Category Archives: Accidents

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month at Costco

May was designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Most state governors and other organizations now proclaim May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

We’ve been helping raise awareness of motorcycles on the road with our campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.

Last year, we gave out lawn signs and bumper stickers. This year, we’re also giving out magnetic bumper stickers and large magnetic car signs.

We also purchased billboards in the 5 Suffolk and Nassau Costco warehouse stores which will be displayed in the month of May.

Look for our billboards at LI Costco stores in May

Motorcycle Awareness Billboard at Costco


Legislator Thinks Suffolk Is For Couch Potatoes!

Suffolk County Legislator Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip) didn’t exactly say people in Suffolk County should be couch potatoes.  He just doesn’t believe people should be running outdoors or riding a bicycle or motorcycle because “Suffolk County is a suburban automobile community”.

Why?  Because people like Sandy Cutrone get injured by drivers who must have a superior right to be on the road.  I guess if Legis. Barraga gets his way, he might try to enact a law providing Suffolk drivers a superior right to be on the road over bicycles and motorcycles.  Fortunately, the N.Y.S. Vehicle and Traffic Law says otherwise.

Sandy Cutrone started riding her bicycle for exercise and in charitable events.  Last September, while riding her bicycle in a lawful manner and wearing a helmet, she was struck and injured by a car making a left turn.

According to Sandy Cutrone’s son, Matthew, the driver claimed said he just didn’t see her.  So Matthew Cutrone wrote a letter to Legis. Barraga asking for bike lanes “or maybe even just some warning signs” so that drivers know when to be careful of bicyclists.

Legis. Barraga’s brilliance became apparent when he wrote back, “My personal feeling is that no one who lives in our hamlet or for that matter in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle or motorcycle.”  The reason? Because “drivers expect to see other drivers on the road, not bicyclists and motorcyclists.”

There are several laws which say drivers are required to see bicyclists and motorcyclists.  In Sandy Cutrone’s accident the driver, who made a left turn when he struck her, violated section 1141 and several other sections of the N.Y.S. Vehicle and Traffic Law.  She is entitled to Summary Judgment on liability which means that that the driver is 100% at fault.

I often say never under estimate the stupidity of your adversary but stupidity is everywhere.  Keep it out of public office.  Every runner, bicyclist and motorcyclist should make sure not to vote for Legislator Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip) in the next election.

A Car Cut You Off – Will It Be on the Accident Report?

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.

Read the letter to Suffolk County Police

Read the letter to Nassau County Police

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. 

Suffolk police report missing owner and driver information

What you should know if you have been hurt in a Long Island motorcycle accident

Let’s assume that you were injured in the following Long Island motorcycle accident. While riding your Harley within the speed limit, a car coming in the opposite direction made a left turn and struck your motorcycle (the car was at fault for causing your motorcycle accident); your ankle was broken and you were taken to a hospital where surgery was performed to repair your fractured ankle; the car that struck you was insured for $100,000, but your injury is worth $1.5 million.

Because of the seriousness of your injury, most lawyers can easily settle your motorcycle accident case for the entire $100,000 insurance policy covering the person responsible for causing your injuries. But there are other very important issues which can make the difference of whether you can get more than the $100,000 insurance policy and whether you can even get to keep all of your money!

How can you find out if the owner of the car that struck you as a million-dollar umbrella insurance policy? Sometimes the insurance company will tell you, but every lawyer has heard of one or more instances where an insurance company was later found to have lied about the existence of umbrella insurance. They have nothing to lose by lying. The only way to definitively find out if umbrella insurance exists is to search the national insurance company database which is not accessible to outsiders and lawyers. However, my investigator has access and provides me with a written report showing what was found.

Most motorcycle accidents involve serious injuries with medical bills in the range of $25,000-$150,000.  Your medical bills will be paid either by your health insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, or New York State and they will want to be reimbursed from your motorcycle accident settlement. This is the most complicated part of a motorcycle accident case involving issues that are not encountered in car accidents and are often unique to motorcycle accidents.

Some of these issues are peculiar to Long Island motorcycle accidents, especially a Suffolk County motorcycle accident where I may be able to refuse to pay medicaid liens. Many attorneys mistakenly settle medical liens in Suffolk County which may not be enforceable and pay too much to settle medical liens in Nassau and other New York counties.  Some private health insurance plans are no longer allowed to assert a lien against your personal injury settlement from a Long Island motorcycle accident, but self funded ERISA health insurance plans can assert a lien and seek to be reimbursed from your settlement.

This is the part where I really earn my fee by trying to pay as little as possible from your settlement money to reimburse money paid for medical bills. Some lawyers settle medical liens for 66.66%, while some lawyers feel successful when they are able to settle medical liens for 50%. I try harder. While I must advise that past results cannot predict future results and facts differ from case to case, I have been successful in settling medical liens for 5% and even nothing at all. Below is a copy of a letter showing a medical lien settlement from Rawlings for $1,600 which is only 5% of the $32,000 hospital lien asserted by GHI.  Additionally, I was able to get another $1,000 medical coverage for my client which was used to pay the medical lien settlement. The result is that I only had to deduct $600 from my client’s motorcycle accident settlement.

Very few attorneys know how to find an “umbrella” insurance policy that an insurance company is trying to hide and very few lawyers know how to protect your motorcycle accident case settlement money from medical liens.

Lawyers are often unfamiliar with the unique legal issues of a motorcycle accident case because there are far fewer motorcycle accidents then car accidents. Because many attorneys are unfamiliar with these issues, they often don’t want to represent bikers.

Motorcycle accidents are significantly different than car accidents for many reasons, but some of the most important reasons are that:

  • Motorcycle injuries are much more serious and much more valuable than car accidents;
  • Motorcycle injuries are usually worth much more than the insurance policy of the car that struck you;
  • Motorcycle injuries usually have very large hospital and medical bills;
  • Motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance;
  • Motorcycle accident cases are often subject to medical liens which, if not handled properly, can result in too much of your money paid to settle the lien.

Umbrella Insurance
Because a motorcycle injury is usually so much more serious than injuries suffered in a car accident, it’s vitally important for your lawyer to make sure that all available insurance policies are discovered, especially an “umbrella” insurance policy for $1 million or more. Insurance companies will usually quickly offer to settle this type of motorcycle accident case for the entire insurance policy. But, is that all you can get?

Because insurance companies have been known to lie about the existence of million dollar “umbrella” insurance, it is very difficult to find it when it exists. Most attorneys do not know how to positively determine if there is an umbrella insurance policy. I know how to find all available insurance policies including a million-dollar or nore umbrella insurance policy and I will provide you with a written report showing you what was found.

Underinsured & Uninsured Insurance
If the car which struck you, causing your motorcycle accident, has less liability insurance than you do, you will have a claim for underinsured coverage. This is not only one of the most important part of your motorcycle insurance coverage, but is very inexpensive. If the car which struck your motorcycle has no insurance or has fled and the identity of the car is unknown, you will have a claim for uninsured coverage. The limit of your uninsured coverage is usually the same as your underinsured coverage and should be the maximum you can buy. Because there is only a matter of days within which this type of claim can be made and it may not be possible to determine the need for the coverage within that time, a claim for these coverages should be made immediately with every motorcycle accident case.

Medical Liens
The biggest problem is that when an injured biker receives medical treatment paid by an ERISA regulated private health insurance plan, Medicaid or NYS, a lien will be placed against your case to get paid back. If you were hospitalized with surgery, the medical lien will usually be between $30,000-$50,000. Lawyers often settle the medical lien for 50%-66% rather than fight with the insurance company’s lawyers, but that’s your money they’re paying!

The laws involving medical liens are very complicated. For instance, Medicaid liens in Suffolk County may be uncollectible.  Recently, I settled a $32,000 collectible lien for only $1,600 and of that, only $600 came out of my client’s settlement (I am required to advise that past results do not predict future results).

A motorcycle accident attorney experienced with the issues in Long Island motorcycle accidents can make the difference of whether you have to pay a $35,000 medical lien out of your settlement or whether you get to keep your money.

Lack of No-Fault Insurance Coverage For Motorcycle Accidents
Lack of no-fault coverage can make it difficult for a biker to get medical treatment, which can seriously devalue the case. I know doctors who will provide medical treatment, MRIs and even surgery if you don’t have health insurance.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Nassau or Suffolk County, LI or the NYC area, find out your rights and speak directly to Long Island Motorcycle Accident Attorney Phil Franckel.

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