Compensation for Florida Motorcycle Accident Injuries
While motorcycles can be fast and exhilarating to ride, they also expose riders to a much higher risk of a crash. Motorcycle accidents also tend to result in higher numbers of fatalities and injuries that may have lifelong effects. Dealing with physical recovery after a crash is undoubtedly a stressful time for the victim and their loved ones. Beginning the process of seeking recovery for damages will only create additional stress in the aftermath of an accident.
The article below explores common injuries suffered as a result of a motorcycle accident and important considerations for claiming damages. To ensure you can receive all the damages owed to you, consider contacting a motorcycle accident lawyer.
Why Are Motorcycles at Higher Risk of Accidents?
Motorcycles are commonly associated with thrill-seeking and danger, but accidents can occur even if riders are overly cautious. Even when driving responsibly, motorcyclists are more likely to find themselves involved in an accident. The following factors increase accident risks for motorcyclists.
Smaller Vehicle Size
The smaller footprint of a motorcycle opens it up to increased accident risks. Motorcycles are more likely to end up in another driver’s blind spot because they are smaller. Additionally, when cars are making left-hand turns, a motorcycle is much less visible to the car. As a result, many accidents occur when a vehicle strikes a motorcycle while turning left.
Advanced safety features are critical in helping avoid motorcycle crashes resulting from the size of the bike. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that more than 8,000 crashes could be prevented or mitigated. The IIHS suggests all cars should be equipped with front crash prevention, lane maintenance, and blind-spot detection systems. These safety features should have increased sensitivity designed to detect motorcycles.
Motorcycles are much less stable where there is inclement weather or poor road conditions. Slippery roadways or intense weather may make a motorcycle less stable and reduce visibility. Potholes or debris on the road are more likely to jar a motorcycle or send it off course when compared to passenger vehicles.
Motorcycles, like all motor vehicles, require regular maintenance. A failure to prioritize regular maintenance can greatly increase the risk of an accident. It is important to pay special attention to the tires, brakes, and drive chain. For example, a poorly maintained drive chain can cause inconsistencies with the back wheel of the bike. Inconsistencies in wheel alignment make operating the motorcycle very dangerous.
Lack of Proper Motorcycle Riding Education
Underlying all the above risk factors is the need for proper education and training for motorcycle drivers. One-third of all motorcyclists killed in crashes are either improperly licensed or not licensed at all. Even properly licensed drivers fail to receive formal training. Many motorcyclists are self-taught or learn to ride through lessons from family or friends. A lack of proper defensive driving techniques can increase the likelihood of the rider’s involvement in an accident.
What Are Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents?
Unfortunately, serious injuries and fatalities are much more common in motorcycle accidents than other motor vehicle accidents. Given the less protective nature of motorcycles, the injuries suffered are often much more extensive and likely have lifelong implications.
Statistics on Motorcycle Fatalities and Injuries
Statistics gathered by the Insurance Information Institute (III) show that fatalities and injuries are significantly more likely to occur when a crash involves a motorcycle. In fact, data from 2016 shows that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in a crash. The statistics compared deaths of motorcyclists and passenger car occupants per mile traveled by each type of vehicle. Shockingly, only 14 percent of motorcycle crashes do not involve a fatality or injury.
The following statistics demonstrate the potential risks associated with motorcycle accidents:
- There were 5,286 fatalities associated with motorcycle accidents. The number represents 60 deaths for every 100,000 registered motorcycles. Sixty deaths may not initially seem like a large number. However, when compared to the number of fatalities with passenger cars, which is slightly below 10, the increased danger for motorcyclists is apparent. The statistics reveal that motorcyclists are 6 times more likely than passengers in cars to die in a crash.
- There were 88,000 injuries as a result of motorcycle crashes. To put this in context, this is over 1,000 injuries for every 100,000 registered motorcycles.
One may think the number of fatalities and injuries would decrease over time with advances in helmet and safety technology. Unfortunately, advances in technology, alone, cannot make the roadways safer for motorcyclists. The number of fatalities resulting from motorcycle crashes in 2017 was double the number of fatalities reported in 1997.
Common Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents
Injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident can be severe. Motorcycles do not offer the same occupant protection as an automobile. Inherent in their design, motorcycles lack a sturdy frame, airbags, seatbelts, and other collision protection.
Gear such as helmets, gloves, eyewear, and special clothing can provide some protection. However, protective gear is not comparable to the protection provided by the sturdy frame of a car. Motorcycle riders are required to wear protective head and eye gear under Florida law. This requirement does not apply to cyclists with sufficient insurance protection.
Given the lack of protection provided by a motorcycle, it is no surprise that crashes cause major injuries. Common injuries include:
Traumatic head and brain injuries
Due to the lack of a frame or seatbelt, there is a high likelihood that the motorcyclist will be ejected from the motorcycle. As a result, head and brain injuries are common. Traumatic injuries are especially likely if the driver is not wearing a helmet. Commonly, head injuries have lifelong impacts.
Spinal cord injuries
Because the driver is likely to strike the ground with impact, spinal cord injuries are not uncommon. Similar to brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are generally accompanied by long term impacts.
Common injuries include whiplash, slipped and herniated discs, and nerve damage.
The hard impact with the ground is also likely to result in broken bones. If the break is severe, the rider may require surgical procedures and extensive physical therapy to properly heal.
Lacerations and Contusions (Cuts and bruises)
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and you are left with only cuts and bruises you should undoubtedly consider yourself lucky. Cuts and bruises often accompany more severe injuries and increase the risks of infection.
Injuries from a motorcycle crash are likely to require medical treatment. Medical treatment may include hospital stays and long-term rehabilitation. Severe injuries may affect the individual’s ability to perform their job or participate in other activities they previously enjoyed.
How Do I Seek Recovery for Damages?
If the driver of a motorcycle is not at fault for the accident, they should not be required to bear the financial consequences. Accidents often result in costly personal injuries and property damage. There are several steps involved in recovering damages. First, you must determine if another party was at fault. Then you need to calculate your damages and pursue a personal injury claim against the party at fault.
Determining Motorcycle Accident Fault
Another party may be considered to be “at-fault” if they acted negligently or failed to comply with traffic laws or regulations. Common scenarios that could indicate another party is at fault include:
- The other driver was speeding;
- The other driver failed to heed a stop sign or traffic signal;
- The other driver failed to check their blind spot or otherwise notice a motorcycle driver who was obeying traffic laws;
- The other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- The city failed to properly maintain the roads; or
- The motorcycle suffered a malfunction due to the fault of the manufacturer.
If there was another driver involved in the accident, it is very helpful to get a police report documenting the crash. A police report will include any citations issued for a violation of traffic or other laws. Police reports will also document any witness information. However, you should be sure to collect witness contact information if the police do not collect it. Eye-witness accounts of the accident may be essential to proving a case for damages later.
Determining fault can be a complex evaluation that may require additional investigations or interviews. All police reports, citations issued at the scene of the accident, and witness statements will need to be closely reviewed. Fault is often a contested issue, especially when significant damages are at stake.
Calculating Motorcycle Accident Damages
A motorcycle accident is likely to result in two types of damages:
- Those that can be precisely calculated, such as vehicle repair costs, medical bills past and future lost earnings; and
- Non-economic damages that cannot be precisely calculated, such as pain and suffering.
Many of the above damages are straightforward and can be easily computed. For example, adding up medical bills and bills from a motorcycle repair company only requires simple math. However, injured riders typically suffer damages beyond medical expenses and property repairs.
The majority of damages the injured party deserves to be compensated for will be much more difficult to calculate. Future lost earning capacity, for example, may require input from an economic expert. It will involve an evaluation of your skills and abilities before the crash. Your prior skills will be compared to your abilities after the accident and your statistical life expectancy will be taken into consideration.
Less tangible damages, such as pain and suffering, will be left to the jury to decide. To ensure you receive the amount of damages you deserve, an attorney will need to make compelling arguments to influence the jury.
Pursuing Motorcycle Accident Damages
There are several means for pursuing damages after an accident. One may work with the negligent party’s insurance company, seeking to settle with the negligent party without filing a lawsuit. If you are unable to come to a satisfactory agreement, you may need to begin the litigation process. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to pursue a combination of negotiation and litigation.
If the negligent party has insurance coverage, it is important to file a claim with their insurance company. An insurance company is most likely to cover damages that can be precisely calculated, such as medical bills. Depending on the extent of coverage and the severity of your injuries, the damages may exceed the amount of coverage available. If the coverage available will not compensate your damages, you may have to recover the remainder directly from the responsible party.
Any damages that exceed coverage limits or are denied by the insurance company will need to be recovered directly from the negligent party. You will need to thoroughly analyze the strength of your claims and present detailed factual support for the amount of damages you have requested. Commonly, the first step involves filing a lawsuit against the responsible party. Litigation can be a lengthy process and juries can be unpredictable in the amounts of compensation they award. You should consider attempting to settle out of court before developing a litigation strategy.
When pursuing damages against the city or against the motorcycle manufacturer, the law may require you to follow specific procedures.
Motorcycle accidents are traumatic experiences. Seeking recovery for your damages will likely only contribute additional stress.
Retain an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Managing injuries after a motorcycle accident are stressful enough on their own. The stress you experience will only be compounded if you also need to determine how to seek recovery from the negligent party. An attorney with experience handling motorcycle accident cases will help you understand your options. They will analyze the negligence of other parties involved, calculate your damages, and strategize the best way to proceed.
To set up a free consultation with Sibley Dolman Gipe about your motorcycle accident case you can either call our office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765