Are Most Motorcycle Accidents the Rider’s Fault?
Motorcycle crashes can happen for many reasons, and there are steps you can take as a motorcyclist to reduce your risk. But the NHTSA finds that most multi-vehicle motorcycle collisions happen because the motorist didn’t see the motorcycle. Drunk or distracted driving, speeding, running stop lights, and failing to adjust to weather or other road conditions are common factors in motorcycle-car collisions.
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are more likely to lead to serious injury or death for the biker than the car rider. The NHTSA also finds that people inside passenger cars have about a 20 percent chance of injury or death in a crash, while motorcycle riders have an 80 percent risk. This is mainly attributed to the lack of safety equipment on bikes, while cars have seat belts, airbags, windshields, heavy steel frames, and other features that protect passengers.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash, you may be facing pain, a long recovery, and large medical bills all at once. With the serious injuries common in bike wrecks, you may have extensive medical bills coupled with weeks or even months of lost income. But there may be other options to recover these damages. If you’re struggling to figure out what to do, please contact the Darrigo & Diaz Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll answer your questions and describe the possibilities for your case so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Who Is at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
Fault affects how much you can recover in an accident. Florida is a comparative negligence state with regard to personal injury cases, including car and motorcycle accidents. Comparative negligence is a system where each party to an accident or injury is assigned some percentage of blame. In some cases, this might be 0 and 100, but each party often contributed at least a small amount to the accident. Whatever percentage of fault a person has, the amount of damages they’re awarded will be reduced by that much. So if you are found to be 20 percent at fault in an accident and have $50,000 in damages, you would get about $40,000.
Unlike modified comparative negligence states, Florida has pure comparative negligence, which means both parties can sue the other for damages, no matter how much fault they had. So in the above example, the car driver who was 80 percent responsible could sue you and receive 20 percent of their damages. This may seem frustrating, but it’s not a concern for most motorcyclists. People in vehicles are seldom injured in collisions with bikes, and if they are hurt, their injuries are rarely severe. In a few unusual cases, if the vehicle occupants are injured, their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will likely cover all their medical damages.
Insurance Coverage for Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Personal Injury Protection is why many car accident cases are settled out of court, but motorcycle accidents are a little different. Florida requires all four-wheel vehicle drivers to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage and another $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). Motorcycle riders are not required by law to have insurance, but it’s still strongly recommended. If you cause an accident where the damage exceeds what the other party’s PIP and PDL cover, you could be sued for the remaining damages.
However, this is less likely to be a concern than having your own damages that exceed the vehicle driver’s PIP and PDL policies. PIP should cover your medical expenses and lost income up to $10,000. Of course, insurance companies aren’t always cooperative. Sometimes they will find one reason or another why your costs shouldn’t be covered. If this happens, contact a lawyer right away. They may be able to fight the insurance company to cover your expenses.
In most cases, the other driver’s PDL insurance will pay for all or most of the damage to your bike. However, if you have an expensive bike and extensive damage, you may need to sue the other driver to recover the remaining damages.
Suing the other driver is possible, but it is not always the best option. If the driver who hit you has no significant financial assets and can’t pay a judgment against them, it may not be worth the time and court costs to go through a lengthy court case. However, there may be other options:
- If you have motorcycle insurance, your coverage may kick in depending on your insurance. Your lawyer can help you figure out what your insurance will cover.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may be an option if you are injured by a driver who turns out to be uninsured.
- In a few cases, we may find that a third party also contributed to your injuries. For example, if your motorcycle helmet was supposed to withstand a certain level of impact and failed, it could have contributed to your suffering a more serious head injury than you otherwise would have. If this is the case, you might consider using the third party.
Do No-Fault Laws Apply to Motorcyclists?
No. This is why bikers are not required to carry PIP or PDL insurance, although you can receive compensation from these policies if you’re in an accident with a covered vehicle. PIP and PDL are designed to save the courts time arbitrating fault in traffic accident cases by ensuring every car driver has $10,000 in no-fault coverage for medical expenses and property damage. Under this model, only cases with more than $10,000 in personal injury or property damage will need to go through the court system to establish fault.
Motorcyclists can seek damages from another driver who caused their injuries, with no minimum amount of damage. However, if you can get the other driver’s liability insurance to pay your claim and it doesn’t exceed the policy limit, this may be the faster option. (Drivers are not required to have liability insurance in Florida but have the option to purchase it.) Your attorney will review the alternatives with you and answer any questions about your case.
Call the Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Darrigo & Diaz After Your Accident
If you or someone you care about has been injured while riding a motorcycle, you may need to act quickly to protect your legal rights. Never speak to an insurance company before you have a chance to get legal advice. The Darrigo & Diaz law firm is always available for a free consultation about your motorcycle collision, and if we take your case, we don’t charge any fees until we win. Call us at 813-734-7397.