Saturday, September 29, 2018

Recovering Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcyclists love fresh air in their faces, the freedom to pack little and travel far, and the camaraderie of fellow motorcyclists. But riding on a motorcycle in the city or on the open road can sometimes be dangerous.

Even when a rider is fully outfitted in safety gear, he or she is not as protected as a vehicle driver who has a crash-tested frame and airbags for protection. When collisions do occur, they can range from minor to severe, including death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016:

  • 5,286 motorcyclists were killed on U.S. roads
  • Motorcyclist fatalities occurred almost 28 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities.
  • Twenty-seven percent of motorcycle riders in fatal crashes were riding without valid motorcycle licenses.
  • Fatal motorcycle crashes involved drivers with the highest percentage of alcohol-impairment than other vehicle types.
  • Thirty-seven percent of motorcycle drivers who died in single-vehicle accidents were alcohol-impaired.
  • NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016, and 802 more lives would have been saved if all motorcyclists wore headgear.

After a motorcycle accident, the most critical first step is to assess whether anyone has been injured and to get them the medical assistance they need. But then what?

Call an experienced and knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney to assist in unraveling the cause of the mishap and identifying who was at fault. An attorney can also help the motorcycle driver protect his or her rights by counseling him on:

  • Whether to sign any documents or forms from insurance companies
  • How best to collect and retain records of medical and related expenses
  • When and how to collect other evidence about the accident and the rider’s injuries

Insurance Issues for Florida Motorcyclists

Even though Florida law requires the driver of any four-wheeled motor vehicle to carry “personal injury protection” (PIP) insurance, motorcycle riders are not subject to the same requirement. In other words, unlike car and truck drivers, motorcyclists can ride on Florida roads even though they have no insurance to cover their own or their passenger’s injuries. (Motorcycle drivers can purchase optional PIP coverage to cover their own and their passenger’s accident-related medical expenses.)

Motorcyclists do, however, have an obligation under Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law to carry insurance or prove they are able to “self-insure” for other people’s injuries and property damage in an accident in which the motorcyclist is at fault.

What all of this means is that in a motorcycle collision with a car or truck in which the bike rider suffers minor or moderate injuries, the car driver may be immune from paying for those injuries even if the driver is at fault. A motorcyclist or their passenger may still be able to sue a car or truck driver who is at fault, however, if their injuries are severe or result in death.

Determining Who Is At Fault

When it is possible for a motorcyclist or his passenger to pursue other parties for their injuries, there may be a variety of people and entities to go after. These may include:

  • The manufacturer of the motorcycle
  • The manufacturer of the vehicle of the other driver
  • The other driver
  • The public or private entity responsible for maintaining the road and keeping it safe
  • The manufacturer of the cyclist’s helmet
  • A parked vehicle’s driver who opens his door

An attorney who has represented clients in motorcycle cases can use that experience to identify the parties potentially responsible. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer also knows how to determine liability if more than one party is at fault.

Helmet Laws

Under Florida law, motorcyclists and their passengers ages 21 and older must either (a) wear an approved helmet at all times while riding or (b) carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance to cover their injuries if they’re hurt in a crash. Riders younger than 21 must wear a helmet at all times. This law does not apply to riders of motorcycles with engines of less than 50cc or that are not capable of traveling at more than 30 miles per hour.

Riders coming into Florida from out of state should know that state helmet laws vary considerably. Learn here about the helmet laws in the state(s) where you plan to ride.

It is especially important for bike riders to comply with helmet laws not just for their health and safety, but also because failing to comply with helmet laws can make it more difficult for riders to recover compensation for their catastrophic injuries.

Damages and Compensation

The compensation a motorcycle accident victim may recover from a responsible party after an accident varies depending upon the availability of insurance, the severity of the injury, and the circumstances of the accident. When the rider is partially (but not more than 50 percent) at fault, the liability of other parties at fault will be reduced by that amount.

Damages recoverable after a motorcycle accident can include:

  • Loss of wages due to being out of work recovering from injuries
  • Medical bills related to immediate and long-term care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Punitive damages (in limited cases)

An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help victims of motorcycle accidents determine what the range of damages and other compensation may be in their particular case. There is never any guarantee of a victim being able to recover compensation for injuries. But, the sooner a victim and/or the victim’s family is able to speak with a seasoned lawyer who knows the ins-and-outs of Florida motorcycle liability law, the better the chances the victim’s rights will be protected and responsible parties will be held to account.

Experienced North Miami Beach Motorcycle Accident Attorney

The North Miami Beach, Florida office of Sibley Dolman has helped motorcyclists who have suffered injuries in motorcycle accidents, as well as the families of motorcyclists who have tragically died in motorcycle accidents. We offer free consultations for victims of motorcycle accidents and their families, Calls us today at (305) 676-8154 or contact us online to discuss your situation with our experienced, committed, compassionate team.

Sibley Dolman
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162
(305) 676-8154

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