Fort Lauderdale sees thousands of motorcyclists on its roads every year. It is a renowned destination for bikers around the country who seek beautiful scenery, clear weather, and good times. Unfortunately, some joyrides end in tragedy in the “Venice of America.” Motorcyclists involved in traffic collisions can end up in the hospital with life-threatening injuries such as broken necks, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries and more. In the event of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death after a motorcycle accident, it’s best to consult a Fort Lauderdale accident attorney to assure you and your family are rightfully compensated.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The rate of motorcycle crashes around the United States has increased in recent years. Researchers attribute this rise in large part to a better economy, which means more drivers on the roads and a higher risk of collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2014 to 2015, there was an 8% increase in the number of motorcycle accident fatalities (4,594 in 2014 to 4,976 in 2015). Florida saw a total of 577 motorcyclist deaths in 2015.
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries and deaths in collisions. Here are more surprising statistics:
- About 88,000 motorcycle operators and passengers suffered crash-related injuries in 2015. Motorcyclist deaths occurred about 29 times more often than passenger car occupant fatalities.
- Motorcyclists accounted for 17% of all occupant fatalities, 14% of all traffic fatalities, and 4% each of people injured and occupants injured.
- The most harmful event for motorcycles in 2015 was collisions with motor vehicles (54%). About 24% of motorcycles involved in fatal collisions were in single-vehicle crashes with fixed objects.
- About 27% of motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 2015 were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. This is a higher rate than passenger car drivers (21%) and truck drivers (2%).
It’s one thing to read the numbers on motorcycle crashes in Florida and throughout the country, but it’s another to be personally involved in one. In the aftermath of a motorcycle collision, the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with a competent team of attorneys. The right litigators can help you navigate the complex legal field after a crash and fight for maximum compensation for your hospital bills, missed time at work, physical pain, and emotional suffering.
Florida Motorcycle Laws
Motorcyclists have all the same rights to the roads as passenger vehicles. They also have the same responsibilities. Knowing the laws before hitting Fort Lauderdale’s highways is imperative to a motorcyclist’s safety and legal protection. Every state has its own motorcycle statutes. Obeying Florida’s can help you prevent accidents and serious injuries. Here are a few important rules to follow as a motorcycle operator in the Sunshine State:
- Motorcycle headlight requirements. Florida Statute Section 316.405 states that any motorcycle operator must have headlights turned on from sunrise to sunset. Headlights may use either lower or upper beams during this time.
- Helmets are NOT Mandatory. Motorcycle operators must wear helmets throughout Florida UNLESS the operator is over 21 years old and has an insurance policy for at least $10,000 in medical coverage for injuries. This exception has led to far too many motorcyclists deciding not to wear helmets.
- Passenger laws in Florida for motorcycles. Operators cannot carry passengers unless the motorcycle has a design that accommodates more than one person with a permanent seat. Any motorcycle with a passenger must have footrests for the passenger. All passengers must wear helmets unless they fall under the above-mentioned exception.
The NHTSA reports about 1,772 motorcyclists survived because of helmet use in 2015. Helmets are about 37% effective in preventing fatal motorcycle injuries to operators and 41% for passengers. In 2015, 283 un-helmeted motorcyclists in Florida (46% of all un-helmeted riders) suffered fatal injuries. Breaking Florida’s helmet or other laws could reduce your chances of compensation after an accident. The defense could argue comparative fault, or that you were partially at fault for the incident/injuries because you broke the law. Abide by the laws to limit your personal liability in the event of a crash.
Steps to Take Following a Motorcycle Accident
What you do directly after a motorcycle accident can make a significant difference when it comes to receiving compensation. There are things accident victims should do and not do, to optimize the chances of the court’s ruling in their favor. When in doubt, talk to one of the experienced attorneys at Kelley/Uustal of Fort Lauderdale after a motorcycle accident. We can speak with you during a free, no-obligation consultation to help you understand what actions to take. General steps you should take after a motorcycle crash in Florida are as follows:
- Stay calm. A motorcycle crash can be incredibly frightening and confusing. Do yourself a favor and remain calm in the aftermath. Don’t shout at the other driver or cause further damage.
- Don’t admit fault. It can be difficult not to apologize after any kind of crash, but the other driver may construe this as an admittance of fault. Be polite, but don’t say sorry or admit that you were at fault. Wait for the police and insurance companies to determine fault.
- Check for injuries. Check yourself and other involved parties for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call an ambulance right away. Keep in mind that you may have sustained injuries that you haven’t felt yet, such as a concussion with delayed symptoms.
- Gather information. Start recording as much as possible about the accident. Write down the other party’s name and insurance information, as well as that of any eyewitnesses to the crash. Record a description of what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
- Take photos. If you have a camera phone, take photos of the accident, the site, and of any injuries. Photographic evidence can be a significant help in legal matters later on. If you can’t take photos, send a friend or family member to do so as soon as possible.
- Call the police. Florida law requires you to report an accident if it results in $500 worth of damages, injuries, or death. You must report the crash to law enforcement, and file a crash report if the officer doesn’t do so within ten days of the accident.
- Seek medical attention. If your injuries aren’t severe enough to have gone straight to the hospital at the scene, go to the doctor directly after the police give you permission to leave the scene. Waiting to visit the doctor can harm your chances of compensation, as it can imply that your injuries weren’t very severe. Seek medical attention even if you don’t feel injured right away.
- Report to your insurance company. Most insurance companies require policyholders to report incidents as quickly as possible. Do not make any statements, accept a settlement offer, or sign any paperwork with an insurer until speaking to an attorney. Insurance companies may not do what is in your best interests.
- Stick to the facts. When speaking to the police or an insurance agent, don’t speculate or guess about what happened. State only the facts of the case, such as which directions both vehicles were heading. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with insurance companies, enlist the help of an attorney to do so for you.
- Consult with an attorney. Once you’re on the mend, speak to our local Fort Lauderdale law office about your motorcycle crash. Our attorneys can take over communications with insurance companies, help you achieve your settlement goals, or take your case to trial if necessary.
Protect Your Rights With Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
The Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys at Kelley/Uustal understand how certain actions can help or hurt compensation awards. Our team of dedicated injury attorneys have extensive experience with insurance claim settlements and jury verdicts and we know how to direct you in a way that will maximize your odds of compensation. Come to us as soon as possible after an injurious or fatal motorcycle wreck in Fort Lauderdale. We can assist you during this most difficult time. Call (954) 522-6601 for legal guidance or to schedule your free case evaluation today.