How Road Design and Maintenance Impact New York Motorcycle Accidents

road with holes - how poor road conditions affect motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle accidents in New York can occur for various reasons. Often, crashes occur because of the carelessness of other motorists. However, road design and poor road maintenance can be overlooked factors leading to significant motorcycle crashes. This blog discusses how poor road conditions affect motorcycle accidents in New York.

TRIP, a National Transportation Research Nonprofit organization, estimates that deteriorating road conditions in New York cost drivers upwards of $28 billion annually. The group also estimates that nearly half of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in New York are in poor or mediocre condition, providing motorists with a “rough ride.” Unfortunately, poor road design and maintenance can lead to collisions and significant physical and financial hardships for New York motorcycle riders.

At Finz & Finz, P.C., our legal team wants to highlight this little-known problem for motorcycle riders and help them understand their legal rights following a crash.

Types of Road Hazards That Can Cause a New York Motorcycle Accident

Just like riding a bike, operating a motorcycle requires balance. Road design defects and poor maintenance conditions can upset this delicate balance and result in a devastating motorcycle accident. Additionally, motorcycle riders are not protected by layers of metal and fiberglass like passenger vehicles. Road hazards that may be no more than annoying to other vehicles can be downright dangerous to a motorcycle rider.

Some of the most common road hazards and defects that may cause significant motorcycle accidents include:

  • Potholes
  • Road debris
  • Loose gravel
  • Uneven pavement
  • Bridge joints
  • Spilled fluids or slick pavement
  • Lack of guardrails
  • Poorly designed curves or roadways (blind curves)
  • Lack of proper lighting
  • Inadequate recovery zone or shoulders
  • Inadequate road drainage
  • Visual impediments caused by overgrown bushes or trees

Encountering these road hazards could lead to significant crashes and devastating physical injuries.  

Injuries Caused by a Road Hazard Accident

Unfortunately for motorcycle riders and their passengers, even hitting a pothole can potentially cause catastrophic injuries leading to long-term pain, physical injuries, and financial setbacks. Some of the most common injuries associated with road hazards and roadway defect accidents can include:

  • Amputations
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Contusions
  • Lacerations
  • Neck and spine injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Paralysis
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Road rash
  • Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic injury can change your life and leave you struggling to recover physically and financially.

Who Is at fault for a Poor Road Condition or Design Accident in New York State?

Getting to the bottom of liability for a road hazard accident often takes an intensive investigation and requires gathering vital information and evidence. Numerous parties can play a role in causing a road design or maintenance accident. Additionally, holding the responsible organization accountable can sometimes be challenging. Entities that may bear full or partial responsibility for causing a road design or maintenance accident are:

  • Local, state, or federal government
  • Construction Company
  • Private contractors
  • Project architects or engineers
  • Maintenance crews

The best way to protect yourself following a New York motorcycle crash is to contact a knowledgeable attorney. Although cities and states are required to maintain roadways properly in their jurisdiction, the burden is on you to prove the government agency knew about the poor road conditions and failed to correct the problem. Proving liability can be immensely challenging without the help of a skilled New York attorney.

Often, government entities have immunity from certain lawsuits. The Court of Claims Act in New York waives the government’s immunity from liability under specific conditions. However, you must file a notice of claim before formally filing a lawsuit against the government. The logistics of taking on the government can get complicated without assistance from a knowledgeable New York attorney.

Staying Safe on New York Roadways

How can you protect yourself from New York road hazards and maintenance issues? Consider these steps for protecting yourself and others when you hit the road.

  • Slow down – Adjust your speed when navigating blind curves or sharp turns. Slow down in inclement weather conditions, and never enter a roadway when unsure of the water level. Only a few inches of moving water can rip your bike from under you.
  • Ride cautiously – Avoid distractions and follow all traffic signs and signals. Driving while distracted can increase your chance of hitting road debris or failing to notice a pothole or other road hazard.
  • Wear a helmet – Helmets save lives. Helmets are also required for all motorcycle riders and passengers under New York law. All helmets must meet DOT safety guidelines and should fit snugly without feeling tight. Head injuries are one of the most common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.
  • Gear up – In addition to a helmet, protect yourself from road rash and other injuries by wearing gloves, sturdy boots, and leather or another protective material in the form of chaps and a jacket.
  • Protect others and file a complaint – Most New York municipal and state governments allow residents to file complaints about problems or roadway defects. Protect yourself and others in the future and file a complaint if you notice dangerous roadway conditions.

In addition to your role in helping to prevent accidents, many states have commissioned studies looking into roadway design and how local and state governments can best achieve address specific design elements that promote motorcycle safety. Infrastructure improvements, enhanced maintenance practices, and traffic operation strategies effective in Europe may help curb motorcycle accidents here in the U.S.

One of the most vital infrastructure improvements local and state governments can make to improve roadway safety for motorcyclists is reexamining the curve radius of sharp curves and turns. In high-risk areas, guardrails and traffic barriers can save lives.

Contact an Experienced New York Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Help

Going head-to-head with a government entity or large company can feel intimidating and overwhelming. At Finz & Finz, P.C., our legal team wants to help you recover the compensation you deserve, and we won’t back down from a challenge.

Are you concerned that a road design defect or poor maintenance contributed to your accident and injuries? Contact an experienced New York City motorcycle accident lawyer today to discuss your situation. Our team can review your case and help identify legal avenues for recovering compensation.


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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.