The weather in Southwest Florida is perfect for those that love to enjoy the open road on two wheels. Unfortunately, as motorcycle riders have significantly lower protection than those traveling in passenger vehicles, when motorcycle accidents occur they have a higher probability of resulting in injury. The state of Florida leads the country with motorcycle fatalities and injuries sustained from accidents on our roadways. For motorcyclist accidents alone, Florida is home to over 10% of all fatalities in the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), since 2007, an average of over 5,000 fatalities have occurred as a result of motorcycle accidents with over 90,000 motorcycle riders injured each year. In 2017 alone there were 5,172 fatally injured motorcyclists across the country with over 500 of those fatalities occurring in Florida. It is estimated that one in every five deaths involving a motor vehicle includes a motorcyclist in the state of Florida.
But motorcyclists only account for 7% of all licensed drivers in the state, so why is riding a motorcycle in Florida more dangerous than in other states?
Since 2000, the state of Florida has not required motorcyclists to wear a helmet as long as they are above the age of 21 and carry an insurance coverage that meets the $10,000 minimum liability requirements for private passenger vehicles. In fact, the only gear required for motorcyclists to wear is a form of protective eye wear. Other states have passed laws regarding motorcyclists wearing helmets, and nineteen states have laws that are considered to be “universal helmet laws” which require not only the driver of the motorcycle to wear a helmet but also any passengers. Florida, however, is not one of them.
According to a 2017 AAA Consumer Pulse Survey, many drivers cited the use of phones and other technology as their biggest concerns of distracted driving leading to accidents. Specifically, drivers cited texting as the single most dangerous distraction while in use of a motor vehicle.
Additionally, Florida also has a higher rate of motorcyclists on the road compared to other states. Florida is home to over 500,000 registered motorcycles, second only to the state of California.
When you combine existing laws, an ever increasing amount of distracted drivers, and a state that features some of the highest numbers of motorcyclists on the road it’s no surprise that Florida has such a high number of motorcycle accidents that occur each year.
In the event of an accident, it may be possible to recover compensation for damages incurred from an at-fault party.
As Florida law treats motorcycles nearly the same as cars, motorcyclists are expected to follow the same rules of the road as other passenger vehicles. Where the two methods of transportation differ are their requirements for insurance. The state of Florida does not require personal injury protection (PIP), Florida’s no-fault insurance, for motorcyclists. Personal injury protection is only required for four-wheeled automobiles in the state. The only insurance requirement in the state of Florida for motorcyclists is that operators carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits.
If no-fault insurance does not cover motorcycle claims or insurance will not cover the entirety of the costs associated with an injury, how would an individual file a claim for damages associated with an accident? In Florida, an injured person can receive compensatory damages—the legal term for money awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for damages, injury, or another incurred loss—which may include both economic and non-economic damages. Examples of these damages may include any of the following:
In other cases, where a motorcycle accident may be the result of a defect in the motorcycle itself, it may be possible to file a claim against the manufacturer of the motorcycle in order to recover compensatory damages.
The Florida statute of limitations—the time that an injured person has to file a claim—is 4 years from the date of the incident, for a typical motorcycle accident claim. In the case of a fatality from a motorcycle accident, the statute of limitations may be limited to two years for wrongful death claims.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident as a result of the negligence of another, you may have the right to seek compensation to recover damages for any injuries sustained. When pursuing a motorcycle accident claim, it is imperative you hire an attorney with an extensive knowledge of Florida’s personal injury law. Treatment of injuries from a motorcycle accident can be costly, painful, and take months or even years to recover. Our attorneys take pride in providing one-on-one legal representation for each case we handle and are committed to protecting the rights of our clients from start to finish.
For a complimentary case review with an attorney, please contact our office directly at (239) 466-1161. Additionally, you may also fill out the form below and a member of our staff will contact you once your inquiry is received.