As of 2012, Florida was the second leading state in the country after California in terms of uninsured motorists on the road based on a 2014 research by Insurance Research Council. So, whenever you are riding on a motorcycle on these state roads, you risk being struck by a negligent uninsured motorist because they don't need to carry UM coverage.
If you have sustained injuries or damage on your motorcycle after a motorcycle accident involving uninsured motorists, Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney is here to help you receive compensation.
Overview of Florida Motorcycle Accidents
Although Florida highways are known for traffic jams, they still attract many bike enthusiasts. But these motorcyclists are in a unique position because they are exposed to danger that is not met by other motorists or road users. The fact that the structure of the bike doesn’t offer any protection makes injuries sustained from these crashes severer.
Motorcycles are also small in size and have high-speed gauges making it difficult for drivers to anticipate them. This makes them more prone to accidents. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, it is critical to understand your rights and remedies in the event of a collision caused by an uninsured motorist.
Dangers that Roads Pose to Motorcyclists
Motorcycle riders need to understand their rights to compensation in the event of an accident because of the dangers they face every day on the road. Remember that for every two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving a vehicle, the driver of the car is usually responsible for the accident by violating the motorcyclist’s right of way. Besides, when you are riding a motorcycle, you are 26 times more likely to die in the event of an accident or sustain injuries five times severe than those of a person in a passenger car.
These reasons why motorcyclists are prone to these risks include:
- Motorcycles are small in size, which makes visual recognition, particularly during bad weather, at night, or at an intersection.
- Road hazards that might seem minor for vehicles like potholes, uneven pavements, debris, or puddles pose a great danger to motorcyclists.
- When the front and rear tires of a motorcycle are misaligned, speeding makes the bike wobble or becomes unstable, resulting in speed wobble accidents.
Uninsured Motorist Statistics
In the United States, before registering a vehicle, you must have auto insurance coverage. Surprisingly, the latest data shows 13 percent of drivers in the country are uninsured. Florida is leading all other states, with 26.7 percent of drivers uninsured. Keeping in mind that in most motorcycle accidents, the other driver is usually responsible, it means victims of motorcycle accidents are likely to end up with no compensation.
On top of having the highest number of uninsured drivers, Florida also records the highest rate of road accidents in the country. Looking at these statistics, you will realize that the state is dangerous for motorcyclists, mainly because of high accident rates and the fact that many motorists are uninsured. Therefore, when you, as a rider, are operating a motorcycle on these roads, you need to understand what to do if you are a victim in a crash involving an uninsured motorist.
What to do after a Motorcycle Accident Involving Uninsured Motorist
When a motorcycle accident happens, you will sustain severe injuries, some of which might result in death. Your bike or other property might also be damaged from the collision. What you do as a victim or family member of the victim of the accident will determine if you will get compensation or not. Even when the person at fault is uninsured, you will need to do specific things that will help you recover payment for your losses. These things include:
Move to a Safer Location
After a motorcycle crash, it is possible to sustain further injuries, mainly if the accident involves multiple vehicles. Remember, other motorists are also using the same road, and if you stay on the road after an accident, you could be struck again, leading to severe injuries or death. Your safety should come first, and the best way to ensure that is by moving to the side of the road. You could also use flares to warn all road users about the accident.
Check for Injuries
Because your safety is a priority, check if you have sustained injuries. In case you have fractures or back injuries, you should inform those at the scene so that they can administer first aid or call paramedics if the injuries are so severe for them to do anything.
Calling 911 is an excellent idea because paramedics will be informed if anyone has been significantly injured. Police will also be sent to the scene to restore normalcy on the road and conduct investigations to find the cause of the accident. Treating injuries on time saves a lot of lives, especially if they are internal. Internal injuries, if left unattended for long, might result in death.
Having police at the scene of a motorcycle accident is paramount because it makes things easier for you. They will reconstruct the accident to find out who caused it and the facts to prove the case.
If you have moved to a safe location and called 911, you should be careful about your movement, mainly if you have back and neck injuries. As you remain at a safe point, observe the surroundings of the scene of the crash, and make observations. You can record the weather condition at the time and try to remember things that can help you reconstruct the accident.
Also, you should try and gather information about the other party that caused the accident. You should note down their names, physical address, license plate registration number, and model of the car.
You should also speak to witnesses, and if any of them gives a statement that might help with your claim, you get their contact information.
Taking or having someone take pictures of the scene, injuries, and the damage done on your motorcycle could also go a great way in helping you build a case. The photos will be used as evidence of the damages or injuries caused by the motorcycle crash.
Call an Attorney
If you have been injured by an uninsured motorist, then you already know they won’t be paying for your injuries and losses. The best thing to do is to reach out to a personal injury in Jacksonville who understands motorcycle accidents involving uninsured drivers. The first thing the attorney will do is look at your insurance policy to see if your bodily injury liability or property damage protection coverage will cover the injuries and damage done on the bike.
In case that coverage applies in your case, the attorney should notify your insurer about the accident immediately. They can tell the insurance adjuster that you will require compensation right away so that they can begin preparations. You should register a claim earlier before the statutory limitation expires.
An attorney will also check the case to see if you have complied with Florida traffic regulations like wearing a helmet when riding. An examination of your injuries will also help determine the kind of treatment required. If the injuries and damages are extensive to be fully covered by your insurer, the attorney will get the details of the driver who caused the accident. Once the details have been obtained, the attorney will conduct background checks to see if the driver has any assets that you can seize and sell to recover the costs of treatment and repairs.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
The injuries you can sustain from motorcycle accidents are many. The extent of the injuries depends on the nature of the accident, and they usually require medical intervention. Some of these injuries include:
Neck and Head Injuries
As mentioned earlier, your body acts as a barrier after a motorcycle crash. Therefore, when you are hit by a motorist, your head might be slammed against the vehicle or road pavement, causing TBIs. You would suffer a concussion or severe brain injuries, mainly if you didn’t have a helmet on at the time of the accident. The helmet will, however, not save your neck if, after the accident, your chin gets into contact with the ground or surface on high impact. The impact will result in a fractured or twisted neck.
When your body crashes against a vehicle or road surface, it will leave you with multiple broken bones. Sometimes the motorcycle can flip, making you land on your body, thus resulting in fractured bones. Numerous medical procedures will be required to reposition the broken bones. You could opt for fiberglass or functional braces. The braces, however, have a problem because they don’t allow movement around the joints.
Healing of fractured bones involves many stages, so you might spend many months recovering. Even after healing, there are some tasks that you might be unable to perform because of the injuries.
When another motorist runs into your motorcycle, you might lose your leg or arm in the accident or when receiving treatment. Loss of limb will impact your movement and some of the activities you used to engage in before the accident. You might even end up losing your job the moment you cannot perform the duties required by your employer.
Other injuries that are motorcycle accident-related include:
- Dental injuries
- Neurological injuries
- Arm, hand and limb injuries
Note that in motorcycle accidents, you will get more compensation for some injuries than others. The highest settlements you will get for a motorcycle collision are those that require surgery. The injuries include:
- Tibia fracture
- Hip fracture
- Broken thumb
- Fractured face bones
- Labrum tear
- Broken wrist
If you end up killed in the motorcycle accident, your family will be well compensated. The same will happen if you suffer traumatic brain injuries. Insurers are willing to pay more for the damages.
Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Florida is a no-fault state, and, just like many other states in the country, it requires all motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP) of at least ten thousand dollars in their auto insurance policies. Motorists are also expected to have property damage protection of not less than $10,000. PIP coverage is intended to compensate for 80% of your doctor bills. It also provides 60% coverage for lost income if you are involved in an accident, regardless of the party responsible for the crash.
If you own a car in Jacksonville, PIP coverage is mandatory as per the law, but motorcycles are excluded. There is no place where a motorcyclist is required to carry PIP coverage. However, insurers can make arrangements to provide this coverage on your motorcycle, although the policy will be regulated by the insurance contract and not the law.
Property damage liability protects you if you damage another person’s property. Note that the coverage only protects you from the property damage you cause, where the other party is the victim in the accident.
Although drivers are required to carry PIP and property damage protection, when a driver injures another person in an accident, he or she is not required by the law to purchase the coverage. This means motorists are not required by law to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, but they should.
UM coverage provides protection when you are injured in an accident with a motorist who is not insured. So, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident where the driver in the other vehicle is at fault, the personal injuries you sustain will be covered by the PIP coverage of the negligent driver.
But what if the cost of treatment, pain, and suffering and lost wages exceed the negligent driver’s PIP coverage? Or what if the at-fault party is entirely uninsured? Remember that in a motorcycle accident, your body acts as the barrier between you and the pavement. The fact that you have no protection means you are susceptible to severe injuries. The cost of treatment for such damages is likely to exceed the PIP coverage, which means you will have to turn to your insurer for UM coverage. The uninsured motorist coverage will be your essential damage protection.
If you are a motorcyclist who loves the beautiful sceneries in the state and loves exploring roads, you should understand that Florida has the highest number of uninsured motorists. Whenever you are on the way, you are at risk of sustaining severe injuries caused by negligent drivers with absolutely no insurance coverage. Additionally, you will be left with the burden to cover all the expenses resulting from your injuries.
Fortunately, you can mitigate all these risks by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. Carrying the policy gives you peace of mind and ensures that you don’t go bankrupt because of someone’s negligence.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Although it has been said that you could always turn to your insurer if you hold UM coverage, they might not always be willing to settle. Insurance companies might deny your claim or delay payments. In such a case, you will have no other option other than suing the uninsured driver. But there is a problem here. How do you expect a driver with no insurance coverage to pay for your economic damages? The same way they are unable to pay monthly insurance premiums, they might not have assets that you can liquidate and recover your losses.
But before you jump into this conclusion, you should allow your attorney to explore the assets of the uninsured motorist. If he or she was not the owner of the car, the attorney could go after the assets of the vehicle owner. Where the uninsured motorist who caused the accident was performing employment duties that benefit the employer, you could sue the employer for compensation. This is because Florida statutes allow you to sue the employer because of the mistake of the employees. Employers are viciously liable for the actions or inactions of their employees.
Even where the uninsured driver has no money to pay for your losses, if you can avail evidence to prove they caused your injuries and property damages, the court might order them to pay monthly fees for a particular duration. Although these amounts are usually low, they might help you with some of the expenses.
However, if you could prove to the court that the uninsured motorist has assets or property, this will be a good thing. The court might order the liquidation of the assets or investments matching the total amount of damages you incurred because of the crash. That way, you receive maximum compensation for the losses.
Keep in mind that if the uninsured motorist has no assets, you don’t need to waste your time going after them. Turn to your insurer, and in case they deny you a claim that you deserve, you could sue them.
Insurers can deny you compensation even when you hold uninsured motorist coverage. But before you sue them, you need to evaluate your auto insurance policy to find the type of accidents it applies to. If it applies to your motorcycle accident, then you could recover maximum damages by suing the insurance company. The compensation will not come easy because you need all the evidence you can find to prove that you were a victim in the accident and that you filed the claim on time. The things you do after the accident counts a lot in building solid evidence, so make sure you understand what is required of you after a crash.
When accidents occur, you don’t choose the person you want to be involved in an accident with. It could be an insured motorist or one that is not insured. For this reason, you should always carry an adequate UM policy with you, so that when your motorcycle gets involved in an accident, you don’t have to go bankrupt trying to pay for your treatment and other damages.
Besides, although insurance agents might advise you not to purchase the coverage, don’t take their advice because it is your family you are protecting. A motorcycle accident can cause severe injuries, and if you don’t have anyone else to turn to, the coverage will save you at your time of need.
Other Outlets for Financial Compensation
An experienced attorney will not give up just because the liable party has no insurance or assets that can be used to provide coverage for your losses. He or she will find other sources of compensation. If an uninsured motorist hits your bike at an intersection, it might be because of poor design of the intersection, faulty car components, poorly installed traffic lights, or poor road design. If this is the case, you could sue the people in charge of constructing and maintaining the road. You could also go after the car manufacturer if the accident was caused by faulty parts.
Damages Available in a Motorcycle Accident Claim Involving Uninsured Motorist
Motorcyclists are exposed to a lot of danger on the road, and the injuries they sustain might be life-changing. If you are lucky, the uninsured driver has assets that can be liquidated; you could recover economic and non-economic damages resulting from the accident. If there are other liable parties, you could also receive compensation for any kind of loss related to the accident.
But what if the driver at fault is uninsured and there is no other person that can take the blame for the accident. You will be forced to rely on your UM coverage. Remember, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you turn to your insurer first for compensation, then if the amount is not enough, you turn to the liable parties. However, in this case, the accountable is uninsured. You will be forced to rely on UM policy alone for compensation. The damages available under the coverage include:
- Past and future medical costs for injuries caused by the accident
- Lost wages if the motorcycle accident injuries cause you to miss work
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Cost of treating emotional and psychological problems caused by the accident
The damages will cover the insured family members and the passenger who was on the motorcycle when an uninsured driver struck the bike.
Find a Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are a motorcyclist in Florida, then you already know that you are at high risk of being struck by an uninsured motorist. Things become complicated at this point because you don’t know where to go for compensation if the cost of the injuries exceeds your coverage. With the help of Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we could make the process of seeking compensation more comfortable. Contact us today at 904-800-7557 for a free consultation.