Florida is one of the top states for the highest number of fatal motorcycle accidents. The state hosts several popular bike rallies every year, and there are often more motorcycle accidents around those times. Reports from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that there were more than 8,000 motorcycle accidents during 2020 in Florida. Motorcycle accident fatalities for that year totaled 552. Additionally, about 2,000 people suffered severe enough injuries that they were incapacitated. Thousands of others suffered injuries that were significant but not incapacitating.
With plenty of nice weather and crowded roadways, the risks of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents are always present in Clearwater. People who are on motorcycles often face more severe injuries. This is especially true when they collide with buses, trucks, or cars. Compensation might be available if you or someone you know was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. A Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine if you have a case.
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Understanding Florida’s Laws for Motorcycle Accident Liability
After an accident, it is important to understand your rights. Many Florida motorcycle owners do not understand their rights and often end up paying for injuries they should not have to pay for. There are ways to be compensated, and some laws help protect victims of accidents. However, working with a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney is essential for an optimal outcome. These are some important laws to understand.
In Florida, vehicle owners can purchase personal injury protection insurance, which is known as PIP. If an accident happens, that insurance offers some provisions for medical care. However, motorcycle owners cannot purchase PIP to protect themselves in motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle owners can purchase liability insurance, which is important if the policy owner causes an accident. Suppose a motorcycle owner causes an accident and does not have liability insurance. In that case, that person may be required to purchase coverage or may risk losing the right to operate a motorcycle.
Although PIP is not available to cover medical expenses for motorcycle owners, it is helpful to have personal medical insurance. Health insurance can help cover the cost of immediate medical care needs. If motorcycle owners want to add some protection for themselves, they can also buy uninsured motorist insurance. If a car driver who does not have insurance hits the motorcycle owner, the motorcycle owner still has some coverage to pay for damages that the uninsured motorist cannot pay. An attorney can help a motorcycle owner explore other ways to seek compensation for medical expenses when another person causes the accident.
Unsafe roads, motorcycle manufacturers and faulty equipment can sometimes contribute to accidents and injuries. Government entities must keep roads safe, and manufacturers must provide safe and functional products. Determining if any of these factors apply requires a full investigation. Attorneys know how to approach such investigations to find critical information.
When it comes to accidents and determining compensation, Florida uses a pure comparative fault rule. This means that motorcycle owners may still be compensated for some injuries. The amount of compensation is based on the damages for the case and each person’s share of fault. For example, if a motorcycle owner is 20% at fault and a car owner is 80% at fault, the motorcycle owner’s award may be reduced by 20%.
State law limits the time people have to file a lawsuit for injuries suffered in an accident. Insurance companies may also have time limits for reporting accidents, and those can vary from one company to another. It is helpful to file a report as quickly as possible, and it is important to contact an attorney immediately after an accident. When it comes to the statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents in Florida, there are several factors to consider.
First, time limits depend on injuries. If a motorcycle owner suffered injuries, filing a lawsuit is a four-year limit. The limit is based on the date the accident occurred. Motorcycle owners can file a lawsuit for bodily injuries and property damage. Alternately, if a person is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who died in a motorcycle accident, there is a two-year limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. That time limit is also based on the date the accident occurred.
It may seem like plenty of time to file a lawsuit. However, there is some preparatory work that must happen before filing one. Attorneys handle these steps. Because they can take some time, it is important to avoid waiting until a year or more after an accident to contact a lawyer.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Florida
There are many potential causes of accidents. However, motorcycle owners need to be aware of some of the most common issues to exercise extra vigilance on the road. These are some of the top contributors to motorcycle accidents.
Not Yielding Right of Way
Many of Florida’s motorcycle accidents occur because a driver fails to yield the right of way. This is one of the most common forms of accidents at intersections. Drivers failing to yield correctly at a four-way stop, not waiting to turn left when there is oncoming traffic, and not allowing pedestrians or bicyclists to cross first are some of the most common variations of this type of violation cause accidents.
Failing To Use a Turn Signal
When a driver does not use a turn signal, it leaves other motorists or motorcycle riders in danger since they cannot anticipate what that person will do next. This factor often plays a vital role in determining the share of fault in an accident. It can lead to rear-end accidents, T-bone accidents and more. For example, if a car driver plans to turn left without using a signal while a motorcyclist is approaching from the opposite direction, the driver may turn suddenly. The motorcyclist may not have time to slow down and may hit the car going at high speed. Higher-speed accidents often contribute to more severe injuries for motorcyclists.
Drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, eating, or doing anything else they should not be doing while driving pose a danger to themselves and others. They may run stop signs or red lights and cause accidents at intersections. Also, they may swerve into the next lane while they are trying to do something else and accidentally hit a motorcyclist.
Inclement Weather or Unfavorable Conditions
Rain can cause roadways to be slicked, which is especially dangerous for motorcyclists. Falling rain can make it harder for car drivers and motorcyclists to see clearly. When there is a strong wind, blowing debris can also create road hazards. Certain times of day can also present difficulties in driving when the sun is intense. For example, driving westward when the sun is setting can make it harder to see oncoming traffic or signs. All these potential factors are considered when there is an accident.
Drivers drunk or high on drugs often cause accidents that injure others. Although strict laws and measures are in place to discourage impaired driving, it is still a risk that all motorcyclists must be prepared for when they are on the roads.
As noted in a previous section, some accidents may be caused by mechanical failures or poor road conditions. For example, a faulty part on a motorcycle could lead to an accident. In another example, if there is a major pothole on the road, a motorcyclist may hit it and lose control. When these incidents happen, attorneys investigate road safety and manufacturer safety issues.
Common Types of Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents in Florida
Since they do not have airbags and other protective barriers around them, motorcyclists are far more vulnerable to injuries than those in standard vehicles. These are some types of injuries that people who are on motorcycles may suffer in an accident:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spine or spinal cord injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Puncture or penetrating wounds
- Internal injuries or organ damage
There may be other types of injuries as well. Some injuries may worsen or lead to complications. For example, a deep cut on a leg may lead to an infection that cannot be controlled and requires amputation. If that happens, a person may be partially disabled. Some people also become paralyzed from spinal cord injuries. Brain injuries are major risks, and this is true even if a person is wearing a helmet. The impact of a crash can lead to an injury that may be temporary or permanent. While some people improve over time with rehab, others may have severe brain injuries that leave them incapacitated.
Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Several types of damages injured motorcyclists can try to recover in Florida. These are some examples:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning ability or income
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
An attorney considers the full extent of injuries, prognosis, and the individual factors of a crash victim’s life. For example, someone who has children may need help with childcare and housework if that person becomes incapacitated. If a motorcycle owner is injured in a way that requires the person to train for a new career, that is another expense to consider.
Talk With a Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near Me today
If you were injured in a motorcycle crash, Shiner Law Group is here to help. We can also help if you seek compensation for a loved one who was incapacitated or killed in a motorcycle accident in Florida. Our attorneys examine your case details to determine fault and potential ways to collect compensation. We have helped many injured motorcyclists recover damages for injuries that were caused by the negligence of others. If you have questions or would like a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case with a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney, please contact us.