Left-turn collisions are unsafe for road users, especially motorcyclists. Usually, a left-turn accident happens when a motor vehicle turning left hits a motorcycle moving straight through an intersection or stop sign. The collision can cause you catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injury, road rash, and broken bones even if you are wearing a helmet. Fortunately, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from the responsible driver. Engaging a competent motorcycle collision lawyer like Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney could be essential to getting a satisfactory settlement.
How Common are Motorcycle Accidents?
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were two hundred and eighty-one thousand three hundred and forty reported accidents in Florida in 2012. Of those, nine thousand three hundred and eighty-four accidents involved motorcycles. Four hundred and twenty-five motorcycle riders died, and another seven thousand eight hundred and nine motorcyclists were injured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that about four thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven motorcyclists died in traffic-related collisions, and ninety-three thousand riders sustained injuries in 2012. It accounts for fifteen percent of all traffic accidents.
An unsafe left turn motorcycle accident occurs when a turning car hits a motorcycle when a motorcyclist is:
- Moving straight through an intersection
- Passing the motor vehicle, or
- Attempting to overtake the vehicle.
Left turn motorcycle accidents are common between cars, but the motorcycle's small size makes it less visible to the turning vehicle. Motorcyclists who pass within the same lane are more prone. Usually, motorists do not expect and are surprised by the maneuver.
On top of the visibility challenges related to left-hand turn accidents, driver distraction plays a significant role in motorcycle crashes. Motorists distracted by text messages and phone calls are a menace for all road users, especially motorcycle riders. In almost all accidents between a motorcycle and a truck or car, the lighter and smaller motorcycle rider will be on the losing end. While a distracted motorist might cause a fender-bender with another motor vehicle, the same situation involving a motorcycle can be fatal.
Liable Parties in Left Turn Motorcycle Accidents
The law requires a motorist who wants to make a left-hand turn to wait until they can safely cross and do so without causing an accident. Sometimes when a driver makes a left turn, and there is traffic in the lane they want to enter, they block the oncoming lane. Generally, it is believed that the motorist who turns left against oncoming traffic is responsible should a collision occur. The vehicle or motorcycle moving in a straight direction has the right of way, the same way a car turning right does.
Circumstances that Might Shift Liability
While is commonly assumed that the motorist making the left-hand turn is at-fault, there can be proof that blames other drivers, like:
- The motor vehicle going straight the intersection was speeding — Without a credible witness, this situation is hard to prove.
- If the other motorist violates a traffic law like a stop sign or runs a red light, and the violation causes an accident, the court might not hold the left-hand turning driver accountable.
- The other motorist operated their car while distracted or unlawfully — Distracted driving is illegal, dangerous, and can cause catastrophic motorcycle injuries or accidents. A driver who diverts their attention while navigating an intersection, even for a couple of seconds, from the cognitive, visual, and manual attention which driving requires can cause an accident. Common forms of distracted driving are texting, playing computer games, grooming, reading maps, reading, talking to passengers, adjusting a stereo, and drinking.
- Unforeseen circumstances — An obstacle in the motorist's path might cause a left-turning motorist to slow down or stop before completing their turn. Should the driver strike a motorcycle, the court might not find the driver accountable for your motorcycle accident.
- Trying to beat a light — Most unsafe left turn motorcycle accidents occur near or at an intersection. As the light turns yellow, the driver might think they have adequate time to turn. However, another vehicle slams into them, causing the motorist to hit you in return. In this case, the other driver is at fault.
- Car challenges — What happens when a motor vehicle malfunctions while the driver is turning left across lanes? In this case, you will hold the car manufacturer accountable for your motorcycle accident.
To receive the compensation you deserve, you must show the defendant was negligent. Negligence in Florida is established using the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care (The law required the at-fault party to act reasonably).
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care and was not cautious.
- Their conduct played a significant role in causing your injuries.
- You suffered losses.
Can You Recover Compensation if You Are Partially Accountable for the Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident?
You can still recover damages. The state of Florida uses a pure comparative negligence rule. If more than one party was negligent, every party will be assigned a portion of fault. In other words, whatever percentage you are careless, your compensation will be limited by that percentage. For instance, if the court determines that you are thirty percent at fault, then you are entitled to seventy percent of the settlement amount.
What to Do After an Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
Unsafe left turn motorcycle accidents run a broad spectrum from minor to severe accidents in which the rider sustains severe injuries or even succumbs. Like shoes, there is no one size fits all approach as far as handling the aftermath of an accident is concerned. However, some general recommendations or tips apply to many cases.
If you are lucky to walk after the crash, you should take the following steps. If you're too hurt to walk or can't complete some of the tasks, you can ask a loved one to do it on your behalf.
Seek Medical Attention
If you have been involved in an unsafe left turn motorcycle accident, there is a likelihood that an emergency response team will come to the accident scene, and you might be taken to the hospital.
If you can walk after the collision, you also need to consult with a medical practitioner. The adrenaline which rushes through the body after and during the accident may prevent you from feeling pain after the motorcycle accident. Moreover, injuries like broken ribs, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, and traumatic brain injury do not manifest immediately. Seeking medical attention might improve your health and save your life.
The medical records can function as evidence of your injuries and accident when seeking compensation. Insurance adjusters and the defendant's attorney might find it hard to claim that the injuries are due to another incidence if you document the injuries straightaway.
Gather Contact Information
Police will collect information from witnesses and all parties involved in the accident when they reach the accident scene, but they can make omissions or mistakes. As you wait for the law enforcers to arrive, use that time to gather information. Ask for addresses and names of the driver and witnesses.
Remember to request insurance details from the motorists and take note of the license plate numbers of any motor vehicle involved. Sometimes, a driver can leave the accident scene, particularly if they have traffic violations on their record. Collecting contact details in time protects you from the negligent motorist who decides to leave the accident scene.
Do Not Admit Fault
Whenever two individuals bump into one another, it is common for them to apologize. It is human nature. If you are involved in an unsafe left-turn motorcycle accident, don't say, "I'm sorry." The statement could be used against you.
Usually, the exact cause of the motorcycle accident is not apparent immediately following the crash. The collision could be jarring, and you may not remember all details until hours or days later. Therefore, you should be cautious about what you say.
Take as Many Photos as Possible
Photographic proof is more reliable compared to a handwritten description of the accident scene. The accident scene offers essential information and clues that can assist insurers and investigators in determining the accident liability.
The police will probably capture pictures when they reach the accident scene, but it does not hurt to have additional pictures before the proof is taken away. On top of that, the police can make a mistake.
Using a smartphone or camera, take photos of your injuries, damage to the motorcycle, and the vehicles involved. While every accident is unique, pay attention to capture pictures of anything that can support your personal injury claim. It also includes taking images of all hazards that can cause accidents and road conditions.
Acquire a Police Report
After the motorcycle crash, you should get a copy of the police report. It can take the police a maximum of ten days to draft and complete the police report. You could get the report online via Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for ten dollars. If you choose to acquire the copy in person, visit your local Florida Highway Patrol Troop Station.
Keep Pay Stubs, Receipts, and Bills
The motorcycle accident injuries are expensive as far as medical treatment, lost income, and bodily injury is concerned. To receive a fair and full settlement, you should prove the economic losses linked to your injuries and the accident. It includes property damage, medical bills, doctor's appointment visits, and prescriptions.
If you sustained serious injuries, you'd probably miss work. You should submit proof of your salary before the collision and lost income as a result of the paid time off work you used or hospitalization due to the crash.
Other costs you need to document are:
- Modifications made to your house that make it more accessible following the accident.
- Domestic replacement services that assist with things/duties you performed before your unsafe left turn motorcycle accident.
Maintain a Journal
When a plaintiff files a claim against the at-fault motorist, part of their claim lies in the non-economic damages that are hard to quantify.
Immediately, you are strong, keep a journal that describes how you're feeling. The journal provides the doctor with proof of your symptoms so that they can treat your injuries better. It also provides evidence of the claim.
Don't Tell Anyone About the Claim
The defendant's insurer will investigate your unsafe left turn motorcycle accident. They will also ask you questions about the collision. Insurance adjusters are experienced in getting plaintiffs to make statements that might devalue claims so that the insurance providers can avoid financial accountability for the crash. The insurance adjusters will also talk with your family and friends. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid discussing the case details until the claim is settled. Bearing that in mind, allow your attorney to handle all communications with the insurance company.
What is the Average Settlement for Your Left Turn Motorcycle Accident?
Florida is a no-fault state for four-wheeled vehicles, and motorists should have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. That means the no-fault law does not apply to motorcycle riders.
That leaves the riders vulnerable following an accident because they should seek compensation with no-fault compensation for the losses incurred. Also, the state-required minimum bodily injury insurance might not be adequate to cater for your injuries and motorcycle damage. Therefore, it is advisable to consider the available legal options like hiring a personal injury attorney who will file a claim.
Determining Settlement Amounts
You might find yourself wondering how much you will recover for the accident. Well, every case is unique, and the compensation amount differs from one rider to the other. Here are factors that determine your compensation value:
- The seriousness of the injury — Injuries sustained in an unsafe left turn motorcycle accident range from minor to severe. Usually, more severe injuries will lead to higher compensation compared to minor injuries.
- Who was accountable — If you are involved in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent person, the negligence laws apply. Remember, if you are partially accountable, the total settlement amount will be reduced by your portion of the liability.
- Impact of your injury — Another factor in proving the worth of your claim is providing proof of how severely the left turn motorcycle accident has impacted your livelihood and lifestyle. The higher the collision effect on your earning capacity and life, the more the compensation value you are worth. For instance, if the accident has kept you from working or has reduced your ability to work, your lost income damages will be higher than a person whose employment wasn't affected.
Common Damages Awarded in Left-Turn Motorcycle Accidents
Damages awarded in personal injury claims are not meant to make the plaintiff rich. Instead, they are tailored to compensate you for what you have lost due to the injury or accident.
While damages like medical bills are easy to quantify, others are hard to put a dollar value since they are abstract concepts. Here are the damages you are likely to be awarded in your motorcycle accident:
- Medical expenses include charges for surgery, medical care, physical therapy, medication, and ambulance costs. Moreover, it involves the cost of medical attention you will require in the future due to collisions, such as future surgeries or doctor visits.
- Lost income entails the amount of money you will lose taking time off work to recover or go to your physician's appointment. You are also entitled to compensation for the money you'll lose because you are no longer able to do your job responsibilities at a level that will earn you a promotion.
- Property damage compensates damage that occurred to your assets involved in the accident, like the motorcycle or a cell phone.
- If the injuries took away your ability to engage in things you loved, like going on walks or painting, you are entitled to loss of enjoyment damages.
- Emotional distress damages are awarded if the accident caused you psychological challenges like anxiety, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Pain and suffering damages cover the discomfort and pain you suffered both after and at the time of the unsafe left turn motorcycle accident.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Negotiating a settlement for a motorcycle accident requires that you calculate a reasonable compensation amount that you will accept to resolve the claim. Personal injury lawyers and insurance providers use either of the following methods to determine the total pain and suffering damages:
The multiplier method uses a number that is between 1.5 and 5. To choose the multiplier, both you and the insurer will analyze how severe your injuries are. Therefore, the more serious the injuries, the higher the multiplier number.
For instance, if you have spent ten thousand dollars due to broken bones, the medical expenses might be multiplied by two. That means your total pain and suffering damages will be twenty thousand dollars.
Per Diem Method
As the name suggests, the method uses an everyday pain and suffering calculator of your damages. A specific dollar amount is paid daily from the date of your accident until you reach maximum medical improvement. Often, the number is reasonable.
Bringing a Claim for Your Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
Before a lawsuit is filed, you will be required to bring a personal injury claim with the defendant's insurer. Filing the claim notifies the insurance firm of a probable lawsuit. After the claim is brought and you have completed medical treatment, your attorney will request for medical bills and records from your different treatment providers.
The next step involves your attorney assembling a settlement demand package and sending it to an insurance adjuster. Your experienced lawyer will also send a letter of introduction, which indicates the initial settlement demand. In most cases, the attorney will request more compensation than what you deserve. Moreover, copies of medical records, medical charges, and lost income evidence should be attracted to the demand package.
Negotiating a Settlement
If the defendant's insurer concedes accountability, and after the insurance adjuster reviews your compensation demand package, you can expect an initial settlement offer. You should not take the initial offer. Usually, the offer is low and unsatisfactory.
After the initial offer is made, your lawyer will make a counter demand that is lower compared to the initial demand. The negotiations between the insurance company and your personal injury attorney could last for weeks or even months until the parties reach a settlement agreement.
Bringing a Lawsuit
If your attorney and the insurance adjuster cannot reach an agreement, you can file a lawsuit in court. However, that doesn't necessarily suggest that your case will proceed to court. Most personal injury claims are resolved through settlement.
If your unsafe left turn motorcycle accident proceeds to trial, the process can be tedious and lengthy. Your attorney should be able to assist you in understanding the advantages and disadvantages of a jury trial. That way, you can make an informed decision.
The trial consists of:
- Pretrial motions
- Jury selection
- Examination of witnesses
- Opening statements
- Recitation of jury instructions the demand package
- Jury deliberation
- Closing arguments
- Jury verdict
Common Unsafe Left Turn Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycles offer little protection for riders, and as a result, injuries are catastrophic. Here is a list of the injuries you are likely to sustain:
- Head injuries top the list. They include brain injuries, concussions, and cracked skulls. Brain injuries and cracked skulls are often fatal, while concussions can be either mild or severe.
- Road rash injuries occur when a motorcyclist slides across a pavement after being thrown from the motorcycle. Depending on your clothing when you hit the pavement, you can suffer from cuts, scrapes, mild bruising, muscle damage, nerve damage, or severe gashes.
- Neck injuries could be mild, like a broken collar bone or severe, leading to paralysis or even death.
- Another common category of injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents is broken bones. Because the motorcycle topples over when involved in a collision, the rider is thrown to the pavement. It can lead to broken legs, arms, feet, wrists, and hips.
Find Legal Representation Near Me
After an unsafe left turn motorcycle accident, it might seem easy to file a lawsuit for damages with the defendant's insurer. However, personal injury laws are complex and confusing. Also, insurance providers are your opposition. A proficient lawyer could be instrumental. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, consult with attorneys at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney at 904-800-7557. We can review the accident details, answer all your questions, and explain the available legal options.