Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident in New Hampshire?
Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements
Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local New Hampshire motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.
Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a New Hampshire attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.
How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?
A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:
- Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
- More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause of contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
- Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
- Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.
What Are the New Hampshire Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?
In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. In New Hampshire, the requirements are:
- Motorcycle Learner’s Permit: Upon application, the DMV shall issue a motorcycle learner’s permit to a person age 18 or older or to a person who is 16 or 17 and has successfully completed an approved driver education course and holds a valid NH drivers license. Applicants for such permit shall furnish proof of their fitness to drive a motorcycle, including either passing a of a written basic motorcycle knowledge test or successful completion of the motorcycle rider education program.
- A motorcycle learner’s permit shall permit the holder of such permit to drive a motorcycle on any road after sunrise and before sunset. Passengers are prohibited. The permit shall be valid for 45 days from the date of issuance or until the holder of the permit obtains a special license to drive motorcycles.
- Class D: Non-Commercial Operator’s License. May also be “moped only,” “motorcycle only” or “motorcycle also.”
Additionally, you have the option to either carry or choose against carrying vehicle insurance on your bike in New Hampshire. If you do decide to buy coverage, the minimum requirements for this coverage are the same for any other vehicle; you must have:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability per person. This means that each person, other than the policy holder, can receive up to $25,000 in compensation for injuries.
- $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident. Regardless of the injury coverage limits per person, the insurer will only pay $50,000 total for all injuries related to a single accident.
- $25,000 property damage liability coverage. This applies to the damage to vehicles other than the policy holder’s car.
- Personal injury protection (PIP). If you have PIP coverage, then you can file a claim with your insurer for your own injuries and property damage, even if you were at-fault for the accident. Although New Hampshire does not require PIP protection, it is often a good idea to purchase this kind of policy anyway. Without it, you may be responsible for paying your expenses out of pocket if you cause a crash.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. You must have this coverage, however, the amount of coverage you possess is up to you. If you have this coverage the at-fault driver in a car accident has no insurance then you can file a UM/UIM claim with your own provider. Additionally, if your expenses exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, then this policy can help make up the difference.
Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
New Hampshire is one of only three states that have no motorcycle helmet laws at all. Thus, you can choose whether to wear a helmet while riding. However, even though there is no state requirement, motorcycle helmets can reduce your risk of severe head and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Additionally, since most neighboring states have full or partial helmet laws, it is a good idea to check local requirements if you plan to travel across state lines.
Since the law does not require you to wear a helmet, insurance companies may not reduce your settlement if you were not wearing one at the time of your crash. (In fact, lack of a helmet cannot affect your compensation even in states with mandatory helmet laws). However, many injured riders find their motorcycle accident claims reduced or denied for this reason anyway. The insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.
Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.