Fort Lauderdale Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
With its sunny weather and scenic coastal routes, Fort Lauderdale is a prime location for motorcyclists. Unfortunately, it is also a prime location for motorcycle accidents. Severe injuries and deaths are all too common in such accidents. Even when another person is at fault, obtaining legal compensation is often no easy matter for injured bikers.
A Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer at Maus Law Firm can help injured motorcyclists recover damages as required by law. Motorcycle accident cases have different challenges than typical auto accident cases. However, we are experienced attorneys who can overcome the challenges and fight for fair compensation.
Common Injuries in Florida Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists who are involved in accidents are far more likely than vehicle drivers or passengers to suffer serious injuries or death. The lack of physical protection around motorcycles increases the chances of direct impact to the rider. Additionally, Florida motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets. As such, bikers can experience even greater risks of injuries and fatalities.
Common types of harm suffered in motorcycle accidents include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Paralysis (total or partial)
Due to the severity of injuries and the significant chance of death, motorcycle accidents often result in significant damages. With such large amounts at stake, it is all the more likely that insurance companies may seek to avoid fault or underpay your claim. Nevertheless, a Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer can level the playing field with the insurance company and seek the full compensation you require.
Causes of Fort Lauderdale Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycle accidents are often caused by motor vehicle operators. Many drivers fail to notice motorcycles on the road because they are smaller vehicles. Some common ways in which automobile drivers cause these accidents are as follows:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Sudden turns or cutting off the motorcyclist
- Failure to yield right of way
- Unsafe passing
- Running red lights
- Running stop signs
- Distracted driving, including driving while texting or using a GPS device
- Reckless driving
- Intoxicated driving (alcohol or drugs)
Many forms of negligent or reckless driving can result in motorcycle crashes. Your Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorney can help pinpoint the cause of your accident.
Legal Fault in Florida Motorcycle Accidents
Whether or not you go to trial on your motorcycle accident claim, legal fault will be an issue. This is because insurance companies generally only settle claims when they believe the motorcyclist can establish liability. A Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer can help bikers navigate Florida’s complex liability laws.
To prove fault in a motorcycle accident case, your attorney must establish the following at trial:
- Duty: The car driver or other at-fault party owed you a duty of reasonable care. All drivers owe a legal obligation to others on the road to drive with a reasonable amount of safety.
- Breach: The driver “breached” their duty of reasonable care, meaning they failed to meet their legal obligation to drive safely.
- Causation: The driver’s unsafe driving caused the resulting accident and the motorcyclist’s injuries or death.
- Damages: Damages are the financial compensation the judge or jury may award for the harm suffered.
The motorcyclist may be able to recover damages even if he or she was partially at fault. Florida is a comparative liability state, meaning that fault can be divided between different parties for one accident. The fault is divided, or “apportioned,” on a percentage basis.
As an example, the jury may find the motorcyclist is 30 percent at fault for the accident. If the biker’s total damages are $100,000, the award would be reduced by 30 percent to $70,000.
Some common reasons that motorcyclists are assigned fault include swerving in and out of lanes, lane splitting, failure to use proper signals and riding along the shoulder. In fact, even the motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet can result in a partial-fault finding against them.
Negligence Per Se in Motorcycle Accidents
The doctrine of negligence per se may provide bikers with an easier path to proving liability. For instance, if a driver violates a safety law, this automatically establishes that they breached their duty of reasonable care.
On the other hand, the motorcyclist must still establish that the driver’s safety violation caused the accident and the motorcyclist’s injuries. In addition, the negligence per se doctrine can also be used against the motorcyclist if he or she breaks traffic laws. However, a skilled and experienced accident attorney can help the motorcyclist use negligence per se to their advantage when possible.
What Compensation Will My Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorney Try to Recover?
A motorcyclist harmed in an accident may be able to recover financial compensation for the following:
- Past medical expenses, including emergency room and ambulance bills
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning capacity due to injuries
- Rehabilitation and therapy expenses
- Nursing care
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Wrongful death damages
A motorcycle accident lawyer can help injured Fort Lauderdale motorcyclists seek the full value of their damages. For example,if the case were to go to trial, expert testimony will be needed to establish these damages. An attorney can retain well-qualified experts on your behalf to prove your case.
Florida Laws for Motorcyclists
Below are a few Florida Motorcycle Laws that apply to all riders and passengers
- Florida’s Helmet Law — The most controversial motorcycle law in Florida is the Helmet law. The full text of the law is located at Florida Statutes§ 316.211. The Helmet Law requires all motorcycles riders in Florida to wear a helmet UNLESS the person is covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for any injuries which occur as a result of riding the motorcyle. The reason the law is controversial is that motorcyle riders that do not wear a helmet and are involved in an accident are far more likely to sustain a serious injury, including traumatic brain injuries, than a rider wearing a helmet. In fact, in 2000, the first year the Helmet Law went into effect in Florida, there was a 48% increase in Florida motorcyle rider deaths over the previous year. Statistics were about the same nationwide with motorcyle rider deaths increasing 50% after riders were allowed to go without helmets.Florida’s Helmet Law only applies to motorcycle riders and passengers. Riders of scooter and motorcycles having a motor with a displacement of 50 cc’s or less, or rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower on a cycle that does not exceed 30 miles per hour, do not have to wear a helmet. Moped riders under the age of 16 are still required to wear a helmet.
- Florida Motorcycle Headlight Law — Riders of motorcycles are required to have their headlights turned on, even during daylight yours. However, evidence of a rider’s failure to comply with this law during the hours from sunrise to sunset, unless compliance is otherwise required by law, shall not be admissible as evidence of negligence in a civil action.
- Motorcyle Safety Course for First Time Riders — Every first-time applicant for licensure to operate a motorcycle must provide proof of completion of a motorcycle safety course such as one provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).
- No PIP required for a motorcycle — Florida’s No-Fault, or “PIP Law” does not apply to motorcycles. HOWEVER, the Financial Responsibility Law applies to ALL motor vehicles in Florida, including motorcycles. It is highly recommended for your own safety, and continued use of your motorcycle, that you purchase property damage, bodily injury liability, and uninsured motorist coverage insurance in case of a Florida Motorcycle accident or injury. If you don’t have coverage after an accident you can lose your license, tag, and registration to your bike, or be subject to restitution or civil court judgment for property damage, medical bills, and other damages caused by an accident.
- Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Law — If its your motorcyle (or car), you’re on the hook for what happens with it, even if you’re not riding it. If you lend your motorcycle to a friend, and he causes a property damage or injuries in a Florida motorcyle accident, you are responsible for any damage, injuries and expenses that are caused in the accident, even if you’re not riding the bike. In other words, be careful about who you entrust your motorcycle to.
These are just a few of Florida’s many motorcycle laws. You can find most of the laws at Florida Statutes Chapter 316. For more information about these laws, and your rights as a motorcycle rider in Florida, contact Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at The Maus Law Firm for a free consultation.
Florida Motorcycle Safety Tips
Observing a few safety precautions increases your odds of a safe and enjoyable ride.
Research shows that your chances of being in a serious Florida motorcycle accident decrease significantly by following some basic safety rules. By following these simple rules of the road, you are much less likely to be involved in an accident or injured while riding a motorcycle.
- Education — Don’t even think about purchasing a motorcycle until you complete a training course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers beginning, experienced, scooter and dirtbike schools nationwide. In most states, completion of the 15-hour Basic Rider course satisfies the riding portion of the licensing test and entitles the graduate to insurance discounts. The MSF even provides the motorcycle and a helmet.
- Don’t drink and ride — Over 50% of motorcycle accidents involve a rider intoxicated on alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can obviously impair the judgment and reflexes of a motorcyle rider. Even when the rider’s blood alcohol content (BAC) has not reached the legal limit in Florida of .08, a rider’s ability to judge distances, speeds, and make the many decisions required while operating a motorcycle can be impaired.
- Ride at Safe speeds — Evaluate your surroundings before twisting the throttle. The common element that is repeatedly seen in motorcycle accident investigations and statistics is riders riding too fast for the environment they are in. Pay attention, watch your speed, and enjoy the ride.
- Be Patient — When the light turns green, inexperienced riders have a tendency to go without looking. Don’t do it, on your bike or in your car. Green does not mean go, it means proceed when it is safe to do so. Look both ways before proceeding.
- Check the Kickstand — Nothing demonstrates inexperience more than leaning into a left-hand corner with your kickstand in the down position, about to dig into the asphalt Its a crash waiting to happen, and entirely preventable. Check once, twice and, if necessary, three times that the stand is properly stowed before you ride away.
- Wear the right gear — Wear proper motorcycle boots–not flip-flops, not tennis shoes, not hiking boots. Shoelaces can quickly and unexpectedly become tangled around the shift lever, brake pedal, or even worse become entangled in the chain or gears of the bike. Also, abrasion resistant pants and shirt will save a large amount of road rash across your body.
- Avoid the middle of traffic lanes — Ride in either the left or right wheel track, not in the middle of your lane. The middle is where the most engine oil, gear oil, anti-freeze and other traction-reducing fluids accumulate.
- Neutral is not for traffic stops — Don’t shift into neutral at a stoplight or stop sign until a car safely stops behind you. Remaining in gear–and scanning your mirrors–means you can accelerate out of the way if a car approaching from the rear fails to stop in time.
- Use the brakes properly — Use of the back and front brakes at the same time can reduce your braking distance significantly. Use of the front brake only at high speeds can cause a rider to lurch forward and lose control.
Consult a Fort Lauderdale Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at Maus Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a motorcycle accident in South Florida, contact the Maus Law Firm. A Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer can analyze your case, seek the best insurance settlement and be prepared to fight your case in court, if necessary. For a free consultation, contact us today.