St. Petersburg Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Many Americans love motorcycles as alternatives to typical passenger vehicles and for leisure, but it’s crucial to understand the inherent dangers of these fast, light, and maneuverable vehicles. When motorcycle accidents happen in Florida, insurance concerns often arise, and injured motorcyclists will likely face a great deal of uncertainty when exploring their legal options after a serious accident. Consider the following information and remember to contact Bulluck Law Group to be your St. Petersburg motorcycle accident lawyer after a serious crash.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to the most recent available crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida leads the United States in motorcycle accident deaths. About 20% of all vehicle crash fatalities in Florida are motorcyclists, so it’s crucial for motorcyclists in Florida to understand the unique risks of motorcycling in Florida. Insurance can be a major roadblock to recovery after some accidents, so all motorists, motorcyclists included, need to carefully examine their insurance policies to fully understand the full scope of coverage available to them.
Nationwide, the number of deaths from motorcycle accidents is almost 30 times higher than the fatality rate for passenger vehicle accidents. Several factors including motorcycle capabilities, common motorcyclist habits, dangerous driving, aggressive driving, and dangerous maneuvers such as lane-splitting all contribute to motorcycle accident fatalities.
Why Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
Unlike enclosed passenger vehicles like cars, trucks, and SUVs, motorcyclists afford their riders and passengers with very little protection from accidents. Motorcycles do not have safety belts, harnesses, or other similar features because they would likely cause more harm than good and interfere with a motorcyclist’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely. Unfortunately, this means a motorcyclist in an accident will likely fall from the bike or the force of impact will send the rider sprawling down the road or into other hazards.
Motorcycles have very high acceleration compared to larger passenger vehicles, and this encourages some riders to engage in risky behaviors like speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. Although Florida follows a no-fault rule for Car Accident claims, an injured motorcyclist who is at least partially at fault for a serious accident may face significant complications when it comes to securing insurance claim settlements or pursuing a lawsuit when insurance is insufficient for covering damages.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents happen for the same reasons other vehicle accidents occur. Dangerous driving, reckless maneuvers, speeding, low visibility, inclement weather, vehicle defects, and many other possible issues can cause motorcycle accidents. The likelihood of a road hazard causing a serious accident is much higher for motorcycles than other vehicles because of how small and light they are. A bump or piece of debris on a poorly maintained road may be of little concern to a typical car driver, but it can spell doom for a motorcyclist.
One of the biggest hazards facing motorcyclists is visibility, both in terms of weather and daylight and cars’ blind spots. The “blind spots” in a vehicle are behind and to the sides of the driver, areas that are very difficult to see with rear-view mirrors. If a motorcycle lingers in another vehicle’s blind spot, the other vehicle may make a lane change or other maneuver without realizing the motorcycle is too close. Another major concern is left-hand turns. A motorcyclist making a left-hand turn may be difficult for another driver traveling in the opposite lane to see.
As with any other type of vehicle, operating a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol or other illicit substances is extremely dangerous. A driver or rider who causes an accident from Drunk Driving faces significant legal penalties including fines, license suspension, mandatory drug and alcohol, and driving courses, and possibly even jail time depending on the severity of the accident and past DUI arrests.
Potential Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists stand to sustain very serious injuries in an accident. Since the motorcycle affords so little protection from external forces, the force of an impact can throw a rider very far from the bike. Sliding on asphalt can cause a condition known as “road rash,” a severe friction burn on the body. This type of injury is especially dangerous because of the high chance of infection. As a rider suffers a friction burn on a road surface, bits of debris and dirt from the road can embed in the rider’s flesh, causing pain and other complications.
Broken bones, cuts and bruises, Spinal Cord Injuries, and traumatic brain injuries are also very common in serious motorcycle accidents. Some of these injuries can lead to permanent disabilities, coma, or even death. All motorcyclists should consider the potentially life-saving value of a Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmet.
Florida Helmet Laws
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, DoT-approved helmets are about 37% effective at preventing fatalities and about 67% effective at preventing traumatic brain injuries in motorcycle accidents. While most of the United States requires motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding, Florida does not. Any rider over the age of 21 who carries the minimum insurance coverage of $10,000 for injuries may ride without a helmet.
Motorcyclists may face liability for their accidents if they contribute to those accidents in any way. For example, a motorcyclist who attempts to swerve between two parallel lanes of traffic passes through one vehicle’s blind spot, causing the driver to panic and swerve, leading to an accident. Although the driver has a duty of care to operate his or her vehicle safely, the driver isn’t responsible for the actions of the motorcyclist that contributed to the crash, and the motorcyclist would likely absorb some of the faults for the accident.
Florida follows a pure comparative negligence law, meaning plaintiffs can still recover compensation for accidents they partially cause. The court will assess the facts of the case and assign fault percentages to all parties involved. The plaintiff then loses a percentage of his or her settlement or case award equal to his or her percentage of fault. For example, in a $50,000 claim in which a motorcyclist plaintiff is 10% at fault, he or she will lose 10% of the case award, resulting in a final total of $45,000 instead.
Florida follows a no-fault rule for auto accidents, meaning every driver must carry the minimum coverage of $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection and $10,000 for Property Damage Liability. While this generally results in lower-than-average premium costs in the state, this does limit some drivers’ options for recovery after serious accidents.
If a motorcyclist suffers damages in a serious accident for which he or she was not at fault, the motorcyclist must first file a claim against his or her own insurance policy to cover the damages. Unless the motorcyclist has extensive coverage and a robust policy, the limits of his or her coverage are unlikely to cover the total damages. In this case, the motorcyclist can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy for other damages.
Legal Options in Single-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes
In the event a motorcyclist’s coverage and the at-fault driver’s coverage are insufficient to cover an injured rider’s damages, the rider should secure legal representation to determine whether a personal injury lawsuit or other civil action is possible. If a vehicle defect caused the crash, the rider’s St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorney may suggest filing a product liability claim against the manufacturer. If the accident happened due to negligence, the St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorney may advise a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver for whatever damages insurance won’t cover. In the event a publicly owned and maintained road causes an accident due to poor maintenance or foreseeable hazards, the attorney may suggest exploring legal action against the state or whichever government entity is responsible for the road.
The right lawyer can be a great asset for an injured motorcyclist. At Bulluck Law Group, we know how to deal with difficult insurance claims adjusters to help clients maximize their insurance recoveries, but we also know how to handle intense litigation and complex civil actions. Contact the Bulluck Law Group office in St. Petersburg, Florida today to schedule a consultation with one of our St. Petersburg motorcycle accident Attorneys. After we review the details of your situation we can provide you with an idea of your options for legal recourse and additional compensation.
Were you injured on a motorcycle in St. Petersburg? Call to speak with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers at Bulluck Law Group at (813) 988-7800 and schedule your FREE consultation.