By: KGD Law
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Personal Injury Lawsuits Following Motorcycle Accidents
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, an average of 9,727 motorcycle accidents occur every year on Florida roadways. An average of 520 people die each year, and 7,943 people are injured in motorcycle accidents. This leads to multiple personal injury lawsuits following motorcycle accidents each year.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
There is more risk involved in riding a motorcycle than there is in an enclosed vehicle because it does not offer the protection of the enclosure. According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), people were 27 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident in 2017.
Head injuries are a common cause of motorcycle deaths, which is why it is recommended that all riders wear helmets. Florida does not require the use of helmets if you are over 21 years of age as long as you have medical benefits in the amount of $10,000 or more. Those who wear helmets are 37% less likely to die in a motorcycle accident and 63% less likely to suffer head injuries according to IIHS.
Alcohol may be a significant factor in causing motorcycle accidents. In 2018, 26% of fatalities involved drivers who had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of equal to or over 0.08. Sixteen percent had a BAC of equal to or over 0.15. Almost half of motorcycle deaths at night involved riders with BACs above 0.08.
Common Causes of Accidents
Alcohol is an obvious reason for any motor vehicle accident, but motorcycles are a high risk for accidents for many other reasons. Here are some common causes of motorcycle accidents.
- Loss of control: Losing control of a motorcycle is very easy because the vehicle is less stable due to riding on only two wheels. Riding involves balance, cornering technique, skill and experience when riding in adverse conditions, and situational awareness. Coming up on a corner too fast can leave a rider with no way out of an accident.
- Weather conditions: Every weather condition presents a different challenge when riding. The wind can be brutal, and wind gusts can cause motorcyclists to move in and out of lanes of traffic unpredictably. Hot or wet weather can result in tar hazards making ‘tar snakes’ in the road that can be slippery.
- Visibility: Lastly, motorcycles are not very visible to other drivers on the road. This makes unsafe lane changes, left turns, and simply existing on the road more dangerous. Drivers simply aren’t looking out for motorcycles. They’re watching for other full size vehicles. That is why there is a Motorcycle Awareness Campaign to remind drivers to look out for motorcycles too.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Following Motorcycle Accidents
If you lose control on your bike or drink and ride, you aren’t likely to have a personal injury lawsuit. There must be another party at fault in order to assign liability. However, there are many cases where another person is at least partially at fault because they don’t see the bike or cause the accident via negligence.
It is possible to file a suit for intentional damages in a motorcycle accident, but most accidents are true accidents. That’s why negligence is the common reason for the suit.
What is negligence?
Negligence requires three primary elements. A person had a duty to act, the failure to meet that duty was the cause of the damages, and there were damages.
Gross negligence means that the person who failed to meet the duty did so in a reckless manner, possibly somewhat purposefully. In these types of cases, a court may also award punitive damages. An example of a gross negligence case regarding a motorcycle accident could come from road rage.
Comparative negligence means that the motorcycle rider was partially at-fault. In some states this would mean the court would not award damages to the plaintiff (rider). In Florida, there is comparative negligence. This means the courts reduce the damages by the amount that the plaintiff was at fault.
Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
In order to file a personal injury lawsuit, there must be damages. If there is no harm, then there is no lawsuit. Damages can be monetary or non-monetary.
Monetary damages usually involve medical bills, loss of income, damages to the vehicle, and future expenses. These damages are easily computed because there are actual numbers to add together.
Non-monetary damages are more complex. They include pain and suffering, loss of reputation, and emotional damages. In wrongful death suits, the damages are applied to the loved one who suffers the loss of a family member.
Lastly, punitive measures are sometimes applied in order to deter gross negligence. In these cases, the courts award the plaintiff more money not because of the amount of suffering but rather to punish the defendant for gross negligence.
Evidence in Personal Injury Lawsuits Following Motorcycle Accidents
If a person is badly injured in a motorcycle accident, it may be difficult to gather evidence. If he or she is able, getting witness information can be critical to getting a credible account of what happened.
Getting evidence following the accident is more difficult but still possible. Witnesses may come forward. If you have a dashcam, that can be used to show your view of what happened. Surveillance cameras may have recorded the accident.
Other things that can be helpful to your case prove other damages. This could be repair bills for your motorcycle, medical bills, and testimonies from medical professionals. It may also include testimony from friends or family who witnessed your pain and suffering.
Anything that you can gather, especially tangible items such as bills, can help your case. Talk to your lawyer about the evidence that will help your case, and be diligent in keeping records of all of your expenses. It is not very likely that you can collect too much evidence. It’s not really possible, but your lawyer will pare it down to what needs to be presented to the courts.
Choosing a Lawyer
If you decide to file a lawsuit, one of the most important things you will need to do is choose a lawyer. Lawsuits always involve some stress, and you want to go through the process with someone who you trust and someone who listens. If you don’t have a good feeling about an attorney who you are considering, it isn’t likely to change. First impressions do matter, so be a little picky with whom you choose. Lawsuits can be lengthy, so trusting your lawyer removes some of the stress you’ll experience.
The lengthy process involved in a lawsuit is also why you want to choose a lawyer who has experience. Someone who specializes or has experience in the type of suit you are filing will help. It will help to make sure you are successful in your case, and it may help to shorten the time it takes. Your lawyer will be able to distill the steps down to only what is essential, so you can spend time healing or grieving instead of waiting for a judgement.
If you are interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit following a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a no-obligation consultation. You’ll speak to an actual lawyer right away.