It happened twice in one month, first in Suffolk County and then in Nassau County. I received a call from a motorcyclist who was injured when he put his motorcycle down to avoid hitting a car which cut him off. Unfortunately, the Suffolk County Police Officer did not identify the car on the police accident report and the motorcyclist never got the identity of the car and driver.
Within weeks, I received another call from someone who was also injured when he put his bike down to avoid hitting a car which would have struck him. Again, the Nassau County Police Officer did not identify the car on the police accident report! This time, the caller had witnesses who wrote down the license plate number.
Why didn’t the police officers identify the other car on the police accident reports? Both motorcyclists were told by the police officers that the information about the other car could not be put on the police report because the motorcyclists can’t file a lawsuit against the car when there is no contact between the car and the motorcycle. This is NOT true.
The police officers were incorrect. Contact between the motorcycle and another vehicle is indeed needed to file an uninsured claim (which is when the identity of the other vehicle is unknown) but contact is NOT needed to file a claim or lawsuit against the car when the identity of the car is known.
In both of these accidents, contact was not necessary because the driver of the car did not leave the scene of the accident and the identity of the car was known. If the motorcyclist put the bike down because of the negligence of the driver of the car, the motorcyclist does have the right to file a claim or lawsuit against the owner and driver of the car.
Not only were both motorcyclists injured, but their motorcycles sustained substantial damage and they didn’t have collision coverage. The motorcyclist who was lucky to obtain the license plate number can now make a claim against the car for injuries and the damage to his motorcycle.
The other motorcyclist is not so lucky. Because the identity of the car is unknown, there is no one to sue. He can’t even file an uninsured claim because contact is needed for an uninsured claim. The only option is to file a Notice of Claim and possibly a lawsuit against Suffolk County for the failure of the police officer to obtain the information which should have been obtained.
If you put your bike down because of a car which did not contact your motorcycle, insist that the police officer include the information about the car on the police accident report or at least on another piece of paper; make sure that you get the names and telephone numbers of all witnesses; and ask them to write down the license plate number of the car.
I have now sent letters to the police commissioners of Suffolk County Police, Nassau County Police and NYPD advising them of the potential liability if they do not change the policy or better instruct their officers. Letters are also being sent to other police departments.
A Suffolk County Police Officer didn’t do his job and omitted the owner and driver information of the car which caused this motorcycle accident. Worse, the Suffolk County Police Officer told the driver (who did the right thing by stopping) that he could leave without taking his information! The box for the information which is missing in the report is outlined here in red. The smaller box outlined in red shows that there were two vehicles involved in the accident.