Motorcycle accidents in Delaware often result in major injuries, whether a car hits a motorcycle from behind or a motorcycle operator swerves to avoid an accident. The reason for this is simple – there is literally nothing that separates motorcycle operators and passengers from the outside elements.
A low impact auto accident can cause a motorcycle operator or passenger to be thrown from a bike or otherwise struck by a truck, car, tree, etc. Broken bones, spinal injuries and serious road rash are very common. In addition, head injuries and concussions occur even where the operator/passenger was wearing a helmet.
In July, an out of state driver was cited for causing a multiple vehicle collision involving 3 motorcycles in Christiana, Delaware. At least one of the motorcycle operators, a resident of Wilmington, was hospitalized with severe injuries after being thrown off his bike.
Like many states, motorcycle accident insurance in Delaware is fraught with pitfalls. Many Delaware residents who own motorcycles choose the motorcycle accident policy with the lowest premium.
Delaware PIP Benefits for Motorcycle Accidents
Delaware’s PIP statute, Delaware Title 21 § 2118 (a)(2)f. provides in part:
The owner of a vehicle may elect to have the coverage described in this paragraph written subject to certain deductibles, waiting periods, sublimits, percentage reductions, excess provisions and similar reductions offered by insurers in accordance with filings made by such insurers with the Department of Insurance; applicable to expenses incurred as a result of injury to the owner of a vehicle or members of the owner’s household; provided that the owner of a motorcycle may elect to exclude from such coverage expenses incurred as a result of injury to any person riding such vehicle while not on a highway and in any case of injury when no other vehicle was involved by actual collision or contact. (emphasis added)
This language allows motorcycle insurance policies in Delaware to be written with a major exclusion or restriction which excludes coverage for accidents that either 1. occur on a non-highway road or street, or 2. occur when no other vehicle is involved.
The Non-Highway Exclusion
Here’s an example which shows how the non–highway exclusion works. A Delaware resident is riding her motorcycle in downtown Wilmington. At an intersection, she is struck by another vehicle and suffers a serious leg fracture. If she elected the exclusion, she would not be able to make a PIP claim for medical bills or lost wage because the accident did not occur on the highway.
The No Other Vehicle Exclusion
Here’s an example which shows how the other part of the exclusion works. Using the same example, let’s say the motorcycle operator is on Interstate 95 in Delaware. As she is operating her motorcycle in her lane of travel, a car suddenly drifts into her lane. She swerves to avoid the accident and her bike ends up in a ditch. She sustains serious injuries. The exclusion on her policy is written in such a way as to require an actual collision. Accordingly, she is not eligible for PIP because the accident did not involve an actual collision with another vehicle.
Other Legal Rights to Financial Recovery in Delaware Motorcycle Accidents
Despite the exclusion, which often prohibits claims for PIP benefits, motorcycle operators and passengers may have legal rights to compensation by filing an auto accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. As long as there is sufficient evidence to prove that the accident was caused by another party, an injured motorcycle operator/passenger may be able to obtain financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
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