Motorcycle accidents are a common occurrence in Florida, and some of these crashes lead to extensive personal injury on victims while others are fatal. Florida does not enforce mandatory helmet laws, and therefore, using protective gear when riding is a matter of personal preference. In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) derived that 56% of deadly motorcyclist crashes involved riders without helmets. Such grim statistics are a wake-up call always to adorn protective gear to save you from extreme injuries in such an unfortunate event. However, if you are involved in an accident, our lawyers at the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney will help file a compensation claim. Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding motorcycle accidents regarding personal injury law.
What is "Comparative Negligence" when Determining Liability for a Motorcycle Accident?
Comparative negligence allocates fault among the drivers involved based on their extent of carelessness that contributed to the said crash. If your motorcycle is missing a tail light, the other driver could claim you were negligent and so the accident is your fault.
What Are Punitive Damages in Motorcycle Accidents?
Punitive damages come after the court determines that the person who caused the accident was not only negligent but also engaged in reckless deliberately. In this scenario, a plaintiff can get much higher compensation than what they would have paid if they were negligent.
Will my Health Insurance Coverage Affect my Recovery Time for my Motorcycle Accident?
The type of insurance does not matter even if you paid independently or your employer pays the insurance premiums. Nonetheless, your insurance plan may ask you to repay some or the full amount they spent on your treatment, upon receiving the settlement.
What Happens if I'm Involved in a Motorcycle Accident Without a Helmet?
Florida law requires every motorcycle rider under 21 to wear a helmet. Riders above 21 can ride without protective gear provided they have an insurance cover of $10,000 to cater for injuries. We strongly advise our clients to wear personal protective clothing whenever riding a motorcycle on or off duty.
Not wearing a helmet does not keep you from seeking damages if the other driver is found liable for the accident. The state's comparative fault laws allow you to recoup losses even when both you and the other drivers are at fault.
How can I Tell if my Helmet is Deemed Safe by the State of Florida?
Even if Florida does not enforce total compliance with helmet laws, persons under 21 and those over 21 but without medical insurance policy of $10,000 must wear the right helmet. When shopping for one, ensure your selection has a U.S. Department of Transportation label (indicated as "DOT"). This sign represents the manufacturer's certification that your helmet is aligned with the desired federal safety standards.
Do I Have to Contact the Police after a Motorcycle Accident?
The rule of thumb is to report any road accidents to the authorities so they can determine who is at fault and hold them accountable. If your crash leads to significant bodily harm on you as the rider or someone else or property damage above a specific figure, it is crucial to inform the police. They will visit the scene and document it then prepare an official report of the accident for future reference such as legal proceedings for personal injury claims.
What Should I do if I am Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
The best course of action is contacting a lawyer before speaking to authorities, and even if traffic police arrive at the scene sooner, do not admit any fault. More importantly, refrain from signing any documents even when you suspect the accident was your fault. Your injury attorney will need to see the medical records and charges, and any other associated costs.
If you suffered injuries during the crash, an attorney would examine the details of your case to see if the claim is valid. They will be concerned about compliance with Florida's traffic regulations, helmet laws, liability for the accident (e.g., you were intoxicated or sober), and medical treatment needed to treat your injuries.
Things get complicated when the other driver was at fault, and their negligence led to your damages that may need extensive care to recover. Insurance adjusters are always keen to save a buck so they may take advantage of your desperate situation and present a low offer. Having an experienced Jacksonville Personal injury attorney by your side can make a world of difference financially.
What Sort of Injuries Come with Motorcycle Accidents?
Being involved in an accident is a scary event that can also have harmful consequences on your physical and psychological wellness. You are likely to suffer a myriad of injuries whose degree varies depending on the circumstances of the accident, and you need medical intervention to address them. It is vital that you comprehend what every type of damage is and how it can affect you in the present and later on, so you can make an informed decision when filing your claim.
- Soft Tissue Injuries
Upon crashing into another vehicle or a wall, you are likely to suffer lots of soft tissue damage to the muscles, cartilage, skin, tendons, and other tissues that support your organs. These injuries are not easy to identify, and you may suffer excruciating pain for days or recurring discomfort. Nerves are intricately connected, which means you may feel pain in one spot, but the damage happened in another area. There are three kinds of nerves; autonomic nerves (control activities like breathing); sensory nerves (transmit information from the skin and muscles to your brain); and motor nerves (control movements like hand motions).
The body is heavily dependent on nerve function, so it is imperative that you seek help soon after the motorcycle accident to rule out any nerve damage and launch treatment plans if need be. Apart from chemical therapies, there are other interventions for addressing soft tissue damage such as biofeedback, antioxidant vitamins, acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation, etc. Your physician may also refer you to a physical or massage therapist if the pain is relentless. Beware, though, nerve damage can become an enduring issue even when treated, and you may end up suffering from one or multiple forms of nerve damage.
Please note, soft tissue injuries are not easy to prove, and therefore, you may experience pushback from your employer when they claim you are not as hurt as claimed. Follow the doctor's instructions to the letter as failure to oblige can impact the personal injury claim.
- Neck and Head Injuries
These sorts of injuries are associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) when the head is slammed against an oncoming vehicle or another hard surface during the crash. A violent blow or jolt to the head can occur when the motorcycle hits a car at high speeds or when the rider loses control and careens off the highway. The brain has delicate tissues that can be harmed upon impact, and this may cause a concussion and internal bleeding. In extreme cases, the brain is severely damaged as your head spins out of control when struck by a great force, and the same can damage can result from indirect impact.
Your chin may hit the pavement, and your neck may get twisted or broken as you fall to the ground, even with a helmet on. TBIs can be detected quickly, but some cases take a while before the symptoms become apparent. Some common signs of a TBI include:
- Slurred speech
- Feeling dazed or confused
- Loss of balance
- Fatigue or drowsiness
Some people may experience sensory problems such as ringing in the ears or the inability to detect certain smells. Cognitive issues are also common such as mood swings, mental disorders like depression and anxiety, and trouble recalling things.
Even a mild TBI deserves medical attention to get an accurate diagnosis so the physician can determine the best treatment procedures. Overall, head and neck injuries must be attended to by a qualified doctor to negate worsening symptoms and other health problems.
- Arm, Hand & Finger Injuries
When staring at an inevitable motorcycle crash, it is not atypical for the rider to brace themselves using hands and arms but this move leads to damage to these body parts. The long bones of the forearm can get broken as well as other tiny bones in hand. If you are not wearing palm sliders, your arms hit the hard surface with force instead of sliding.
Your palm will get bruised and scraped by the pavement, and you experience intense pain from these injuries. The arms, palms, and fingers are essential body parts for gripping things, holding, bathing, lifting, and all manner of tasks at work and in the home. If these parts are severely injured, normal functioning is profoundly undermined, and you will need assistance even for mundane tasks like brushing your teeth.
What's more, these injuries could trigger nerve damage – as described above – and cause you more problems down the road. Securing another job without arm and finger functionality will be next to impossible, which means your earning capabilities will diminish.
- Neurological Injuries
The nervous system is a fragile web of cells tasked with conveying sensations from different parts of the body to your brain. Damage to these nerves can lead to extreme pain, numbness, or weakness in the injured areas, thus making it difficult to function normally. Damaged or impinged nerves could trigger pain elsewhere, and without a proper diagnosis, you will not figure out what is wrong.
A pinched nerve is also common after a motorcycle accident. This damage refers to a nerve is injured by compression or stretching actions that are common during impact. It is vital that you consult a doctor right after the accident so they can perform a series of tests to see if you have neurological damage. Document any signs and symptoms you experience after the crash to keep your physician abreast with progress.
Damage to the spinal cord is another common feature of grave motorcycle accidents. This damage entails the bending, rotation, dislocation, and possible hyperflexion or hypertension of the spinal cord. You may become paralyzed for a while or permanently, thus diminishing your abilities to a great extent. Imagine never playing with your children again? Using a wheelchair is a life-altering event that has ripple effects in many ways in the weeks or months following.
Remember, neurological damage can lead to a host of other health problems as you age, and you are likely to face mounting medical bills that could potentially bankrupt you. More so, you may never regain your previous capabilities, which means giving up certain types of jobs that you qualified for before the accident. You may also require professional assistance to get by from day to day, and this hired help costs money. When the stakes are this high, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to litigate your case, so your employer is held accountable as permitted by Florida's laws.
- Broken Bones
Traumatic collisions like a head-on crash against a truck will cause your bones to crack, split, or shatter upon impact and as you roll over down a hill. The motorcycle can flip and land on top of your body, thus causing more damage to the bones. You will need medical procedures to restore the normal anatomy of the affected bones, and this may entail repositioning with a fiberglass or plaster cast. A functional brace is another way of repositioning bones, but this option does not allow much locomotion of the surrounding joints.
Severe fracturing of bones calls for more complicated procedures such as open reduction where a physician exposes the fractured area and repositions it manually. This process can happen with internal or external fixation depending on the diagnosis. Healing a broken or fractured bone takes place in three stages: the inflammatory phase, the reparative phase, and the remodeling phase.
Failure to address these issues well may pave the way for more complications such as infections, blood clots in adjacent blood vessels, swelling of surrounding joints, etc. When things are done correctly, the healing process can take weeks, but only if you adhere to the physician's directives, or it can take months. No matter how long your bones take to heal, you are unlikely to work at all, which means your family is losing income. Hiring the best Jacksonville Personal injury lawyer is crucial so they can get you the restitution you deserve.
- Mouth and Dental Injuries
When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, even without crashing into a huge truck, expect to suffer some form of dental injuries such as a broken jaw, cracked teeth, root fractures, etc. The following dental problems are also familiar with motorcycle crashes:
- Avulsed teeth – this term refers to teeth that have been removed from their sockets, and this usually happens during forceful impact like landing on a hard surface. If you have avulsed teeth, a dentist may recommend replacing them with prosthetics, so you don't have gaps in the mouth. Missing teeth will affect your bite, and they may cause the surrounding teeth to shift over time.
- Chipped teeth – your teeth may chip a little even when you were wearing protective gear like a helmet. The equipment may come off, and when your head bumps against a hard surface like another vehicle, your teeth will likely chip off. Some cases of chipped teeth can be addressed by buffing, but some damage is so severe that you need repair with a composite material or covered with veneers.
- Dislodged teeth – your teeth can move a bit or become twisted upon impact, and even if they are not yanked off their sockets, professional intervention is needed. You need a dentist's help to correct dislodged teeth, so there are no issues with chewing food, speaking, or swallowing.
- Limb Amputations
Depending on how severe the accident is, you could lose a leg or arm during the crash or as you undergo medical treatment. Losing a limb not only impacts mobility but also prevents you from applying for many types of jobs. There are different kinds of amputation injuries, depending on what part of the body is affected:
- Partial hand amputations
- Above or below the knee amputation
- Removing the full arm
- Fractional foot amputations
- Ankle disarticulation amputations
These damages must be taken seriously to negate side effects such as swelling, numbness, fever, and chills, or a tingling sensation in the remaining part of the limb. Apart from these physical symptoms, survivors may feel a range of psychological trauma such as a phantom limb where one feels as though the missing part is still attached and moving. Having to lose an arm, leg, or another limb due to another driver's fault is daunting, and these consequences may be lifelong, thus undermining the quality of your life. If you were recently injured in this manner, we are prepared to litigate your case so you can hold that negligent driver accountable.
- Mental Disorders (e.g., PTSD)
Motorcycle crashes are a horrible experience for anyone, even when they are liable for the accident. There is a wide array of body damage that you stand to suffer at varying degrees, and then there is the non-physical part. According to the American Psychiatric Association, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that results from experiencing or witnessing a horrific event such as a road accident.
You may suffer from a flood of uncontrollable thoughts about the motorcycle crash, nightmares, extreme anxiety, and even fear of riding again. Negative thoughts, emotional numbness, problems forging and nurturing relationships, and general hopelessness are other signs of this disorder.
There are several risk factors at play that determine if the survivor eventually battles PTSD or not, and if so, to what extent. Fatalities or severity of injuries, history of post-traumatic incidents, intrusive memories like flashbacks of the event, endless court proceedings, etc.
While these symptoms can be severe, they can subside with time if you take great care of yourself. For instance, you can attend therapy sessions, get plenty of exercises, speak to loved ones about it, etc.
Failure to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating a motorcycle heightens the risk of disfigurement in case of a collision. You may be thrown off the bike at a far distance, slide across the pavement, or be injured by an oncoming vehicle right after the crash. Wearing a helmet and not fastening it doesn't help in such incidences as the gear will come off upon impact.
Extreme injuries, especially on the face, will result in disfigurement that can affect your self-esteem for a lifetime. As well, you may find it challenging to land jobs such as client-facing positions as prospective employers screen you out feigning other reasons.
Should I Accept the Personal Injury Settlement I Have Been Offered?
There are instances where the negligent person initiates a monetary settlement even before legal proceedings commence. You could be recuperating in the hospital, or you are receiving outpatient treatment. There are also instances where the guilty party presents an offer soon after legal proceedings start in a bid to close matters as quickly as possible. If you are cash strapped, the temptation to take the money and run is high, but a shrewd attorney would advise you to wait so you can get the fairest amount possible. Mounting bills and lost income notwithstanding, accepting a meager settlement now could lead to permanent financial ruin, especially in cases where medical treatments are needed.
Find a Motorcycle Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Our team at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney understands all too well what you could be going through after a serious motorcycle accident. You could be in the line of duty, or you could be enjoying a weekend ride down the coast. We have handled numerous personal injury cases where clients suffered many injuries – including wrongful death – and win the best possible compensation. Insurance adjusters will do everything they can to determine whether you were at fault or claim that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. All these and many unsavory tactics are fashioned to deny you the full value of compensation so their businesses can remain profitable at your expense. Do not leave things to chance; contact us today at 904-800-7557 to start recovering the monetary losses you have incurred since the accident.