyclists are already difficult to see. A distracted motorist poses an immense risk to motorcyclists.
Impaired motorists may have poor vision, delayed reaction times, impulsive decision-making, and a penchant for risky driving. The effects of impairment depend on the reason the driver is impaired—but in every case, impaired driving is dangerous driving.
What can impair a driver?
- Alcohol: Motorists in New Jersey are drunk (and forbidden from driving) when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or greater. If a motorist is intoxicated, they should always refrain from driving. Drunk motorists endanger not only motorcyclists but also themselves, pedestrians, other motorists, and passengers.
- Drugs: Drug use is a significant problem in New Jersey, as in many other states. Drug use is most dangerous when the user is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Depending on the drug, the motorist may be overly aggressive or even at the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Fatigue: Tiredness is a clear crash hazard. A motorist not fully alert may close their eyes for longer than is safe, veer out of their lane, or even fall asleep. If a motorist cannot safely improve their attention (perhaps by drinking coffee or splashing water on their face), they must refrain from driving.
- Emotions: A driver’s emotional state can impair someone. Anger, sadness, or certain other states may lead a motorist to make irrational decisions.
While we don’t always think of it as impaired, a visually impaired motorist is certainly a danger to others—particularly motorcyclists. Those who cannot see clearly in rain, fog, or nighttime must recognize their impairment and refrain from driving.
Following New Jersey’s speed limits is the law. Not only is speeding illegal, it is one of the surest ways to increase the likelihood of an accident.
When a motorist speeds, they:
- Reduce the time they have to react before hitting other motorists (lowering their margin for error)
- Often encounter a greater number of vehicles as they progress through traffic rapidly, increasing the number of opportunities to collide
- Are often unable to stop when encountering unexpected objects, such as a motorcyclist they did not see
- Increase the likelihood that they will lose control of the vehicle, striking a motorcyclist as a consequence
Speeding is a factor in many traffic accidents, including those that involve motorcyclists. When a motorist violates New Jersey law by speeding, they put others at risk of serious injuries and death.
Driving a Vehicle With All Necessary Safety Features
Knowing that many motorcycle accidents happen because motorists cannot see the motorcyclist, motorists must have:
- Side mirrors that are clean and free of cracks or other blemishes
- A rearview mirror
- Front, side, and rear windows are free of cracks and other blemishes that impair sightlines
- A working horn, which may be necessary to warn other motorists or motorcyclists that they are doing something dangerous
- Functioning brakes
- Safe tires
A motorist must keep their vehicle in good working condition. They must also ensure unobstructed views of the road. If the motorist’s vehicle is dangerous or their vision gets obstructed, they present a clear and present danger to motorcyclists.
Any Motorist Who Breaks the Law in New Jersey Is Liable for Damages
When a motorist in New Jersey breaks the law (or merely engages in negligent behavior) and causes a motorcycle accident, the injured motorcyclist can hold them financially accountable for the harm they have caused.
The two primary ways of holding negligent motorists accountable are:
- Insurance claims
A motorcycle accident lawyer can develop a strategy after your accident in New Jersey. They will also handle every step in your case, fighting for the entire financial recovery you deserve.
New Jersey Is a No-Fault State, but Drivers Who Hit Motorcyclists May Face Lawsuits
When it comes to auto insurance, New Jersey is a no-fault state. This means that motorists’ own insurer generally pays for some portion of their accident-related losses.
However, if the victim’s losses exceed their own policy’s coverage limits, they may pursue more compensation by:
- Filing an insurance claim with the liable motorist’s insurer
- Suing liable parties
There are various benefits to both insurance claims and lawsuits. Again, a lawyer will discuss the details of your case and advise you strategically. Your attorney will take the lead but will ensure you are comfortable with every aspect of your case.
Recoverable Damages for the Victim of a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcyclists are vulnerable to severe injuries because:
- Motorcycles have only two wheels, which makes them likely to fall over during a collision
- Motorcycles have no protective metal cage, as motor vehicles do
- Motorcycles lack safety belts, airbags, and other safety features
Motorcyclists can accept the risks that come with riding. However, unsafe motorists pose a life-threatening danger, and a collision with a motor vehicle can cause:
Pain and Suffering (Including Physical Pain)
A motorcycle accident can cause several forms of pain and suffering, including:
- Physical pain
- Psychological distress (which may include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and lost quality of life)
- Emotional anguish
- Sleep problems
- Substance abuse issues (which can arise from the psychological, emotional, and physical toll of the accident)
- Scarring and disfigurement
Brain injuries can cause personality changes, sensitivity to light and sound, cognitive problems, and other health issues. These problems can increase the pain and suffering resulting from a motorcycle accident.
Costly Medical Bills
A motorcycle accident victim may need:
- Emergency medical transport
- Emergency treatment
- Several doctors visits
Because motorcycle accidents are associated with serious injuries, they can also result in costly medical bills. You must receive compensation covering all accident-related medical bills to protect your financial future. Your lawyer’s job will be to secure all of the compensation you deserve.
Lost Income and Other Professional Harm
When a motorcycle accident prevents the victim from working, the victim may lose:
- Earning power
- Opportunities for performance bonuses and promotions
Your unique professional circumstances will determine the cost of your accident. An attorney may consult an economist in calculating the professional cost of your collision, particularly if your injuries disrupt your work for a long period.
Property costs from a motorcycle accident may include:
- Replacing a totaled motorcycle
- Repairing a motorcycle
- Replacing clothing, a cell phone, and any other personal property damaged during the accident
- Temporary transportation expenses
You may also face the cost of medical equipment if you suffer disabling injuries. Your lawyer will consider all property-related expenses when calculating the value of a fair settlement.
Reasons to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer After a Collision in New Jersey
Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer is a choice and a decision you should consider carefully.
Those who do not hire a lawyer after their motorcycle accident may:
- Face the entire financial weight of their case on their own: Law firms cover the cost of their clients’ cases. The firm may hire experts, enlist investigators, and commission a reconstruction of the collision. If you choose not to hire a lawyer, the cost of completing your case may fall totally on you.
- Lose the benefit of a law firm’s contingency fee offer: Motorcycle accident lawyers do not typically receive any upfront fee. Rather, the firm’s fee depends on their results in your case. This fee structure places your case's financial risk on the law firm.
- Struggle to balance recovery, their case, and personal obligations: Many motorcycle accident victims have little spare time. Your plate is likely full between your pre-accident responsibilities and the added stress the accident causes. It may not be feasible for you to take on the demands of your case.
- Be overwhelmed by the demands of their case: If you do choose to lead your case, you may quickly become overwhelmed. Insurance claims and lawsuits can be complex, and your mental health may suffer if you choose not to accept a lawyer’s help.
When you hire a lawyer, you choose to accept:
- Financial support for your case
- The legal experience a lawyer brings to the table
- The irreplaceable experience a lawyer offers
- The guidance and resources the law firm provides
When you hire a lawyer, you also prioritize your recovery. You will have the time to rest and receive treatment because your lawyer handles every detail of your case.
Services to Expect from Your Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Your attorney will make your case their obligation, handling every duty, including:
- Securing evidence: Evidence of negligence may be the bedrock of your case. Your attorney will quickly gather any evidence supporting your case for compensation.
- Documenting damages: Your lawyer will secure all documentation of your damages, including medical bills and records, proof of lost income, and expert testimony about your pain and suffering.
- Calculating the total cost of your damages: Your lawyer and their team will determine the exact cost of your motorcycle accident. This figure will include both economic and non-economic damages.
- Negotiating a settlement: You may have experience in negotiating settlements. With a lawyer, you don’t have to be. Your attorney will negotiate with insurers and any other liable parties.
- Going to trial, if necessary: Most motorcycle accident cases do not go to trial. However, your lawyer may advise you to go to court if liable parties don’t offer a fair settlement.
Your lawyer will also oversee all communications and paperwork related to your case. An attorney is a full-service counselor whose goal is securing the compensation you deserve.
Find Your Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Do not wait to hire a lawyer; they may have a brief time to file your case. When you hire an attorney, you can focus on recovery while they fight for you.