Aggressive drivers are dangerous, and they pose a serious threat to all other drivers on Florida roadways – especially moped and motorcycle operators and passengers.
When aggressive drivers collide with mopeds or motorcycles, serious and catastrophic injuries may result. This is because motorcycle operators and passengers are directly exposed to the ground and to everything else around them. Their bodies have little protective covering other than their helmets, which offer only limited protection. A hard impact that occurs at a high rate of speed may cause a motorcycle operator and any passengers to be thrown from the bike and sustain serious injuries that can result in permanent impairment.
If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident that resulted from someone else's negligence, our compassionate and experienced motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help. Our attorneys can help you maximize the value of your personal injury case and obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under the law.
Aggressive Driving Causes Motorcycle Accidents
Our modern society is very mobile, and thanks (in part) to Florida superhighways and thoroughfares, aggressive driving1 has, unfortunately, become commonplace. Although many types of carelessness and negligence can constitute aggressive driving, some of the more common types of aggressive and dangerous driving on Florida roadways include the following:
- Changing lanes too quickly or weaving in and out of traffic
- Following too closely (i.e. tailgating)
- Failing to use a turn signal when executing a turn
- Exceeding posted speed limits
- Engaging in distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving or making cell phone calls without using a hands-free option)
- Drunk or impaired driving
- Fatigued driving
When motor vehicle drivers engage in these types of aggressive, reckless, or careless driving activities, they pose a risk to everyone else around them on the roadway – especially to motorcyclists and their passengers. As such, these reckless and careless drivers may be held accountable to innocent accident victims under Florida law.
Types of Aggressive Driving
In today's increasingly mobile society, aggressive driving,1 unfortunately, has become commonplace. Aggressive driving can take many forms. Some of the most common examples of aggressive and careless driving on roadways and highways today include the following:
- Quick or careless lane changes
- Failing to use a turn signal for lane changes
- Excessive speeding
- Excessively or unnecessarily honking a horn or flashing lights
- Making rude comments, threats, or obscene gestures to other drivers
- Displaying a weapon to threaten another driver
- Following a driver off the highway
When motor vehicle drivers engage in any of these activities while on the roadway, they create the perfect storm for accidents with other drivers, including motorcyclists. This type of behavior is viewed as negligent and, in some cases, criminal.
All motor vehicle drivers have a duty under Florida law to drive their vehicles in a reasonably safe and careful manner – and to operate their vehicles as a reasonably prudent driver would operate a vehicle under the same or similar circumstances. This is a technical way of saying that drivers have a duty to drive carefully and obey all Florida traffic laws2 and regulations while operating their vehicles on Florida roadways.
In order to recover damages for personal injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident that was caused by an aggressive driver, the injured victim must prove that the aggressive driver breached the applicable standard of care – or that he or she drove in a reckless, careless, or aggressive manner for the road conditions then-and-there existing.
The injured victim must also prove that the driver's breach of the applicable standard of care proximately resulted in injuries and damages. The injuries and damages may be economic (such as for payment of medical bills and lost wages) or noneconomic (such as monetary compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress).
In addition to the aggressive driver of the motor vehicle, the injured victim may also have a legal cause of action against the owner of the vehicle (if that person is different from the driver), based on an agency theory of recovery.
Common Types of Injuries and Damages Sustained in High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle is no match for a high-speed car or truck that collides with it, especially in cases where the driver of that other vehicle is driving aggressively or not paying proper attention to the roadway in front of him or her. When these accidents occur, serious – and potentially catastrophic – personal injuries may result. While small-scale motor vehicle accidents and fender benders often bring about soft tissue and other minor injuries, motorcycle accidents caused by aggressive drivers typically result in the following types of serious personal injuries and damages:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Cuts, abrasions, and scarring (especially facial scarring)
As part of a personal injury case, an injured plaintiff motorcyclist (or motorcycle passenger) must prove that the driver's negligence and breach of the applicable standard of care resulted in injuries and damages. An injured plaintiff may be able to recover some or all of the following types of economic and non-economic damages against an aggressive driver in a Florida motorcycle accident case:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Physical therapy costs
- Lost wages for time missed from work for injury treatment and recovery
- Past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Past, present, and future mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity (in cases of permanent injuries and damages)
- Loss of consortium or spousal support
Aggressive Driving in FloridaThere seems to be a recent surge in videos, posted to YouTube and Facebook, that show motorcyclists involved in road rage incidents. Most show drivers of vehicles swerving at, or otherwise endangering, the lives of the motorcyclists. Some show riders pulling up next to a car to remind them not to text and drive, and then some nasty words are exchanged. Whether there is a spike in these kinds of incidents or action cams have just made them more visible, is not clear, but what is clear is that it happens a lot and can have dangerous consequences.
In Miami, Florida a video recorded by the helmet cam of a motorcycle rider, shows a motorist swerving into his lane, speeding up and then slamming on his brakes, and following him for miles, despite his desperate attempts to get out of the way. The driver claims that he pursued the motorcyclist because he had broken his side-view mirror and wanted his license plate number. From the video, it is clear he wanted more than just his information; he clearly wanted to hurt the rider. The incident occurred this past April. The man on the motorcycle, who is only identified as Roni, does not exactly make such smart moves himself. In an attempt to get away from the crazed motorist, he rides at high speeds, sometimes into oncoming traffic. He admits that was stupid but said he is not an experienced rider and was desperate to save his own life. The video can be seen here.
Closer to home, this past weekend, a man was ejected from his bike after a confrontation with a motorist, this time during a memorial ride for another fallen bike enthusiast. Reports conflict, but it is clear that the motorist turned around so that he was heading towards the biker. The motorcyclist was identified as Craig David Devine, 27, of Daytona Beach. He died from his injuries. Devine was riding with a group of 30 or 40 other bikers. Some witnesses say that others in the group were driving dangerously along the bridge connecting mainland with beachside, but not Devine. That group then pursued the motorist at speed up to 100 MPH, according to reports. This is thought to have provoked the driver. After the incident, the driver of the perpetrating light blue BMW and another person fled from the vehicle. They are yet to be apprehended, but police did take one female passenger into custody. A memorial was held Sunday at the location of the crime and a future memorial ride is being planned. The news story can be seen here.
Here in our home area, a video went viral of a person running over a motorcycle with two passengers while stopped. In the video, you can clearly see the car drive up and over the motorcycle, knocking the male and female passengers over and off onto the pavement. It is clear they barely escaped grave injury. The incident is reported to have happened after the motorcyclist confronted the driver for cutting him off in traffic. This incident happened in May of this year. The driver of the car was identified as 31-year-old Robert Vance. He has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated battery (perhaps with a deadly weapon). The video can be seen here.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
In the majority of motorcycle accident personal injury cases, the insurance companies hold the purse strings. In other words, when you file a claim or a lawsuit against the negligent and aggressive driver of a motor vehicle, that driver's insurance company funds the settlement as well as the defendant's legal representation. Generally speaking, insurance companies are not on your side.
In some motorcycle accident cases, insurance companies even try to deny liability altogether. In others, the insurance company may try to settle your case for an amount that is far less than what your case is worth. This is because the insurance company does not care about making you whole. Rather, the insurance company's primary goal is to pay out as little money as possible. As a result, in a motorcycle or motor vehicle accident case, you should never accept the initial offer that an insurance company's adjuster places on the table.
An experienced Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney will be able to speak with you about the facts and circumstances of your case, negotiate with the defendant's insurance company on your behalf, and assist you with maximizing the value of your personal injury case. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with our personal injury attorneys, please call us or contact us online.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900
1 Speed and Aggressive Driving