Common Issues Related to Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle in street after an accident

The Florida roads can be very dangerous, with drivers from all over the world coming to our beautiful State to retire or escape the cold in other parts of the world. The roads can be particularly dangerous for motorcycle drivers, who are relatively unprotected from harm should a drunk or distracted driver crash into them. While the beautiful weather in Florida can make it enticing to want to ride a motorcycle, there are some issues that you should keep in mind when you choose to ride. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a motorcycle accident, read on for more information and call Carey Leisure Carney for a free consult today.

Contributory Negligence and Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are much smaller than your standard vehicle, and they are easy to maneuver in and out of traffic. That being said, if you have been in a motorcycle accident, it is important to have the police come to the scene after the accident and share the full story of what happened with the authorities. Because of the recent Tort Reform signed into law by Governor DeSantis, the laws in Florida have changed drastically when it comes to making a claim for negligence. These changes have had a profound effect on motorcycle accidents in particular, as these accidents often involve catastrophic injuries and liability disputes. Understanding the changes in the law is essential to preserving your motorcycle injury claim.

In March of 2023, Florida changed its laws regarding negligence to a modified comparative negligence scheme of fault apportionment. What this means is that if a Plaintiff in a personal injury case is found more than 50% liable for their own injuries by a jury, they will be unable to recover any damages in their case. As a motorcycle accident victim, liability will often be disputed by the vehicle driver. You need to provide the authorities with your side of the story so that an argument can be made that you are less than 50% at fault for your injuries to preserve your potential claim for compensation.

How Does Modified Comparative Negligence Affect Your Potential Claim?

Prior to the signing of the Tort Reform bill, a Plaintiff in a personal injury case was able to collect the amount of damages awarded by the jury minus the percentage of fault that the jury apportioned to the Plaintiff. For instance, if a Plaintiff was found 90% liable for their own injures, under the contributory negligence comparative fault scheme they were still able to collect 10% of any verdict that the jury awarded. Under Florida’s new negligence laws, in this same situation, the Plaintiff found 90% liable for their own injuries would be barred from recovering damages for that accident.

After a motorcycle accident, this issue is more likely to affect your recovery of damages, as the vehicle driver may try to claim you were weaving in and out of traffic or driving between cars on the lane line, not respecting the rules of the road. Do not let the driver who hit you be the only person to tell the authorities what happened in the accident. If you are able, stay at the scene of the accident and make sure the police have all the information they need to keep the record straight. You should also try to follow the following steps to preserve evidence related to your potential claim.

What to Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident

If you have been hit by a car while driving your motorcycle, this may lead to some serious injuries. Be careful when first attempting to move. If you don’t think you will be able to move but are able to call someone to the scene, have another person come to the scene of the accident to help you preserve evidence.

Call the Police

You will want to make sure the police come to the scene of the accident and file an official accident report. Be sure to explain your side of what happened if you are able to and make sure the responding officer has the most information to create the police report. This will help you down the road when making a claim for damages.

Call Fire Rescue or EMS

If you feel you have been seriously injured, be sure to call, or have someone else call, emergency medical services to the scene. Paramedics will be able to make an initial assessment at the scene and will have the resources to transport you safely to the closest hospital emergency room. The personnel will also keep an independent run record of your initial injuries, which can be helpful in proving causation in your claim.

Take Photographs of the Scene

If you are able and it is safe to do so, be sure to take as many photos as possible of the scene. Taking photos of debris that has been thrown from your motorcycle, no matter how minor, may help an accident reconstruction specialist determine the speed of the vehicle that hit you. Taking photos of any tire tread marks can also help make this determination. Taking photos of the larger scene can help reconstruct the accident from the point of view of both drivers, which will tell a clearer picture than the he-said-she-said that usually takes place at the scene of an accident.

Take Photographs of Physical Injuries

Taking pictures of any physical injuries before they are treated can help demonstrate the force of the impact from the accident. Many of the initial injuries sustained, including bruising or lacerations, will heal over time, so taking pictures while at the scene is important to document the evidence sufficiently.

Seek Immediate Medical Care

As soon as you have taken care of preserving evidence at the scene, if you refused transport in an ambulance or fire rescue vehicle, you need to seek treatment from either an emergency room or an urgent care facility. These providers will have the appropriate tools to diagnose any injuries you sustain during the accident and will be able to provide ongoing recommendations for care. If you need a referral to a specialist after the accident, they can also assist with this.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company, but Do Not Give Any Statements

While it is important to report the accident to your insurance company to preserve your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, you should not give a statement to your insurance company until you have been prepared by an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Insurance companies are trained to minimize claims, and while you will be required to give a statement at some point to comply with the terms of your insurance policy, you will want to be informed of what they may ask and how best to answer.

Do Not Post About Your Accident on Social Media

While we are all active on social media, you need to keep in mind that anything you post may be admissible at trial. While your intentions may be good, such as keeping friends and family updated on your condition, once insurance companies receive reports of a claim, they will usually search platforms such as Facebook for any posts about the accident, looking for statements you make that can be used against you in the future. Staying off social media in regards to your accident will be the safest course of action to preserve your claim for relief.

Seek Follow Up Medical Care

Your initial visit to the emergency room will treat your immediate concerns, but often with motorcycle accident injuries, there will be serious and ongoing soft tissue injuries. You will want to seek follow up care to be sure you are getting appropriate treatment to help get you back to as normal as possible.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney to Help with Your Claim

When filing a claim for a motorcycle accident, you will want to hire an attorney sooner rather than later, as these claims are often much more complex than a typical motor vehicle accident claim. Especially with the new laws in place, liability will be a huge hurdle to your making a claim for your motorcycle accident. A team like the one at Carey Leisure Carney, who has over 40 years of experience handling motorcycle accident claims, will know just what to do to preserve your claim for damages. Our team will be able to help you navigate working with insurance companies to make you whole again after a motorcycle accident. Call Carey Leisure Carney today for a free consult.