Motorcycle Accident Stats
Florida leads the country in motorcycle accident deaths, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Around 20% of all vehicle crash fatalities in Florida are motorcyclists, so it’s imperative to understand the risks of riding in this state.
Insurance can stand in the way of recovery after some crashes, so all motorists, including motorcycle riders, should evaluate their insurance policies to know the full extent of available coverage.
The fatality rate of motorcycle wrecks nationwide is nearly 30 times higher than the number of deaths for passenger vehicle crashes. Several elements, including aggressive driving and hazardous maneuvers, factor into motorcycle accident deaths.
Why Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
Vehicles such as cars, trucks, and SUVs are enclosed, but motorcycles offer little protection from the outside elements. There are no seat belts, harnesses, or other safety features on a motorcycle because they could interfere with a motorcyclist’s ability to ride safely. Unfortunately, this means a rider or passenger could fall from the bike or a sudden impact could send the rider or passenger into the road or other hazards.
A motorcyclist can accelerate quicker than larger passenger vehicles. This sometimes encourages riders to engage in risky behavior, like weaving in and out of traffic as well as speeding. Florida abides by a no-fault rule for car crash claims. However, a hurt motorcyclist, who’s at least partly to blame for a serious accident, could face difficulty with insurance claim settlements or lawsuits where there’s not enough insurance coverage.
What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Wrecks?
Many motorcycle crashes are caused by the same factors that contribute to car wrecks. Dangerous driving, speeding, low visibility, vehicle defects, inclement weather, and many other elements can lead to motorcycle accidents.
It’s more likely that a road hazard would cause a serious motorcycle wreck than a regular vehicle accident. A bump in the road or loose debris on a poorly maintained street wouldn’t necessarily endanger a car driver, but a motorcyclist could get hurt.
Low visibility is a significant hazard for motorcyclists. It can be caused by stormy conditions, bright sunlight, and other drivers’ blind spots. If a motorcycle rider is in a vehicle’s blind spot, the other driver could change lanes without realizing the motorcycle is there. It’s also sometimes hard for drivers to see a motorcyclist who’s making a left-hand turn in front of them.
Whether it’s a car, truck, SUV, van, or motorcycle, operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances is dangerous. A motorcycle rider who causes a drunk-driving crash could face significant legal penalties, including license suspension, fines, and mandatory drug, alcohol, and driving classes. There could even be jail time depending on the seriousness of the wreck and past DUI charges.
Possible Injuries From Motorcycle Crashes
A motorcyclist could get seriously hurt in a crash. A motorcycle offers little protection from external forces, so any sort of impact could throw the rider off the bike. Sliding on asphalt may cause a severe friction burn on the skin commonly called road rash. This kind of injury is particularly dangerous because it has a high chance of infection. When a rider suffers road rash, loose debris and road dirt could get into the flesh and cause pain along with other complications.
Cuts and bruises, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries spinal cord injuries are common in serious motorcycle wrecks. Some injuries can lead to permanent disabilities, coma, and even death. For optimal protection, motorcycle riders should consider wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
What Are the Helmet Laws in Florida?
DOT-approved helmets are nearly 37% effective at preventing fatalities and around 67% effective at curbing traumatic brain injuries in motorcycle crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While most states require motorcycle riders to wear helmets while riding, Florida does not. A rider over 21 years old who has minimum personal injury insurance coverage is allowed to ride without a helmet.
Motorcycle Rider Liability
Motorcycle riders could face accident liability if they contribute to a crash in any way. For instance, let’s say a motorcycle rider maneuvers between two lanes of traffic. As they pass through a vehicle’s blind spot, they cause the driver to panic, swerve, and wreck.
Although the driver is obligated to operate their vehicle safely, they’re not responsible for the motorcyclist’s actions that caused the crash. The motorcycle rider would likely be assigned some fault for the wreck.
Florida adheres to a pure comparative negligence law. This means plaintiffs may still get reimbursement for crashes they partially cause. The court will evaluate the facts of the case and give fault percentages to the parties involved. The plaintiff will lose part of their settlement or case award according to their fault percentage.
For example, a judge rules a motorcyclist plaintiff is 10% at fault in a $50,000 claim. The plaintiff will lose 10% of the case award and get $45,000 instead.
Florida follows a no-fault rule for auto accidents, meaning every driver must carry minimum coverage of $10,000 for Property Damage Liability and $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection. While this usually leads to lower-than-average premium costs, it does restrict some recovery options after serious wrecks.
If a motorcycle rider suffers damage from a serious accident where they were not at fault, they must first file a claim with their insurance company. But unless they have extensive coverage, it’s not likely everything will be taken care of. In that case, the motorcycle rider may file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for the rest of the damages.
What Are My Legal Options in a Single-Vehicle Motorcycle Wreck?
In the event the motorcyclist’s coverage and the at-fault driver’s coverage are not enough to take care of the damages, the motorcycle rider should get legal representation to figure out whether a personal injury lawsuit or other civil action can be pursued.
If a vehicle defect led to the accident, a motorcycle accident attorney in Tampa may advise filing a claim against the manufacturer for product liability. If the crash is due to negligence, the attorney may suggest going forward with a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver for damages insurance won’t cover. If poor maintenance or foreseeable hazards on a publicly owned and maintained street caused an accident, the Attorney may suggest exploring legal action against the state or whichever government entity is responsible for the road.
Having the right lawyer is a great asset for an injured motorcycle rider. The team at Bulluck Law Group, knows how to handle difficult insurance claims adjusters so clients can maximize their insurance recoveries. We also know how to deal with complex civil actions and intense litigation. Contact Bulluck Law Group in Tampa today for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle crash attorneys. We’ll review your situation and offer options for legal recourse and additional compensation.