A spate of deadly Florida motorcycle accident reports during Bike Week 2022 throws into sharp relief the danger many two-wheeled riders face when taking to the streets of the Sunshine State. The Daytona News-Journal reports there were six motorcycle deaths during the annual motorcycle enthusiast gathering in Daytona Beach this year. Two of those deaths (plus two injuries) occurred in a single crash when a car driver drove into an opposing lane of traffic where a group of motorcyclists were traveling.
In a single recent year, more than 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives while riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports Florida has more motorcycle fatalities than any other state – with 591 reported in a single recent year. That’s more than either California or Texas – both of which have substantially higher populations.
For survivors of motorcycle accidents and their loved ones, knowing the basic steps of a claims process following a serious crash can help ease some of the mental load that can feel insurmountable those first few days. As longtime Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorneys, we can explain that these aren’t handled like your typical Florida car crash claim. There are unique considerations, and it’s worth taking a few moments to better understand them before beginning the process.
What Makes Florida Motorcycle Crashes Different From Others?
The reality is any car accident has the potential to turn your whole world on its axis. With motorcycle crashes, though, there are a few differences. Those include:
- Severity of injuries. Motorcycle operators and passengers lack the same level of protection as other motorists. Helmets aren’t required for adult motorcyclists in Florida, but even with them, riders don’t have the benefit of steel cage protective layer between them and the pavement. The severity of injuries in these cases means they tend to be inherently higher stakes.
- Motorcyclists cannot purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage is required under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law, extending up to $10,000 in compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was to blame. Without this, many motorcyclists tend to rely heavily on their own health insurance plans. But that won’t cover things like lost wages and other damages. This makes it all the more imperative to closely examine fault of all involved parties – and hold other drivers accountable. Claimants can step outside the no-fault system when they’ve meet the serious injury threshold, as spelled out in F.S. 627.737.
I’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident – Now What?
The aftermath of a crash is often stressful and chaotic. But the claims process will begin at the accident scene. The first priority, though, is securing prompt medical care for any who have been seriously hurt/are in immediate danger. (Examination by a doctor is a smart idea even if you have no obvious injuries. They may crop up later, and it will be tougher to prove a causal link if you don’t seek immediate medical attention.) If the police have not been contacted, that’s the next step. Remain on the scene – even if the other driver has fled. Document as much as possible – take photos, get the names/contact information of any witnesses, write down your own recollection.
Also, it is never too early to contact an injury lawyer. If you’re a spouse or parent, you may take this initiative on behalf of someone who is incapacitated as a result of the crash. This will help ensure you’re doing everything by the book, preserving the best possible chance at full and fair compensation.
The next step is to file the insurance claim. But while Florida no-fault crash claims can often be fairly easily resolved by filing a claim with one’s own insurer, motorcycle accident claims are likely to be a bit trickier. That’s because you’ve got to establish fault in order to collect from the other driver’s insurer. Insurance companies are not often quick to concede this point, if they can avoid it. Working with an injury attorney helps ensure you’re following all the proper steps and that you have the necessary evidence to (hopefully) avoid a drawn-out process that could entail litigation. If/when you do talk to the insurer, do not try to explain the accident, assign blame, admit any guilt/wrong=doing or discuss the details of your injuries. Some information will need to be provided to the insurer, but it’s best to strictly stick to the facts. Let your attorney do this, if you can help it.
Next, the insurance company may offer you a settlement – part for property damage and part for bodily injury. If the injuries sustained were serious, it’s wise to have an attorney look over the terms before signing anything. Once you sign this document, you may be forfeiting your right to pursue any further claims. You won’t be allowed to go back and try to negotiate for a higher settlement. That’s why this part is important.
If the insurer doesn’t agree to pay/or you decline the offer as unreasonable, the case may proceed to litigation (a lawsuit). This decision should only be made after careful review of the facts by your attorney. From there, settlement negotiations may continue all the way up until just before a verdict.
You generally have four years from the date of a crash to pursue a personal injury claim and two years in which to pursue a claim for wrongful death. Other factors could impact that timeline, so it’s best to talk to an injury lawyer if you have any questions.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Motorcycles, Traffic Safety Facts, September 2021, NHTSA
More Blog Entries:
Why Are There So Many Bicycle Accidents in South Florida? Feb. 15, 2022, Fort Lauderdale Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog