Wrongful Death Motorcycle Accidents

Florida leads the nation when it comes to motorcycle accident deaths. Surviving loved ones of these tragedies need to know they have a fierce and compassionate advocate in the Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm.

In a single recent year, more than 615 motorcyclists in Florida were killed – far and away the most in any state, representing more than 12 percent of the total number of motorcycle deaths in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While motorcycles account for just 3 percent of registered vehicles in Florida, motorcyclists account for 20 percent of all motor vehicle deaths here. Although this is a steep drop from the nearly 3,000 motorcyclists reported killed just a decade earlier, it’s still far too high.

Part of the reason Florida’s motorcycle fatalities are so substantial is because as the Sunshine State, this is a popular place to ride not just for locals, but for visitors from all over the world. In general, motorcyclists are more vulnerable than occupants of other types of motor vehicles because they have very little protection from the pavement and other fixed objects in the event of a crash. That’s why motorcyclist injuries tend to be more severe and, as the NHTSA reports, motorcyclist fatalities occur nearly 29 times more frequently than passenger car occupant deaths per vehicle mile traveled.

Safety advocates will hammer home the importance of wearing a helmet (and there is strong evidence to show it’s a good idea), but it’s also true that more than half of all motorcyclists killed in Florida were wearing helmets. Beyond that, helmets aren’t required by Florida law (unless they are under 21, per F.S. 316.211(1)) and the rider’s choice to wear one – or not – has no bearing on the amount of damages one can receive in a wrongful death civil lawsuit stemming from a motorcycle accident.

The motorcycle accident wrongful death attorneys at our South Florida law firm have assisted families and loved ones of motorcycle operators and passengers killed in these tragic crashes. We recognize these losses are often sudden, traumatic and often devastating financially.

While a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, it may be essential to recovering damages you have incurred for medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of support.

Florida Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

First and foremost, it’s important to point out that when it comes to auto accidents, Florida is a no-fault state. That means traffic crash victims must first seek compensation from their own personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, as outlined in F.S. 627.736. However, that only provides up to $10,000 in recover for medical bills and lost wages. Those who have suffered serious injury or survivors of those killed may step outside this no-fault system for additional compensation from the at-fault motorist.

In most cases, insurance is not required to register motorcycles, as with four-wheel motor vehicles. However, that might be different if the operator was previously charged in a crash with injuries or has had certain motor vehicle violations, they may be required to carry liability coverage. That does not mean it’s not a good idea for motorcyclists to carry insurance (especially uninsured/ underinsured motor vehicle insurance and bodily injury liability), and unless the rider owned the bike outright, they were probably required to carry this coverage by the lender.

Additionally, riders over age 21 who choose to forego a helmet must carry at least $10,000 in medical coverage.

Who Can Be Liable in Wrongful Death Motorcycle Accidents?

In most motorcycle accident wrongful death cases, our attorneys will explore numerous avenues of recovery, including:

  • PIP insurance coverage;
  • At-fault motorist (will closely look at his/ her bodily injury liability and umbrella coverage);
  • Owner of the at-fault motorist’s vehicle (this individual may be held vicariously liable);
  • Uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage;
  • Owner of the bar or individual who served alcohol to the at-fault driver (if the at-fault driver was under 21 and/ or known to be habitually addicted to alcohol, per Florida’s dram shop law, F.S. 768.125);
  • Workers’ compensation (if decedent was acting in the course and scope of employment);
  • Employer of at-fault driver (if he or she was acting in the course and scope of employment, employer may be vicariously liable under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior);
  • Vehicle manufacturer/ repair shop if there was some vehicle defect or malfunction that cause the crash or contributed to it;
  • Local municipality or contracted construction companies (in the event there is evidence of a roadway defect, debris or construction error that caused or contributed to the crash).

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of some of the legal options you may have after losing a loved one in a fatal Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident. F.S. 768.20 outlines the parties who have a right to file a wrongful death action.

If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident in Fort Lauderdale, contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.

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