Florida is a beautiful state to enjoy a day on a motorcycle. From the Keys, up the coast to St. Augustine, and across the state to Clearwater Beach or in the Panhandle, Florida offers the serene roadways and weather that were meant to be enjoyed outdoors on a bike.
However, motorcyclists face a great risk each time they go for that casual ride. When a motorcyclist is in an accident where an automobile or some larger vehicle is involved, the injuries are almost always disproportionately incurred by the motorcyclist. Because the motorcycle is smaller and the rider is physically more susceptible, motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic, resulting in permanent injury or death to the motorcyclist.
For that reason, it’s important for riders to recognize the importance of motorcycle safety, like carrying adequate insurance and wearing a helmet, and to be aware of the rights afforded to a rider under Florida law if he or she is involved in a motorcycle accident. Below is a small synopsis of some of those rights.
The right to recovery after a motorcycle accident
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, which is the most recent data available on the subject, motorcyclist deaths doubled over the decade between 1998 and 2008, while motor vehicle crash-related deaths had reached an all-time low.
This analysis supports the claim that motorcyclists suffer a proportionately greater amount of damages, both physical and economic, when involved in an accident or crash with another vehicle. The same Florida laws that grant automobile motorists the right to recover for damages after an accident also cover motorcyclists.
Under Florida law, a motorcyclist who is hurt in an accident has the right to pursue monetary compensation up to the policy limits of the other driver’s insurance policy to help pay for benefits like medical care and treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic losses that occur as a result of the accident.
A motorcyclist, generally, has up to four years from the date of a non-fatal accident to make a claim against the Defendant, so it’s important to contact an attorney immediately. An experienced personal injury attorney can help the motorcyclist get the medical treatment they need to recover, at no-cost up front. If the motorcyclist has been killed in an accident, the surviving family has only two years to file a lawsuit.
Right to recover from uninsured/underinsured coverage
Sadly, we are all familiar with “hit-and-run” incidents, where a negligent driver causes personal injury or property damage in an accident, but then flees the scene. If a motorcyclist is hit by an unidentified or uninsured driver, he may still recover compensation from his own Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) part of his insurance policy.
To find out whether compensation for injuries may be obtained in this scenario, it’s important to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney immediately following the incident. The longer you wait, the less effective your attorney might be in pursuing a claim for you.
“Threshold” requirements to recover money for pain and suffering
The “Threshold” is a legal standard in Florida law that requires a Plaintiff to demonstrate a permanent impairment or death in order to attempt to collect monetary benefits for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Because of the nature of motorcycle accidents described in this article, which often cause tremendous personal injury to the rider, this legal barrier is sometimes easier to overcome. Sadly, permanent disfiguration or complete and total loss of limb or life is not uncommon for today’s motorcyclists who are involved in an accident.
Florida tort law is designed to protect motorcyclists and riding enthusiasts from the careless behavior of others, just as it does for the driver or passengers of an automobile. Because of often excessive damage to personal property and life that is so common in motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists need to be always aware that Florida law protects them.
Contacting a reputable, experienced personal injury attorney following a motorcycle accident in Florida is the smartest decision a rider can make, aside from buying the right insurance coverage and wearing a helmet while riding.