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No-Fault Blog No. 4: What if I'm injured operating my motorcycle?

Photograph: Two motorcycles parked against a beautiful blue sky with dramatic clouds.

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, if you’re injured in a car or truck collision in New York State, you’re covered by New York No-Fault insurance for your medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket incidentals/necessities arising from your injuries.  That’s because under New York No-Fault law, you’re operating a “covered vehicle” for No-Fault purposes.

On a motorcycle and get injured in a collision?  No such luck.

That’s because New York No-Fault law expressly omits motorcycles from the definition of “covered vehicles” for insurance coverage purposes.  Why?  Every motorcycle a good New York citizen rides, whether as an operator or a passenger, is considered so dangerous for insurance purposes that it does not get No-Fault coverage.  So you’re out of luck if you get hurt.

Here’s what the New York State Department of Financial Services unhelpfully says on its website (http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/faqs/faqs_nofault.htm) about the lack of No-Fault coverage for operators or passengers of motorcycles injured in a collision:  

What if the vehicle involved was a motorcycle?

Answer: If you are the operator or passenger of a motorcycle involved in an accident, you are excluded from No-Fault benefits (you may sue from first dollar loss). If you were a pedestrian struck by a motorcycle, you should file a claim with the insurer of the motorcycle. If it is not insured, then you may file the claim with the insurer of a household family relative who had an auto policy at the time of the accident. If there was no auto policy in the household, you should file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).

So you’ll have to figure out how to pay for your injuries out of your own pocket or health insurance coverage, which may be subject to a lien or right of subrogation for re-payment out of any recovery against the bad guy who injured you on your motorcycle.  If you are in this situation, call me for help.

Is there any good news if you’re injured on a motorcycle in New York State?  Yes, and it involves the statement above from the State website that says “you may sue from first dollar loss.”  Since the No-Fault law does not apply to motorcycles, the prohibitive “serious injury threshold” does not apply either.  I’ll address that in my next No-Fault blog regarding motorcycle collision injuries in New York State.

James Snyder