The State of Florida ranks second in the number of registered motorcyclists in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also the leading state in the country in the number of deadly motorcycle accidents every year, with the main cause being impaired driving. Unfortunately, cases of drug-impaired driving have risen in Florida, especially with the current opioid epidemic. The negligence of a drunk driver exposes motorcyclists and all other road users to the danger of being fatally or severely injured.
While Florida has a lot to offer you as a motorcyclist, you should, at all times, know what risks of harm you face while on the road and what actions you should take if involved in a drug-related motorcycle accident. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney is here to help anyone that has sustained an injury due to an accident caused by a drug-impaired driver.
Drug-related motorcycle crashes happen when a driver or a motorcyclist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As per the laws of Florida, it is unlawful to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle while intoxicated with a drug, or any controlled substance, or other harmful chemicals to the extent that your normal abilities to drive properly are impaired (Fla. Stat. 316.193). Apart from being held responsible and paying compensation to the injured victim, the party at fault also risks criminal charges where he/she can be subjected to jail or prison time and court fines.
However, despite all these consequences, it’s not uncommon for drivers to violate this law and place motorcyclists and other road users at risk of accidents. Common drugs and controlled substances in the State of Florida include:
- Prescription drugs
When a motorist drives while intoxicated with a prescription or illegal drugs, his/her judgment and time to react become impaired. Additionally, if a driver drives while impaired with drugs, he/she may drive erratically or fall asleep at the wheel, resulting in accidents.
A driver or motorcyclist is said to be intoxicated with alcohol if his/her BAC is higher than 0.8%. Apart from an impaired motorist hitting a motorcyclist, a motorcyclist riding while intoxicated can hit a pedestrian, collide into another person’s car or damage property. In a case like this, the injured party may sue the motorcyclist for compensation.
When a drug-related motorcycle accident happens, the police officers will record the Blood Alcohol Content of the driver, license number, and witness statements. These reports can be helpful when proving in court that the driver was intoxicated, causing an accident that led to your injuries.
Other Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Apart from drug-impaired driving, there are also other causes of motorcycle crashes that a motorcyclist should be aware of. They include the following.
Left-turning vehicles. Vehicles that make a left turn right in front of a motorcycle contribute to motorcycle accidents. If a motorist cuts off a motorcyclist and tries to turn when there is no right of way, it will lead to a crash. Additionally, the driver might not look out for oncoming motorcyclists before making a turn. Other drivers simply fail to adhere to laws regarding the right of way and traffic lights. Sudden left turns by cars could result in severe injuries to motorcyclists.
Switching Lanes. Before switching lanes, a driver should ensure that the lanes are clear. Sadly, most drivers do not look out before they switch lanes, and motorcyclists are usually the victims of this mistake. Even though motorcycles are smaller than cars, every motorcyclist has the full protection of the law. In case you get hit by a driver that was changing lanes, you may be eligible for financial compensation provided for in personal injury laws of the State of Florida.
Head-on collisions. Several motorcycle accidents happen when motorcyclists collide head-on with other cars. A head-on collision throws a motorcyclist from the car. When this happens, the motorcyclist could hit another vehicle, the pavement, or a tree.
Weaving through traffic and lane splitting. A Florida motorcyclist has a right to use lanes fully just like motorists. Lane splitting may lead to a motorcycle accident due to the proximity of cars and other motorcycles. Additionally, motorcyclists are prohibited from weaving between lanes of non-moving traffic. Therefore, when traffic is stop-and-go, motorists do not expect motorcycles to overtake them suddenly. An accident that occurs due to a motorcyclist weaving through slower or stopped traffic is often due to the negligence of the motorcyclist. Motorcyclists can avoid this by always using their lane and following traffic rules.
Speeding. Whether it is the motorist speeding or the motorcyclist, it can result in a motorcycle accident. Not only does speeding increase the chances of an accident happening, but it also makes the accident more severe than it would have been at normal speeds. Speeding makes it difficult to control the vehicle or motorcycle, and even harder to make a corner.
Sudden stops. The moment a vehicle in front of a motorcyclist makes a sudden stop, the motorcyclist may rear-end that vehicle, which results in a collision. As a result, the motorcyclist can be thrown off his/her motorcycle because of the force of braking. This may lead to severe injuries and sometimes even death.
Road Hazards. Hazardous road conditions are dangerous mainly for motorcyclists since motorcycles can’t navigate through large cracks, potholes, uneven pavement, gravel, or larger vehicles. If a motorcyclist hits any of the hazards, he/she may lose control resulting in an accident.
Types of Injuries You Can Sustain in a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle crashes can be severe due to the risky manner the motorist is operating the vehicle. Additionally, motorcyclists aren’t physically protected the same way motorists are, and this makes them susceptible to sustain serious injuries in case of a collision. There are several injuries a motorcyclist can sustain when he or she gets in a road crash. They include:
Head and Neck Injuries. A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is very common in motorcycle accident victims. An injury to the brain might happen when the head hits onto a very hard surface, for example, another car or the pavement. Skullbone might not fracture, but the delicate brain tissues may get jostled around on the inside resulting in a concussion or internal bleeding. These injuries may cause permanent damage to the brain or even death if it is not treated.
Broken Bones. If involved in a motorcycle accident, the chances that you will have broken bones are high. In traumatic accidents, bones may crack, shatter, or split. Broken bones occur due to the impact of the motor vehicle itself, the impact of the motorcycle when it lands on you, and due to the flying and hitting the road with high force.
Finger, hand, and arm injuries. When a motorcyclist extends his/her arms and hands when he/she is about to fall due to a collision, it almost always results in injuries. Injuries to the arm include broken ulna bones or radius. The small bones in the fingers and hands can also be broken easily.
Neurological injuries. When the nerves in your nervous system are damaged during a crash, you will experience pain and other discomforts, which include numbness, weakness, or tingling around the place that is affected. Among the affected organs are the spinal cord and brain. The spinal cord may bend, dislocate, rotate, or hyper-flex, leading to life changes like paralysis.
Soft tissue injuries. Soft tissues include muscles, cartilage, tendons, skin, blood vessels, fat, and all other tissues that support, surround, and connect your organs and bones. Even though soft tissues may be capable of healing themselves if involved in a serious motorcycle accident, you could still sustain long-lasting injuries.
Disfigurement. The moment a motorcyclist is thrown off the motorcycle, he/she runs the risk of sustaining permanent scarring on the face, especially if he/she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Sometimes the only way to resolve permanent scarring is through plastic surgery.
Holding Drug-Impaired Drivers Liable
Drug-related motorcycle crashes often lead to fatal or catastrophic injuries. Thus, it is only fair that the party at-fault takes full responsibility for his/her action. You can compel the driver that caused the accident to compensate you by filing a personal injury claim. You should consult an attorney before filing this claim since he /she would know what factors to consider that would build a strong case. With an attorney, you will also know what to do to ensure you get maximum compensation.
Providing proof is important to a drug-related motorcycle accident claim. The main reason a drunk driver would cause a motorcycle accident is the lack of timely awareness of the motorcyclist. This is because when a motorist is intoxicated, his/her ability to react or maneuver quickly is impaired.
A proof that the driver was intoxicated may not be readily available to you once you are involved in a drunk-driving accident. Thus, you may need the help of a personal injury attorney to obtain proper records of the accident. It’s important that you file your personal injury claim with the proof of the blood alcohol content of the driver as per the police report. Note that you can also file a wrongful death claim in case the accident caused the death of your family member.
Another proof that you may need to substantiate your claim is any drunk driving criminal charges against the driver. In most cases, civil cases for deaths or injuries resulting from accidents caused by drunk drivers are an addition to DUI criminal court cases against the driver.
In a criminal DUI case, you may be called in to testify that the motorist was indeed drunk while driving. The results obtained in the criminal court case may have a huge impact on your personal injury claim. A guilty verdict can be important proof in your civil case.
Damages You Can Recover
When you sustain injuries in a drug-related motorcycle accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Generally, the kind of compensation you receive is categorized into two: non-economic and economic damages.
Economic damages are the actual financial losses you went through because of your injuries. They include:
Lost wages. During the period you are recovering from the injuries, you might spend days, weeks, or months without going to work. If your sick days are not paid for, it means you are losing the money you would have earned if it were not for the injury. The liable party may be held responsible for compensating your income the moment you file a compensation claim. The amount you will be compensated depends on the extent of your injuries.
Medical bills. The party responsible for your injuries may be ordered to pay for all your treatment expenses, both past, and future expenses. This includes medication costs, surgery, rehabilitation, or therapy you undergo. The compensation may be greater if you require long-lasting medical attention.
Property damage. If your motorcycle or any other property is damaged during the accident, the at-fault driver will be required to compensate you for the damage. Usually, the insurance provider of the driver will offer you a settlement for the damaged motorcycle. The compensation is to pay for reconstruction, repairs, or buy a new bike.
Loss of earning ability. You will be compensated for the loss of earning ability in case the accident led to a permanent disability that affects your general capability of competing in the job market. Additionally, the accident may limit the kind of tasks you can perform, which means your productivity would go down. Your attorney should negotiate on favorable terms so that you recover fair damages for the loss.
On the other hand, economic damages are intended to compensate for the non-financial losses you incurred. They include:
Pain and suffering. All the pain the injuries cause you and the struggles you go through while recovering represent the adverse effects of motorcycle accidents. Pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify. That is why, when you see a doctor, you should give a detailed description of the pain you feel. Also, you may keep a daily record of your recovery process in your journal, which you can present in court as proof.
Emotional distress. Emotional distress is the anxiety or depression you go through due to the injuries you sustain. For example, in case you are bed-ridden for months, you might have to struggle with the restriction of your daily activities as well as your normal schedule. The driver at fault may be required to compensate you for all the inconveniences and emotional torture.
Loss of enjoyment of life. A severe motorcycle accident may cause you never to enjoy life as you used to. For instance, you may not do your normal activities as you used to, and your relationship with family and friends can also be cut out while you recover. With an experienced attorney, you can make a claim to be compensated for missing on your activities and not associating with loved ones.
Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is awarded in a wrongful death claim. In case your spouse dies due to injuries resulting in a drug-related motorcycle accident, you may seek to recover damages for loss of companionship. Other damages recovered in a wrongful death claim include burial expenses, medical costs from the time of the injury to the time of death, funeral costs, etc.
Apart from non-economic and economic damages, a drug-related motorcycle accident victim can also recover punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the drunk driver for his/her negligence and misconduct that led to the accident, to discourage the same action from other drivers. For these damages to be awarded, you must prove that the driver acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
For instance, if you can prove that the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence, you may be awarded punitive damages. It is uncommon for these damages to be awarded. However, if they are, their value is normally three times the total of non-economic and economic damages, or $500,000, whichever is higher.
Dealing With the Insurance Company After a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident
If you get in a drug-related motorcycle accident, you have first to seek medical attention to find out what injuries you have sustained. The medical report is important since it will help you when filing your personal injury claim. Also, the report is important as it eliminates the chances of the insurance provider denying your claim. If you don’t have a doctor’s report, the insurance company may allege that the injuries are not as serious as you claim, or they are not as a result of the accident.
After seeking medical attention, you can reach out to the insurance company of the party at-fault to seek compensation for your injuries. You should have an experienced attorney by your side who can effectively negotiate with the insurance company of the party at-fault for a fair settlement for your injuries.
The insurance adjuster from the insurance company of the at-fault party may propose an offer to compensate for the damages and settle the case quickly to avoid a civil lawsuit. Keep in mind that the main aim of insurance companies is to make profits. Thus, they will negotiate to settle on as little compensation as possible.
If they are offering too little, you can always turn down the offer and proceed to file a personal injury claim against the party at fault. Your attorney can advise you if what the company is offering is worth your injuries or if you should decline it. When you accept the offer from the insurance company, however little it may be, you forfeit the chance to file the claim, which would have compelled the insurance company to award more money in case you win the case.
While calculating how much to award you, the insurance adjuster takes into account the type of injuries, actual medical expenses, your pain and suffering, and damage to property. After calculating these amounts, he/she then decides on the maximum amount the company is willing to award. The adjuster then places the company’s offer at or below 25%, which gives room for negotiation.
Your attorney can help you gather the relevant proof, which includes police reports, witness statements, and medical records to show that the accident resulted in the injuries for which you are seeking compensation. Additionally, the attorney will evaluate your damages as well as their value and come up with a rough estimation of what you could settle for.
Your attorney can then negotiate with the insurance adjuster to try and get a better settlement offer on your behalf. If the adjuster is unwilling to increase the amount, your lawyer can proceed to file a civil lawsuit. The court will then determine the appropriate amount that you will be awarded as compensation.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Drug-Related Motorcycle Accident Personal Injury Claim
Every State has its time limits for filing a personal injury claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations is four years. The period is counted from the date you had your motorcycle accident. If it is your loved one that succumbed to injuries caused by accident, then you have two years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death claim.
You should file the claim on time, failure to which you may be permanently barred from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Find a Clay County Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Near Me
A drug-related motorcycle accident lawsuit is a complicated case. You will need the help of an experienced and professional personal injury attorney to fight your case and get the compensation you deserve. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we have, for many years, helped Clay County residents get fair compensation for injuries sustained in accidents caused by drug-impaired drivers. We will also help you file a personal injury claim and fight your case to the end. Call us at 904-494-8242 to talk to our attorneys and get the help you need.