CLEARWATER MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Fighting for Injured Bikers and Motorcycle Accident Victims in Clearwater
Of all the vehicles on American roads, only 3% are motorcycles—but Florida accounts for a significant portion. Statewide motorcycle registration has more than tripled since 2000, starting at 195,000 and growing to 645,000 in 2021. With more motorcyclists on increasingly congested roads, motorcycle accidents in Clearwater, Largo, and surrounding Pinellas County prompted the creation of Florida’s Motorcycle Strategic Safety Plan to help reduce the number of motorcycle injuries, deaths, and crashes in the Clearwater area.
Motorcyclists who practice defensive driving are much less likely to be involved in a motorcycle accident. However, even when bikers take great safety precautions, they may still be hit by another driver and need the help of a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney to protect their legal rights. If you believe you were involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLORIDA MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURY LAWS
While driving any vehicle carries risk, bikers do not have airbags and other safety features to absorb the shock of a collision. These serious accident injuries can put riders in a vulnerable position with insurance companies.
Most Florida motorcycle crash victims do not understand their rights after an accident. If you have been injured, consider the following ways you can recover your losses under Florida motorcycle accident injury laws:
Does Florida No-Fault PIP Coverage Apply to Motorcycles?
In Florida, motorcycle owners cannot purchase personal injury protection, also known as PIP or no-fault insurance. This means you are not entitled to medical and wage-loss benefits after a motorcycle crash.
While Florida also does not mandate any insurance coverage for motorcycle owners, riders who are found liable for an accident and do not have existing coverage may be required to purchase and keep bodily injury and property damage liability protection for three years after an accident. Otherwise, they may risk losing their registration and motorcycle rights.
Not having health or disability insurance can present a financial challenge and a barrier to quality medical treatment after a crash. Frequently, Pinellas County victims of accidents hire a Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyer to help find solutions to bridge this gap until a settlement is reached.
Can You Get Compensation If You Are Partly At Fault for a Motorcycle Crash?
You might think you were at fault for a motorcycle accident. Still, it is only possible to know who is liable with a full investigation. In addition, vehicle manufacturers and government entities are responsible for providing safe equipment and road conditions. Any of these factors could have contributed to your motorcycle accident.
As of March 2023, Florida’s legal fault system has shifted from a pure comparative fault model to a “greater percentage of fault” model under HB 837. The implementation of this new model means that individuals who are more than 50% responsible for their own harm are prohibited from receiving any compensation for their damages.
Motorcycle owners can also obtain uninsured motorist coverage (UM). This insurance protects you in the case of a motorcycle crash with a driver who does not carry liability insurance.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Injury Claim in Florida?
While the time for reporting an accident varies from policy to policy, it is a good idea to report an accident to your insurer as soon as possible. Considering that injuries to motorcycle riders are more likely to be of greater severity and long-term cost, Clearwater motorcycle accident victims are allowed to step outside of the no-fault system and file an injury lawsuit.
The statute of limitations on Florida motorcycle injury cases depends on whether a victim sustained the following:
- Injuries. Any motorcycle rider must file a lawsuit within two years of the accident date to be eligible for compensation. This compensation deadline applies for injury costs and vehicle or personal property damage to your motorcycle.
- Death. If a motorcycle rider was killed due to the crash, family members have two years to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. The two years may start on the date of the motorcycle accident or the date of the person’s death.
Despite having several years to pursue a lawsuit in court, evidence such as witness testimony, photographic evidence, and medical records can be more challenging to obtain or even lost over time. For this reason, it is best to speak to an experienced Clearwater motorcycle crash attorney about your options as soon as possible.
Not Using a Turn Signal
This seemingly minor offense can play a significant role when a Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyer works to determine negligence and fault. Other drivers cannot anticipate a driver’s next move without a turn signal. This scenario is particularly dangerous in auto accidents that involve motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists when reaction time and abilities are slowed.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) report on turn signal usage rates, 1 in 5 crashes in the United States can be attributed to neglected turn signals. The most common accidents following failure to use a turn signal are rear-end accidents.
Failure to Yield Right of Way
The FLHSMV reports that nearly 15,000 injuries and almost 400 fatalities were a direct result of failing to yield the right of way. The simple safe-driving technique is the culprit behind the majority of intersection accidents.
A driver’s failure to wait to turn left against oncoming traffic, to yield to the driver on the right at a 4-way stop, or to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross safely is considered negligent and unsafe driving.
If you have sustained injuries in a car crash that you believe might not have been your fault, contact a Clearwater car accident lawyer who regularly represents car accident injury victims. An experienced motorcycle accident law can investigate your case and help you seek compensation.
FLHSMV REPORTED MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA
REASONS WHY PEOPLE FILE MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CLAIMS IN CLEARWATER
After being involved in a motorcycle crash, you may file a claim against the at-fault driver. There are a variety of benefits and motivations for filing a motorcycle accident claim in Pinellas County, including:
You Need Compensation for Expenses to Help You Recover
You must identify which parties may be legally responsible to hold someone liable for your injuries and losses following a motorcycle accident.
Economic Damages. Special, or economic, damages account for past, present, and future financial losses that you have suffered as a result of a motorcycle crash, including:
- Medical expenses related to the injury-related treatment you have already paid
- Compensation for future estimated medical expenses
- Lost wages from time off from work
- Lost or diminished earnings as a result of a motorcycle accident-related disability
You Need to Recover for Intangible Losses That Have Changed Your Life
In addition to financial losses, you may experience a decline in your quality of life after your motorcycle accident. When previously-enjoyed hobbies are impacted, or your relationships suffer, these changes to your life have the potential to add to your settlement amount.
Non-Economic Damages. Non-economic damages are more subjective losses, such as emotional and physical pain and suffering. Because they are not based on exact dollar amounts, the following non-economic damages are less easily calculated but no less critical to recovering from the effects of trauma:
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma experienced during and after the motorcycle accident
- Compensation for a decline in your quality of life
- Punitive damages to punish the defendant for their negligence or malicious actions
Although motorcycle riders do not apply for no-fault insurance benefits, they do not have to prove a permanent injury to be compensated for pain and suffering. As a result, if you are injured while occupying a motorcycle, you do not have to pass a “serious injury threshold” for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. A motorcycle accident attorney can help determine your eligibility for damages.
You Hold the Negligent Driver Responsible
A successful personal injury claim against the at-fault driver can hold them responsible for your motorcycle accident injuries and force them to face the consequences of their negligence. This process can provide a sense of closure as a victim and help prevent incidents by potentially deterring reckless driving behaviors in the future.
HOW DO MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN IN CLEARWATER?
In analyzing ten years of Florida motorcycle crashes in Clearwater and across the state, a senior researcher at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that 60% of the time, motorists are at fault in motorcycle collisions.
FDOT’s campaign—Look Twice for Motorcycles—hinges on the fact that if people are aware of something, they see it more often. Unfortunately, drivers may breach their duty to drive safely and cause serious harm. With an estimated 65,000 motorcycles in Pinellas County and Hillsborough County alone, these motorists may be liable for the following negligent actions:
Failure to See Motorcycles
Motorcycles have smaller profiles. Because people perceive something’s speed relative to its size, a car or truck driving at 45 mph may be more intimidating than a motorcycle operating at the same speed. As a result, many drivers may yield for larger vehicles but may not yield the right of way to motorcycles. They might also misjudge a motorcycle as being farther away.
Distracted driving can lead to motorcycle accidents involving head-on collisions. These are especially dangerous because the additional forces caused by the motorcycle’s speed amplifies another vehicle’s full speed. The intensity can cause the rider to be ejected from their motorcycle onto the road, into a static object, or even into another vehicle.
Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that one-third of all multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes (those involving a motorcycle and at least one other vehicle) occur when a driver makes a left-hand turn into the path of a motorcycle. Many drivers later report that they did not see the motorcycle when they made the turn.
Unsafe Lane Changes
Drivers and riders must be vigilant and aware of all vehicles by checking rear-view and side-view mirrors or blind spots when changing lanes. Unsafe lane changes may also involve failing to use a turn signal to share their intent. Motorcycle riders may swerve into another vehicle to avoid the oncoming car in these situations.
There were more than 5,000 confirmed alcohol-related crashes on Florida roads in 2016. Of those incidents, there were 461 alcohol-confirmed fatalities. The sobering fact is that drunk driving impairs a driver’s ability to judge speed and distance from a motorcycle’s slim profile. Under the influence of alcohol, drunk drivers also often ignore traffic signals, stop lights, and speed limits. DUI evidence is not always readily available to the victim of a motorcycle accident. Still, a motorcycle crash lawyer can help you obtain the proper records.
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE CRASH INJURIES
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of motorcycle accidents will result in injury or death. A motorcyclist can sustain anything from cuts and abrasions to broken bones or catastrophic injuries. The most common serious injuries in motorcycle accidents include:
The most common motorcycle accident injuries are lower-extremity injuries such as foot, ankle, leg, knee, thigh, hip, and pelvic fractures. Riders may sustain injuries from forceful impact after being thrown from their bike against another vehicle or to the ground. Riders may even sustain impact injuries from their own bike falling on top of them.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Wearing a helmet is the best way to guard against a traumatic brain injury. The NHTSA found that
Proving a motorcycle accident TBI in Florida requires the knowledge and expertise of a medical expert—often a healthcare provider—who can testify that you sustained a serious brain injury due to someone else’s negligence. A motorcycle crash lawyer can use these expert accounts to connect your TBI to the accident to help you recover monetary compensation in the form of damages.
Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries
A blow to the neck or back that fractures, dislocates, crushes, or compresses one or more vertebrae can cause a traumatic spinal cord injury or paralysis. According to the Mayo Clinic, motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for more than 40% of new cases yearly.
Internal Organ Injuries
The impact trauma from a crash can cause sharp ends from broken and dislodged ribs to
damage a rider’s internal organs after a motorcycle accident. If not diagnosed and treated immediately, internal organ damage, including damage to muscles, nerves, and other soft tissue in the chest and abdomen, can lead to life-threatening infection.
CASE RESULTS AND SETTLEMENTS IN CLEARWATER MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURY CASES
The Fran Haasch Law Group has earned a reputation as injury attorneys who fight for maximum financial compensation for our clients. If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, or Pasco County, our motorcycle accident attorneys are ready to provide aggressive and proven representation. The following are clients we have helped to recover significant damages:
Learn more about our successful cases and view more case results here.
PURSUE LEGAL HELP FROM A CLEARWATER MOTORCYCLE CRASH ATTORNEY
Motorcycle laws combined with Florida’s unique insurance system can be confusing. Motorcycle accident victims should focus on recovering from a severe injury without worrying about lost wages and medical expenses. Contacting a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash can help you understand the Florida personal injury law protections to which you are entitled.
The skilled team of attorneys at The Fran Haasch Law Group represents motorcycle accident victims who have sustained various injuries and losses. If you or a loved one has been injured, do not hesitate to contact a Clearwater motorcycle crash attorney from our firm to begin evaluating your case as soon as possible. To schedule your free consultation, call our motorcycle accident lawyers at (727) 390-0123 or contact us online today.