Issues Unique to Motorcycle Accident CasesDecember 27, 2016 | Category: Motorcycle Accidents | Share
The state of Florida is a rather dangerous place to be a motorcyclist, relatively speaking. Motorcycle accidents contribute to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in the state every year (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 19% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state are suffered by motorcyclists, despite making up a much smaller percentage of total motorists), and in fact, Florida leads all other states in motorcycle fatalities. Worse still, motorcycle fatalities have been increasing in Florida year-on-year, while other states have seen declines over the same period.
Thus, as a motorcyclist in the state of Florida, a personal injury incident is something you should be prepared for.
One common misconception among both riders and non-riders is the idea that motorcycle accident cases are much the same as car or truck accident cases. Though there are some similarities, motorcycle accident lawsuits are complicated by a number of unique factors.
The following is a non-exhaustive list.
Continued Negative Perception of Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists tend to be perceived negatively when it comes to litigating a personal injury lawsuit. Statistically, motorcyclists are much more likely to be involved in an accident causing serious injuries or death, and in combination with the continued mainstream perception of bikers as “daredevils,” this perception can have wide-ranging effects on the potential success of a motorcycle accident case.
Your attorney must work to combat the negative perception of bikers at trial. If the jury has a bias against you, they may question the credibility of evidence in your favor, may be less generous in deciding a damage award, and more.
Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that each party is liable for the percentage of the total fault it contributed. In other words, if a plaintiff-motorcyclist gets into an accident and the defendant is only 80% at-fault (and the plaintiff is 20% at-fault), then the damages will be reduced accordingly. In motorcycle accident cases, the defendant may be more aggressive in attributing more fault to the plaintiff-motorcyclist, as it falls in line with societal expectations of biker behavior.
Safety Gear Use is Inconsistent
In Florida, only motorcyclists under the age of 21 are require to wear a helmet while riding. Motorcyclists over the age of 21 are not required to wear a helmet, but they must carry a minimum of $10k in health insurance to absorb the additional risk.
As Florida law does not require that most motorcyclists wear a helmet or other safety gear, a motorcyclist may contribute substantially to the total fault for their accident despite acting within the bounds of the law. For example, if you do not wear a helmet while riding and are injured by a car, the defendant will investigate whether the injuries could have been avoided had you worn a helmet, and to what extent they could have been avoided. Depending on the purported value of the safety gear, this may significantly affect the damages you are entitled to recover.
Injuries Tend to be More Serious
Injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident are often more serious than those sustained in a car or truck accident. As a result, motorcycle accident lawsuits may involve the assertion of a wide range of damage claims (i.e., wage loss, loss of earning capacity, permanent disability, etc.).
Tricks Regulated by Florida Law
Certain recreational maneuvers – like wheelies – are regulated by Florida law and constitute a moving violation. Though exceptions are made for uncontrollable loss of wheel-to-road contact, the existence of such regulation may be used by the defendant to complicate your lawsuit and make it more difficult to present a focused claim.
Health Insurance Issues
In Florida, motorcyclists are unable to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. As such, you should make sure that you have adequate health insurance coverage so that you can afford treatment for your injuries (which will be paid for through the damages recovered from the defendant, if you settle or win the case). Alternatively, in the aftermath of your accident, you may need to seek out medical professionals who are willing to provide treatment on credit.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Randall Spivey to connect with a skilled Fort Myers personal injury lawyer at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. We will provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options under the law.