There are more than 10,000 motorcycle accidents in Florida annually, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of lives lost. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports motorcycle crashes and injuries have been on the rise in recent years.
While riding has always been popular in sunny Southwest Florida, our Fort Myers motorcycle accident lawyers know our roads are perilous. Motorists in larger automobiles simply don’t watch out for those on two wheels. Compounding the problem is the fact that motorcyclists are more vulnerable. They aren’t as equally protected by a shield of steel and airbags. That means the injuries they sustain are more likely to be catastrophic, and possibly even fatal.
These injuries can occur even when the rider operates his or her bike with the utmost concern for safe riding. This is due in part to the decreased visibility of a motorcycle with only two wheels and less lighting than even the smallest of automobiles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 20 times more likely to be killed in a crash than passenger car occupants per vehicle miles traveled.
For those who survive, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports common motorcycle injuries can include:
- Leg and feet injuries (30 percent of all injured riders)
- Head and neck injuries (22 percent)
- Upper extremity injuries, such as to the arm, shoulder or hand (55 percent)
- Abdominal injuries (21 percent)
- Thorax injuries (22 percent)
- Spinal injuries (15 percent)
Such injuries can result in long hospital stays, time off work and on-going need for medical care, such as surgery, physical therapy and medication. That’s what makes prompt investigation and involvement from an experienced Fort Myers injury attorney so imperative.
Although most motorists are required to carry no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, as outlined in F.S. 627.736, motorcyclists are generally not required to obtain insurance to register their bike. That means it may be necessary for injured motorcyclists and passengers to seek recovery of damages from the at-fault driver. These damages may include compensation for property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages.
While ample research has suggested that motorcycle helmet use can reduce the severity of motorcycle injuries and perhaps even prevent death, Florida years ago scrapped its motorcycle helmet requirements for those under 21. That means a defendant in a motorcycle accident case cannot use the failure to wear a helmet as grounds to argue fault or a reduction of damages. It should be noted that per F.S. 316.211, those over 21 who choose to ride a motorcycle without a helmet are required to carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while riding on or operating that motorcycle. That said, motorcycle drivers in Florida who donned DOT-compliant helmets suffered 150 fewer injuries and 26 fewer deaths than riders who weren’t wearing a helmet. Similar rates were tallied for motorcycle passengers.
One point that NHTSA stressed in its research was that motorcyclists have one of the highest rates of alcohol impairment compared to drivers of other vehicles in fatal crashes. A finding of motorcyclist impairment won’t necessarily mean you don’t have a claim. First, if you were a motorcycle passenger, the fact that the operator was impaired will only served the strengthen your claim. Second, Florida ascribes to the pure comparative fault model, which per F.S. 768.81 means damages are proportionate to one’s own fault. A finding of alcohol use impairment doesn’t mean the operator was automatically 100 percent to blame for the crash. A jury may find you 30 percent liable, in which case you’ll still be allowed to collect the remaining 70 percent in damages from the other at-fault party. Finally, you may have grounds to pursue a dram shop liability claim from a bar or restaurant pursuant to F.S. 768.125 if there is evidence the motorcycle operator was either underage or known to be addicted to alcohol and was served anyway and that consumption contributed to the crash.
These are just a few examples of potential motorcycle accident liability claims.
If you or a loved one is injured, or killed, while riding a motorcycle, it is important to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible do determine if there is a legal cause of action. Consulting a lawyer early would help to preserve any evidence before it is lost or destroyed, and get the injured party to an appropriate medical provider.
Over the years the Garvin Law Firm has had the opportunity to represent many victims of negligence who were riding a motorcycle at the time of injury.
Contact The Garvin Law Firm motorcycle accident attorneys in Fort Myers today at 239.277.0005 or online for a free case review.