Motorcycle Accidents Cases Have Unique Aspects
Motorcycle riders are at an elevated risk of injury or death on the roadways every time they hit the road. Drivers who are only looking for cars on the road will eventually cause an accident. When an accident happens between a motorcycle and a car, the damage to the motorcyclist is always greater. When you have been in an accident on your motorcycle, you should have a motorcycle accident attorney who successfully handled cases like yours in the past. Schedule a consultation with a Lakeland motorcycle accident attorney to determine the merits of your case.
What Is Different About A Motorcycle Case?
Motorcycle accidents in Florida are different than car accident cases mainly in that no-fault insurance does not cover you while on a motorcycle. Cars are required to have $10,000 per person in no-fault benefits to cover injuries regardless of fault if there is an accident. While on a motorcycle, no-fault coverage does not exist and you will need health insurance or another form of coverage that pays benefits in the event of an accident (i.e. medical payments coverage).
In a motorcycle accident, the rider is exposed to a far greater risk of injury due than the driver of a car. Likewise, it is very common to see injuries that include the following:
- fractured bones
- severe neck and back injuries
- severely torn ligaments and soft tissue
- complete or partial paralysis
- spinal disc or spinal cord injury
- head injuries or traumatic brain injury (even while wearing a helmet)
- groin or genital injuries
- injuries caused by secondary impacts with gas tanks or handlebars
Paying For Medical Bills After A Motorcycle Accident
A good health insurance policy will pay far more than medical payments or any other form of coverage in the event of a motorcycle accident. In addition to your own coverage, you can sue the person who caused the accident for damages. In many cases, the person who caused the accident does not have adequate liability insurance to cover all of the damages to the motorcyclist.
Be Sure To Cover Yourself Against Drivers Who Either Don’t Have Insurance or Don’t Carry Enough
Most insurance companies that insure motorcycles will offer uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage on a motorcycle policy. We recommend that you purchase enough UM to cover yourself in the event that the driver who causes the accident does not have adequate insurance. In addition, we also recommend that you purchase enough medical payments coverage to cover any deductible that you have on your health insurance policy should an accident occur.
Careful Examination Of Your Policies After An Accident
After an accident, your attorney should review all of your vehicle insurance policies for ambiguities or other problems regarding insurance coverage. In most cases, UM coverage purchased for your car will not cover you (or is not meant to cover you) while riding your motorcycle. However, there have been a few cases where the policy language in an automobile policy that did not clearly exclude coverage while riding a motorcycle. Remember that insurance policies are strictly construed against the insurance company and liberally in favor of coverage for the insured. This happened in GEICO v. Perez and Eckols v. 21st Century to give some examples.
Permanent Injury Requirement Under Florida’s No-Fault Law Does Not Apply To Motorcycles
Another major difference between motorcycle accidents and car accidents is that there is no permanent injury requirement while riding a motorcycle. In Florida, the no-fault statute as it applies to cars requires that a person injured in a car accident have some degree of permanency (or significant scarring, loss of an important bodily function, or death) resulting from the accident in order to ask a jury for pain and suffering damages. Because the no-fault statute specifically excludes motorcycles, a motorcycle rider does not need to prove those items in order to get pain and suffering damages from a jury (see section 627.736, Fla. Stat., which is Florida’s no-fault law).
What Types Of Damages Can I Get In A Motorcycle Accident Case?
The personal injury related damages that you can ask for in a motorcycle accident include:
- past and future medical expenses
- past and future pain and suffering
- lost income or loss of ability to earn money
- loss of capacity for enjoyment of life
- loss of marital consortium by reason of injury to spouse
What Happens if the Rider Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
In 2000, Florida abolished the legal requirement for adults over age 21 to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle (see section 316.211, Fla. Stat.). Despite the fact that failure to wear a helmet is no longer a traffic violation, the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet is still considered evidence of comparative fault (like failure to wear a seat belt) at a trial and the insurance companies will try to use this fact against you. The mere fact that a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet does not automatically reduce the amount a motorcycle rider can collect after an accident.
Instead, the defense has to prove that failure to wear a motorcycle helmet was a cause or contributing factor to the injury. In many cases, this cannot be done with credible evidence. Notwithstanding, we recommend that everyone should always wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle to lessen the risk of injury or death.
However, if you were injured in an accident without a helmet and the lack of a helmet was a cause or contributing factor to your injury, the net effect of the law is simply that your damages are reduced by a percentage of fault assigned by the jury. This may or may not be significant depending on other facts in the case.
Maximizing Your Case
In many motorcycle accident cases, the motorcyclist was following all applicable laws and driving according the Florida Motorcycle Handbook. Doing everything right works to ensure that your recovery in a motorcycle accident lawsuit is not reduced due to comparative fault.
Florida’s comparative fault model requires that a jury award all damages of the injured person and then the judge will reduce that award of damages for any percentage of comparative fault assigned to the injured person by the jury.
You can also maximize the recovery on your case if you have obtained all of the medical consults needed for proper medical opinions and have attended most or all of your doctor’s appointments.
Hire a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Having a Lakeland motorcycle accident attorney who knows and understands how the law works is important in reaching the correct legal result on your case. We have handled many motorcycle accident cases in the past and have the experience to bring justice to your case.
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For recent legal topics, please see our personal injury blog. We help clients with Lakeland and Winter Haven motorcycle accident cases bring successful lawsuits in Polk County, Florida for their injuries. Call us today to schedule your free consultation with an attorney.