High Motorcycle Accident Risk and Safe Riders
As a motorcyclist, you can take the training classes, wear the right gear, avoid riding in poor weather, and obey all traffic and safety laws – what you cannot do, however, is control the other drivers on the road. Not all drivers are careful about sharing the road with riders and some drivers may even become nervous around motorcycle operators and make errors on the road. Further, poor road maintenance can also lead to serious, if not fatal, motorcycle accidents without any fault on the part of the rider. If you operate your motorcycle safely and still suffered a life-altering injury, a Florida personal injury and motorcycle attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Florida Motorcycle Laws
It should be noted that Florida law grants motorcyclists the same right to use public roads and highways as drivers of traditional motor vehicles, but riders may not overtake and pass a vehicle when it is in the same lane occupied by that vehicle, they may not operate between lanes of traffic, and they may not operate side-by-side in the same lane. Although these behaviors are permitted in some states and are especially tempting in heavy traffic, they are illegal and dangerous to both riders and drivers.
Under Florida’s helmet law, motorcyclists over the age of 21 have the option of forgoing protective headgear if they maintain personal injury coverage of at least $10,000. They are, however, required to wear protective eye gear. Riders under the age of 21, however, are required to wear headgear that complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standards, which means that the helmet has to be designed for motorcycle riders. Bicycle, soft, flight, military, and sports helmets are not approved for use with a motorcycle. Although you can’t always prevent a serious motorcycle accident, you can take precautions to minimize your injuries, including wearing a helmet even when the law doesn’t require it.
Motorcycle Safety Gear
Safety agencies and motorcycle organizations alike recommend riders wear the following gear in order to prevent injury:
Eye and Face Protection: Can be included with the helmet or stand alone, but should be made from shatterproof plastic.
Jacket: Should fit snugly but allow freedom of movement, and it should be made from either leather or strong synthetic material. Purchasing a jacket designed for motorcycle use is recommended, as they are made to be worn in all weather.
Pants: Should be worn in all weather and cover your legs completely.
Boots: Should be high and sturdy so that your ankles are covered, but heels should be short and soles should be sturdy and made from slip-resistant materials. It is also a good idea to find boots without laces to ensure they do not catch in gears and components
Gloves: Should be made of leather or another type of breathable, durable material and allow for a strong and flexible grip.
Although utilizing this gear will help protect you from certain injuries, such as those sustained from loose debris, minor scrapes and burns, and head injuries, it is primarily designed to prevent injuries by keeping your vision clear, your body protected from wind and the elements, and your feet and hands from slipping. This gear will certainly help decrease your chances of suffering from preventable injuries but it is not likely to protect you from severe injury or death if you are in a crash as a result of another driver’s negligence.
Florida Comparative Negligence Law
As you can imagine, negligence is not always one-sided, but it can be. The attorney for the driver who injured you will almost always try to mitigate her client’s damages by claiming you contributed to the accident, so what are the rules on this in Florida? Florida follows what is known as a “pure comparative fault” system. Florida law states that “contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.” In other words, even if you were following all motorcycle riding laws, the other driver may claim you were speeding at the time of the accident, and the jury may find that you were 5% at fault of causing your own injuries. In this case, if the jury awarded you $100,000 for your injuries, you would only be entitled to collect $95,000 from the negligent driver, a five percent reduction.
Proving Driver Negligence
If you have followed all Florida laws and used all recommended safety gear, you will likely not be considered either at fault or comparatively negligent for the accident. There are generally two types of negligence claims in Florida: common law negligence and negligence per se, and when it comes to Florida car versus motorcycle accidents, both may be applicable. “Common law” negligence occurs when one person does not act in accordance with the reasonable standard of care expected of them on the road, such as following a motorcycle too closely. There are four elements of law that must be proven in order to show a driver was negligent, these are:
- Duty: The driver had a duty to operate his or her motor vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner;
- Breach: The driver failed to operate the vehicle in a safe, reasonable, or legal manner;
- Causation: As a result of the driver’s breach, you were involved in a motorcycle accident, and
- Damages: As a result of the accident, you sustained injuries or other compensable damage.
The second type of negligence, negligence per se, means that a driver is assumed negligent in a legal action because he or she violated Florida law and, as a result, caused your injuries. For example, if a driver was speeding and both her inattention to the road and violation of Florida speeding statutes caused the accident, then you have a claim for both common law negligence and negligence per se.
Contact a Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Even if you take every safety precaution as a rider, there is little substitute for the protection offered by traditional motor vehicles. Although riders are wise to protect themselves, as this may help prevent minor injuries, you still assume a substantial risk of injury while riding due to the negligence of other drivers. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is your premier motorcycle accident firm in the Clearwater area. Unlike many attorneys, they understand the risks and benefits associated with riding, and they are here to help responsible riders get the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/motorcycle-accident-attorneys/