The State of Florida leads with the highest bike-related fatalities in the country with motorcycles accounting for about one-fifth of these fatalities. When you get into a motorcycle accident, seek legal help to prove that the actions of a particular individual/corporation lead to your injuries. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, it’s our mission to help you aggressively fight for your rights and get financially compensated for any damages caused. We serve residents of Clay County, FL seeking legal representation on cases related to personal injury law.
What to Do After Your Motorcycle Accident in Florida?
The steps you take after being involved in a motorcycle accident can hugely impact your case. Since it’s not common to have a lawyer appear at the crime scene immediately, you have to be vigilant about what you say or how you act. Explained below are some of the courses of action to take.
- Remain at the Accident Scene
For less severe injuries, you should stay at the accident scene with your bike waiting for the police to arrive. You may be ferried to the hospital by an ambulance after being seriously injured, and someone made a 911 dispatch call. Remaining at the scene helps you correctly complete a report detailing events that led to your accident.
- Gather or Have Someone Else Gather Information
With a sober state of mind, you should note down any details related to the motorcycle accident. You may have someone else do it if you’re not feeling well. Such information may include the other person’s license plate number, name, contact information, and car/motorcycle make and model.
- Avoid Communicating With the Other Party
Before your lawyer (if you have one) arrives, avoid conversing with the other party. Don’t apologize, speak about the accident or mention anything unnecessary. Note that the other party may use your conversations to build a case against you.
- Seek Treatment
Visit a nearby hospital to get treatment on your injuries and make follow-ups with the physician regarding your health. Follow-ups, even if they aren't necessary, help ascertain the insurance company that you regularly visited the hospital for treatment. Your insurer may refuse to cover your treatment costs if there’s a gap between your hospital visits.
How to Monitor Your Symptoms and Medical Bills
A post-accident journal can help you monitor the effects the accident had on you while an expense sheet can help you record the medical bills you incur. In your post-accident journal, you should document the ways your life changed after getting involved in a motorcycle accident. You can fill this journal on a daily or weekly basis as you start experiencing full medical recovery.
The diary may be part of the evidence examined to help determine your case. Keep the information accurate and brief but with complete descriptions of any events you record. Have a binder to help you organize all documents related to your accident including this journal. Remember to make extra copies of your daily or weekly log pages to act as backup.
Your medical expenses worksheet should include expenses incurred while visiting chiropractors, physical therapists or alternative practitioners and receipts obtained in the process. The information contained in this document should be remotely related to your overall health. It would help if you also had a worksheet for documenting your lost wages, prescriptions and property damage. Draft your lost wages spreadsheet on an official company letterhead detailing personal information such as your name, social security number, address and telephone number.
Whom Should You Sue for the Motorcycle Accident?
The party that’s responsible for causing your accident should be liable for any injuries you experience. You may sue a city, pedestrian, another motorcycle rider or a car driver. The process of seeking justice starts when you file a personal injury lawsuit with your lawyer’s help. A suit helps you recover the damages for medical bills, future treatment, lost wages, physical injuries and motorcycle damage.
Who is to Blame If Your Accident Was as a Result of Poor Road Conditions?
Motorcycles are sensitive to poor road conditions unlike cars, which have mechanisms for reducing the discomfort caused by riding on potholes or uneven grounds. When the road is in a poor state, you have higher chances of losing control and crashing. Road conditions such as potholes, damaged road signs, water leaks, lifted asphalt, and loose gravel may cause motorcycle accidents.
A city or property owner can have the mandate to repair poor road conditions for motorists’ safety. If these parties fail to keep the road in good condition, they may be liable for damages or injuries riders like you may experience. In Florida, you can use premises liability, which is a form of negligence, to support your motorcycle accident case. Florida Statute 768.0755 holds owners of business establishments accountable for any accidents that occur in their premises as a result of them failing to fix a dangerous condition.
Visitors on a property can either be invitees, licensees or trespassers. Invitees access a property with an invitation from the owner while licensees access and stay on the property at the owner's expense or interests after seeking consent and permission. Entering a piece of land without the owner's knowledge or consent can make you a trespasser.
If you file a lawsuit against a property owner, the court will consider the means you were using the property and the foreseeability of accidents. The owner's efforts to warn you or other visitors of poor road conditions and the circumstances under which you were on the land will also be considered in the case. You have to share with your personal injury lawyer any form of consent or permission you got to access the property for you to have a solid case against the property owner.
What are the Types of Damages You Can Seek Compensation For in a Motorcycle Accident in Florida?
After getting involved in a motorcycle accident, you may try figuring out whether you have a legal claim. You’re entitled to seek the claim if someone else injured you and there were damages involved in the incident. In the next step, try figuring out how much your claim is worth. In Florida, the terms “economic damages” and “non-economic damages” are used to refer to the sum of money needed to restore you to your normal state.
Examples of economic damages are out-of-pocket costs, estimated current and future medical expenses and lost earning capacity. Others include property damage and lost income. Non-economic damages may consist of the inability to enjoy life, inconvenience, emotional distress, mental anguish and loss of a spousal relationship.
Besides economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages can suffice in your case. Though there rarely awarded in personal injury incidents in Florida, they are meant to punish parties that are at fault. Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a) highlights that the timeframe for seeking damages for actions founded on negligence is four years. The punitive damages you can request for a personal injury case should equal to $500,000 in value or three times the cost of economic/non-economic damages.
Do You Have a Legal Claim After Your Motorcycle Accident?
The first thing to find out from your personal injury lawyer is whether you have a legal case after your motorcycle accident. Your attorney may base your claim on negligence if you were injured in any way or the other party acted in violation of a law or in a careless way. The case can also be substantial if the other party's actions lead to your injuries.
Expect your lawyer to go over the facts of the case with you to determine the nature of the case and whether it can allow you to collect damages. Your motorcycle accident case has different elements with each having many sub-elements. Your lawyer should establish each element by relying on the information you share.
How Much is Your Injury Worth?
When someone else’s negligence lead to your injuries, you have to know the amount of money you’ll receive as compensation. Calculating the damages by yourself can be overwhelming when you’re still healing from your injuries. You’ll also find it challenging to calculate the amount as you check in and out of the hospital.
Also known as a shared fault, comparative negligence is a factor used to estimate the percentages at which both parties involved in an accident are at fault. This percentage helps calculate the non-economic, economic and punitive damages. Your lawyer will use a formula known as "the multiplier" to calculate the losses. The following factors determine your settlement amount:
- How severe your injuries appear
- Doctor’s prognosis
- The medical treatment you sought
- Expenses you expect to incur on treatment
- Effects of the accident on your daily life
- Permanent effects (if there’s any) of the accident
As your lawyer argues for a higher amount, the insurance adjuster may argue for a lower amount. The insurance adjuster has to determine the extent of liability by inspecting the damages, consulting hospital records and the police and interviewing you and the witnesses. The amount may be increased for more severe injuries and cases of permanent disability.
Basing the Damages on Your Degree of Fault and the Accident Scene
The State of Florida follows a negligence recovery system that allows your settlement to be reduced based on the degree of fault you had in the motorcycle accident. This system is highlighted under Florida Statute 768.81. Using this formula, expect a percentage of fault assigned to you during your settlement negotiations unless you were involved in a rear-end collision.
Florida State 768.81(1) highlights the definitions for the terms “accident”, “economic damages”, “negligence action” and “products liability action”. The term “accident” refers to the actions and evidence that relate to an incident and actions that relate to an alleged injury or defect. “Economic damages” refer to any economic loss that occurred as a result of an injury while “negligence action” refers to a civil action, based on a negligence theory, for a civil action. For a "products liability action," a civil action has to be based on nuisance, breach of warranty, negligence or strict liability.
Your lawyer should be involved when your degree of fault in a motorcycle accident is being determined. Under Florida Statute 768.81(3), a court should rule against you and the other party on the basis of your percentage of fault rather than your joint liability. It’s also common for the defendant to point the blame to a non-party by filing a motion or challenging the defenses presented by your lawyer. A non-party, in this case, refers to an individual or corporation that wasn’t directly involved in the accident.
Is Insurance a Necessity for Motorcycle Riders in Florida?
The DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) doesn’t require you to have insurance when registering your motorcycle. However, you’ll be financially responsible for the property damage and bodily injuries inflicted on others if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident. You have to purchase a property damage liability insurance or bodily injury liability insurance if none was in effect. Failing to buy liability coverage will result in having your registration, tag or license suspended by the DHSMV.
It would be best if you ask your insurer about carrying passengers in your motorcycle to know whether your policy covers any passengers. Note that the Florida law doesn’t give an age limit for motorcycle passengers. However, you and your passengers will be required to wear eye protection for safety reasons. You may also be prosecuted for endangering a minor if recklessly drove your bike with a child on board.
Purchasing Liability Insurance
Consider contacting a licensed insurance broker before purchasing any insurance policy for your motorcycle. This expert will explain to you procedures for getting the coverage and conditions you must meet. Under Florida's No-Fault Law, you’ll have a No-fault insurance policy cover incidents that didn’t result in bodily injuries. The minimum coverage will be $10,000 per crash/person in personal injury protection and $10,000 per crash involving property damage.
The Florida DHSMV mandates motorists to follow specific minimum liability coverage requirements if they're carrying passengers. The coverage should be $10,000 for a one-person bodily injury liability and $20,000 for multiple (two or more) people in bodily injury liability. The policy for a crash resulting in property damage should be $10,000. The amount can be $30,000 for combined single limits.
How to Establish Financial Responsibility
In Florida, you can establish financial responsibility for your motorcycle in various ways. You may consider buying insurance coverage for the bike or ask the Bureau of Financial Responsibility for a Financial Responsibility Certificate. To get the certificate, you’ll have to enlist a state-licensed company to pot surety bond and deposit securities or cash with the DHSMV. The Bureau of Financial Responsibility can also issue you a Self-Insurance Certificate for you to establish financial responsibility for your bike.
The Florida DHSMV may suspend your license plates, registration, and driving license if you don't have a valid insurance proof. You may also be mandated to pay reinstatement fees ranging from $150 to $500. It’s always a good idea to contact the DHSMV office if you fail to establish financial responsibility for your bike.
Why Would You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida for Your Motorcycle Accident Case?
A personal injury lawyer can help you make an insurance claim for a motorcycle accident. Without legal help, you may find yourself giving out information that may incriminate you or make you lose the settlement. Having an attorney by your side helps to dispel any fears or worries you may have on how to claim damages for your injuries.
Meeting With the Personal Injury Attorney
When meeting a personal injury lawyer, you should carry all medical information, insurance information, photos/videos and copies of police or other reports. Your medical information may include treatment/diagnosis reports, medical bills, name and address of hospital/ambulance service and list of your current prescriptions. The lawyer will also expect you to bring W2 or other forms detailing lost work or wages.
Be prepared to explain the kind of injuries you’re currently dealing with and your current medical condition. Let the lawyer know the people or corporations (including your insurance company) you talked to regarding the accident and the information you shared with them. It would help if you also prepared to specify your insurance coverage, the effects of the accident on your life and the doctor's prognosis.
What Questions Should You Expect a Personal Injury Attorney to Ask You?
Getting in a motorcycle accident can bring traumatic experiences to you. It’s common to find it difficult to provide some details of the incident. Since your attorney will require this information to evaluate your case, ensure that you’re in a good state of mind during your consultation meeting. Expect your lawyer to ask you the following questions:
- Which type of injuries are you coping with and how much pain are you feeling now? (Keeping a post-accident journal can help you respond to this question.)
- Did you visit a doctor and what prognosis did you get? (If you didn’t see a doctor, the lawyer will encourage you to visit one to get a prognosis of your injuries)
- Have you spoken to any other insurance representatives or lawyers about the incident and what information did you share with them?
- What kind of medical and auto insurance policy do you have? (Have the policy details at hand.)
- Have you issued your insurer a recorded statement about the incident or your injuries?
- Were you working as an employee at the time of the accident? How long have you been working? What's your occupation?
- Have you been involved in other accidents before?
- Did you receive any lien claim notices? (If so, carry the lien notices to the consultation meeting)
How Your Personal Injury Lawyer Will Organize Your Motorcycle Accident Case
Keeping track of all processes involved in a personal injury case can be challenging. Expect your personal injury attorney to adopt a streamlined approach for this endeavor. The end goal is to establish credibility, ensure your satisfaction and enable successful case resolutions. After building a personal rapport with you in the consultation meeting, here are some of the ways the legal expert will organize your case.
- Obtain Copies of Your Insurance Cards
You should give your attorney copies of auto or health insurance cards including Medicaid or Medicare. The legal counsel will need these copies during discovery, which involves obtaining evidence from both parties in a civil lawsuit. The copies are essential when you’re having issues with your auto or health coverage.
- Explain the Legal Process and Their Duties
Your lawyer will send you follow-up letters explaining their responsibilities in your case. The messages will update you on any developments or changes. The lawyer will also keep and give you additional documents or records resulting from the accident.
- Notify the 3rd Party’s Insurer and Your Insurer
Personal injury lawyers have a legal mandate to send letters of representation to a third party's insurer and a client's insurer along with an authorization signed by the client. The messages focus on advising the insurance companies that they are required to pay your medical bills or reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses. The letter should include the claim number, policy number, your name, name of the third party and actual date of the accident to make the request valid.
- Contact Reliable Witnesses
Witnesses may have a fresh memory of your accident if your lawyer contacts them in time. Their statements can help determine whether your case has certain challenges or inconsistencies that should be addressed. Your attorney may enlist an investigator’s help to get recorded statements from the witnesses.
Get Legal Help on Your Motorcycle Accident Case from a Lawyer Near Me
Under Florida’s personal injury laws, anyone injured as a result of a motorcycle accident can press charges against the party that caused the crash. Family members that lost a loved one due to a motorcycle crash may also seek settlement for their loss. Discussing your case with a lawyer can improve your chances of getting compensation.
Allow Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, through its proficient lawyers, to help you get compensated for your injuries. We serve all clients in the Clay County, FL area, who are seeking legal representation on motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and auto accidents. Get a free case evaluation from us by calling our motorcycle accident attorney at 904-494-8242 today.