No two crash claims are going to be exactly the same. And Florida motorcycle accident claims especially tend to be a bit more complicated than your “typical” crash case (to the extent such a thing exists). There are a few reasons for this, as our Fort Myers motorcycle accident lawyers will explain further down.
Last year, in 2022, the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles reported there were a total of 9,009 motorcycle crashes in the State of Florida. (Those are preliminary figures, which means they could ultimately increase.) Those collisions were associated with 7,765 injuries and 574 deaths. This means that of the more than 3,100 fatal total crash deaths recorded in Florida over the previous 12 months, 27 percent were motorcyclists. Of the total number of people injured in Florida traffic accidents, 5 percent were motorcyclists. This is despite the fact that motorcycles make up just 3 percent of the state’s total registered vehicles and account for just 1 percent of total vehicle miles traveled.
Florida has the unfortunate (though deserved) reputation of having one of the country’s highest motorcycle accident rates. Being one of the most populous states, of course there are going to be more crashes overall. However, even when controlling for population, the motorcycle injury and death rate is high. Part of this has to do with Florida being a destination for riders from across the country. We also have year-round sunny weather that’s ideal for riding, so residents and tourists alike tend to ride more. High speed limits and widespread driver distraction don’t help.
One upside to Florida riding is that by-and-large a flat state. That means the added risk of large hills and mountains isn’t a problem. On top of that, many of our roads are newer and in better shape than those in many northern states, which can also make for a smoother ride.
But as for why legal claims for Florida motorcycle accident claims can be more complicated than claims involving cars, it basically boils down to the following factors:
- Greater severity of injuries. On the whole, motorcycles are inherently riskier on the road because of their smaller profile and open-air design, both of which increase rider vulnerability in a crash. That means motorcycle crash-related injuries tend to be much more serious, which heightens the stakes for survivors, family members, and insurers. These claims may get more scrutiny. Whereas some car accident claims may be settled quickly in the interest of avoiding the time and expense of litigation, insurers in motorcycle crash cases may be less likely to grant concessions and settle.
- Lack of no-fault insurance coverage. Motorcyclists in Florida are ineligible for no-fault coverage (personal injury protection or PIP). PIP usually provides up to $10,000 to cover a portion of medical bills and/or lost wages in a crash – no matter who caused it. It’s only if people are seriously injured that they can step outside the no fault system and obtain additional coverage against the other driver(s) at fault. But in motorcycle cases, there’s no PIP, so determining fault is that much more important.
- Anti-motorcycle bias. Although it’s not written anywhere in state statute, our Fort Myers motorcycle accident attorneys have noted that some insurance agents, police officers, first responders, and even judges have personal biases against motorcyclists. It’s almost as if there is a presumption of recklessness simply by virtue of the fact someone was operating or riding on a motorcycle. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily come out and say that; they may not even be overtly conscious of it. But it can influence their line of questioning, the evidence they seek out, and sometimes the conclusions they reach. This is why it’s really important to work with an injury lawyer with extensive experience specifically in handling motorcycle injury claims.
- The helmet defense. This is similar to the “seat belt defense,” although unlike seat belts, motorcyclists 21+ with a minimum $10,000 in medical insurance benefits aren’t required by Florida law to wear helmets. Even so, if the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident involved the head, neck, or face and the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, the defense may assert that his/her injuries were exacerbated by the choice to forego protective head gear. Because of Florida’s pure comparative fault law, the decision not to wear a helmet won’t preclude an injured motorcyclist from seeking financial damages in a crash, but their degree of fault (legal liability for the crash and/or resulting injuries) can reduce the overall monetary compensation to which they’re entitled.
Advocating for a full and fair payout in a South Florida motorcycle accident claim is often much more successful when you work with an injury lawyer with experience in handling these specific type of cases. During the initial consultation, make sure to ask about the attorney’s track record in other cases similar to yours.
If you are injured in a Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West motorcycle accident, contact our injury attorneys at Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
More Blog Entries:
Do I Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet? Florida Cycle Injury Lawyer Insight, Dec. 3, 2020, Fort Myers Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog