Florida’s warm and sunny climate make it the perfect place to depend on your motorcycle for transportation to and from work, and around the city; and, the picturesque Gulf scenes around the Fort Myers area make it the perfect place for a joy ride.
Yet, the enjoyment you experience from cruising around on your motorcycle can come to an end if a careless driver causes a motorcycle accident. Negligent motorists who might be distracted, drowsy, or under the influence can cause severe motorcycle accidents which can result in life-changing, permanent injuries or death.
Adding insult to injury, most of these accidents can be avoided when motorists drive carefully. Read on to learn more about your legal options from an experienced Fort Myers motorcycle accident Lawyer.
The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Attorney
The motorcycle accident lawyers at Viles & Beckman are dedicated to helping clients recover the compensation they deserve after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident as a result of a negligent party. Our commitment to advocating for our clients has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages. With more than four decades of experience, our team knows how to investigate, negotiate, and when necessary, litigate each case we take on to obtain the most favorable results possible. We cannot guarantee a particular outcome in your case, but we can promise to advocate for you and help you hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
At Viles & Beckman, LLC, we understand how devastating motorcycle accidents can be. We also understand the incredible economic hardship they often bring. The cost of the accident usually spans far beyond the physical injuries themselves. We have helped countless people affected by motorcycle accidents in Florida — victims who were fortunate enough to survive, as well as the families of those who were not.
Through our more than 40 years of combined experience in personal injury law, we’ve developed valuable insight into the effective litigation of motorcycle accidents in Florida. We know how to lend a compassionate shoulder of support to our clients, while at the same time taking an aggressive stand against the other side. We believe in pursuing financial compensation for our clients with fierce determination.
If you and your family have been affected by one of these terrible accidents, no matter how major or minor your injuries might seem, we want you to give us a call at (239) 334-3933. Our Fort Myers motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help in any way we can.
Why Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
Motorcycles present certain unique dangers that put their occupants at a greater risk of harm in any accident. In reviewing these risks, it is important to remember that bikers and their passengers don’t have to take the blame simply because their vehicles pose certain dangers.
Motorcycles have an equal right to the roadways and if another motorist’s negligence causes a motorcycle crash, the at-fault driver is generally still liable for the injuries he or she caused.
Key risk factors in motorcycling include:
- No seatbelts
- No airbags
- No exterior doors or walls
- Motorcycles are much smaller than the vehicles that hit them
- Motorcycles can be difficult to see, especially at night
- Motorcycles can easily travel within a driver’s blind spot for an extended period of time without realizing it
- Other drivers often forget to look for motorcycles
- Other drivers are known to misestimate motorcycles’ traveling distance or speed
- Some drivers simply do not show bikers the respect they deserve on the road
Motorcycle Accidents Injuries Can Be Severe and Fatal
When a motorcycle accident occurs, bikers don’t have much protection, especially at high speeds. Severe, catastrophic, and sometimes fatal injuries occur. When a motorcycle accident victim survives an accident, extensive recovery is common. Some common types of severe injuries suffered by motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Head injuries. Even when wearing a helmet, bikers might suffer severe head trauma in an accident, often resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mild TBIs typically heal on their own within a few weeks or months. More severe TBIs can cause long-term effects and symptoms.
- Spinal cord injuries. Severe motorcycle accidents can cause damage to the spinal cord tissue resulting in loss of function or paralysis in the short-term, or permanently. The loss of function depends on where the damage occurred on the spinal cord.
- Back injuries. When a biker gets thrown from his bike or pinned between his motorcycle and a vehicle, it can result in back injuries such as fractured vertebrae and herniated discs. Sometimes surgery can correct these problems; other times, victims must endure chronic pain for life.
- Amputations. Sometimes during motorcycle accidents, bikers get pinned under their bike or under a vehicle. This can crush arms and/or legs, potentially leading to amputation and other catastrophic injuries. Those who must undergo an amputation have a long road to recovery which requires physically and emotionally coping with the loss of a limb.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries Statistics Reported in Lee County Florida
Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance
Florida residents who register a car must carry mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to protect them in the event of an accident. PIP coverage is not mandatory for motorcyclists, but many bikers carry it.
PIP helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages when an accident occurs by providing a driver or rider with up to $10,000 in coverage. In Florida, PIP policies cover 80 percent of necessary medical treatment and 60 percent of lost wages up to the policy limit. When severe motorcycle accidents occur, exceeding the policy limit doesn’t take long. Additionally, PIP policies do not compensate victims for non-economic losses.
Recovering Damages Beyond PIP after a Motorcycle Accident
Once you have met your PIP policy limits, or if you don’t carry PIP coverage, Florida law may you to take legal action against any liable party who caused you severe injuries in your motorcycle accident, as long as you do so within four years of the date of injury. In the event you settle prior to trial or the court rules in your favor, you might recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses not covered by your PIP policy, including ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospitalization, radiology, prescription medication, surgery, and follow-up visits
- Future costs for medical treatment when a severe injury requires extensive recovery for weeks or months, or when an injury causes a permanent disability requiring continued medical treatment for life
- Rehabilitation costs including visits to physical therapists and other specialists and assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs
- Lost wages for missing work due to injury, hospitalization, and recovery
- Lost earning capacity when a severe injury causes permanent disability preventing an injured person from returning to their job
- Non-economic damages including pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of consortium with a spouse, and others which might apply to a particular case
Shared Liability in Fort Myers Motorcycle Accidents
In some motorcycle accidents, liability might not be clear. A motorcyclist might have partially contributed to the accident, even if the vehicle motorist holds a majority of the blame. Florida courts apply a concept called “comparative negligence” to most personal injury cases. Courts use this notion of shared liability to assess the extent to which a plaintiff might be at fault for the accident which led to their injuries. If the court finds the plaintiff partially liable, they reduce the damages they award accordingly. For example, if you sue for $600,000 in damages, and the court assigns you 10 percent at fault, you can only collect 90 percent, or $540,000.
Any party named as a defendant in a lawsuit will go out of their way to avoid liability, but Florida’s comparative negligence rules motivate defense teams to shift blame to the accident victim. Some arguments a defense team might use to shift blame to the victim for a motorcycle accident include:
- The biker was breaking traffic regulations by speeding or driving carelessly, weaving between lanes.
- The biker was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The biker was distracted while driving.
- The biker was not wearing a helmet.
Experienced motorcycle crash lawyers anticipate these arguments and know how to limit their effectiveness.
Common Causes of Florida Motorcycle Accidents
The following is a brief overview of common causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida. For more details, checkout our page: Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents. Car, van, SUV, and truck drivers often contribute to motorcycle accidents in Florida.
Often, the reason for these devastating incidents, are:
- Drowsy driving
- Texting while driving
- Reckless driving
- Following too closely
- Not seeing the bike in one’s mirrors
- Failing to check blind spots
- Drunk driving
7 Things You Should Do After a Fort Myers Motorcycle Accident
The experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Viles & Beckman understand defense strategies to avoid paying out large settlements or court awards, and we will advocate for you to get the best outcome for your case. Yet, some actions you take immediately following a motorcycle accident can help increase the chances of receiving maximum compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries. Here are some tips after a Fort Myers motorcycle accident:
1. Seek medical treatment ASAP.
If you aren’t transported to the hospital via ambulance ride, or you refused medical treatment immediately after the accident, you should still let a doctor check you out. Part of building a strong case against at-fault parties is demonstrating the motorcycle accident caused your injuries; medical documentation serves as this proof and as leverage for negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
Further, some injuries don’t present symptoms right away, especially traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and internal organ damage, which commonly occur in motorcycle accidents. Letting a physician check you out sooner than later might be the difference between life and death.
2. Get contact information from others involved in the accident.
Most police reports will have all the information you need, but sometimes law enforcement makes a mistake or they don’t come to the scene of the accident right away. Get names, addresses, email, phone, and insurance info from drivers and occupants in the vehicle which struck your motorcycle, if you are physically able. You should also get contact information for any eyewitnesses who might have stopped to help.
3. Keep records of economic loss.
Motorcycle accidents can be expensive, and you need documentation of your loss to provide to the court. This includes property damage to your motorcycle, medical bills, gas receipts and mileage to and from the hospital for follow up visits, and any other items you buy for medical treatment, including over-the-counter pain medication and any out-of-pocket prescription costs.
You also need to provide your attorney with pay stubs to prove lost wages during hospitalization and recovery. If you needed to make modifications to your home such as adding a wheelchair ramp, installing handrails, or any other item to make your home more accessible, save those receipts too.
4. Use your cell phone to take pictures at the scene.
Once cleaning crews and tow trucks arrive at the scene of the motorcycle accident, valuable information might be swept away. If you are physically able, use your phone to take photos or videos of property damage, road hazards, road conditions, license plates, any visible injuries, and anything else you think might be valuable to support your case after a motorcycle accident. You may not need them, but in the event you must go to court, photographic evidence is often much stronger than handwritten information on a police report.
5. Don’t accept an early settlement offer.
When insurance companies know their policyholders are at fault, they sometimes try to offer quick and easy settlements. These offers are large enough to make them attractive, but are typically much lower than what you deserve for losses you’ve incurred.
When you accept an offer, you give up your right to sue for damages. This protects insurance companies from having to pay a higher settlement or substantial damaged awarded by the court. Always consult with an attorney for advice on any offers you receive. It’s likely your lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement.
6. Only speak to your attorney about your motorcycle accident case.
Expect insurance companies to investigate your motorcycle accident claim, which includes adjusters interviewing you about the accident. Insurance company employees have extensive training about how to elicit responses from you to devalue your claim; and, they will often try to do the same by talking to family members or close friends. Of course, you would like to share details with your loved ones, but it’s in your best interest to keep your lips sealed until the claim is settled or litigated, so you or one you love doesn’t say something to devalue your claim.
7. Keep your accident details off of social media.
Insurance investigators will check your social media accounts to look for additional ways to devalue your claim. They might look for pictures which suggest your injuries aren’t as severe as you reported or you are recovering faster than you reported. Investigators can easily misinterpret anything you post on Facebook, Instagram, etc. and use your posts to devalue your claim. You don’t have to delete your social media accounts, but you should curb or eliminate posting until your claim has been settled.