Handling the After-Effects of a Motorcycle Accident

by Attorney Gladys Wiles

[box] For years, attorneys Gladys Wiles and Jerry Snyder have been helping their clients understand their legal rights in civil matters. But they knew there were people out there they weren’t reaching. “One of the challenges we were seeing was that a lot of people did not know their rights,” Wiles said. “We knew we had to find a way to be advocates for our clients and also a resource for everyone who had questions about the law.” Snyder said. We have set out to keep the community informed with these legal updates.[/box]

With summer here in full swing, more and more people throughout the country are discovering the enjoyable activity of riding a motorcycle. This is recreation for many individuals who take pleasure in the open road. Unfortunately, with the increase in motorcycles on the roads has come an increase in motorcycle crashes. Many drivers are still not taking the time to notice motorcycles on the roads and in their general area, or give them the respect of the road, like any car. This leads to serious collisions that can cause devastating injuries.

According to the NHTSA, there were 3,600 crashes involving motorcycles in Pennsylvania in 2011.  Of the 3,600 crashes, 199 people died.

Motorcyclists often suffer much worse injuries in a collision with a car than a driver and/or passengers of the car, due to the lack of protection on a motorcycle. Some of the types of injuries that motorcycle riders often suffer are: Brain injuries; Head injuries; Concussions; Spinal cord injuries; Neck injuries; Paralysis; Broken bones; and Road rash (abrasions).

In Pennsylvania, motorcycle insurance is different from auto insurance.  When purchasing car insurance in Pa you have the option of choosing between two coverage types: full tort or limited tort. Full tort insurance in a nut shell, gives you the ability to sue a negligent party that caused the accident for pain and suffering.  While a limited tort insurance policy will allow the injured party to obtain compensation for medical expenses but she/he does not have the right to sue a negligent party who caused the accident for non-monetary damages including the pain and suffering. The only way for a limited policy tort holder to claim compensation exceeding medical and car repair bills have been paid is if the accident results in death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement.  Many people choose the limited tort option to save money; however, we believe that the majority of legal counsel would agree you should take the full tort option. For Motorcycle insurance policies, there is no choice, its automatically full tort.

If you’re like most motorcycle riders, you also have other motor vehicles. If possible, your motorcycle should be insured on the same policy as those other automobiles in your household. Many insurance companies have sought to avoid paying underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to victims of motorcycle accidents if the motorcycle is not included on the policy along with the other vehicles in the household. Pennsylvania drivers also have the option to stack uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This option means you can add the coverage together for each vehicle you have insured under the same policy.

To recap Motorcycle Insurance Options:

1.       When you insure your motorcycle in Pennsylvania, unlike automobiles, you do not select full or limited tort. Full tort is selected for you. It is your only choice. This means that for injuries, there is no restriction on money damages for pain and suffering you may sustain in a motorcycle accident.

2.       Medical expense coverage for motorcyclists can be part of your motorcycle policy. This is highly recommended. The specifics of what those covered medical expenses are will be detailed in your policy.

3.       Pennsylvania law requires a minimum of $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage pays any claims against you if you are found legally responsible for causing an accident.

4.       Underinsured coverage for motorcyclists (will pay benefits to you in the event you are injured by a person who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay your claim) and uninsured coverage for motorcyclists (pays benefits to you in the event you are injured by a person who has no insurance to pay your claim) is optional but highly recommended.

Note: If you decline underinsured or uninsured coverage on your motorcycle, you are disqualified from collecting such coverage from your automobile policy even though you have paid premiums for the coverage.

Pennsylvania Helmet Law

The law (Title 75. Vehicles. Part III) that states The current law requires helmet use but provides exceptions for motorcycle riders over 21 who have been riding for two years or more or who have completed a motorcycle rider safety course approved by the department or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Passengers over 21 are not required to wear helmets.

Observing the helmet law may mean that you do not have to wear a helmet if you fulfill the specified conditions. However, there are two other factors to consider. A motorcycle accident is more likely to injure the motorcycle rider than anyone else. Wearing a helmet has been proven to prevent serious brain injury and trauma or even death.

There is another consideration of helmet use. In the event of a motorcycle accident injury, you must ensure that you have legal counsel like the attorneys at Snyder & Wiles who are experienced in personal injury law to assist you in your claim because even though you have the right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet, juries can have negative perceptions against motorcycle riders who do not wear helmets.


Personal Injury Attorneys

Whether we are fighting to obtain compensation from your insurance company or another insurance company, we are dedicated to helping you from beginning to end. Having handled cases involving insurance companies for years, we understand how they view motorcycle accidents cases. They often place the blame on the motorcyclist, as insurance companies often believe there is an “assumed risk” of potential danger when riding a motorcycle. We do not agree with this viewpoint and aggressively stand up for your right to compensation for the accident or negligence that led to your injuries.


About Snyder & Wiles, P.C.

Integrating a number of areas within the law, Snyder & Wiles attorneys provide strategies that address future concerns and issues, as well as work to resolve today’s problems. We strive to help you establish a legally sound financial plan that protects your assets, business or personal injury award and allows you to change and respond to it on your own terms.

The explosion of technology has affected every facet of modern life. Not only are people living longer but their expectations have changed as well. Medical and technological discoveries continually reshape how we interact with and think about our world.

At Snyder & Wiles, PC, our lawyers recognize it’s no longer a viable option to simply plan for next month or even next year. That’s why we review the short- and long-term implications of a personal injury, a particular estate plan, or a specific business formation or real estate deal.  We have the experience and knowledge required to overcome today’s challenges and resolve legal problems. To learn more about our law practice, contact our lawyers at Snyder & Wiles, PC. 610-391-9500 or www.snyderwileslaw.com