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Preparing for Bike Week in Florida

motorcycle lawyers in clearwater

It’s that time again. Florida is about to become a beehive of motorcycles. All shapes and sizes of bikes, from all over the world, will descend on Florida in March for the annual rally known as Bike Week.

The largest motorcycle event in the world, drawing more than 500,000 patrons, primarily takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida. Florida is too beautiful for Daytona to contain all those visitors, though. This often means that riders will venture out, far from the eastern coast city in search of all that Florida offers.

The annual event is a big deal all around Florida and comes with benefits for the local economy. Whether you own a leather shop on Main Street, a restaurant in Orlando, or just experience the trickledown effect of millions of dollars bursting into our local economy, everybody wins in some way.

Nonetheless, 500,000 riders arriving into the relatively small Central Florida area within a span of 10 days comes with its drawbacks, one of which is the rise in motor vehicle accident injuries and deaths. With so many people cruising Florida roads all at once, there are sure to be more motorcycle accidents than average.

Florida and Motorcycles

Florida tends to be a dangerous place for motorcycle riders as it stands already. Whether or not events like Bike Week and Biketoberfest (the events Fall cousin) add to the elevated statistics is unclear, but what is clear is that Florida leads the nation in motorcycle rider fatalities.

According to the most recent statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Florida had 467 motorcycle rider fatalities in 2013. This number one position is taken by California, but mostly due to the sheer size and population of that state.

Some years, Bike Week brings on a massive inflation of deaths in the 10-day period—some years not so much. In 2006, the event contributed to the death of 20 riders. Compare that to the average of about 1.5 people who die each day in Florida from a motorcycle accident.

In more recent years, the number has gone down dramatically to between 5 and 10 deaths during each event. Nevertheless, one death is still one death too many for the victims affected.

Motorcycle Laws in Florida

With an influx in riders heading to the state, it’s important that every motorcyclist is aware of local laws so they can stay safe and ticket-free.

There are many laws regarding motorcycles in Florida, but the ones aimed at keeping a rider safe are as follows:

Helmets are not required for riders over 21 years of age. This law was modified in 2000 from ‘helmets are required’ to ‘helmets are not required if your meet certain conditions. First, you must be 21 or older to ride without a helmet. Second, you must be able to provide proof of medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000. Because helmets prevent fatalities, it’s best to wear one.

  • Eye protection is required in some form, like glasses, goggles, or a visor.
  • Passengers must have their own seat and footrest. There is no limit on a passenger’s age.
  • Motorcycles must always have a headlight on, day or night.
  • Turn signals are required just like in any other vehicle.
  • Handlebars can be no higher than the rider’s shoulders when seated.
  • Bikes must have a side view mirror on the left and right sides.
  • Muffler noise is limited to a maximum of 86 decibels.
  • Lane splitting is not allowed in Florida, but two riders may ride side-by-side in the same lane.

Florida Motorcycle Statistics

Compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, the following are some important facts and figures regarding motorcycle safety.

  • According to the Federal Highway Administration, there were 8.4 million motorcycles on the road in the US in 2014.
  • Motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely to die in a crash than those in a passenger vehicle.
  • They are also five times more likely to be seriously injured.
  • In 2015, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured.
  • According to NHTSA, 4,976 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2015.
  • In 2014, 39% of motorcyclists who were killed were not wearing helmets.
  • From 2005 to 2014, fatalities among people 40 and older increased by 14% compared to less than 1% for all ages combined.
  • About 19% of motorcyclist fatalities were riders between 25 and 34 years old.
  • Nearly 92% of motorcycle fatalities were male and only 8 percent were female.
  • Motorcyclists traveling at 80 mph or more make up 9% of fatalities.

Knowing Florida’s motorcycle laws and the statistics behind the pastime can help you to stay safe. Heed the warnings that statistics offer. Slow down, wear a helmet, and of course, have fun.

Florida Motorcycle Accident Liability

In the state of Florida, financial liability for a motorcycle accident is proportional to the level of fault of each driver. That means that, most often, one person or the other will not be totally responsible for the accident. Perhaps the liability will be 50/50, 70/30 or 90/10. This proportional amount will be relative to the amount each party owes (or is owed) in a personal injury settlement.

Liability in a motorcycle accident is often determined by road conditions, the speed of each driver, driver error, and weather conditions. Factors like driving while fatigued, distracted driving, and driving while intoxicated are also taken into account.

Florida motorcyclists are not covered by Florida PIP insurance. This can be bad news since injured riders are not eligible for the automatic medical bill and lost wage coverage. But it can also be a good thing since it opens injured victims up to other damage claims that PIP may restrict.

Injuries from a Motorcycle Accident

Because of the exposure motorcycle riders get, injuries can often be more serious than they would have been had the accident occurred in an enclosed motor vehicle. Common motorcycle injuries include:

Motorcycle DUIs in Florida

Driving under the influence is a dangerous and risky practice. It is easy to be caught in a situation, especially during Bike Week, where you are intoxicated but also need to get you and your motorcycle back to where you are staying. Don’t be tempted to drive drunk. Even if you have only had a few drinks over the limit, don’t do it. Not only could you seriously injure yourself, but you could also injure someone else and spend the rest of your life paying the consequences.

Those who are injured by a motorcycle rider who was driving under the influence definitely have a personal injury case against the negligent rider. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, victims and their families may be able to claim special damages, third-party damages, and punitive damages.

Types of Damages in a Motorcycle Accident

After a Florida motorcycle accident, you may be able to claim one or more of the following types of damages:

  • Payment for medical bills, including current bills and future bills.
  • Lost wages for time missed from work.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Compensation for emotional distress.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium.
  • Punitive damages, in cases where the driver was willfully negligent (like a DUI)

There is nothing fun about any of this “worst case scenario” information. Riding a motorcycle and attending an event like Bike Week should be. Remember to stay safe, make good decisions, and have a good time. Bike Week is coming up in March and we hope you can enjoy it to the fullest.

Dolman Law Group–Motorcycle Injury Attorneys

Dolman Law Group is a personal injury law firm serving Pinellas County, Florida, home to Clearwater and St. Petersburg. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. We have years of experience handling these types of claims and will not settle for anything less than what you deserve. Contact us by emailing us here or by calling 727-451-6900.