Foundations of a Successful Motorcycle Crash Claim
Mostly because they are completely exposed to danger, a motorcycle rider us twenty-eight times more likely to die in a car crash than a four-wheel vehicle occupant. Even if the victim survives, since the force of the impact usually throws riders off their bikes, the victim must deal with extremely serious injuries.
A Brandon motorcycle accident attorney can obtain significant compensation in these cases. Motorcycle crashes are usually exempt from Florida’s no-fault insurance law. So, most of these victims are automatically entitled to compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, along with noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Evidence in Florida Motorcycle Crash Claims
In many cases, the police accident report is the most important piece of evidence in a car crash claim. But that’s often not the case with regard to motorcycle crashes. Even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstructionist. So, rather than piecing together the evidence, many accident report authors fall back on their own preconceptions and prejudices about motorcycle riders.
Significantly, even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is clearly at fault for a fatal collision, first responders almost never press charges and sometimes do not even issue citations.
Furthermore, due to the aforementioned fatal or serious injuries, the victim is often unavailable for comment when responders write their reports. Therefore, these reports only contain one side of the story.
So, a Florida motorcycle crash attorney must often look to additional sources of evidence. Some of these sources include:
- Tortfeasor’s Timeline: Retracting the tortfeasor’s steps leading up to the accident reveals a lot about the cause. Many drivers did not get very much sleep the night before, were at the end of a very long day, or had recently been to a place that serves alcohol.
- Additional Witness Statements: First responders only interview the witnesses who voluntarily come forward at the time of the crash. That method excludes lots of people. Some witnesses do not want to talk to police officers, and others have no time to loiter at accident scenes. Statements from these witnesses can turn a case around in a hurry.
- Event Data Recorder: All passenger vehicles have EDRs, which are like the black boxes in commercial jets. These gadgets capture and record things like vehicle speed, steering angle, and other metrics that can impact a fault determination.
Evidence is important for two reasons. First, the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof. This party must establish liability, or legal responsibility for the wreck, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Second, there’s often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence and the amount of damages a jury awards.
Establishing liability usually means establishing negligence, or a lack of care. That negligence could be a violation of:
- The duty of reasonable care (e. drive defensively), or
- A statutory responsibility, like running a stop light or making an illegal lane change.
In Florida, bot these things essentially create a presumption of negligence. There’s no need to prove negligence in defective product cases, but these claims are rather rare in the car crash context.
The insurance company can introduce several defenses, and a good personal injury attorney needs to be ready for them. Contributory negligence is one of the most common defenses. Insurance company lawyers often try to shift blame onto victims. For example, the lawyer might argue that the victim was not wearing a helmet or committed some minor traffic violation that caused the crash.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim is 99 percent responsible for a crash, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.
Contact Dedicated Attorneys
Motorcycle crash victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon motorcycle accident lawyer, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).