Someone’s carelessness may cause a motorcyclist to get hurt in a Florida accident. Find out the many aspects to a Florida motorcyclist accident case.
What is Considered a Motorcycle in Florida?
“Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle powered by a motor with a displacement of more than 50 cubic centimeters, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor or moped. Florida Statutes 322.01
Do Florida Motorcyclists Have the Same Rights and Duties as Drivers of Other Vehicles?
Yes, except as to special regulations in this Florida Statute Chapter 316.
Proving Fault in a Florida Motorcycle Accident Case
A motorcyclist may be hurt in an accident in Florida. He or she may want to recover damages. (I discuss damages further below.)
Proving liability in a motorcycle accident case is similar to a car crash case.
Jorge is riding a motorcycle in Miami, Florida. A truck makes a left hand turn in front of Jorge. Jorge has the right of way.
The front of the truck strikes Jorge. Jorge is thrown off the motorcycle. Jorge fractures his knee and finger.
The truck driver’s carelessness caused Jorge’s injury. Therefore, Jorge is entitled to damages.
Examples of Negligence in a Motorcycle Crash Case
Another vehicle may be negligent. The following are examples of possible negligence on the other vehicle in a motorcycle crash:
- Careless driving
- Speeding based on poor weather conditions or traffic
- Moving violation resulting in a crash
- Failing to stop at a traffic signal, red light or stop sign
- Failure to yield the right of way (Check out my settlements for $445,000, $100,000, $35,000, $10,000, $10,000
- Reckless driving
- Leaving an accident scene (Hit and Run)
- Improper lane change
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- DUI Manslaughter
- Distracted driving
- Rear end collisions
- Crashing into a garage
- Improper turn
- Improper passing
- Following too closely
- Head on collisions
- Brake Lights that were not working properly
- Failure to signal a turn
- Sudden stops
- Getting out of the vehicle and assaulting a driver
A driver may commit one of the above traffic violations. If so, this may help the motorcyclist prove fault.
Another example of negligence is if someone leaves a dangerous object in the road. This may include debris, a pothole or an uneven road surface.
Can a Witness Help Prove Fault?
Yes. The injured motorcyclist should get every witness’ name and contact information. Contact info includes phone number, email address and home address.
Some witnesses leave before police arrive. The victim should get a written witness statement.
A witness statement can make or break a case. Witnesses will forget facts of the accident as time passes.
Who Can an Injured Motorcyclist Sue in a Florida accident?
There are over 11 potentially liable parties in a Florida car accident case. The same parties may be liable in a Florida motorcycle crash case.
How Does a Motorcyclist’s Fault Affect a Florida Injury Case?
If the motorcyclist is 20% at fault, the full value of his case is reduced by 20%. The full value of the case is discounted by 80% if the motorcyclist is 80% at fault.
In Florida, the motorcyclist is entitled to damages even if he or she is more than 51% at fault. Florida is one of thirteen states to have this rule. It is more favorable than the law of many other states.
Examples of a Motorcyclist’s Negligence in a Florida Crash
A motorcyclist is required to follow many of the same rules as Florida car drivers. Some additional violations that may constitute fault on the Florida motorcyclist’s part are:
Overtaking and Passing In the Same Lane Occupied by the Vehicle Being Overtaken
A motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. Florida Statute 316.209.
Operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
A motorcyclist shall not operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Operating a Motorcycle with Unreasonably High Handlebars
A rider should not operate any motorcycle with handlebars or with handgrips that are higher than the top of the shoulders of the person operating the motorcycle while properly seated upon the motorcycle. 316.2095.
Stop Lamps and turn signals
Every motorcycle shall have two or more stop lamps meeting the requirements of s. 316.234(1). If a motorcycle does not have two stop lamps or one is broken, the motorcyclist share fault.
This only applies if a vehicle hits the motorcycle in the rear. Someone would have to claim that the broken rear lights caused or contributed to the crash.
Every motorcycle shall have electric turn signal lamps. 316.234(2). If a vehicle crashes into the motorcycle, someone may claim that the motorcycle did not have turn signals.
This may constitute fault on the motorcyclist and reduce the case’s full value. This only applies if failure to have turn signals caused or contributed to the accident.
Failure to wear a helmet
A motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet may reduce the value of the injury claim. This only applies to the damages part of the claim that arises from a head injury.
Anyone under 16 years of age must wear a motorcycle helmet and may only ride as a passenger on any motorcycle regardless of engine size.
If someone is 16 years old or younger and he or she is not wearing a helmet, he or she may be at fault. This only applies to the head and neck injury portion of the claim.
Research shows that, with few exceptions, head and neck injuries are reduced by the proper wearing of an approved helmet. Most riders are riding less than 30 mph when a crash occurs. Helmets can cut lower both the number and the severity of head injuries by half.
No matter what the speed, helmeted riders are three times more likely to survive head injuries than those not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
Expect the claims adjuster to make this arguments. The claims adjuster may reduce the full value of the motorcyclist’s head and neck injury claim for failure to wear a helmet.
Failure to wear a helmet should not reduce the value of the injury claim related to other body parts.
Anyone 16 years of age but less than 21 years of age must wear a helmet when operating or riding upon a motorcycle. S. 316.211 F.S. Fault may be assessed if the occupant fails to wear a helmet. This only applies to the head injury portion of the claim.
However, if a motorcyclist is over 21 years of age he does not need headgear if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries suffered as a result of a motorcycle crash. Florida Statute 316.211.
The reality is that some jurors will be bothered at the motorcyclist for not wearing a helmet. This is true whether the motorcyclist complies with the helmet law.
Jurors may be less likely to believe a motorcyclist who did not wear a helmet.
Eye Protective Devices
A plastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a crash. It also protects you from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects and pebbles thrown up from cars ahead. These problems are distracting and can be painful.
If you have to deal with them, you cannot devote your full attention to the road. The BI liability insurer may try to blame the accident on the motorcyclist’s distractions caused by failing to wear a face shield.
A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles. Most windshields will not protect your eyes from the wind.
A motorcyclist may not operate a motorcycle unless the person is wearing an eye-protective device over his or her eyes. It must be a type approved by the department. Florida Statute 316.211(2).
Failure to wear the eye-protective device may constitute comparative negligence if the motorcyclist injures an eye.
Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night. The BI insurer may try to place blame on a motorcyclist for wearing tinted eye protection at night.
The Proper Motorcycle
The motorcyclist should be driving a street-legal motorcycle. It should have:
- A headlight, tail-light and brake-light.
- Front and rear brakes
- Turn signals
- Two mirrors.
If a rider is using a motorcycle without one of the above devices, it may reduce the full value of the case. This only applies if the failure to have one of those devices caused or contributed to the wreck.
Does a Motorcycle Rider Still Have a Case if He Was Hurt in an Accident and Didn’t Have a Motorcycle License?
Maybe. I wrote a separate article that talks about how a motorcycle rider’s case is affected if the rider didn’t have a motorcycle endorsement on his or her license.
That article also talks about a motorcycle rider’s case if he didn’t even have a driver’s license.
Compensation in a Florida Motorcycle Accident Case
Someone’s negligence may cause injury to a motorcyclist. The victim may recover different types of damages.
Florida motorcyclists are not entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Find out how motorcycle riders get their bills paid after a Florida wreck.
Medical Payments (“Medpay”) Coverage
Some Florida motorcycles may have medical payments (‘Medpay”). This will pay for medical bills up to the limits of the Medpay coverage.
Medicaid and/or Medicare
Some motorcycle riders have Medicaid and/or Medicare. Learn if Medicare pays medical bills from a Florida motorcycle accident.
Medicare may have a big effect on an injury case. There are advantages of a Medicare recipient hiring a lawyer if he or she is making an injury claim. One advantage is Medicare will reduce its lien.
Medicaid will pay medical bills after a motorcycle crash. However, Florida medical providers do not have to bill Medicaid if another party is responsible.
Some Florida hospitals, such as Jackson Memorial in Miami-Dade County, Florida may not bill Medicaid if they learn that someone’s negligence caused the motorcyclists injury.
Bodily Injury (“BI”) Liability Coverage
The negligent driver and/or owner of the car may have bodily injury (“BI”) liability coverage. BI liability coverage would pay for the motorcyclist’s medical expenses.
If the negligent driver has BI liability coverage, the limits may be insufficient to cover the motorcyclist’s medical bills. BI coverage is optional in Florida.
Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) Liability Coverage
Uninsured motorist (“UM”) liability coverage may pay for the motorcycle occupant’s medical bills if he or she is covered under a policy providing UM while on a motorcycle.
Pain and Suffering Compensation in a Florida Motorcycle Accident
In Florida, PIP does not cover motorcycles. A motorcycle occupant can get pain and suffering damages without having a permanent injury.
This is very favorable to motorcycle occupants who are hurt in a Florida crash. The motorcycle rider still has to show that a negligent party caused his or her injury.
Are Florida Motorcycle Accident Claims Worth More than Car Accident Claim?
All things equal, yes. I am referring to the personal injury portion of the claim.
A Florida motorcyclist never has to have a permanent injury in order to be entitled to pain and suffering damages.
For settlement evaluation purposes, the pain and suffering component of a motorcycle crash claim is not discounted if there is no permanent injury.
The biggest reason for low offers in Florida car crashes is the tort threshold. It is one of the reasons why many Florida auto insurers only offer a few thousand dollars if the victim is claiming a herniated disc.
This assumes that the victim needs to meet the tort threshold in a car crash case.
Another reason for higher offers in a motorcycle crash case is that a victim may fall off the motorcycle. It is harder for an auto insurer to argue that a herniated disc was not caused by falling of the motorcycle.
Adjusters are likely to argue that a car crash with no property damage cannot cause a herniated disc.
What Are Your Rights if A Motorcyclist Hits You in Florida?
Sometimes a motorcyclist’s is responsible for the accident. A motorcycle passenger may be hurt.
A motorcyclist may hit a pedestrian or someone else. Find out your rights if a motorcyclist caused your injury in Florida.
Which insurance companies are good in Florida Motorcycle Crash Cases?
Each insurance company in Florida has a reputation for paying motorcycle accident claims. Find out which insurers are good, which are OK, and which are bad.
How Long Does a Motorcyclist Have to Make a Claim After a Florida Crash?
If someone’s negligence kills a motorcycle occupant in a Florida crash, the personal representative has two (2) years to bring a wrongful death claim.
In most cases, the motorcycle occupant has four (4) years to make a negligence claim. There are some situations where the time is shorter.
The shorter times usually apply if the federal government caused the crash.
A motorcycle occupant has five (5) years to make a claim against UM liability coverage in a Florida motorcycle or auto policy.
The deadline to make a claim under the Medical Payments coverage depends on the motorcycle insurance policy language.
What Happens if a Florida Motorcyclist is Injured While on a Motorcycle Outside of Florida?
It depends on the types of coverage in the motorcycle:
- Owner’s insurance policy.
- Occupant’s UM liability coverage in an auto insurance policy.
- Occupant’s resident relative’s UM liability coverage in an auto insurance policy.
It also may depend on the other state’s laws.
What is the Most Frustrating Part of a Florida Motorcycle Crash Case?
The worst part of a Florida motorcycle injury case is that there is often not enough BI insurance to pay for the injuries. Sometimes there is no BI liability insurance.
Florida cars are not required to carry BI liability coverage. Most motorcyclists do not insure motorcycles.
Those who do insure a motorcycle often do not purchase UM liability coverage. Hopefully they have stacking UM liability coverage on an auto insurance policy to which they are an insured.
Jury Bias in a Florida Motorcycle Accident Case
Most Florida motorcycle accident claims settle before trial. In Florida, a jury decides whether a motorcycle rider should get money for his or her injury. Many jurors have bias against motorcyclists.
This may decrease the full value of a motorcycle accident case.
$445K Settlement for Motorcycle Rider Hit by Truck in Hialeah (Broken Leg)
A motorcycle rider was cruising down the street in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County. He was riding the motorcycle in the photo below.
A driver of an 18 wheeler (tractor trailer) was heading straight in the opposite direction.
While he was inpatient at Hialeah Hospital, the rider called our motorcycle accident law firm. Within hours of the phone call, Miami motorcycle accident lawyer Justin “JZ” Ziegler drove to meet with the injured rider at the hospital.
In fact, attorney Justin Ziegler took the photo (in the video thumbnail above) of the motorcyclist at that visit. He hired us at that hospital visit.
Chartis Insurance (now AIG) insured the semi truck.
The motorcycle rider got a $445,000 settlement for his injuries. The total settlement was over 14 times the amount of medical bills that he owed.
We represented the motorcycle rider.
$100K Settlement for Motorcycle Rider Hit By Car (Herniated Disc and ED)
Our client was a young man who was riding a motorcycle in Wynwood, Miami-Dade County, Florida. Wynwood is North of Overtown and Downtown Miami, and South of Little Haiti.
A driver of a car crashed into him. The driver received a ticket for careless driving.
$35K Settlement for Motorcyclist Hit By Car in Jacksonville (Shoulder Injury)
A rider was on his motorcycle in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. A driver of a car made a left hand turn in front of the rider. The rider flew off the motorcycle. (See the diagram above.)
At the hospital, the motorcycle rider was diagnosed with a rotator cuff (shoulder) tear. However, the radiologist who read the MRI said that the tear wasn’t acute. In other words, the radiologist said that the tear was there before the accident.
I claimed that the accident aggravated (worsened) his rotator cuff tear. Progressive insured the car owner. State Farm insured the careless driver’s employer. The total combined BIL insurance available was $35,000.
The motorcycle rider ultimately had shoulder surgery.
$10K Settlement for Lower Leg (Tibia) Fracture with Surgery
A man was riding a motorcycle in Allapattah, Miami-Dade County, Florida. (Allapattah is to the North of Little Havana.)
Unfortunately, a driver of car was heading in the opposite direction. The car made a left hand turn in front of the motorcycle rider. He fractured his lower leg bone (tibia). Doctors inserted a rod into the motorcyclist’s leg.
He had a several day hospital stay. The motorcycle rider hired me shortly after the crash.
Unfortunately, the at fault driver only had $10,000 in bodily injury insurance. Unfortunately, my client didn’t have uninsured motorist insurance.
The careless driver had no collectible assets.
Other Attorney’s Florida Motorcycle Accident Verdicts
What are the Most Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents?
The most common injuries from a motorcycle accident are:
- Rotator cuff injury, shoulder injury
- Herniated disc or bulging disc
- Wrist fracture or tear
- Ankle fracture or tear
- Broken hip
- Lower leg (tibia/fibula) injury
- Upper arm (Humerus) fracture
- Broken Foot
- Upper leg bone (Femur) fracture
- Elbow fracture
Does a Motorcycle Accident Victim Need a Lawyer?
Find out if you need a lawyer if you’re hurt in a Florida motorcycle wreck.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in a Florida motorcycle crash or other type of accident?
See Our Settlements
I am a Miami motorcycle accident lawyer. I have settled many Florida injury cases. They include, but not limited to, car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, pedestrian accidents, taxi accidents, drunk driving (DUI) accidents.
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My Miami law firm represents people injured anywhere in Florida in car accidents, truck accidents, slip, trip and falls, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, drunk driving crashes, pedestrian accidents, taxi accidents, accidents involving an Uber or Lyft Driver, and many other types of accidents.
We want to represent you if you were hurt in an accident in Florida. If you were injured in another state but live in Florida, we may also be able to represent you.
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