When it’s discovered that a motorcyclist is driving without a motorcycle license or it expired for whatever reason, there may be questions as to the impact it could have on a motorcycle accident liability case. Although it may lead to a fine or other penalties, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with liability. That will be determined by which parties had acted negligently.
Motorcycle License Laws in New York
The laws surrounding a motorcycle license may vary for each state. In New York, in order to operate a motorcycle, motorcyclists must have a Class M or a Class MJ driver’s license or permit.
Although driving without a motorcycle license could result in fines, the consequences may be stiffer if it had been revoked or suspended and the person is still operating a motorcycle, especially if the accident is linked in any way to the suspension.
For instance, let’s say a motorcyclist lost his/her license because of a DUI and is now involved in an accident where he/she is found to be impaired. The person may possibly be looking at jail time.
Impact of Negligence on a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Generally, not having a license doesn’t impact liability in an accident. However, some may argue that riding without a license is negligent in and of itself. This may be related to a lack of proper training, which some may argue may have allowed the motorcyclist to avoid an accident.
At the same time, liability comes down to who actually caused the accident. It would need to be determined who had acted in a careless or reckless manner to cause the accident. It’s possible that a motorcyclist could drive without a proper license, yet not be at fault for the crash. Although a citation could be issued to the unlicensed motorcyclist, it wouldn’t necessarily factor into what caused the collision.
Since New York follows pure comparative negligence rules, no matter the degree of fault in an accident damages can still be awarded. So even if a person were found to be 99 percent responsible, compensation could be available for one percent of damages suffered.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
It helps to consider what some are some of the common causes of motorcycle crashes. When considering motorcyclist errors, it could be that risky maneuvers are taken. One example is lane splitting, which is when the motorcyclist rides between lanes of traffic.
In New York this is against the law. But again, something that is illegal doesn’t automatically make it the cause of a crash, though law violations may increase percentage of liability. It would need to be evaluated whether the accident was linked to the act of lane splitting. Other examples of motorcycle errors include speeding and intoxication.
Many times motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles are the result of a motorist’s carelessness or recklessness. It could be a blatant disregard for safely sharing the road with bikes. Or it may be that reduced visibility prevents a driver from seeing the motorcycle, especially when traffic is congested.
Drivers who aren’t paying attention because they are using a mobile device or who are engaged in other distractive behaviors (eating, changing music) could also be potential causes for a motorcycle crash.
Get Help from Gacovino, Lake & Associates
Since proving fault is critical, it may be a good idea to secure legal counsel. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, we understand the complex issues that can arise in these types of cases. We can explain the impact driving without a license could have on an accident, and we will also investigate to determine what actually caused the crash to happen.