In this informative guide, we aim to elucidate every facet of Florida’s Motorcycle Accident law from beginning to end.
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Many Floridians assume that the familiar rules of the road only apply to passenger vehicles, not realizing that all road users are subject to certain laws and regulations. Vulnerable road users like motorcycle riders are required to comply, especially considering the fact that the rules exist for the safety of all. The Official Florida Driver License Handbook includes laws that apply to motorcycles as well as cars, such as making turns, navigating signals, and yielding right of way.
However, when you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, there is an entirely different set of laws that you need to understand. These are legal matters that affect your rights and legal remedies as a victim. An overview on the laws for motorcycle riders in Florida is helpful.
A fundamental law in Florida motorcycle crash cases is the theory of liability known as negligence, which has a very specific definition in the practice of law. To prevail in a claim, you must prove four essential elements:
To better understand how negligence works, some examples are useful. A driver may be at fault for speeding, drunk driving, failure to yield, distracted driving, improper lane changes, and many other violations of traffic laws.
Every US state has imposed deadlines on filing a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. This law has a significant impact on your rights, and it recently changed in Florida. Instead of a 4-year statute of limitations as was the deadline in the past, motorcycle riders now have 2 years to sue in court. If you allow the statute of limitations to expire, your claim is forever barred. You could attempt to file a lawsuit, but the defendant has a solid defense that will get your case dismissed.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations works differently for children. They are considered as being under a legal disability because they are not yet adults, which means they cannot sue for motorcycle accident injuries. There is an exception to the statute of limitations in such cases, which would apply to a very limited number of motorcycle riders aged 16 and 17 years old. The victim has 2 years after turning 18, up to 20 years old, to file a lawsuit.
The concept of comparative fault is a crucial law you need to know, and it is also one that has recently changed in Florida. The basic concept is that the victim is held accountable for their own misconduct in a motorcycle accident. If your actions were also negligent based upon the essential elements described above, it could affect your options, compensation, or both. In a few US states, any fault by a victim is a bar to recovering any monetary damages. Other jurisdictions, including Florida, follow different rules that are not quite as harsh.
Florida is known as a modified comparative negligence state under recent modification to the statute. This means that you will recover no compensation if you were more than 50 percent at fault. If your actions contributed to a lesser degree, your monetary damages will be reduced by the amount of blame assigned to you.
You will certainly be concerned about what compensation you can recover after a Florida motorcycle accident, as your losses could be considerable. Knowing the law on how damages work is critical, so the following points are useful.
Florida motorcycle accidents may not make up a large percentage of the total collisions statewide every year, but statistics reveal how riders are disproportionately affected. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are almost 9,300 total motorcycle crashes annually. More than 8,100 motorcyclists are either killed or suffer injuries in these accidents, meaning around 88 percent of all collisions result in at least one rider casualty.
Fortunately, you may have legal remedies as a victim. A motorcycle accident is a type of personal injury claim, so it is possible to recover compensation for your losses. However, you can expect that you will need to meet certain requirements. Here are some ways to know whether you have a valid personal injury claim from a motorcycle accident.
Personal injury cases, including motorcycle collisions, are covered by a legal theory of liability known as negligence. The concept means more than just carelessness, because it requires you to prove certain facts. If you have evidence of the following, your outlook is good for a valid claim.
It is a positive sign for your rights in a personal injury claim if you have sufficient evidence of the losses you suffered in the motorcycle accident. Your losses are all the consequences that affect your life after you were hurt, and you might not even realize how extensive they are. For instance:
Every US state sets a deadline for lawsuits, and the law in Florida could mean the difference between whether or not you have a valid personal injury claim. The statute of limitations in the state is 2 years. You must file a lawsuit in court before the deadline expires, or you are forever prohibited from recovering any monetary damages.
There is an exception to the personal injury statute of limitations, which applies to minors. In a motorcycle accident case, this would only affect the 16- and 17-year olds who are able to legally operate a motorcycle. The statute of limitations is tolled, since children do not have capacity to sue. The victim has 2 years from their 18th birthday to initiate litigation.
However, it is rarely an advantage to wait several years when you have losses that are mounting now. You can resolve your claim faster by taking action as soon as possible.
By consulting with a motorcycle crash lawyer, you get the most accurate assessment of whether you have a valid personal injury claim. Negligence and damages can be difficult to prove, but an attorney can conduct a thorough evaluation of your case to determine the strengths and weaknesses. Not only does this help with understanding your rights, but this information is also useful when you are considering settlement versus litigation.
You can also trust your attorney to handle the necessary tasks to know whether you have a claim, including:
Many motorcyclists would argue that Florida is an ideal environment for riding, with its year-round warm weather, temperate climate, and miles of highway. When you are enjoying the open road, a motorcycle accident is furthest from your mind. However, data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reveals the risks of crashes. Every year, there are almost 9,300 motorcycle collisions across the state. Around 610 people are killed in these incidents, while another 7,500 suffer injuries ranging from minor to severe.
If you were involved in a motorcycle crash, the chaos can be overwhelming and leave you at a loss about your next steps. For helpful guidance, it is important to review some tips on what you should do after a motorcycle accident in Florida.
The first step to take is getting proper medical care for your injuries. Your health is a top priority, and you cannot get on the road to recovery unless you head for treatment right away. There are different options available based upon the severity of your injuries, and the decision may be made for you if you are transported to the hospital by first responders. You should consider the following points about seeking treatment.
Your well-being comes first, but there is another reason to head for medical care immediately. You have rights after a motorcycle accident, and your decisions about treatment do affect your claim. If you wait, you are telling the at-fault driver and/or insurance company that you were not hurt badly.
The motorcycle accident laws in Florida require all involved motorists to stop, render assistance, and exchange information. Just like with an auto crash, you will need to provide your contact and insurance details. Make sure to obtain them from the other driver, since this information will direct you on where to file a claim with the person’s insurance company.
When discussing the exchange of information, keep your conversation to this topic only. Do not talk about the severity and nature of your injuries, though you can mention that you were hurt. Avoid any reference to how you think the motorcycle collision happened. You are only speculating, and your words could come back to harm you if you say too much. By admitting fault, directly or indirectly, you could affect your claim. An insurance company or jury could take your statements to put the blame on you.
This task will depend on whether you are physically able to explore the scene, as your injuries or transportation to the ER may prevent you from trying to get evidence. However, if you are capable, you should grab your cell phone to take pictures of:
In addition, you should make a note of the businesses in close proximity to the scene of the motorcycle accident. They may have security camera footage that shows who was at fault. Other essential sources of proof for a motorcycle crash include witness recollections and the results of investigations by accident reconstruction specialists.
The information about conversation topics to avoid at the scene is even more important when you receive a call from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. During the discussion, you can confirm basics about the crash, such as time, date, your contact information, and your insurance details. If you have already retained a Florida motorcycle accident attorney, you can also let the insurer know.
However, most other areas of conversation are off-limits. Do not answer questions about fault or who caused the motorcycle accident. Insurance companies leverage this information against you, claiming that their policyholder was not responsible and you were to blame. They are looking to protect their bottom line, and your claim represents a loss. By sharing too much, you give the insurer reasons to deny your claim. It is best to decline to discuss the situation and rely on your lawyer to deal with the insurance company.
Florida motorcycle accidents continue to be a serious problem, but you might not realize the severity until you review relevant statistics. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are around 9,260 motorcycle crashes across the state annually. More than 600 motorcyclists are killed in these collisions, and another 7,500 suffer injuries. If you were hurt or lost a loved one, you may wonder about your options.
Fortunately, Florida law provides victims of motorcycle accidents with legal remedies. You can recover monetary damages for your losses, starting by filing an insurance claim. It will be necessary to prove that the company’s policyholder was responsible, known in the practice of law as being at fault. Insurance companies have strategies for determining fault in a motorcycle accident, and they do not always work in your favor.
The familiar term for fault is being responsible for some act or event, but the usage in the practice of law is more specific. Fault relates to negligence, which is a theory of liability. It applies in most motorcycle crash claims, so you can expect that the insurance company will investigate carefully after you file your claim. The insurer assesses the evidence in the context of four essential elements:
The policyholder must have a duty to drive safely, which is an obligation for anyone using Florida roadways.
The insurer will investigate whether its insured breached the duty of care by not driving safely.
There must be a connection between the breach of duty and the accident, such that the motorcycle crash would not have happened without the breach.
The insurance company will look at the losses you suffered from being hurt, which form the basis of your compensation. This is important information for the insurer to make a counteroffer after receiving your claim.
Negligence can be a complicated legal topic, so it is helpful to review how motorists can be negligent and cause a motorcycle collision. The insurance company will meticulously review the information you sent about fault and your claims that its policyholder was responsible. Many examples of negligence are the result of violations of Florida traffic laws, including:
There are additional violations of traffic laws that can lead to a motorcycle crash, and they deserve special mention because of the devastation they cause. Drunk driving is a criminal offense in Florida, but that does not stop some motorists from getting behind the wheel. Distracted driving is another serious problem because of the ways it affects the manual, visual, and cognitive capabilities of the driver. Besides texting, talking on the phone, and surfing the internet, distracted driving includes eating, putting on makeup, and using a GPS.
The insurance company will not limit its investigation into fault by its own insured. Your conduct will also be a focus because of the comparative negligence law in Florida. There was a recent modification to the statute which could impact your interests, so knowing the current state of the law is important. For motorcycle accident claims, insurers will look at how you may have been negligent in causing the crash. If you are 50 percent or more to blame for the crash, you cannot recover any compensation for your losses. When your conduct is less than 50 percent to blame, it may still be reduced by the amount of fault attributable to you.
In practice, the issue of comparative negligence is up to the jury when you go to trial. They decide the percentages based upon the evidence. Still, facts regarding fault by you will be important for settlement discussions with the insurer.
What is described above is how a reputable, prudent insurance company would determine fault in a motorcycle accident. However, insurers are also motivated by profits. Your claim is a threat to the company’s bottom line, so it will do everything in its power to find reasons to deny it. With help from a Florida motorcycle accident attorney, you can overcome the insurer’s improper denial. Solid proof is essential, so should always submit with your claim sufficient evidence to support your position, such as:
Although there are many specific causes behind motorcycle accidents in Florida, most of these tragedies happen because of negligence. In the practice of law, negligence is a theory of liability that requires you to prove that the at-fault motorist caused the crash by failing to drive safely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), negligent driving and carelessness behind the wheel causes almost 6,000 motorcyclist fatalities every year. Plus, another 82,700 riders are injured in motorcycle collisions, leading to massive losses for victims.
Though negligence is the underlying reason that motorcycle accidents happen, there are many specific acts behind these tragic incidents. Your Florida motorcycle accident lawyer will develop a solid legal strategy around the concept of fault, and the common causes of these crashes point to liability by drivers. It is also helpful to know how they happen because you can use relevant safety tips to your advantage.
Many of the common causes of motorcycle collisions are the same as other vehicle crashes, and they typically involve violations of traffic laws. Examples of driver negligence include:
However, there are additional factors at stake when you consider the design of a motorcycle. Issues that may not cause an accident for a four-wheeled vehicle may be devastating when they affect a two-wheeled motorcycle. Balance, momentum, and speed impact the motorcycle rider differently. In addition, a motorcycle has a narrower, lower visual profile, making them less visible to other motorists. Some acts of driver negligence are the result of not being able to see the motorcycle rider.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is also a common cause of motorcycle accidents, but negligence is amplified with DUI crashes. Visibility is already a challenge for some motorists when sober, and yet the ability to focus and concentrate on the road are the among the first abilities affected by alcohol. Plus, impairment affects decision making, leading a drunk driver to take risks or not recognize the threat of a crash. An intoxicated motorist may change lanes into a motorcyclist or strike a rider while speeding through an intersection.
It is crucial to remember that alcohol also has the same effects on a motorcycle rider’s abilities, even after just a single drink. At .02 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), there is a decline in visual capabilities. With a .05 percent BAC, you experience reduced muscular coordination. Therefore, even when not above the legal limit of .08 percent, you put yourself at risk of motorcycle accidents by drinking alcohol.
Distracted driving is another form of driver negligence that is a common cause of motorcycle accidents, and these activities may or may not constitute violations of traffic laws. It is against the law to use a cell phone for texts, surfing the internet, taking photos, or reviewing social media, as well as for talking on the phone without hands-free technology. However, some types of distracted driving are not specifically prohibited by law, such as:
All of these activities, as well as cell phone use, take the driver’s attention away from the only thing they should focus on: Safe operation of the vehicle. Distractions affect motorists visually when their eyes are not on the road, and a driver’s abilities are limited when their hands are occupied with a non-driving action. These risky activities can also affect a motorist’s cognitive capabilities if their thoughts drift off.
Knowing the common causes of motorcycle accidents is useful for protecting yourself, since you may be able to anticipate negligence and careless acts by drivers. Some additional safety tips can help you avoid collisions and minimize the effects if you are involved in a crash:
In an ideal world, fault in a motorcycle accident would be clear-cut and point directly at the negligent motorist’s decisions and actions. Unfortunately, the nature of a traffic crash means that there could be multiple parties whose conduct contributed to the collision. Other vehicles may seem to come out of nowhere, and chain reaction collisions send vehicles around in all directions after second and third impacts. You may not be able to tell which motorist caused the initial event, and other drivers may even put the blame on you.
If you are partly responsible for a motorcycle collision, the Florida comparative fault statute could apply when you pursue legal remedies as a victim. The law highlights the actions of the rider in a motorcycle collision, and whether they contributed to causing the crash. Because the implications could significantly affect your rights, you should consult with a Florida motorcycle accident attorney about recovering damages if you are partially at fault.
Every US state has a rule on the general concept of contributory negligence, in which carelessness by the victim may impact the claim, amount of damages, or both. In Florida, the law establishes a version termed modified comparative negligence, in which two points are critical for a motorcycle collision.
The comparative negligence law in Florida was recently modified by lawmakers, so there can be some confusion and misinformation as the new rules have gone into effect. Before the changes, Florida’s comparative fault statute provided that a victim could recover compensation even when up to 99 percent at fault. Like the current law, the previous rule operated to reduce monetary damages to account for the fault attributable to the victim. If the $100,000 award to a motorcyclist is reduced by factor of fault at 99 percent, the rider would have received $1,000.
There are a few US states that follow a pure contributory fault rule, which has harsh consequences for motorcycle riders and other victims of accidents. With this law, an injured victim cannot recover any monetary damages if they were even slightly at fault.
The application of Florida’s comparative negligence statute comes as part of the civil process, because the notion of fault is one for the finder of fact. This role is held by the judge in a bench trial, but a jury will make the decision regarding the plaintiff’s fault in most trials. The process works as follows:
Many personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident claims, settle by agreement of the parties without going to trial. Therefore, the comparative negligence statute would not be a question for the jury as described above. However, it will be at the forefront for an insurance company when reviewing your claim. The underlying concepts and facts of the crash will impact settlement discussions, because any negligence by you is an unfortunate weakness in your case.
You might find yourself in a position to accept less in compensation, knowing that a jury could find you 50 percent at fault. Still, the insurer knows its policyholder could be assigned a higher percentage of blame, so you have leverage to negotiate.
Florida law protects the interests of motorcycle accident victims by providing powerful legal remedies, so it is important to have a solid strategy to recover damages. In general, the amount you can expect to receive in compensation for your injuries is linked to your losses. Riders suffer serious harm in crashes, as evidenced by statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Based upon figures collected so far, the state is on pace for more than 9,400 total motorcycle collisions in 2023. Almost 550 people are killed every year in these incidents, while 7,500 victims suffer injuries in motorcycle accidents.
The physical, emotional, and financial losses for these victims and their families are devastating, and the implications could affect you in similar fashion. You will need an experienced Florida motorcycle accident lawyer to ensure you receive fair monetary damages, but read on for some details on what to expect.
The concept of monetary damages is based upon the idea that it is unfair for a victim to suffer because of another party’s negligence, so the injured person should be made whole through compensation. There are two categories of damages available for motorcycle crash cases.
Some of the losses you sustain are tangible and can be measured in dollar value. The largest portion of economic damages will likely be your medical costs, including emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, and pain medications. You may also recover amounts for lost wages if you were out of work because of your injuries.
You also suffer diminished quality of life when you were hurt in a motorcycle collision. This class of compensation takes into account how your injuries may limit you in terms of personal relationships and enjoyment of favorite activities. Examples of noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and emotional distress.
It is not possible to give you an exact figure on what you can expect to receive in compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries, because there are countless variables in these cases. The nature of your losses depends on the severity of your injuries. The most common injuries in motorcycle collisions include head and spinal cord injuries, trauma to internal organs, burns, and broken bones. It is important to aggressively pursue monetary damages to cover the related losses that add up, such as:
Motorcycle collisions are unique in many ways, but the basic legal process for recovering compensation is similar to other traffic-related accidents. Your first step is filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Florida law requires all motorists to carry minimum insurance amounts, so the policy is the source of monetary damages.
You might expect that the claims process will be straightforward when you have sufficient evidence of fault and your losses, but insurers are looking out for their own financial interests. Your claim may be denied or you might receive a lowball counteroffer to settle, with the company citing suspicious or bogus reasons for rejecting your claim.
If the insurer refuses to agree to an amount that compensates you fairly, the next step is to sue in court. Litigation involves motions, court appearances, discovery, and depositions during the pre-trial phase. These steps lead up to the trial, where a jury will determine the issue of monetary damages.
When a motorcycle accident results in a fatality, surviving family members have legal remedies to recover monetary damages. The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate has authority to sue in a wrongful death claim to recover losses. This individual may be someone named as executor in a will or appointed by the court when the decedent had no will. On behalf of the surviving spouse, children, parents, and other relatives, the personal representative may seek amounts for:
Every US state requires drivers to carry minimum auto insurance coverage that pays compensation to injured victims when the policyholder causes an accident. Rules about purchasing insurance are established by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), which makes it necessary to have coverage if you want to register a vehicle in the state. The point of the insurance requirement is to ensure an injured victim has access to a source of funds to cover the losses that result from a traffic accident. For those hurt in a motorcycle accident, these losses can be devastating.
When the at-fault motorist in a motorcycle collision does not comply with the law, the legal process is extremely complicated. You still have rights and remedies when the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, but it takes a solid strategy and extensive experience. Your Florida motorcycle accident attorney is prepared to overcome challenges, and an overview will help you understand them.
Florida is one of a few US states that follows a no-fault rule for auto insurance, meaning that motorists can file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident.. They do not need to prove that someone else was at fault. To accommodate this system of auto insurance, motorists are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. As the insured, you could even be the motorist responsible for causing the crash and you can still file a claim for compensation because you pay the premiums.
When a traffic crash causes serious injuries and disfigurement, a person injured in a vehicle collision may opt to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. In such a case, you DO have to prove that the other motorist was negligent. You will also need evidence showing the nature and extent of your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Based upon how Floria’s system of auto insurance works, you have two options to recover compensation when the at-fault motorist is uninsured or underinsured:
It is important to note that the Florida auto insurance requirements only apply to four-wheeled vehicles, so motorcycle riders do not need to comply with the same laws. However, many motorcyclists do also register a passenger vehicle, so they will carry PIP. This coverage pays compensation to you even when you were driving your motorcycle, and NOT the four-wheeled vehicle that you insured.
If you only register a motorcycle and carry insurance accordingly, you have the option to choose PIP as an add-on for your insurance policy. You can also choose to add uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when purchasing a motorcycle insurance policy. Both of these options will pay compensation to you, though your premiums will be higher. In both cases, you will not have to prove fault when dealing with your own insurance company.
When you carry a motorcycle insurance policy that does not include coverage for PIP or uninsured/ underinsured coverage, you would resort to pursuing the at-fault driver directly as in #2 above.
PIP provides much-needed financial compensation when you were injured in a motorcycle accident, but it does not cover the entirety of your losses. For insurance, PIP will reimburse you for 80 percent of medical costs that you incur for treatment of your injuries. In addition, your PIP coverage will pay up to 60 percent of your lost wages if you were unable to work because of motorcycle crash injuries. With both medical expenses and lost income, you are subject to the limits of your PIP policy. The minimum amount is $10,000, though some motorists pay additional amounts for higher PIP coverage.
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