Although motorcycles represent an exhilarating sense of freedom for their riders, they do not command the same presence or offer equal protection as larger vehicles on the road.
Due to Florida’s continuing and significant population growth, and as a popular destination for tourists, the state continues to have the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in motorcycle deaths as recently as 2017.
This can be a major concern for all motorcyclists and passengers on the road who want to stay protected.
What Is Considered a Motorcycle Accident?
A motorcycle accident refers to any accident that involves a motorcycle hitting another object or being hit by an object. These objects can include other motorcycles, cars, trees, buildings, animals, or people.
Motorcycle accidents often result in serious consequences for the rider, such as property damage, mental distress, moderate to severe injuries, and death.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than occupants in passenger cars. In the U.S.,the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that 4,985 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2018. There are several contributing factors that cause motorcycle accidents.
The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists face more danger traveling on roads with hazards than cars and other vehicles do.
Motorcycles are less stable, which means that any hazard (such as potholes, dead animals uneven heights between lanes, slick pavement conditions, and other irregularities or unexpected road objects) pose a greater threat to motorcyclists and their passengers.
Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
This is known as one of the most dangerous situations for motorcyclists on the road. In fact, out of all accident types that occur between cars and motorcycles, this type accounts for 42 percent of accidents involving both vehicle types.
It is a common accident that occurs because the motorcycle’s small size makes it more difficult for drivers to notice them when making left turns.
When cars make left-hand turns, they usually strike the motorcycle when the motorcyclist is trying to make one of the following actions:
- Passing the car
- Trying to overtake the car
- Going into an intersection
Speeding and Driving Under the Influence
Accidents involving a single motorcycle are caused by alcohol use or speeding about 50 percent of the time. This factor plays a large role in accidents among other cars and vehicles as well, but motorcyclists face more danger because they don’t have as much protection.
Collisions caused by this factor are also known to be more likely to result in serious injury or death.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Motorcycle lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist drives in between two lanes. The cars on either side of the lane are usually moving slowly or are stopped due to a traffic jam when motorcycles split lanes.
Lane splitting is dangerous for a variety of reasons:
- The motorcyclist must maneuver through tighter spaces.
- The cars are in close proximity to the motorcycle.
- Cars don’t anticipate that a motorcycle will be passing them in traffic.
Motorcycle lane splitting is illegal in many states, including the state of Florida. This means that determining if the car driver or the motorcyclist is at fault in the event of a lane-splitting accident depends on the state you live in.
Motorcycle drivers must have a special license to operate a motorcycle legally. Inexperienced motorcyclists can be a threat to other motorists on the road because they are more likely to make unsafe moves on the road.
What to Do Immediately after Your Motorcycle Accident
The number one thing you should do after an accident is attend to your own health and safety. If you notice that the location of the accident isn’t safe, make sure to seek out a safe location immediately to avoid further injury.
Here are the next steps to take if you are involved in a motorcycle crash:
Assess Yourself and Others, and Seek Medical Attention.
Immediately following an accident, assess yourself and others for injuries, if you are able. Call 911 for medical care right away if you notice that you or anyone else is injured.
Remember that even injuries that appear minor can cause major problems, especially head injuries that may lead to brain trauma without quick treatment.
Gather the Information of All Motorists Involved.
Collect information from all motorists, including:
- Insurance information
- Phone numbers
- License plate numbers
If it is a hit-and-run accident, there may be evidence at the scene that can be used to seek damages. For instance, an attorney may ask for security camera footage or other pieces of evidence to identify the negligent party.
Contact the Police.
Call the police after you’ve assessed the situation and have collected information from the other motorists. This is especially important for accidents that are serious.
Having the police present and filing a report as soon as possible is useful for building a suitable legal case.
Take Note of Your Surroundings.
Scan the area of the accident and take a mental picture of the scene. Note the location and time of the accident.
If you have a phone, take a few pictures of the condition of the cars or motorcycles involved, your injury, and of the entire crash scene. These photos are useful to have when building a motorcycle accident case.
Call a Motorcycle Accident Attorney.
Contact an experienced motorcycle attorney to gain legal guidance. This is a crucial step toward getting the damages you deserve for injuries to cover out-of-pocket expenses.
An attorney is a useful ally to help you file a strong claim against the negligent driver in the accident.
How Fault Is Determined in a Motorcycle Accident
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, but that doesn’t mean that fault won’t play a role in your case.
Before you can proceed with a legal case to garner compensation for injuries, a party has to be identified as legally responsible for the motorcycle accident.
Some possible parties that may be at fault for the motorcycle accident include:
- The manufacturer of the motorcycle
- The person driving the passenger vehicle that was involved in the accident
- The government agency responsible for maintaining the roadways if a motorcycle accident occurs because of a road hazard
- The repair shop responsible for repairing, inspecting, or maintaining the motorcycle
- The motorcycle rental company
A party is considered “at fault” when they are negligent, which means they did something wrong that caused the crash, such as exceeding the speed limit or texting while driving.
The types of negligence include:
- Comparative Negligence: The injured party shares negligence and fault with the defendant.
- Gross Negligence: Negligent actions that go beyond lack of foresight or simple carelessness. Gross negligence often goes hand-in-hand with broken laws and even criminal actions for the actions a defendant took on the road.
- Vicarious Liability: A form of negligence that involves one entity having jurisdiction or taking legal responsibility for another entity’s negligence. For instance, the government has vicarious liability over public bus drivers.
Your insurance will assess these four elements of negligence to determine fault:
- Duty of Care: All drivers are expected to try to prevent accidents from happening. It is the at-fault party’s legal obligation to drive or act safely on the road. Their conduct will be compared to that of the victim or reasonable party.
- Causation: The negligent actions of the at-fault party must have caused the accident that resulted in your injuries.
- Damages: You must be able to prove that you sustained injuries from the accident by providing medical bills or proof of lost wages post-injury.
- Breach of Duty: The at-fault driver breached their duty to act carefully by failing to follow traffic rules.
The Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims
The most common types of motorcycle accident injury claims include:
This is the number one most common injury motorcyclists deal with if they’ve been in a motorcycle accident. Road rash is the common term used to describe a painful skin injury caused by hitting or skidding across the street surface.
This injury may lead to severe scarring or permanent disfigurement.
Biker’s arm is a general term used to describe the arm injury that takes place when a motorcyclist attempts to use their arm to stop themselves from falling during a crash. Many patients who deal with biker’s arm sustain substantial nerve damage.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Since bikes have little to no protection, it’s easy for bikers to experience broken or fractured bones in motorcycle crashes. Broken bone injuries and fractures vary greatly in severity, but they always require medical attention.
Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries are a huge concern for motorcyclists. Even though helmets reduce brain injury risk by about 70 percent, they cannot eliminate the risk altogether.
Brain injuries should always be checked out by a medical professional.
Internal Organ Damage
Internal injuries that motorcyclists may sustain in an accident may not always be obvious to bystanders or to the rider. Internal organ damage and internal bleeding can be fatal without prompt emergency care.
Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries
This injury type has the potential to cause devastating effects on the body. Even a small amount of spinal cord damage can cause partial paralysis. Any indication of a spinal cord injury should be checked out by a medical professional immediately.
The Cost of Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident and the other party was determined to be at fault, you can earn compensation. However, you need to understand the cost of legal representation.
Many motorcycle accident or personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee to take on your case, meaning the law firm won’t get paid attorney fees unless you are awarded money in your personal injury case.
Sometimes attorneys use a sliding scale for their contingency fee that changes based on the tasks they complete for you.
Once you recover your money from the case, the lawyer gets paid a percentage of the money you receive from a car insurance settlement or verdict.
The best way to get accurate information about a lawyer’s contingency fee structure for a motorcycle accident claim is to schedule a consultation.
The Value of Winning a Motorcycle Accident Claim
No two motorcycle accidents are identical, which is why it can be hard to determine the exact amount of compensation you’ll receive in a settlement.
The amount you receive is heavily dependent on the liability of the other driver, the injuries you sustained, and the sources of recovery. However, a personal injury settlement for a motorcycle accident is typically equal to three times the cost of your medical bills.
For instance, if your medical bills totaled $10,000, then your average settlement would be approximately $30,000.
Filing a claim with your insurance company only won’t help you to maximize your settlement. Hiring an attorney that works with your insurance company can get you the compensation you deserve.
Your Next Steps for Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
The first step to getting the compensation you deserve for your motorcycle accident is to hire a great attorney.
When to Look for a Good Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle collision, it is best to search for and contact an attorney as soon as possible. Some aspects of your motorcycle accident case are time sensitive, and an experienced attorney will need to advise you on how to handle time sensitive issues properly.
For instance, all legal claims have a statute of limitations of about two years, so the injury and collection of evidence is time sensitive. Evidence is your key to building a strong case so it is best to hire an attorney soon after your accident.
Your lawyer can handle collecting evidence and putting together a case while you recover.
What to Look for When You Choose a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Research and select about three to five attorneys to interview. When you speak with them either over the phone or in person, analyze the following elements:
- Experience level
- Whether or not they have a good understanding of your case
- Communication skills
- Being available and prompt in their responses
- Rapport building skills
Questions You Need to Ask Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
After you find the right attorney, focus your questions around your specific motorcycle injury case.
Some questions for you to ask your motorcycle accident attorney include:
- What is the average settlement amount for cases similar to mine?
- How much experience do you have with this injury?
- What do I do after I receive a settlement offer on my motorcycle injury claim?
- What is your fee structure?
- How involved will you be with my case?
- What out-of-pocket expenses should I expect to pay?
- How will you handle any liability issues in my case, if there should be any?
- What is your experience handling motorcycle accident cases?
- Should I communicate with my insurance company about my injuries or property damage?
- Are you able to give me a copy of my file if I ask?
Get Started with the Best Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
The compassionate and highly skilled attorneys at Lowman Law Firm can help you or someone you love receive compensatory damages for a motorcycle accident. Lowman offers free comprehensive case consultations on all personal injury matters, and clients only pay fees or costs if the case is won.
With Lowman Law, you are more than just a case number. All of our clients are treated with care and expert guidance.