Springfield Cracks Down on Dirt Bikes – What You Need to Know

Dirtbikes are recreational vehicles for trail riding or on private roads. Most are not street legal, meaning they are not registered and have not met certain standards for safe riding on public roadways. Despite their illegality, riders in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in other communities have taken to the city streets and are creating havoc with motorists and pedestrians. Springfield’s mayor apparently had had enough of these incidents between motorists and dirtbike rider.

Mayor Dominic Sarno of Springfield announced in April that he had no longer had patience for finally ridding the community of outlaw riders who disregard traffic signals and signs, cut off motorists, and harass both motorists and pedestrians. He cited one case where dirtbike riders taunted a driver and passenger, then attacked them. Fatal incidents included a teenager who was killed after failing to stop at a stop sign, and a 26-year old male who was not wearing a helmet when he collided with another vehicle at an intersection.

Springfield Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Police are looking for groups of young riders who enter traffic together creating chaos and literally taking over the road. The safety implications are obvious. Police have made several arrests since the crackdown and have used undercover officers on dirtbikes that have led to at least one arrest and the confiscation of several illegal bikes.

Mopeds are also being used illegally. These vehicles can only travel up to 25 miles per hour and are not intended to be driven on highways. Moped drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license. Dirtbikes can be legally driven if they have standard equipment such as a headlight, taillight, turn signals, and license plate. All riders must wear helmets.

Mayor Sarno also emphasized that efforts to remove these bikes from the road are being coordinated with state and federal officials and is urging the courts to hand down stricter sentences to violators so as to send a message to dirtbike riders that their actions will not be tolerated.

Compensation in Dirtbike Accidents

Because of the increasing number of accidents between motorists and dirtbike riders, what happens if someone is injured? What recourse does an injured motorist or pedestrian have against a rider on a dirtbike that is not registered or is street-legal who caused the accident that seriously injured the motorist or pedestrian?

Homeowners Insurance

If the rider was a member of a household where the owner, presumably the parents, had homeowner’s insurance, then that policy would likely cover damages suffered by the victim. Many policies will provide coverage of at least $100,000.   These policies offer typically far more coverage than the standard auto liability coverages. In Massachusetts, drivers must carry a minimum of only $20,000/$40,000.

Contact an experienced motorcycle lawyer from The Law Office of Burns and Jain to handle these types of claims.

PIP Benefits

Injured motorists and passengers are eligible to receive PIP or no-fault benefits in an accident even in those involving illegal motorcycles. These include:

  • Up to $8,000 for medical costs minus your deductible. This applies to each member of your household
  • If you have a private non-ERISA health plan, you can receive up to $2,000 for medical expenses. You can use the remaining $6,000 for medical costs if your health insurer does not cover your accident injury expenses; your health plan has a deductible that PIP pay for; or your health plan has a co-pay that PIP will cover
  • 75% of your lost wages but subject to the $8,000 limit minus your deductible.

Unfortunately, a pedestrian injured by a non-street legal motorcycle will not be able to collect PIP benefits.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In the event the dirtbike rider lacked homeowner’s insurance, the injured motorist or passenger can be compensated in addition to PIP benefits if there is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage available. UM coverage is optional, however, so that not all motorists possess it. If you are thinking of foregoing this option, consider that up to 20% of all motorists on the roadways are not insured, and that it is likely that a dirtbike rider lacks any kind of insurance liability protection. If you only purchase minimum coverage and are in a major accident, you will not be fully compensated for your injuries. We highly recommend that motorists have $100,000/$300,000 coverage at the minimum.

UM coverage applies to anyone who was in your vehicle when the accident occurred. A UM claim is handled by a car accident lawyer in the same manner as any third-party claim except that your own insurer is now the adverse party. You still have to prove that the uninsured party was negligent or otherwise at fault for the accident, that your injuries were caused by the accident, and that your medical expenses, lost income and other damages are reasonable and related to your injuries. Unlike other claims, if you are unable to settle it your case is not heard before a judge or jury but is resolved by binding arbitration.

Damages in Dirtbike Accidents

Regardless of which insurer is providing coverage, your damages in a dirtbike accident may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future income loss
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

Retain a Motorcycle Lawyer from Burns and Jain

If you live in Springfield or any of the surrounding communities and were injured in an accident with a dirtbike rider or any other motorist, you need an experienced and skilled car accident lawyer from The Law Office of Burns and Jain. Even in cases where liability is obvious, there are often coverage issues, disputes over the nature and extent of injuries, and whether damages have been proved. Call a car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain today at (617) 227-7423 to schedule a free consultation about your injury claim.