Panama City Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Florida’s warm and tropical weather makes our state a motorcycle rider’s paradise. Throughout most of the year, motorcyclists enjoy favorable weather as they take in all of the breathtaking scenery the Sunshine State has to offer. Panama City is host to what is billed as the “most biker friendly free rally in the United States”, known as the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally.
Twice a year, tens of thousands of bikers, vendors, and exhibitors descend on Panama City for a free four-day rally that includes a motorcycle parade, stunt shows, beauty pageants, tattoo contests, live music, and a whole lot of fun. This event happens in both the fall and the spring when the weather in the Florida Panhandle is most ideal.
Needless to say, motorcycling is a major passion in the Panama City area, and motorcycles are a common site on Florida Panhandle roadways. And while riding is a fun and exhilarating activity, it can also be very hazardous. Unlike vehicle occupants, motorcyclists do not have a steel cage to protect them, and when they are involved in a collision, there is not much to protect their body from hitting the pavement and suffering a serious injury.
If you or a loved one got injured in a motorcycle accident in Panama City or a nearby community, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Unfortunately, insurance companies often assume that motorcyclists are reckless and that they are the ones at fault for an accident. And it is not uncommon for insurers to try to downplay your injuries or to claim that you are responsible for the crash.
It is only natural for insurance companies to mitigate their losses by paying you as little as possible – this is business. The simple fact is that, no matter how courteous they are or empathetic they sound, their interests are not aligned with yours. In a situation like this, it only makes sense to have an experienced legal advocate in your corner fighting hard to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
At Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we have more than six decades of combined experience successfully representing motorcycle accident victims in Panama City, Pensacola, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. Our lawyers have handled numerous cases like these over the years, and we have an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved, and what it takes to overcome the obstacles thrown up by the other side and secure maximum compensation for our clients.
Common Causes of Panama City Motorcycle Accidents
As we talked about earlier, a motorcyclist is at a very big disadvantage if he/she is involved in a crash. As a result, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to be killed in an accident (per vehicle mile traveled) than drivers and passengers of cars and other vehicles, and they are five times more likely to be injured.
Injuries suffered by motorcyclists tend to be more severe because of the biker’s relative lack of protection. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Fractures/broken bones
- Road rash
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputations/loss of limbs
There are a number of reasons why motorcycle accidents occur:
- Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for current road conditions is a frequent cause of all types of vehicle accidents. The faster a vehicle or motorcycle is traveling, the less time the driver has to react to adverse road conditions that may arise.
- Unsafe lane changes: Motor vehicles often collide with motorcycles when they fail to check their blind spot and/or fail to signal before changing lanes.
- Sudden stops: Motorcycles can get rear ended when they have to suddenly slow down or stop and the vehicle behind them is either following too closely or not paying attention, causing the collision.
- Car doors: Motorcycle accidents sometimes happen when the occupant of a parked vehicle opens their door before checking to see if there is any oncoming traffic and strikes the motorcycle.
- Left turns: Approximately 42% of all accidents between a motorcycle and a car happen when the car is making a left turn. The motorcycle’s smaller profile makes it more difficult for the vehicle driver to see when they are turning left.
- Intoxication: A large percentage of all motorcycle accidents involve intoxication on the part of either the vehicle driver or the motorcyclist. It is well established that chemical impairment significantly inhibits an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle or motorcycle safely.
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic, usually when there is a traffic jam and the other vehicles are stopped or moving slowly. This can result in an accident if the vehicle driver fails to anticipate the motorcycle passing them. Lane splitting is not legal in Florida, and it is a dangerous practice for motorcyclists to engage in.
- Distracted driving: Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise in recent years, and many experts believe that one of the primary reasons for the increase is distracted driving. Texting while driving and similar activities are especially dangerous, because they distract motorists visually, manually, and cognitively. This makes it far more difficult to notice important details, such as a motorcycle riding alongside them and entering their blind spot.
Damages Available in Panama City Motorcycle Accident Cases
When someone suffers moderate to severe injuries in a motorcycle crash, they have the right to recover compensation in the form of damages. Compensatory damages are available not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills, property damage, and lost earnings, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent injury.
In rarer cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the crash were especially egregious, punitive damages may also be available over and above those that are paid out to compensate the victim for their losses. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at fault party for their wrongdoing and to help discourage similar behaviors in the future.
Florida applies a pure comparative negligence doctrine to personal injury cases. This means that even if an injured party is partially responsible for the underlying accident, they can still recover damages.
For example, an injured motorcyclist might be assigned some of the blame for the accident because they were lane splitting, but it might turn out that the vehicle driver was also at fault because they were straddling the center line in the road while sending a text.
In a case like this, the injured party would still be eligible for damages, but their damage award would be reduced by the same percentage of fault they share for the accident. So, if the motorcyclist suffers $200,000 in losses and he/she is found to be 50% at fault for the accident, their damage award would be reduced down to $100,000.
In many motorcycle accident cases, there are numerous potential contributing factors. We know that the insurance company will want to highlight any factors that shine the light of blame on you. And this is why it is critical to get experienced legal help as soon as possible, so they can go to work immediately to build your case.
Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Panama City Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you got injured in a motorcycle accident in the Florida Panhandle, Whibbs Stone & Barnett is here to help! To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561. We look forward to serving you!