Boca Raton Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Advocating for Motorcyclists Harmed by Careless Drivers
The “outlaw motorcycle” stereotype is now long outdated with Hollywood celebrities, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and people from all walks of life riding motorcycles. Riding enthusiasts choose Harleys and other bikes for the excitement, fuel efficiency, and environmental benefits. Motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a crash because of the handling and stability limitations of a bike. When you are involved in a collision when riding your motorcycle, you also have no protection against injury.
Motorcycle enthusiasts involved in crashes face a much higher risk of suffering catastrophic injury or wrongful death. When you suffer these types of injuries or lose a loved one in a motorcycle crash, an experienced and skilled Florida motorcycle accident attorney can defend your rights, protect you from the sharp tactics of insurance companies, and pursue the compensation needed to recover from your injuries. Our Boca Raton motorcycle accident lawyers have been pursuing compensation for victims for over 15 years. Our attorneys offer exemplary customer service, tenacious advocacy, and a reputation for successful outcomes for our clients.
Our law firm offers more than vehicular accident attorneys who have handled a motorcycle accident or two, we are experienced litigators with 15 years of experience. Our attorneys understand the unique challenges that face riding enthusiast. We assist our clients in navigating these obstacles in pursuit of the fullest recovery to pay medical bills, cover lost income, pay for future supportive care, and compensate for other losses. Our law firm has built a reputation for doggedly pursuing the best result for our clients while keeping our clients informed throughout the process of obtaining a settlement or verdict. Shiner Law Group’s commitment to these principles combined with our goal of adhering to the highest standards of legal ethics has helped our firm garner a wide array of accolades and awards that include:
- Perfect “10.0 Superb AVVO Rating” (Evaluates All U.S. Attorneys/Law Firms)
- Listing in Best Lawyers in America® and SuperLawyers®
- Awarded “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell (based on legal acumen and professional ethics)
At the Shiner Law Group, our Boca Raton personal injury lawyers have the experience and expertise to navigate the special obstacles faced by riding enthusiasts. Because motorcyclists often suffer severe injury, they require emergency transportation from the crash site to the hospital. The investigating police officer often relies primarily on the other driver or occupants of his or her vehicle to analyze the accident. Not surprisingly, this arrangement frequently results in an accident report that is unfavorable to the bike accident victim. Antiquated stereotypes of riders as “risk-taking daredevils” or “biker outlaws” compound the tendency of motorcycle injury reports to be slanted for the other party. Our bike injury lawyers are aware of these influences; so we look beyond the official accident report to conduct our evaluation of the physical evidence, crash site, witness statements, and other relevant evidence.
Bikers Face Unique Risks Posed by Negligent Drivers
Based on the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle crashes claimed the lives of 4,594 riders and caused over 88,000 injuries in 2015. While these numbers are concerning, they do not begin to give a complete picture of the dangers faced by motorcycle riders. The fatality rate per registered vehicle was six times higher for motorcyclists than passenger car occupants. Motorcycle riders face a risk 27 times greater than occupants of passenger vehicles of suffering fatal injuries in a collision according to the NHTSA.
This motorcycle crash data reflects the vulnerability of enthusiasts. The physical characteristics of a motorcycle expose riders to an enhanced risk of collision and to the potential for more serious injuries. Because a motorcycle only has two wheels, the vehicles lack the stability of a passenger car. These stability limitations interfere with the ability of a rider to execute sudden stops or to engage in emergency evasive action, such as an emergency lane change. Braking on a motorcycle also requires more skill than braking in a passenger car, especially if the motorcycle does not have an anti-lock brake system (ABS).
The design and handling characteristics of a motorcycle also create a risk of more serious injuries when riders encounter distracted or careless drivers. While improved vehicle safety technology has led to a general decline in traffic fatalities, this trend has not held true for motorcycles. Passenger car occupants have benefited from more sophisticated and expansive airbag systems, crash avoidance technology, and even systems that alert distracted or drowsy drivers. Similar innovations have not been developed by motorcycles, which also lack a protective passenger compartment, airbags, protective metal framework, and seat belts.
Traffic Violations Causing Injuries
There are some factors that contribute to motorcycle injuries include negligent drivers, defective motorcycles, improperly maintained bikes, unsafe roads, and other vehicles with defects. Drivers who violate traffic safety rules, multi-task behind the wheel, and otherwise engage in unsafe driving practices constitute the primary cause of many crashes. Some of the violations of traffic safety laws that cause motorcycle accidents include the following:
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Illegal left turns
- Speeding or traveling at unsafe speeds given traffic, weather, and road conditions
- Texting and driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Drunk or stoned driving
- Unsafe passing
Motorcycle victims can pursue compensation when other parties fail to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others on public roadways, and this lack of care causes the collision resulting in injury. When drivers of passenger cars violate traffic safety laws, this violation can provide a “legal shortcut” to proving the liability of the motorist. This legal shortcut is based on the doctrine of negligence per set. In simple terms, negligence per se is a legal doctrine that makes it easier to establish negligence when a party violates a law designed to protect the public. While you must still prove that the violation of the traffic safety law was the cause of your injuries, you do not need to prove that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care or that the driver deviated from that duty of reasonable care.
We have provided an example of how our experienced personal injury attorneys might use the negligence per se shortcut to prove the liability of a motorist causing a crash. A motorcycle proceeds straight through an intersection before being hit by an oncoming passenger car driver. The car turns left into the motorcycle against a red turn arrow. Because the driver of the car made an illegal left turn, the motorcyclist can focus on proving the damages of the plaintiff and that the illegal turn caused those damages.
Drunk Drivers and Distracted Drivers Pose a Special Risk to Motorcyclists
While the failure to obey traffic safety laws causes many motorcycle crashes, drunk drivers and distracted drivers pose a particularly serious threat to those riding motorcycles. Intoxicated drivers cause nearly 10,000 traffic fatalities annually and catastrophic injury to many more. Drunk drivers with compromised senses, poor judgment, and diminished reaction times often fail to take evasive action or to brake to avoid running down a motorcyclist. The frequent inability of drunk drivers to try to avoid collisions provides part of the reason that they account for a third of all traffic-related fatalities. Since motorcyclists virtually have no protection from injury, they face a heightened risk of injury from drunk drivers.
Although drunk drivers continue to constitute the leading cause of traffic-related fatalities, distracted driving has been referred to as the “new drunk driving.” Like intoxicated drivers, drivers who are texting or engaging in other forms of multi-tasking often do not notice difficult to see motorcycles. Bikes are smaller and often travel in areas of the roadway that motorists do not expect a vehicle. While distracted drivers have long presented a danger to motorcyclists, the distracted driving problem has reached epidemic proportions. In a recent one-year period, distracted drivers caused 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 more injuries according to the federal government’s distracted driving website. Inattentive drivers have long presented an increased risk of injury to unprotected riders while engaging in a broad range of multi-tasking, such as:
- Eating and drinking
- Reaching for objects
- Adjusting the car stereo or media center
- Reading a newspaper, directions, or map
- Grooming (e.g. shaving, applying makeup, brushing hair)
- Disciplining children in the backseat
The obsessive use of cell phones when driving has caused the threat posed by multi-tasking drivers toward motorcyclists to increase dramatically. The federal government website also reports that 660,000 drivers are using cell phones of manipulating electronic devices while driving during daylight hours.
When you are injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, representation by an experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyer is particularly important. Distracted driving can be difficult to prove, so a careful investigation is often necessary to expose this cause of a collision. Our law firm might subpoena the other driver’s phone records to look at the call and texting history. We also evaluate the circumstances of the accident to uncover possible distracted driving, such as when a driver slams into a motorcycle stopped at a red light. Our trial lawyers work with accident reconstruction teams to identify negligent conduct and determine the cause of a motorcycle crash.
Common Accidents Caused by Negligent Drivers
Drivers of passenger cars who disregard traffic safety laws, multi-task behind the wheel, or otherwise drive unsafely cause an array of motor bike accidents. While a motorcycle or scooter can be involved in many of the same types of accidents as passenger cars, there are special types of crashes that tend to impact riders:
Left Turn Accidents: When a motorist fails to see a motorcycle or misjudges a rider’s speed, the car might turn in front of you at an intersection. Sometimes drivers perceive just the absence of cars rather than the presence of a motorcycle.
Skidding on Road Debris: When roadways are not properly maintained, gravel or sand that spills from a big-rig or deterioration of the roadway surface can pose serious crash risks for riders. While cars can negotiate such obstacles without noticing their presence, poorly maintained roads or hazards created by debris falling from tractor-trailers and other vehicles can be extremely dangerous to riders.
Cars Changing Lanes into a Motorcyclist: When a car driver suddenly veers into space you are occupying in an adjacent lane, the results can be a motorcyclist may die. Motorcyclists face a special risk of this type of accident because bikes easily fit into a driver’s blind spot.
Rear End Collision: While a rear-impact collision can happen with any two types of vehicles, the consequences are very different when a motorcyclist is rear-ended while stopped for traffic, a red light, or a stop sign. While fault might be relatively clear in such situations, the insurance company often fights hard trying to minimize the severity of injury because of its liability exposure.
Car Door Opening: The biggest gap in traffic might be located between a stationary line of active traffic and parked cars. When you drive through this path, an inattentive driver might open a car door into your bike. This form of motorist inattention is very dangerous, which is why the area within a door’s width of parked cars is referred to as “The Death Zone.”
These are just a handful of the special type of motorcycle collisions that our law firm handles for personal injury and wrongful death victims. Our Boca Raton motorcycle accident lawyers represent a significant number of riders, who are struck by distracted, speeding, drunk, or otherwise careless motorists. Our attorneys recognize that police reports will often be slanted against a motorcyclist because of negative stereotypes about riders and the need for the motorcyclist to be rushed to the hospital before an interview. Our law firm also understands the special handling and safety limitations of bikes, which empowers us to analyze the liability of an at-fault driver.
The Importance of Helmets
Although our Palm Beach motorcycle injury attorneys represent riders who suffer serious injury and families that lose a loved one, we would prefer to meet our friends and neighbors at local social or charity events. Our law firm advocates safe riding practices, which mean always wearing a helmet approved by Snell or the Department of Transportation (DOT). Helmets can reduce the risk of suffering potentially fatal head injuries while also protecting a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
While motorcycles constitute only three (3) percent of registered vehicles, they account for nine (9) percent of traffic-related fatalities according to the NHTSA. Since head injuries are the most common cause of motorcycle crash-related fatalities, the significant of strapping on a helmet cannot be overstated. Helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing riding fatalities. Unfortunately, the number of rider deaths has increased in recent years because fewer people are wearing helmets as a growing number of states have repealed mandatory universal helmet laws.
While the safety benefits of helmet provide a strong motive to wear a helmet, the decision to use head protection can also assist injury victims pursuing lawsuits. Although it is obvious that in a motorcycle wreck you can die from your injuries, it is always best to wear a helmet. Injury victims have a duty to take affirmative action to mitigate the severity of their injury. If a motorcyclist suffers a serious head injury, the rider could have his or her recovery reduced to the extent the lack of a helmet increased the severity of the injuries. If the motorcyclist does not suffer a head injury, then the lack of helmet use would probably not impact the legal claim.
Using an Experienced Motorcycle Injury Lawyer to Challenge Insurance Companies
When you are injured in a motorcycle wreck caused by a negligent driver, the at-fault motorist’s auto insurance company will typically handle the accident claim. Insurance companies increase their profits when they find ways to deny valid claims and to lowball claims. Our experienced Boca Raton injury trial attorneys at the Shiner Law Group relieve our clients’ of the stress of dealing with insurance company traps and navigating legal complications. Some of the ways our experienced motorcycle accident law firm can help includes:
Dealing with Attempts to Shift Fault: Insurance companies will often attempt to shift blame for causing a motorcycle crash to the rider. While this strategy does not permit the insurer to avoid liability completely, the judge or jury can allocate the percentage of negligence between the plaintiff and defendants. The plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the injury victim.
Overcoming Misconceptions about Riders: Although people from all walks of life now ride motorcycles for leisure, travel or commuting, many people still hold misconceptions about riders being risk-takers or outlaws. Our lawyers recognize these misconceptions can create bias against motorcycle crash victims, so we work diligently to dispel these mistaken assumptions that can shape a witness or juror’s perceptions.
Pushing the Injury Claim Forward: Insurance companies recognize that they gain an advantage the longer a motorcycle accident claim drags on. The insurance company makes money by keeping funds invested that would be used to pay settlements or verdicts. Because motorcycle victims often suffer debilitating injuries that cause long periods of time off work or even permanent diminished earning capacity, they can experience significant financial hardships. Since the insurance company benefits from delays in settling the case while injury victims face mounting financial challenges, the insurer might use tactics to delay resolution of a motorcycle accident claim.
Informed Evaluation of Settlement Offers: If liability is fairly clear, the insurance company might offer a quick settlement that does not fully compensate the victim for his or her injuries. This premature settlement offer is intended to prevent a motorcycle crash victim from completing medical treatment and learning the value of his or her claim from an experienced personal injury attorney. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you should never settle the claim before completing all treatment and obtaining legal advice from a lawyer with experience handling similar claims.
Evaluate Written Documents: The insurance company might attempt to get you to sign documents that compromise your rights or your claim. The insurance company might want you to sign a general release of liability as a condition for accepting a settlement check. This type of release will waive all claims, including claims that you do not know exist. The insurance adjuster also might ask you to sign an authorization to release medical or employment records. While the insurer might tell you that the form will allow the insurer to obtain the information needed to resolve the claim, the insurance carrier often will seek documents or information that the insurer is not entitled to receive. If our law firm handles your claim, we can protect your privacy and prevent the insurance company from engaging in overly expansive discovery requests by raising valid objections.
You Don’t Pay Unless We Win Your Case!
If you or someone you love has died because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help. The Shiner Law Group represents fatality victims in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, and throughout the surrounding counties.