Florida Motorcycle Accidents
In Florida, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have different rights than the driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved in a car accident.
Unfortunately, Florida, and especially South Florida can be one of the most dangerous places to operate a motorcycle. Florida has a large population of drivers from South and Central America where the rules of the road are basically an "anything goes" mentality. Combine that with one of the largest numbers of uninsured drivers along with a large group of senior ctitzens operating vehicles well into their 80's and another large group of sixteen year old children driving with little or no experience and you have one of the most dangerous places to operate a motor vehicle let alone a motorcycle.
It is a fact that motorcycles are far less visible than a car. They often travel at higher rates of speed and much quicker rates of acceleration. Unlike a car that has seat belts, air bags and crumple zones, the only protection a motorcyclist has is quick reflexes, a helmet and maybe a crash suit with some type of plating to allow the driver to slide down the road on his back. Some studies have shown that older riders are having an increasing number of motorcycle accidents. Is it because their reaction time has decreased?
Because of the force of a collision with a much heavier car or striking a fixed object, motorcyclist injuries are more likely to be permanent, catastrophic, or fatal. Brain injury and spinal injury occur at a higher rate, and broken bones and road rash can be severe, disabling injuries.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
Yes and no. All motorcycle riders under 21 are required by Florida Law to wear a helmet. Riders 21 and older can go without a helmet if they have $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. Note: riders must have proof of this coverage with them while they are riding without a helmet.
What if the motorcycle accident victim was not wearing a helmet and suffered a head injury?
Florida law is still in a little bit of flux regarding the legal effect of not wearing a helmet in a motorcycle crash. It has no effect on your right to recover for broken bones, road rash, and injuries to other body parts. For head injuries the legal principles involved are called “comparative fault” and “mitigation of damages.” Most likely the mitigation theory will be applied to your case, so the jury will be told that even if the car driver was 100 percent at fault the jury should decide if the head injury would have been less severe or non-existent if you had “mitigated” your damages and protected yourself with a helmet. If so then your recovery could be less.
Why do motorcycle riders need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
You do not legally have to have it, but you really need it. You already know the biggest risks to you as a motorcycle rider; no matter how safely you ride, a car will turn in front of you, or slam into you from behind, and the driver will tell the police or insurance adjuster they just didn’t see the motorcycle.
Unfortunately, there are far too many car drivers out there who have no liability insurance (Florida does not require liability insurance either). That means there is a high probability the person who causes your motorcycle accident will have no insurance and insufficient assets from which to compensate you for your damages.
When you buy uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, what you are doing in effect is buying liability insurance for the other guy who hits you. This provides a source of funds to compensate you when you are hit by un uninsured or underinsured driver.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a motorcycle accident, call The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim for a free consultation at (954) 966-3900. One of our attorneys may also come to visit with you for your convenience.