It’s no wonder people love to ride their motorcycles. Everyone loves the camaraderie, the sense of adventure, and the freedom of the open road. There are so many beautiful routes to enjoy in and around the Orlando area, and so many things to see and do. However, for some people, their dream ride quickly turns into a nightmare.
Across the United States, there were 5,172 motorcycle fatalities in 2017. Florida is one of the leading states in motorcycle fatalities. In 2017 there were 9,707 motorcycle crashes in Florida, with 515 fatalities, 7,725 injuries, 37 passenger fatalities, and 692 passenger injuries. There were 629 motorcycle crashes in Orange County, with 554 injuries and 18 fatalities.
In some ways, riding a motorcycle is different than driving a car. There are several types of motorcycles and each handles a little differently. But in general, riding safely takes balance, coordination, and awareness. Motorcycle accidents cause severe injuries that can change your life. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need experienced legal representation from the dedicated attorneys at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Many factors can contribute to any accident. In motorcycle accidents, some of the common factors include:
- Driving under the influence. Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is dangerous and it’s a crime. Driving under the influence is involved in approximately half of the motorcycle accidents. About 28 percent of the motorcyclists killed in 2017 were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Left turn accidents. Left turns are a risky maneuver. Because motorcycles are smaller vehicles, they often are not seen by a driver. In fact, 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car happen when cars are making left-hand turns.
- Speeding. We think of speeding as driving above the posted speed limit. However, it also may mean driving too fast for road conditions. Generally, the faster a driver is going, the more severe the accident injuries.
- Unsafe lane changes. Again, because motorcycles are smaller vehicles, a driver who does not check his or her blind spot or signal a lane change may not see the motorcycle in time to avoid an accident.
- Car doors. A driver seated in a parked car may fail to see an oncoming motorcycle and open the car door, hitting the motorcyclist.
- Lane splitting. This means driving between two lanes of traffic and it illegal in Florida. It is especially dangerous for inexperienced riders.
- Sudden stops. Following too closely or stopping abruptly may cause serious or fatal injuries to a motorcyclist.
- Inexperienced drivers. At first, new drivers may drive with extreme caution, but as time passes, they tend to make unsafe moves on the road that endanger themselves as well as motorists.
- Hazardous road conditions. Motorcyclists are more at risk from road hazards than other vehicles.
- Because they are smaller and less stable, potholes, debris, and irregularities or unexpected objects in the road can cause accidents.
- Type of motorcycle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that riders of supersport motorcycles, made for racing and modified for street use have driver fatality rates nearly four times higher than the fatality rates of those who drive other types of motorcycles.
- Motorcycle defects. When a defective component or motorcycle causes a motorcycle accident in Florida, the liability for the accident falls to the manufacturer of the component or the motorcycle.
- Collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects. When a motorcycle crashes into a fixed object, the motorcyclist is more likely to be thrown from the vehicle or suffer serious injuries.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcyclists do not have the protection of a car, so if they are involved in an accident, injuries tend to be more severe. A motorcyclist is 27 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a car. Major injuries may include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck, back or spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Leg or arm injuries
- Cuts, burns or abrasions
- Wrongful death
Motorcycle Laws in Florida
Florida law defines a motorcycle as a vehicle with not more than three wheels, which is powered by a motor, and it has a displacement of not more than 50 cubic centimeters. It also has a seat and saddle for the rider. All motorcyclists are required to carry insurance and obey traffic laws. Other topics addressed in the law include helmet requirements, equipment requirements, and rules for using the road.
To lawfully operate a motorcycle whose engine is larger than 50cc, Florida motorcycle drivers must have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. To obtain the endorsement, drivers must complete certain courses on safe riding. If a motorcyclist does not have a driver’s license, he or she will be licensed for motorcycles only.
Motorcycle insurance law is different in Florida than in other states and different from insurance laws for those who drive other vehicles. In Florida, if you drive a motor vehicle with four or more wheels, such as a car, you must carry personal injury protection (PIP). However, PIP is not available for motorcycle owners, even when the owner has PIP for another vehicle. A motorcycle owner is not required to carry insurance to register a motorcycle. However, if you operate a motorcycle, Florida law requires you to have some proof of financial responsibility and if you are involved in an accident, you must furnish your proof at that time.
The motorcycle owner is not required to carry insurance to register a motorcycle. However, the driver is held financially responsible for charges resulting from a motorcycle crash. For motorcycle owners, there are three financial responsibility options.
- Buy liability insurance from a licensed Florida insurance carrier. This is the most common method.
- Obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate. To do this, you post a surety bond, or deposit cash or securities with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Obtain a Self-Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility after providing evidence of a net encumbered capital.
A licensed insurance agent can provide information about insurance options available, but the minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance in Florida are as follows:
- $10,000 for one person for bodily injury liability;
- $20,000 for two or more people for bodily injury liability; and
- $10,000 per crash for property damage liability.
Even though a motorcycle owner is not required to carry insurance to register a motorcycle in Florida, if you have an accident and do not have insurance, you may face penalties, including:
- Loss of your driving privileges
- Suspension of your registration and tag
- Being required to purchase bodily injury/property damage liability coverage for three years
- Possible judgments against you in civil court.
- Helmet law: Motorcycle drivers over the age of 21 are not required to wear a helmet under Florida law provided they carry an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits
- Riding two abreast: Riding two abreast is permitted, and motorists are required to give riders a full lane.
- Lane splitting: Driving a motorcycle between lanes of vehicles is not permitted. Also, riders are not permitted to pass motorists using the same lane. Operating a motorcycle between lanes or rows of vehicles is prohibited.
- Wheelies: If the wheels lose contact with the ground while operating a motorcycle, it is considered a moving violation, unless conditions beyond the operator’s control cause the loss of contact.
- Headlights: Florida Statute 316.405 requires the use of a daytime headlight for all Florida riders.
- Turn signals and mirrors: All motorcycles must have at least one rearview mirror. The law also requires functioning turn signals.
- Eye protection: required by law under FL Statute 316.405.
- Handlebar height: Handlebars must not extend higher than the shoulders of the rider when seated on the motorcycle.
- Helmet speakers: Earphones are not allowed, but helmet speakers are permitted for purposes of communication.
Florida Motorcyclists Have the Right to the Full Use of the Road
Just like other drivers, Florida motorcyclists must obey the rules of the road. Motorcycle drivers must obey all traffic signals, and are not allowed to weave in and out of traffic. However, motorcycle riders are allowed to use hand signals for stopping, slowing, or turning. This makes the rider more visible when the motorcycle’s indicator lights are difficult to see. In addition to following the rules of the road, motorcycle drivers have the same rights to the road as other drivers. Other drivers must give you full use of a lane. Motorcyclists are not permitted to drive between lanes of vehicles, but they may ride two abreast with another motorcyclist.
Liability for Motorcycle Accidents
If a motorcyclist is injured in an accident in Florida due to someone’s carelessness, he or she may be entitled to compensation. To recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove negligence. Florida Civil Jury Instruction 401.4 defines negligence as follows:
“Negligence is doing something that a reasonably careful person would not do under like circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under like circumstances.”
The victim must prove that the other party is at fault for the crash. A negligent driver who did not cause the accident cannot be held responsible for the crash.
Unlike criminal cases, the standard of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” Essentially, this means only proving your injury “more likely than not” was caused by the other party’s negligence. Finally, to recover damages, you must prove any damages that resulted from the accident. Therefore, it is critical to obtain treatment for your injuries from a medical professional and keep all medical and financial records related to your injuries.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be entitled to receive compensation, also known as damages. Your damages may include:
- The cost of current and future medical care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Cost of household services, if, for example, your injuries mean you need to hire a lawn service or house cleaners while you recover; and
- Physical and mental or emotional pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or physical impairment
- loss of enjoyment of activities
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- In some cases, punitive damages
Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents in Orlando
As experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, we find that many people in the Orlando area have questions about motorcycle accidents. The attorney team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman offer answers to the questions we are asked most often, below.
These answers will provide some basic information, but remember that when someone is hurt in a motorcycle accident, hiring a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer is the best way to successfully pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
Were you hurt in a motorcycle accident in Orlando?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident in Orlando, there are legal professionals ready to answer your questions and support you in pursuing justice. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman leverage decades’ worth of combined experience to help our clients achieve legal results
Questions? With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman by phone, or you can reach out to us online to have us answer your questions through the web.
What factors make motorcycles dangerous?
Motorcycles are small and easy to maneuver. This is commonly seen as one of their greatest benefits, but it does also present some risks for riders. Standard vehicles all have enclosed spaces and safety features to protect occupants. Motorcycles are smaller and easier to move around on the road, but don’t afford much protection.
It can also be very difficult for other drivers to see a motorcycle, depending on the conditions. Motorcycles are small—they can be easily caught in blind spots or may not be easy to see in otherwise difficult conditions like fog or heavy rain.
Why is Orlando such a dangerous place for motorcyclists?
You may not know it, but Florida is amongst the most lethal states for motorcycle riders. There are a handful of reasons why, but, before we address them, we want to emphasize: nothing excuses other drivers’ dangerous or reckless behavior that puts motorcyclists at risk on the road.
Here are some of the other factors that make Florida’s roadways particularly dangerous for motorcycles:
- Florida does not have strict helmet laws, and helmets save lives.
- Florida is very large and has warm weather, making it the ideal place for motorcyclists. There are a lot of motorcycles on the road, which means more crashes.
- Distracted driving is on the rise. People drive while on cell phones, while they eat, and while they’re otherwise distracted in their vehicles. This puts motorcycle riders at risk.
Why do Orlando motorcycle accidents happen?
Many situations can lead to a motorcycle accident. If something can instigate a car wreck, it can cause a motorcycle accident, too.
Many motorcycle accidents happen because of:
- Other drivers’ failure to see motorcycles;
- Motorcycles’ unique braking times and distances;
- Inclement weather like wind and rain;
- Poor road conditions;
- Defective equipment; and
- Negligent or reckless drivers on the road.
What if a pothole caused my Orlando motorcycle accident?
If your motorcycle accident was caused by a pothole or by other hazardous road conditions, you might hold a government entity financially responsible for your crash. You can work with a lawyer to determine whether a government agency was negligent in their duty to provide a safe roadway. If they were, you may be eligible to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit against that government agency.
Do you have to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle in Orlando?
Florida law does not generally require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. Here, as in 27 other US states, we are subject to a partial helmet use law. This means that for many adults, helmet use whilst on a motorcycle is not legally required.
It’s legal to go without a helmet on a motorcycle in Orlando if the motorcyclist is:
- At least 21 years old; and
- Has an insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for “medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.”
What is a “left hook” motorcycle accident?
Left hook motorcycle accidents occur when a car turns left and strikes or drives directly in front of an oncoming motorcyclist. The person driving the vehicle that turned left is usually at fault for the accident. If the vehicle driver did not give the motorcyclist a timely warning by using a turn signal, the motorcyclist may have a viable motorcycle accident claim.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident in Orlando?
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to take certain steps to protect yourself.
You can do the following to keep your physical, legal, mental, and monetary health safe:
- Remain still and wait for help if you feel severe pain or have significant difficulty moving after a motorcycle accident.
- Help other people hurt in the accident get to safety before or while you call 911.
- Take photos and videos of damage to vehicles and motorcycles, nearby surroundings, and your own body.
- Do not sign any documents without having a qualified motorcycle accident attorney look over them for you.
- Do not discuss matters concerning your injuries with the at-fault party’s insurance company without consulting with an attorney first.
Will wearing a helmet affect my Orlando motorcycle accident claim?
Wearing a helmet (or not) can make a difference in your motorcycle accident claim. It’s legal to go helmetless on motorcycles in many circumstances in Florida. That said, riding a motorcycle without a helmet in Orlando can affect the value of your claim.
Do I have to call the police if I’m in an Orlando motorcycle accident?
You should always call the police after an auto or motorcycle accident. This helps ensure that the accident scene is dealt with properly, that injured parties receive the appropriate medical attention, and that a timely accident report is filed.
If the police were not called to the scene of your accident, make sure to file an accident report online.
Does an Orlando motorcycle accident case have to be investigated?
Yes. You need a professional investigator to look into your Orlando motorcycle accident case. This is one reason why it’s so beneficial to work with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can conduct this investigation for you and use the best tools possible to do so. A professional investigation can turn up vital information and may make an enormous difference in the outcome of your insurance claim or motorcycle accident lawsuit.
What common injuries do riders suffer in Orlando motorcycle accidents?
People sustain all sorts of injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Even injuries that seem minor like whiplash and bruising can indicate greater problems (like a potential concussion or internal bleeding).
- Traumatic brain injuries: Motorcyclists face a particularly high risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury (or TBI) during an accident. This is especially true in states like Florida where helmet laws allow many people to ride without helmets. A TBI can change how a person thinks, feels, and acts, and may even cause lifelong complications.
- Road rash injuries: Road rash occurs when a rider’s skin is dragged along the ground. The result usually takes the form of an injury ranging from red abrasions (and sometimes bruising) to severe lacerations and friction injuries. Road rash can sometimes lead to severe and life-threatening infections.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are infamous; motorcyclists are at particular risk of spinal cord injuries because motorcycles expose their bodies while they navigate roadways. Spinal cord injuries disrupt the body’s core communication system and may cause symptoms ranging from pain and acute paralysis to long-term mobility problems.
- Bone fractures: Most of us are familiar with the basics of a broken bone, but few people understand how much bone fractures can impact your day-to-day life. If you sustain bone fractures during a motorcycle accident, you may also experience long-term (or even lifelong) complications.
If you have questions about your physical health or any injuries you received after your motorcycle accident, reach out to a medical professional right away.
How does motorcycle law differ from auto accident law in Florida?
Here in Florida, we’re subject to motorcycle and automobile laws that look very different from one another. Motorcycle owners, for example, purchase first-party insurance policies (like income loss and medical benefits) of their own accord.
How much money will I get for my Orlando motorcycle accident case?
The amount of compensation you will receive after an accident depends on a lot of factors. Every motorcycle accident case is unique; even a qualified lawyer can’t tell you with certainty how much compensation you may receive.
That said, get an estimate concerning your case’s worth from a motorcycle accident attorney. The attorney will weigh numerous factors when they consider the answer to this question.
Your case’s worth will depend on the circumstances, some of which may include:
- How the accident occurred;
- What insurance coverage is available;
- Your medical bills;
- Whether you had to take time off of work because of your motorcycle accident;
- The extent of damage to the vehicles in the accident; and
- Your age and health at the time of the accident.
An insurance adjuster from the at-fault party’s insurance company keeps telling me I should settle my Orlando motorcycle accident claim. Should I?
Not before you talk to our Orlando motorcycle accident attorneys. Even if, by some miracle, the insurance adjuster is offering you a fair deal, you wouldn’t know it without a seasoned accident attorney by your side. Learning Florida law takes years of calculated and driven work; a lawyer will help you determine whether a settlement offer is fair.
Remember: Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. They don’t work for you. An insurance adjuster’s job is to get the best deal possible for their company. It isn’t their fault—and it doesn’t mean you need to be harsh with them—but it does mean you should not accept their settlement offer without seeking a legal opinion from an attorney first.
What compensation can I receive after a motorcycle accident in Orlando?
If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident anywhere in Florida, you have the right to pursue several types of damages, including:
- Medical bills: You may recover compensation to account for past, present, and even projected future medical bills associated with your motorcycle accident. This broad category covers all aspects of medical care, including emergency medical transport, specialized care, custom medical equipment, and more.
- Pain and suffering: No one deserves to undergo physical pain and suffering due to another person’s negligence or recklessness. When this happens, you may be eligible to recover additional damages to account for pain and suffering.
- Lost wages: Many motorcycle accidents cause survivors to miss time from work. Sometimes it’s a day and sometimes it’s a month, but either way, you deserve to be paid for the time you would have spent at work if not for your accident. Lost wages damages help ease the financial burden of missing work because of your injuries.
- Diminished earning ability: Lost income is common after motorcycle accident accidents, but sometimes an accident victim’s ability to earn money changes forever because of an accident. If your motorcycle accident permanently diminished your earning ability, you can work with a lawyer to pursue damages for that lifetime loss.
- Disability: Disability damages are available to motorcycle accident survivors impacted by disability after a crash.
These are not the only damages that you may be eligible to receive compensation for. The best way to determine what you may recover after your motorcycle accident is to consult a qualified motorcycle accident attorney.
How long will a settlement take in my Orlando motorcycle accident case?
There’s no way to predict how long a case may go on. Generally, the more complicated the case, the longer it takes to litigate. Accidents that cause more severe injuries or higher amounts of monetary damage may take longer to settle.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman: Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Orlando
A motorcycle accident can change someone’s life forever, and they deserve compensation for those losses. Some of the outcomes of accidents are difficult to overcome, but with a trusted legal team by your side, you can work to pursue justice and the compensation that you deserve.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman maintain offices across both Florida coasts, so you can easily reach us from Orlando.
After a Motorcycle Accident, Call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman
There are certain important steps you should take immediately after an accident. Once everyone is safely out of danger, call 911. Be sure to get a police report, which you may need to prove your case. Obtain contact information for everyone involved in the accident. Document the scene by taking pictures and/or notes on the other vehicles, debris, and road signs. Do not admit fault to anyone, even when you contact your own insurance company.
Florida has time limits, called statutes of limitations, which set a strict deadline for filing lawsuits. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney without delay.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or contact us online.