Miami Motorcycle Accidents Attorney
Motorcycle accidents may not happen as often as passenger vehicle collisions, but they result in fatal injuries at a much higher rate. Motorcyclists do not have the protection of the vehicle’s metal shell surrounding them in a crash. Instead, they collide with other vehicles, objects, or the roadway – with only their personal protective gear to soften the blow. Motorcyclists can easily suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in accidents, including brain and spinal cord damages.
The Miami motorcycle accident lawyers at Lipcon & Lipcon, P.A can help you or a loved one following a devastating collision. We help you navigate Miami’s legal processes in the pursuit of financial recovery.
Florida Motorcycle Laws
One of the best things a motorcyclist can do for personal protection is to learn and obey Miami’s motorcycle laws. Laws are in place primarily to increase the safety of roadway users. Obeying the law can help prevent accidents and reduce the chances of serious injuries. Miami’s laws do not differ from the overarching state laws, although other Florida cities may have their own specific statutes. Before you take to the open road, research the motorcycle laws in the surrounding cities. Here are a few laws all motorcyclists in Florida must obey:
- Motorcycle licensure and endorsement. Motorcycle operators in Florida must have a regular class E license and have completed the Basic Riders Course. They must also show proof of motorcycle endorsement – or completion of the Florida Riders Program. Studies show endorsed motorcyclists are less at risk of getting into accidents than non-endorsed.
- Helmet laws. Florida law does not require motorcycle riders or passengers to wear helmets as long as they are over the age of 21 and have insurance policies with at least $10,000 in medical coverage. If the rider does not qualify under these standards, he or she must wear a helmet that abides by federal standards. Florida Statutes do require eye protection.
- Daytime headlight use. Motorcyclists must turn on their headlights, or daytime running lights, during all hours of the day. While riding on public streets or highways from sunrise to sunset, motorcycles must turn on headlights. The law permits upper beam or lower beams in maximum or lower intensity. The courts may consider the violation of the headlight law the proximate cause of a crash.
Motorcyclists must follow all the same roadway rules as other motorists except those specifically tailored to passenger vehicles. Motorcycles cannot legally lane split in Florida, but they may legally ride two abreast. Riders’ failures to obey Florida’s motorcycle laws are leading causes of collisions. Obeying the law significantly reduces the odds of a crash and can help motorcyclists avoid liability in the event of an incident.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
In 2014, there were nearly 10,000 reported motorcycle crashes, resulting in over 8,000 injuries and over 400 fatalities. This is a high fatality rate for any type of accident, and is large due to the lack of protection a motorcycle offers to its driver and passengers. Motorcyclists may do everything right in terms of driving and rules of the road, but still have to answer to the actions of other drivers, many of whom maneuver multi-ton vehicles without a care for smaller vehicles.
The impact of a large vehicle upon a motorcycle can prove devastating to the motorcyclist and may often lead to lifelong injuries, including the following: paralysis, burns, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and TBI. Many of these injuries will require a complete lifestyle change and ongoing rehabilitation services, which will not be easy to cover, especially considering that many severe injuries could lead to the loss of a job. No matter the severity, our Miami motorcycle accident attorneys will handle every detail of your accident and injury claim.
Motorcycle Deaths by Month, 2015 (National)
Unfortunately, many motorcycle accidents end in death given the lack of protection from a car and its advanced safety features. In 2014, the number of motorcycle rider deaths was more than 27 times the number of car drivers or passengers. Diving deeper into these national statistics, though, can help motorcycle know particularly dangerous times of the year and day.
Motorcycle Deaths by Time of Day, 2015 (National)
Source: IIHS.org – Most recent data as of Aug.15, 2017
What Do I Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Crash?
The odds of getting into a motorcycle crash in your lifetime are unfortunately rather high in Miami-Dade County. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s FARS Query System, Miami-Dade had the most motorcycle deaths (67) out of all Florida counties in 2015. The second-highest county was Hillsborough with 48 deaths, followed by Broward with 42 deaths. While you can’t predict a motorcycle crash, you can prepare for one.
Here are five steps to take after a motorcycle accident:
- Don’t admit fault. Florida abides by no-fault insurance laws. This means that accident victims file claims with their own insurance companies first, regardless of who was at fault. This can lead to motorcyclists believing it doesn’t matter if they admit fault. This is not true. Admitting fault means you formally take liability for the incident and could face penalties and civil charges for resultant injuries or property damage.
- Check for injuries. Check to see whether you have an injuries and are in need of immediate medical attention. The law also obligates you to remain on the scene and check that no one else has injuries or needs assistance. If you have to leave the crash site right away because of your injuries, enlist help from a friend or family member to take photos and gather information.
- Know when to call the police. In Miami, you must call local law enforcement if the accident appears to have caused at least $500 in property damage, personal injuries, or death. Accidents involving motorcycles often result in severe property damage and at least minor injuries. When in doubt, call the police and report the crash.
- Gather information. The more facts and documents you can procure after a motorcycle crash, the better. Record the name and insurance information of the other driver, as well as names of any eyewitnesses. Obtain copies of your medical records and the official police report. Take photos of the crash site, property damage, and of your injuries as
- Call your insurance company. Vehicle insurers often have strict rules for how soon a person must report a motorcycle wreck. Do so as soon as possible according to the directions on your insurance card or policy. Follow the agent’s directions and stick only to the facts when describing what happened. Do not speculate as to fault or record a statement. These actions can work against you in the future.
If you suffered serious injuries such as broken bones or a brain injury, or expensive property damage, retain an attorney. A personal injury claim can result in greater compensation for serious losses than an insurance claim. Even if you were partially to blame for the incident, Florida’s pure comparative negligence laws make you eligible for compensation. It is often worthwhile to at least speak to a lawyer during a free consultation to see if your car accident has merit as a civil claim in Miami.
Types of Damages Available
Miami civil courts allow injured motorcyclists to lay claim to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that involve financial losses to the victim. These include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Medical bills encompass any and all medical costs resulting from the motorcycle accident injuries. Payment for ambulatory fees, hospital stays, x-rays, surgeries, treatments, rehabilitation, medical equipment, and live-in medical care are some examples of possible medical costs. Medical costs can also include home or vehicle modifications if the victim sustains a long-term catastrophic injury, such as paralysis or brain damage.
Lost wages include income lost from missed days at work due to the injuries. If a motorcyclist temporarily cannot return to work, the settlement will include payment for this lost income. If the victim incurs a disability that makes it impossible to ever return to work, “lost wage” compensation will also take into account lost opportunity to earn and lost income on future wages the victim could have earned were it not for the accident. Property damage compensation will pay for motorcycle repairs or replacement depending on the extent of the damage. It will also cover costs for a rental or interim vehicle in the meantime.
Non-economic damages are those that stem not from financial losses but from personal ones. These damages are mostly intangible, such as physical pain and emotional suffering. It may take an expert witness to testify to the plaintiff’s mental and emotional harms in front of a judge or jury. In Florida, there is currently no cap on non-economic damages in civil claims.
If the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, criminal, or grossly negligent, the courts may also issue punitive damages. This is an additional compensation award to punish the defendant for his or her wrongdoing. Speak to a Miami attorney for an idea of what your unique motorcycle accident claim might be worth.
Lipcon & Lipcon | Miami, FL Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Florida, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of Lipcon & Lipcon, P.A. Motorcycles offer a unique sense of freedom and the destruction of this freedom is not without repercussions. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to develop your claim and ensure the responsible parties are held liable for their actions. Contact our Miami office today for your initial free consultation.