Tampa Motorcycle Crash Accident Attorney
Advocating for Injured Bikers in Tampa Motorcycle Accidents
With wide-open roads, year-round beautiful weather and scenic views of the Gulf Coast, it is no wonder that Hillsborough County and the state of Florida rank among the highest areas with registered motorcycles. But the lack of protection can cause catastrophic injuries to motorcycle drivers and their passengers, resulting in the need for a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney to protect your legal rights.
The section of Tampa Bay’s Interstate 75 where Gibsonton Drive feeds into Boyette Road is particularly dangerous with a recorded 49 total crashes or 21 accidents per mile of roadway. Most often, motorcycles here are involved in left-turn accidents with drivers failing to yield the right-of-way. Combine this with aggressive or distracted driving on Florida highways, and motorcyclists suffer disproportionately. Victims often seek out the help of a motorcycle crash attorney to navigate Florida law.
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Common Causes of Tampa Motorcycle Accidents
In 2018, there were over 600 motorcycle crashes and 31 deaths in Tampa alone. According to a recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, car drivers were found to be at fault 60% of the time in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, typically due to negligent driving.
Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers but are at an increased risk from factors ranging from lack of protective equipment to drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most drivers “look but fail to see” motorcycles. Other examples of negligent driver behaviors that endanger motorcyclists include:
Drivers Not Checking Before Changing Lanes
Speeding in Intersections and Aggressive Driving
Speeding through intersections is especially problematic when drivers fail to see motorcycles. A motorcycle accident that occurs while a vehicle or rider is making an unprotected left turn can eject the rider from the bike with serious consequences.
Many drivers also harbor a preconceived bias that stereotypes motorcycle riders and can lead to aggressive driving behaviors. Driving too closely, or tailgating, is especially dangerous because motorcycles produce a shorter reaction time. When the space needed for quick maneuvering is cut short by an aggressive motorist changing lanes too quickly, it often leads to a motorcycle crash.
Despite the public service campaign effort to “Watch for Motorcycles” by the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition and Ride Smart Florida, many drivers simply do not see motorcyclists. To make matters worse, teen drivers and adult drivers alike engage in distracted driving that involves smartphone use and texting while driving.
Understanding Florida Motorcycle Laws if You Have Been Injured
Are Motorcycle Helmets Required in Florida?
Generally speaking, Florida law requires that all motorcyclists wear helmets. However,
exceptions to this rule include:
- Riders over the age of 21 are exempt from wearing a helmet
- Motorcycle riders covered by an insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in medical coverage are exempt
- Individuals over the age of 16 riding a motorcycle with a 50CC engine or less, under two-brake horsepower and incapable of speeds over 30 mph are also exempt
Choosing not to wear a helmet is your right, yet it places you at risk for experiencing a serious head injury. If a reckless driver crashes into your motorcycle, you may be thrown from your bike, hitting your head and causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Even still, a helmet does not always provide adequate protection. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you should seek help from a Tampa motorcycle injury attorney to seek justice and compensation.
2018 Helmet Use & Injury Levels in Florida Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accident injuries with and without a helmet result in incapacitating injuries such as
broken bones and severed limbs, and non-incapacitating injuries, such as bruises and abrasions. Possible injuries indicate no visible injuries but complaints of pain or unconsciousness.
Can Not Wearing a Helmet Affect a Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?
While Florida does not have universal helmet laws, failure to wear a motorcycle helmet
may have an impact on your motorcycle crash claim.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that your recovery may be reduced by the percentage that you are found to also be responsible for causing an accident.
Although this is not always the case, if you sustain a head injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a motorcycle accident, it is possible that you may be found partially responsible for your own injuries if it becomes clear that a helmet could have prevented your injury or made it less severe. A Tampa motorcycle accident attorney can help you better determine liability in your case.
Do Tampa Motorcycle Drivers Need Insurance Coverage?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state that requires those who register a motor vehicle to carry minimum amounts of property damage liability coverage and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. But motorcyclists are exempt from these insurance laws.
Even if you have a PIP policy for your truck or passenger vehicle, it does not extend to your motorcycle. Given the fact that motorcycle crash injuries are more severe, the financial risk is even greater. Under Florida law, the driver is held financially responsible if charged in a motorcycle crash. This means you have three options to ensure coverage:
- Purchase liability insurance from a licensed Florida insurance carrier
- Obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate with the DHSMV
- Secure a Self-Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility
If a motorcycle accident occurs without insurance, penalties include having your driving privileges suspended, having your registration suspended, being forced to purchase liability coverage for three years, and potentially having a civil judgement against you.
Common Types of Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Riders involved in motorcycle accidents can sustain a wide range of serious to catastrophic injuries because bikes offer little protection. Commonly reported motorcycle accident injuries in Tampa include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Fractured ribs
- Eye injuries
- Skull, leg, and arm fractures
- Neck and back injuries
- Internal organ injuries or haemorrhaging
- Fractured collarbones
What is Road Rash?
In addition to serious internal injuries, motorcycles do not provide a protective barrier and can result in motorcyclists making contact with the road in an accident. Road rash is a skin injury caused by sliding contact with the pavement. Although many people assume that road rash is a minor injury, it can actually remove the outer layer of skin and expose the wound to dirt, rocks, metal, and other road debris.
Varying degrees of road rash progress from mild to severe:
- First-degree – Minor road rash involves scrapes, slight bleeding, bruising, and redness
- Second-degree – When an abrasion breaks the skin, dirt, rock, and glass may become lodged in the wound
- Third-degree – Severe and deep wounds or abrasions can expose muscles, tendons, nerves, and even bone with a high risk of infection
After a motorcycle accident, even a small case of road rash may lead to medical complications down the road. It is important to seek medical attention immediately. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident because of another motorist’s negligence, contact a Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.
How Much Will Serious Injuries Cost After a Motorcycle Crash?
There is no way to foresee all future medical expenses. However, the costs associated with non-fatal motorcycle accidents can total between $2,500 and $14 million, depending on the seriousness of a rider’s injury. Many of the costs associated with motorcycle accident injuries involve emergency care, surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and medication.
Here are several examples of the average cost of care for common motorcycle accident injuries:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The median hospitalization cost per TBI patient including emergency services is over $160,000, and several days in the hospital can cost upwards of $50,000 per stay.
- Spinal cord injury – Depending on the type and seriousness of a spinal cord injury, medical care can cost between almost $350,000 and $1 million in the first year. The most common expenses include spinal surgery, trauma care, rehabilitation, medical equipment such as wheelchairs, and medication.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will not cover motorcycle-related injuries or bills such as x-rays, surgical care, dental care, rehabilitative services, prosthetic devices, ambulance transport, and nursing services.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash
Seek Medical Attention Immediately - Call 911
Motorcycle accident injuries are not always immediately visible. The traumatic brain
injuries (TBIs) that occur, even when wearing a helmet, sometimes cause delayed symptoms that might not appear until hours, days, and even weeks after an accident. Similarly, broken bones such as ribs and collarbones and internal bleeding are not immediately visible.
Call an emergency response team to transport you to the nearest emergency room or get to a doctor as soon as possible. Your medical records serve as evidence of both the accident and the severity of your injuries when you seek to recover damages later on.
Involve the Police and Exchange Information
Take Photographs and Videos for Evidence
Clear photographic evidence of the motorcycle accident can be more dependable than even eyewitness accounts. Consider safely taking photographs of the damage to both vehicles, stoplights and stop signs that may have been involved, road conditions, and videos of witness statements.
For your records and information, you will want to order the police report from your motorcycle accident. You can order the police report online through Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
File an Insurance Claim
If you drive a motorcycle in Florida, you are not required to have either motorcycle
insurance or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Even if you do opt to receive coverage, you may find insurance companies deny your claim because they rely on negative stereotypes of motorcyclists.
In order to file a successful claim with your insurance company, you will need to provide your insurance agency with your helmet, police reports, surveillance camera footage, photographic evidence, witness statements, and medical records.
If you do not have existing coverage, you may be forced to purchase insurance for three years after an accident or risk losing your right to operate a motorcycle or have your registration rescinded.
Consult a Motorcycle Injury Attorney in Tampa
Navigating Florida’s complex comparative fault and PIP rules can be exhausting after a motorcycle accident injury. At The Fran Haasch Law Group, our motorcycle crash injury attorneys will guide you through Florida’s complex laws and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The Tampa motorcycle crash injury attorneys at our office can provide you with advice and counsel on your legal options after an accident. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-risk consultation by calling (727) 784-8191 or contact us online.
Tampa Motorcycle Accident FAQ
What Should I Do If I Lost a Loved One in a Motorcycle Accident in Florida?
If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash due to another driver’s negligence, you have a right to file a wrongful death claim. The goal of this type of claim is to compensate the victim’s survivors with damages such as final medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and potential future earnings, loss of companionship, or loss of inheritance.
Motorcycle accident wrongful death claims are complicated and require an experienced motorcycle injury attorney to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Under Florida law, you have two years from the victim’s death to file your claim. For help seeking justice during this difficult time, contact a Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer.