Road accidents are, unfortunately, prevalent in the United States. When an accident occurs, it leaves injuries and significant loss in its wake. Accident and injury rates significantly increase when motorcycles are involved. The reason for this is because bikers do not enjoy the same amount of protection as vehicle users. Fortunately, the state of Florida has laws in place which allow a person who has suffered a motorcycle accident to sue for damages if another person's negligence caused the accident.
However, the plaintiff has to take legal action before the period prescribed in the statute of limitations runs out. There is also a legal procedure to follow to ensure that your case is heard and determined in a Florida civil court. For these and more information, get in touch with a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney if you are in Clay County, Florida. You will be well guided, advised, and legally represented to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Florida Laws on Motorcycle Accidents
Florida has apparent motorcycle laws, which are meant to promote safety and protection for bikers and other road users. These laws govern everything, including the use of helmets and the usage of lanes. Every motorcycle rider in the state is expected to be conscious of the rules of the road for their safety and the safety of others.
Helmet laws, for instance, give adults two options of either wearing an approved helmet or carry insurance. Bikers are expected only to wear helmets approved by the country's Department of Transportation. If not, the biker should have insurance coverage of at least $10,000, which can cater to their medical needs if they get involved in an accident. Any biker below the age of twenty-one must wear a helmet in all circumstances.
Florida laws also demand that all motorcycles should be kept in excellent working conditions. You will, for instance, need a horn that works on your bike, and a well-attached license plate. Your breaks should be working well at all times too.
In matters concerning the use of lanes, motorcycle riders have the right to full use of the road. The law allows two motorcycles to ride in one lane, next to each other. Lane splitting is not permitted, as well as overtaking a vehicle using the same path the car is using.
Even with all the laws in place, motorcycle accidents still do happen, leaving a trail of injuries, damages, and sometimes death. Determining the cause of the crash is the first thing to do concerning filing for compensation. California law allows those who have been injured in such accidents to file a suit that will enable them to recover compensation if another person was at fault for the accident. The state uses a comparative negligence system to ensure that riders who are partially to blame for the crash are still able to recover part of the damages.
Risk Factors in Florida Motorcycle Accidents
The rate at which motorcycle accidents happen in the United States today has increased over the last few years. In the year 2006, for instance, statistics show that almost 5,000 deaths resulted from such accidents in the country. Of all motorcycle fatalities in the country, 13% are those that resulted from motorcycle accidents. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety attributes the high numbers to the fact that bikes are less noticeable when compared to vehicles. They are also not steady and have higher-performance competencies. Also, riders are not well protected when compared to vehicle passengers.
In a motorcycle accident, riders, as well as their commuters, are at a higher risk of getting injured or dying when on the highway. However, certain factors increase the risks for some riders and passengers. These are, for instance:
- Use of a helmet - A helmet is considered as the single and most effective mode of saving lives when it comes to motorcycle accidents. The state of Florida has a helmet law that must be adhered to
- The size of the motorcycle’s engine
- The age of the rider/passenger - Recently, the risk of injury or death is higher for riders who are 50 years or older
- Gender - Statistics show that more than 90% of people who have lost their lives in motorcycle accidents in the country in recent years were male
- Intoxication - Alcohol and drug use decreases a person’s ability to operate a motorcycle
- Unlicensed riders - More than 25% of motorcycle accidents in Florida involve unlicensed riders.
- Time of the year - This mainly depends on weather conditions, which varies throughout the year
Causes of Florida Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries
There are several potential reasons for motorcycle accidents in the state of Florida. There are also several reasons why a person is more at risk of suffering severe injuries and even death through motorcycle accidents than in a motor accident. The most common causes of these mishaps include:
Head-on crashes happen when a motorcycle collides with a stationary object or an oncoming car head-on. Stationery objects, in this case, could be signposts or lampposts. Most head-on crashes are fatal for the rider, with the rest sustaining severe injuries.
A Car Making a Left-hand Turn
Cars making left turns too is a dangerous situation for a motorcycle rider, and it accounts for at least 40% of motorcycle accidents in the state. A turning vehicle can strike a motorcycle when the motorcycle is passing the car, overtaking it, or moving straight into an intersection.
Lane Splitting for Motorcycles
Lane splitting for motorcycles happens when a rider gets in between two ways of stopped or slowly moving cars, mainly in traffic. The likelihood of an accident will be determined by the distance between the motorcycle and the vehicle. Generally, drivers do not anticipate that motorcycles will overtake them in a traffic jam. As a result, motorists will not yield to the rider, increasing the chances of an accident. Again, the limited space the rider has to move through could increase accident chances. When establishing fault in such an accident, the action both the driver and the rider takes will be considered.
Speeding and Alcohol Use
An impaired driver/rider or one who is operating at a higher speed than necessary is likely to cause an accident. Since motorbikes do not provide the ultimate protection to riders, such disasters could result in severe injuries and sometimes death.
Generally, motorcycle riders will encounter more road hazards when compared to other motorists. Because of the nature of motorcycles, uneven lanes, potholes, dead animals, and other unanticipated objects on the road could pose safety risks to riders.
Other common reasons for motorcycle accidents are:
- Vehicles stopping right in front of a bike
- Cars merging into the same lane as the cyclist
- Tailgating a cyclist
- Temporary metallic plates at the ground
- Parts malfunction
- Loose grit on the road
- Dangerous weather conditions
Injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents are also unique. The injuries are mainly determined by the way motorcycles fall over whenever they get into an accident, plus the absence of protection on the part of the rider. That is why the use of equipment for personal protection, such as helmets, is recommended as they significantly reduce the gravity of the resulting injuries. The most common injuries that could be experienced in a Florida motorcycle accident include:
- Joint breakage, particularly shoulders, elbows, pelvis, hips, wrists, knees, and finger joints
- Road rash- It happens when the rider falls on the road at high speeds thus suffering bruises, abrasions, and cuts
- Spinal and neck injuries - They could result in paralysis or the arms and legs and sometimes lead to death
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Nerve damage, for instance, rider's arm
- Facial disfigurement
- Loss of limbs
- Eye injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Hearing impairment
What to Do If You Get into a Motorcycle Accident in Florida
It is often hard to predict a person will get into an accident. Thus most people are uncertain of what to do if they are involved in a crash. Therefore most motorcycle riders are ill-prepared when an accident happens. Most of them get confused, without knowing where to start and what to do to help themselves out of the situation. Here are some steps that could help you at that instant:
Get Immediate Medical Help
Most motorcycle accidents are serious. Therefore it is vital to get medical advice immediately even if you feel okay. Some people will feel fine shortly after the crash, while in the real sense, they have suffered a severe injury. If you have been injured, call the police or have someone make the call. If you have not been seriously injured, check to ensure that everyone in the mishap is okay. If anyone needs medical help, have it taken care of immediately.
Note that motorcycle accidents can be very tricky. You may feel fine to the point of not getting yourself checked by a physician. Having yourself checked in a hospital will ensure that serious injuries are ruled out or are treated on time.
If you are sure that you will pursue compensation or damages you have sustained from the accident, it is advisable to start gathering information immediately after the crash. If you are a victim in a collision with another vehicle, get the vehicle's license plate number, make, model, year, and the color of the car. Be sure to get the names and contact info of other people who were in the accident, and the insurance information of the other driver in the crash. You also need the contact information of any witnesses that could have been present when the accident occurred.
You might encounter difficulties while gathering information. Some people, who were involved in the crash, could leave the accident scene or refuse to give you the information you need. If this happens, call the police. People are more cooperative when speaking to a law enforcement officer than an ordinary citizen.
Most people today have smartphones and other smart mobile devices. These can be used to take videos and pictures of the scene of the accident. You could use your gadget to record vehicle info, too, as well as your injuries and the damage on your bike.
Be Careful of What You Say after the Crash
You may feel the need to apologize to the other people affected by the accident. Other accident victims are quick to point out their mistake, which could have caused the accident. Admitting fault or acting as if you were at fault could threaten your chances of getting compensated for your injuries. The driver may accuse you of causing the accident and try to make you admit guilt. Even though you think that you were at fault, do not be duped into accepting your mistake.
The matter of determining fault should be left to the jury. You should allow your attorney to handle the legal case or to settle the issue with the insurance provider.
Get in Touch with a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer
Pursuing compensation is not an easy task a person can do on their own. There is always a chance of getting less compensation than you deserve or losing your chance of getting compensated. An attorney will fight for your rights and ensure that the at-fault party is determined and that you are fully paid for your damages.
Your attorney will take care of gathering evidence that will help establish who was responsible for your accident. If the insurance company is willing to settle the matter out of court, your attorney will represent you and ensure that you are not getting less compensation than you deserve. If you decide to take the case to a civil court, your attorney will prepare and submit all the necessary documents before the deadline.
Compensable Damages in a Florida Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle rider can suffer different types of injuries in an accident, depending on the nature of the crash and the impact. Most of these damages can be compensated in Florida, either through a personal injury lawsuit or through settlement. How you present your claim will determine the amount of money you get as compensation. The most popular compensable damages in a Florida motorcycle accident claim include:
Most personal injury claims include reimbursement of medical costs incurred when an accident victim sought medical help. The amount of money a person can get as reimbursement for medical expenses depend on the kind of injuries they suffered. Some injuries will require medical treatment into the future, which the at-fault party should also cater for. Medical expenses start from the day of the accident when you received emergency medical care, the cost of surgeries if you needed them, the cost of appointments, physical therapy, as well as hospital stays, among others. It is essential to consider everything, including any medical help you might need in the future, while determining the amount of money to include in your claim.
An accident victim in Florida is entitled to claim for lost earnings if their injuries have made it impossible for them to work and earn a living like they were doing before the accident. Lost wages include the amount of money you could have made if you did not get involved in the crash. If you miss more days of work to recuperate, you might need to place a claim for a more substantial amount.
Property damage will include everything you might have lost in the accident, including your motorcycle and clothes. Any lost tangible item whose market value can be determined should be introduced in the case. If it is repairable, the court will only grant you the exact amount of repair for the lost asset.
Suffering and Pain
It is not possible to place an actual value on a person's suffering or pain, but this is one of the compensable damages included in most personal injury cases. Florida civil courts allow a person to place a claim for both physical and mental pain they could have experienced after the accident. Bodily pain should not only count immediately after the crash but also the pain you might have to bear in the future.
Any negative emotion and pain you are expected to undergo as an effect of the physical pain and trauma of the accident should be included in the compensation claim. Your compensation claim should, therefore, include such things as fear, emotional distress, humiliation, mental anguish, distress, and shock, among others.
Loss of Pleasure
There are those injuries that make it hard for a person to enjoy life as they did before the accident. If that is the kind of damage you sustained, you can place a claim for loss of fun and enjoyment. If your injuries make it hard for you to enjoy your hobbies, for instance, or to exercise, you might be entitled to this type of compensation.
Loss of Association/Consortium
Compensation for loss of association is given to the family members of the injured person. This type of compensation is given to cater for the effects the damages have on the relationships the injured person has, especially with their spouse. If, for instance, the biker was hurt to the point of not being able to have a productive relationship with his/her spouse, the spouse can claim for compensation for loss of association. The claim could also be placed on behalf of a child for the loss of the parent-child relationship after the accident.
Punitive damages arise in cases where the court feels that the actions of the defendants were extremely careless. Punitive damages are meant to teach the defendant a lesson so that he/she cannot cause a similar accident in the future.
Statutes of Limitations for Florida Motorcycle Accident Claims
Every personal injury case in the state of Florida has a prescribed period in the Statute of limitations. The time stipulated is one within which the plaintiff can file a suit with the court for compensation. After this time has passed, the court may not accept your claim, which means that you will lose your chance of recovering compensation or damages incurred in the accident. The period prescribed for Florida motorcycle accidents in the Statute of Limitations varies greatly. They are subject to the defendant’s actions and whether or not the accident resulted in the death of a person.
When it comes to a standard injury claim, where the plaintiff only suffered bodily injuries and property damage, the law gives the plaintiff only four years starting from the day the accident occurred to file a suit for compensation. If this time elapses, the court will not accept your claim.
If, on the other hand, the accident resulted in wrongful death, the family members or estate of the departed will only have a maximum of two years to bring up a lawsuit against the at-fault party. After that, they may not be able to claim compensation for the loss of their loved one.
In cases involving faulty products, for instance, a defective motorcycle, Florida laws give the plaintiff two or four years as the limit within which they can file a lawsuit against the responsible party for death and injuries, respectively.
If the at-fault party was a government agency/authority, a period of three years is what the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in court against the liable entity. The three-year period will start after the date of the accident.
For any personal injury case involving property damage, the plaintiff will have four years maximum to file for a claim against the negligent party in a civil court.
Find a Clay County Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Understanding more about Florida laws on motorcycle accidents is crucial if you wish to protect yourself when you decide to bring a lawsuit against a negligent party. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we have personal injury attorneys with excellent skills and vast experience in handling personal injury lawsuits. They will advise and support you throughout the legal process as well as represent you in court until you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 904-494-8242 if you are in Clay County, FL, and let us influence the outcome of your case.