Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Helping Injured Bikers in Florida with Compassion and Integrity
The exhilaration of riding a motorcycle is undeniable. But that feeling of freedom you experience leaves you vulnerable to the devastating effects of the road, your surroundings and other vehicles. Your bike affords you little protection, particularly when you ride without a helmet as permitted under Florida law, and that is one of the reasons why motorcycle accidents are often so tragic.
The Pensacola motorcycle accident lawyers at Whibbs Stone Barnett understand how bike crash victims and their families suffer. We are here to help. We stand up for the rights of motorcyclists and work to ensure that they are fully compensated when someone else is at fault in an accident. We work closely with our clients, and we aggressively pursue payment for lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, there are no PIP benefits for motorcycle accidents, so our attorneys formulate strategies that obtain compensation to cover all of your losses.
Motorcyclists Have a Right to the Road in Florida
Many people believe that careless bikers cause motorcycle accidents. But studies consistently show that car and truck drivers cause most motorcycle accidents by failing to see motorcyclists and through other forms of negligence.
Here are some of the most common reasons motorcycle accidents occur:
- Speeding: Motorcyclists have a smaller profile than others on the road, and this makes them more difficult to see even under ideal conditions. When Florida drivers exceed the speed limit or drive faster than they can safely travel because of adverse driving conditions, they are less likely to spot a motorcycle and slow to down in time to avoid a collision.
- Aggressive/Reckless Driving: Speeding excessively is one common example of aggressive or reckless driving. Others include following too closely/tailgating, weaving back and forth between lanes, running stop signs and stop lights, dangerous passing maneuvers, and refusing to yield the right-of-way. Motorists who drive this way put motorcyclists and others on the road at far greater risk of an accident.
- Distracted Driving: These days, most drivers have smart phones. And while this technology has made improvements in our lives, it has also created many dangers on the roadways. Texting while driving and other forms of electronic activity while are particularly hazardous, because they take the driver’s entire focus away from the road. And if a driver looks down at his/her phone for just five seconds while traveling at 55 mph, it is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded. Distracted driving is especially dangerous for motorcyclists, and a recent report found that nearly 40% of all motorcycle accidents involve a distracted or inattentive driver.
Numerous studies have shown that in about 60% of the cases, collisions between motor vehicles and motorcycles are the fault of the motor vehicle driver, and the most common explanation drivers have for colliding with a motorcycle is that they did not see them.
- Driving while Intoxicated: Despite several decades of public awareness campaigns, chemical impairment is still a major contributor to motor vehicle accidents. Driving while intoxicated slows reaction times, causes drowsiness, and it can also alter a driver’s state of mind, causing them to lose inhibitions and drive in a reckless manner.
- Drowsy Driving: Driving while drowsy or fatigued is responsible for hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of serious injuries each year. Drowsy drivers have the potential to fall asleep at the wheel, but even if that does not happen, they still have slower reaction times and tend to miss important details, such as a motorcycle riding nearby.
- Blind Spot Accidents: Because of the small profile we have talked about previously, it is easier for a motorcyclist to enter a vehicle’s blind spot without the driver noticing. Then when they try to change lanes or make a turn, there is a greater danger of a collision. Many newer vehicles are coming equipped with blind spot monitors, and this will help reduce these types of accidents in the future.
We also pursue motorcycle accident lawsuits for crashes caused by third parties. These may include defective or hazardous road conditions and faulty traffic signals that may have been caused by the negligence of a government entity, or vehicle/vehicle part defects that could be the fault of a product manufacturer, supplier, or distributor.
We make sure all negligent parties are held fully accountable, even when the case is complicated and there are multiple parties involved and/or there is a question over fault. Often, motorcycle accidents are fatal. The Pensacola wrongful death attorneys at our firm pursue these cases with determination and discretion.
We work swiftly in every case to preserve physical evidence and to locate and interview witnesses to ensure a motorcycle accident victim’s side of the story is told. Our Pensacola injury lawyers provide the caliber of representation clients trust for themselves, their families and those closest to them.
Damages Recoverable in Florida Motorcycle Accident Cases
When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, they do not have a steel cage to protect their body from hitting the pavement. This combined with the likelihood of being thrown from their bike after a collision greatly increases the chances of severe and catastrophic injuries.
Common injuries from motorcycle crashes include:
- Head and facial injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI);
- Fractures/broken bones;
- Crush injuries/amputations;
- Internal injuries;
- Back and neck injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Soft tissue injuries.
Those who suffer serious injuries deserve to be compensated for their losses when another party contributes to them. Losses that are recovered through a personal injury claim are commonly referred to as “damages”, and they can be divided into two general categories:
- Economic Damages: These are direct monetary losses the victim incurs, such as medical bills, lost earnings (both present and future), property damage, and funeral and burial costs (in the case of a wrongful death).
- Noneconomic Damages: These are losses that are more intangible and not as easy to quantify, such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent disability.
In rarer cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the accident were willful, wanton, or grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded over and above compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the wrongdoer and help discourage similarly egregious actions in the future. Florida caps punitive damages in most cases at three times compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
It is important to note that Florida applies a pure comparative negligence legal standard to personal injury cases. This means that accident victims who are partially at fault can still recover damages, but their compensation award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share in the underlying accident or event. For example, if you sustain $200,000 in total losses and you are found to be 20% at fault, your damages would be reduced by $40,000, leaving you with a total of $160,000.
Does the use of a Motorcycle Helmet Impact an Injury Claim after an Accident?
The motorcycle helmet laws in Florida are a bit complex. Riders age 21 or under are required to wear helmets in almost all circumstances, except on certain motorcycles, such as those that are not capable of exceeding 30 miles per hour on level ground. Motorcyclists over the age of 21 are not required to wear a helmet as long as the rider has at least $10,000 in medical coverage through their insurance policy. All riders, regardless of age, are required to wear eye protection.
As long as you have $10,000 worth of medical coverage, you are not legally required to wear a helmet as a rider over the age of 21. But if you sustained injuries to your head or neck, the other side is likely to argue aggressively that your injuries could have been prevented or at the very least they would have been less severe had you been wearing a helmet. The burden of proof will be on you to show that helmet use (or lack thereof) would have had no bearing on the severity of your injuries. To successfully argue this, you will likely need expert testimony from a reputable medical professional.
The worst scenario with regards to lack of helmet use and motorcycle accident injuries is someone who is under the age of 21 and sustains head and neck injuries while not wearing a helmet. Because you were not following the law, you are likely to be found at least partially at fault for the accident, which will reduce the amount of compensation you are allowed to collect for your injuries.
When You Need a Pensacola Motorcycle Accident Attorney You Can Trust
Insurance companies have numerous tactics that they frequently employ to minimize their exposure and settle the case for cheap. For example, after you file a claim, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster asking how you are doing. The purpose of this call is to build rapport and get you to trust them. They may say things like, “don’t worry, we will take care of you”, and “there is no reason to hire a lawyer.”
These types of statements are designed to get you to let your guard down and agree to things that are not in your best interests. Remember, their interests are not aligned with yours, and they have armies of high-priced lawyers working on their behalf. In this type of situation, it makes good sense to have someone in your corner who is looking out for your interests.
Here are just a few ways an experienced attorney can help you obtain the just compensation you deserve from a motorcycle accident:
Your attorney will fully investigate the accident: When there has been a motorcycle accident, it is important to perform a thorough investigation, so all the facts and evidence can be uncovered and every potential legal avenue (toward recovering compensation) can be explored.
Your attorney will deal with all the complex paperwork: There are a lot of complicated steps that must be taken to successfully file a legal claim, and this is the last thing you should have to worry about when you are trying to recover from an injury. Your lawyer can handle all the complex legal work for you, so you can focus on getting healthy again.
Your attorney will negotiate directly with the other side: To obtain maximum compensation, it will normally involve a series of back and forth negotiations. And unless you are able to accurately calculate the full value of your claim (including intangible losses such as pain and suffering) and have experience negotiating these types of settlements, you will be at a significant disadvantage. A good personal injury lawyer will be an experienced negotiator with the proven ability to persuade the other side to agree to a reasonable settlement. Your lawyer will also have additional leverage by posing a credible threat that you can and will file a lawsuit if the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith.
Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to experience a deadly accident on the road than those in passenger cars. And in recent years, motorcycle accidents have been on the rise. Through the late 1990s, annual motorcycle accident fatalities ranged between 2,000 and 3,000. Today, this number consistently tops 5,000.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle crash, contact Whibbs Stone Barnett online or at (850) 434-5395 to speak with one of our experienced lawyers in Pensacola, FL or Fort Walton Beach, FL.
We offer free consultations for all personal injury claims and look forward to delivering the service you expect and the compensation you deserve.