Given the lack of safety features such as crash-resistant frames, airbags, and seat belts, it is no surprise that motorcycle accidents tend to cause significant injuries and have a high fatality rate. In fact, motorcyclists were approximately 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and six times as likely to sustain injuries, according to 2014 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
When another party causes or contributes to a motorcycle crash, the rider (or his family members in fatal cases) can file a claim against the at-fault party to pursue compensation for expenses and losses. For a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.
Do I have a valid motorcycle accident claim to file?
When determining the validity of a motorcycle claim, the first factor that you must address is fault. That is, why did the accident occur and who caused it? Your accident must have been caused by another party’s negligence to justify your claim. For example, if an intoxicated driver hit you, she could be liable for your damages because she was driving negligently.
Below are a few other examples of scenarios in which you would probably qualify to file a liability claim:
- The driver was speeding or cut you off.
- Your bike brakes were defective.
- The driver was texting while driving.
- The roads were poorly maintained, e.g., potholes, uneven pavement, road debris, etc.
What if I am partly at fault for my motorcycle accident?
In accidents where fault is shared, Florida’s pure comparative negligence rule applies. This rule provides that you can still file a claim and recover damages when you are partially responsible for the crash, but your degree of fault will reduce your compensation. So, if the courts find you 40 percent at fault and your damages total $100,000, you will only recover 60 percent of your award, i.e., you will only recover $60,000.
Any type of careless or negligent behavior that contributed to the accident may apportion you with partial fault, such as:
- Lane splitting
- Riding along the shoulder
- Speeding and swerving in out and of lanes
- Not using proper signals
- Speeding through an intersection
It is also important to note that if you are not wearing a helmet and sustain head injuries, the other party can use that to reduce your award. The defendant can argue that your injuries would have been reduced had you been wearing a helmet, and therefore, you share liability. This argument has been validated by Florida courts. Speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to discuss fault and liability in your case and how to proceed with your claim.
What types of damages can I recover?
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious, debilitating injuries, such as head trauma, amputation, facial and dental injuries, scarring and burns, fractured bones, and spinal cord damage. Damages tend to be rather high in these cases to compensate victims for all the medical care they need and for short- or long-term disability.
There are three types of damages you may be able to obtain in a motorcycle accident case:
- Special damages: Special damages compensate you for your actual financial losses, such as medical bills, rehabilitation, transportation expenses for medical care, in-home nursing care, household services, your loss of income, reduced earning capacity, and other economic losses.
- General damages: General damages compensate you for the intangible harms you sustain, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional damage. Courts and insurers typically use a basic formula to estimate and assign a dollar value of non-monetary losses.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages punish the defendant for gross negligence. Not all cases qualify for punitive damages. The courts will only award a victim with punitive damages where the other party acted in a wanton, reckless, or intentional way; when he was involved in criminal behavior; when he failed to stop at the accident scene; or other similar cases.
Note: There are numerous factors that affect the value of a motorcycle accident claim. The details of the insurance policies, fault, the severity of your injuries, your prognosis, whether the claim goes to court, and the strength of your evidence can all play a role in the final outcome of your case. To ensure you get the highest amount of compensation possible, have a motorcycle accident lawyer evaluate your case and help you tally damages.
I want to file a motorcycle accident claim. Where do I begin?
After you have tended to your immediate medical concerns, the first step is to run your case by a local motorcycle accident attorney. S/he will assess your case, investigate the facts, and counsel you on how to best to proceed, given your unique circumstances.
In the meantime, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of having a successful claim. For starters, continue with your medical care and stick to your prescribed treatments. If you receive counseling or care from specialists, save copies of those records, too. This will help demonstrate the seriousness of your injuries.
Next, gather as much evidence as you can to share with your lawyer. You need evidence to prove fault, as well as to prove the extent of your injuries. For example, items such as the police report, eyewitness information, your personal account of what happened, and photos of the scene and damage to the vehicles might help prove your case. Save all the bills and receipts you have for anything related to your injuries and bike damage, too.
Our attorneys at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine are available to discuss your case in-person or via phone. Call 800-747-3733 to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your motorcycle accident today.