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An Overview of Motorcycle Laws in North Carolina

An Overview of Motorcycle Laws in North Carolina

Aug 17, 2022

Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are more than 120,000 registered motorcycles in North Carolina alone. Motorcycle safety is a must. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that motorcyclists are 20 times more likely to be killed or severely injured in a crash than occupants of passenger cars. 

At Paynter Law, we are strong advocates for highway safety. With extensive experience handling motorcycle accident injury claims, we want to make sure that all riders know the rights and responsibilities under the law. In this article, our Hillsborough motorcycle accident lawyers highlight the key things to know about the motorcycle laws in North Carolina. 

The Baseline: Motorcyclists Must Follow Traffic Laws

As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that motorcyclists generally have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else on the road. While there are some unique issues that apply to motorcycles, all riders should be prepared to comply with the traffic laws that apply to every other type of vehicle. 

Know the Unique Regulations that Apply to Motorcycles in North Carolina

If you own and/or operate a motorcycle in North Carolina, it is crucial that you understand the unique regulations that apply to motorcycles. Here are some of the unique traffic safety rules and regulations that you should be aware of: 

  • A Motorcycle May Control an Entire Lane, Can Ride Side-By-Side: North Carolina law is clear: Motorcyclists have the right to control an entire lane. In this way, a motorcycle is no different than a full-sized passenger car. Other motorists should give bikers space to control an entire lane. If you want to ride side-by-side with another motorcycle, it is lawful to do so. That being said, you are never required to do so. 
  • You Must Obtain a Motorcycle License to Ride In North Carolina: You must obtain a license to operate a motorcycle in North Carolina. You can obtain a motorcycle endorsement on your North Carolina driver’s license by passing the required tests. 
  • All Riders are Required to Wear a Federally Approved Motorcycle Helmet: Motorcycle helmets are mandatory for all riders and passengers in the state. As explained by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), a motorcycle helmet must meet federal DOT safety standards in order to qualify. 

Liability for a Motorcycle Crash is Based on Fault

North Carolina is a fault-based motor vehicle collision state. That standard applies to motorcycle accidents. The party deemed at fault for a motorcycle wreck—driver, motorcyclist, truck company, vehicle manufacturer, etc—can be held legally responsible for the damages. Unfortunately, motorcyclists too often face some stereotypes from law enforcement and insurance adjusters. It is imperative that all motorcyclist accidents are comprehensively investigated by an attorney. 

Three-Year Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims, Except for Wrecks Resulting in Death, in which there is a Two-Year Statute of Limitations

Were you injured in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina? You must bring any legal claim before the statute of limitations expires. In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations for all motor vehicle accident injury claims, including motorcycle accidents. However, if the motorcycle accident resulted in a fatality, any wrongful death claim is subject to a two-year statute of limitations. 

Injured Motorcyclists Have the Right to Pursue Financial Compensation

In North Carolina, injured motorcyclists can seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages related to their accident. Your compensation will depend on several factors, including your ability to prove fault and the extent of your damages. Sadly, insurance companies always try to resolve motorcycle accident liability for as little as possible. Through a motorcycle accident injury claim in North Carolina, compensation may be available for: 

  • Motorcycle repairs or replacement
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Hospital bills and other health care costs
  • Loss of current and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Long-term disability 
  • Permanent injury or disfigurement
  • Wrongful death of a family member.

Call Our Hillsborough, NC Motorcycle Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

At Paynter Law, our North Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys are committed to helping injured victims realize (or receive) what they deserve. If you or someone you know was hurt in a motorcycle wreck, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up your free, fully confidential case review. From our Hillsborough law office, we handle motorcycle accident injury claims throughout the region, including in Chapel Hill, Durham, Burlington, Mebane, Graham, and Whitsett.