After A Florida Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycling in Florida is not just a pastime; it is an institution. Between the number of riders and the ‘bike tourism,’ culminating in events like Bike Week, motorcyclists are a fact of life in Florida. Unfortunately, this means that motorcycle accidents are as well. However, too many bikers and bystanders do not know what to do if they are in an accident or they witness an accident. The moments following a motorcycle crash can make all the difference in terms of how well someone recovers from their injuries.
If you have been involved in an accident, you are required by law to remain at the scene. If the other driver is still on the scene, you are required to exchange information. If someone has been injured or killed, if property damage over $500 has occurred, or if one of the drivers involved was intoxicated or was a hit-and-run driver, law enforcement needs to be called, though medical help should be called as quickly as possible to transport anyone who needs care to the nearest hospital. (If none of these factors is present, you can file a crash report yourself within 10 days of the accident instead of having a law enforcement officer do so.)
If you are in an accident with an unoccupied vehicle, you must, by law, try to notify the owner, either by physically searching around or by leaving a note with your name, address, and license plate number, so that you can be contacted to exchange information, and you must report the accident to law enforcement. Failure to do either will often result in you being charged with leaving the scene of an accident, because there is no proof that you exercised any kind of effort to find the owner of the damaged vehicle.
Once everyone involved has received necessary medical treatment, you can then try to seek compensation for your injuries. Unlike with automobile accidents (where two or more autos collide), motorcyclists are more likely to wind up bringing suit against a negligent driver, because Florida’s no-fault system of auto insurance does not apply to motorcycles – it only applies to 4-wheeled vehicles. Thus, even if you have PIP auto insurance, it will not cover injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. You may seek payment from the insurer of the negligent driver, but if they lack bodily injury coverage, or are totally uninsured, which is sadly common in Florida, you may have no choice but to bring suit.
If you do wind up bringing suit, it is important to keep in mind that you may have a somewhat rougher time establishing liability than you might think. Bias against motorcyclists from juries is not unheard of, with many non-bikers still holding beliefs that motorcyclists are reckless, or that anyone on a motorcycle has gang affiliations. The opposing counsel may try to argue that you were indeed reckless, especially if you were not wearing a helmet (even though Florida law does not require you to wear one if you are over age 21). However, Florida observes the doctrine of comparative fault, which means that even if you are judged to have been partially liable for your own injuries, you can still recover, just minus that portion – for example, if you are held to be 20 percent at fault for your injuries, you could still, in theory, recover 80 percent of your bills.
Can A Tampa Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help You?
Motorcycles are smaller, less protective vehicles than cars or trucks, and as such, motorcyclists are infinitely more likely to be injured or even killed in accidents. If you and the others involved in a motorcycle accident act quickly and appropriately, you may be able to save someone pain and suffering – but any negligence must still be called into account. The Tampa motorcycle accident lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group can sit down with you and try to guide you through what can be a complex process. Call our office today for a free consultation.