Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration there were 4,586 motorcyclist fatalities in 2014 and 92,000 injuries. This popular mode of transportation leaves operators vulnerable to accidents and personal injuries, and those with insurance will need to file a motorcycle accident claim. Even if you’re state doesn’t require it, it is critical that all drivers have motorcycle insurance in case of a crash.

If you are a motorcyclist who has just been in an accident, time is of the essence. You need immediate and clear advice on how to file an insurance claim and receive the compensation you deserve – not only from your insurance company but from the other driver involved. As a motorcycle owner, it is vital that you understand the laws and insurance guidelines as they apply in your state.

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What to Do If You Have Just Been in an Accident

Take care of everything on the scene. Call the police, seek medical treatment if necessary, never admit fault, and document everything. Police reports will be of use in court if you decide to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit. However, the most important thing to do is take care of yourself, so please see a doctor. If you’re able to stay on the scene before seeking medical treatment, do two things; never admit fault, and document every single detail. The more you are able to provide the insurance company and your accident lawyer, (should you decide to speak with one), the better.

Report the accident to your own insurance company. You will need to let your insurance provider know that an accident has occurred. You should do this as soon as possible after the accident. The insurance company will ask for information regarding the accident and begin the motorcycle accident claims process.

Remember, stick to the facts. It is not in your best interest to assign fault to yourself. You must, however, be truthful to the insurance company. If your insurance company finds out that you have misled them or left out pertinent details, they could deny your claim.

Avoid talking with representatives from other drivers’ insurance. Many times, representatives from the insurance companies for other drivers involved in the accident will contact you to ask questions. These individuals are skilled in what they do, particularly in asking questions in a certain way that might benefit their insured and their company. We recommend that you not talk to representatives from other insurance companies until you have discussed the matter with an accident attorney who can guide you through the process.

Gather all documents. Gather all pertinent documents related to the accident including your insurance papers, your own documentation of the accident scene, the police report, plus anything else that is required. Typically, for a fee, you can get the police report online or in person at the department that handled the accident within a couple of days.

Consult with an attorney. Accident and personal injury attorneys typically offer a free initial consultation. If you have just been in a motorcycle accident, it is wise to take advantage of this and schedule a meeting with an attorney experienced in accident and injury law. An attorney can give you clear answers on how to proceed based on the specific details of your case and will be able to tell you if you have an additional claim that could entitle you to compensation.

If you choose to proceed with litigation, there two ways it can be settled, by a trial or an outside settlement. Each has their positives and negatives that you should consider.

Outside Settlement Trial Settlement
Value you would reasonably accept Value you hope to obtain
Usually lower value Usually higher value
0 risk involved High risk


Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in New Hampshire

A general rule of thumb: a case’s outside settlement value usually equates to the trial value multiplied by the estimated chances of winning the trial.

Fault State

New Hampshire is a fault state when it comes to motorcycle and auto accidents. This means that if you are a New Hampshire driver who has been in an accident, you have three options when it comes to filing a motorcycle accident claim. You can:

  • File a claim with your own insurance company
  • File a claim with the other drivers’ insurance company
  • File a lawsuit against the other driver

The Claims Journal explains more precisely how New Hampshire’s fault laws work under modified comparative fault or the 51 percent bar rule, “Twenty-one states follow the 51 percent Bar Rule under which a damaged party cannot recover if it is 51 percent or more at fault. However, the damaged party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault.”

No Motorcycle Helmet Law

In New Hampshire, drivers and passengers over 18 are not required to wear a helmet. Despite this fact, not wearing a helmet could negatively impact any lawsuit you try to bring should you be in an accident. If you suffer head injuries for example, but were not wearing a helmet, your personal injury award may be much less than if you had been wearing a helmet, even though there is no law requiring you to do so.

Insurance Requirements

In the Granite State, motorcycle insurance is not required. However, if you choose not to purchase New Hampshire motorcycle insurance, you must prove that you are financially responsible by filing an SR-22. Generally, it is advised that you purchase motorcycle insurance so that in the case of an accident you are covered.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in New Hampshire is three years from the date of the accident. This statute applies to both personal injury and vehicle damage claims.

Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Massachusetts

No-Fault State

Massachusetts is a no-fault state which means that if you are in a motorcycle accident you must file your claim with your own insurance provider regardless of whose fault the accident was. In order to file a personal injury claim in a no-fault state, you must show that you suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident or have resulting medical bills that exceed $2,000. Depending upon the specifics of your case, you may also receive compensation for lost wages and emotional damages.

Motorcycle Helmet Law

In Massachusetts, all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to wear a helmet that meets minimum required safety standards as laid out by the United States Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a helmet can significantly impact any lawsuit you file with the courts.

Insurance Requirements

In Massachusetts, motorcyclists are required to buy compulsory liability insurance coverage which pays for the other drivers’ medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other costs in the case of an accident. According to the DMV, the requirements are as follows:

  • Bodily injury to others―Minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to someone else’s property―Minimum $5,000 for property damage

It is important to note that unlike most no-fault states, motorcyclists in Massachusetts are not required to buy PIP (personal injury protection) insurance, nor are they covered by it.

Statute of Limitations

As in New Hampshire, the statute of limitations in Massachusetts is three years from the date of the accident.

What are you owed?

Depending on the severity of the motorcycle accident you have been involved in, you could have lingering medical bills or emotional repercussions that will require funding. It is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay out the minimum amount possible under your plan, which is why you need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer by your side, to help you get the money you deserve – both from your insurance provider and the other parties involved in the crash.

At Sherman Law, we have been representing motorcycle accident victims and their families for over 24 years. If you or a family member has been in a motorcycle accident and have questions about how to proceed or need to file a motorcycle accident claim, contact us for a free consultation.

John P. Sherman, Esq. opened his own firm in 2005 after rising through the ranks to become a partner at one of New Hampshire’s largest law firms. Today he applies his deep expertise in personal injury, employment law, construction law, and real estate law to provide strategic counsel to both businesses and individuals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. John holds a J.D. cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law and has a track record of successfully litigating cases in state and federal courts. Learn More »