Motorcycle Passenger Accident
There were 8,621 motorcycle accidents in Florida in 2011, marking a nearly 16 percent increase from 2010. Tragically, these motorcycle accidents often lead to injury or even death – not just for the motorcycle rider but also for the passenger on the bike.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed when riding a motorcycle as a passenger, you may be entitled to obtain compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, a number of different parties could be responsible for your injuries.
Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, understands how devastating these accidents can be for victims and their families. To learn how we can help you, call us today at our toll-free number or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation about your case.
The Dangers of Florida Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle passenger has very little control over his destiny. Unfortunately, passengers on a motorcycle must depend on the driver to make smart and safe choices. They also must depend on other drivers to treat the bike with respect.
Unfortunately, others too often fall short in the duty of safety that they owe to the motorcycle passenger. In 2011 alone, 776 motorcycle passengers suffered injuries in crashes in Florida, while 38 died. Nationally, the rate of motorcycle fatalities rose 2.1 percent during the same year.
When a Motorcycle Rider is Injured
When a motorcycle crash occurs, the driver and passenger are likely to be thrown from the vehicle. This is why motorcycle accidents are more likely to be serious or even deadly when compared with standard crashes. This also means that the medical costs and other economic and non-economic losses are likely to be greater.
Florida law allows injured victims of any accident, including passengers in motorcycle accidents, to take legal action against the person or entity responsible for causing them to suffer serious harm.
In the case of a motorcycle crash, this means there are a number of potential defendants including:
- The negligent driver of another car who caused the crash
- The negligent driver of the motorcycle who caused the crash
- A negligent government entity who failed in road design or maintenance
- A manufacturer of a motorcycle if defects on the bike caused or contributed to the accident.
In some cases, there may be multiple potential parties responsible. The motorcycle rider can make a claim against multiple defendants. A Florida motorcycle accident lawyer from Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, can help you to decide who to sue and what your best course of action is after you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash.
Making a Claim Against a Negligent Driver
In many of these accidents, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault.
The driver may have caused or contributed to the crash by:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way – The NHTSA reported in 2008 that 41 percent of motorcycle accidents occurred when the car was going left and the motorcycle was going straight or passing.
- Failing to observe the motorcycle – This is especially a problem at intersections when a motorcycle is turning. Motorcycles are small and often drivers simply don’t look or don’t see them.
- Driving while distracted, drowsy or intoxicated – A driver on a cell phone or doing something in the car such as eating or entering data on a map may be less likely to see a motorcycle rider and more likely to hit him. A sleeping or drunk driver may also not see a motorcyclist.
- Tailgating – When a car follows a motorcycle too closely, this can result in a crash.
- Failing to accurately judge the speed of the motorcycle rider – Often, drivers cannot make accurate assessments of how fast a motorcycle is going.
In these and other situations, the driver does something wrong. To hold a driver responsible for your crash, you’ll need to show that he was unreasonably careless or that he broke Florida safety laws. If you can show this, you can obtain compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Making a Claim Against a Negligent Motorcyclist
Of course, drivers of passenger cars aren’t at fault in every single motorcycle accident. In fact, almost half of all motorcycle wrecks only involve the motorcycle. In these and other situations, the fault may lie with the motorcycle driver.
Just like a driver of a car, a motorcycle driver has an obligation to exercise reasonable caution and to obey all of the rules of the road. When a motorcycle rider doesn’t live up to his obligations and injures someone, the motorcyclist can be held responsible for damages just like any driver would.
This is true even if the person injured by the motorcycle accident was not a stranger but a friend or passenger on the motorcycle. You can take legal action against friends, acquaintances and even certain family members if you were a passenger on their motorcycle and they caused a wreck through their negligent or careless actions.
While many people are understandably reluctant to sue a friend or a family member, this concern is unfounded. Motorcycle riders must buy insurance, and insurance covers their liability. This means that the insurance company is going to have to pay to defend your friend and will have to pay any damage award up to the policy limits.
Your claim against the insurance company for damages shouldn’t cost your friend anything. But you will need to pursue the case so you aren’t left with crippling costs due to all of the medical care you’ll need after the motorcycle crash.
Remember, though, that when you negotiate a settlement, you are not negotiating with a friend. The insurance company doesn’t care about you, isn’t on your side and wants to pay you as little as they can. This is why you need a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer.
A Government Entity Responsible for Accidents
Government entities have the job of providing certain services to the people. At the state level, there are generally various government agencies that have the obligation to design and maintain roads and to ensure those roads are reasonably safe.
Governments aren’t responsible for every single accident on the roads, of course, but they are responsible if they were unreasonably negligent or lax in certain specific ways that caused injury.
A road that has low visibility, a road rife with potholes or any other badly designed or badly maintained road can cause a motorcycle accident to occur and can be responsible for your harm. The key, however, will be proving your case.
To a certain extent, governments are protected from liability by sovereign immunity rules. These rules are so old they date back to English common laws that said the king could do no wrong. Today, the sovereign immunity rules set out special guidelines for when and how a government agency can be sued.
A Florida car accident lawyer can help you to comply with sovereign immunity rules so you can work within the permitted legal framework and make the responsible party pay for creating or allowing the conditions that hurt you.
Making a Claim Against a Negligent Manufacturer
The last option that a motorcycle accident victim has after a crash is to make a claim against the manufacturer. If there was a defect in the motorcycle or some problem with the bike itself that caused it to malfunction or that contributed to the accident, then the manufacturer may be wholly or partially at fault for the injuries.
Cases against negligent manufacturers are handled under yet another set of rules, but this time the rules are more favorable to the injured victim. Because the case would be classified as a product liability case (with the product being the bad bike), the manufacturer is strictly liable for defects that cause injury.
Strict liability is just a legal term that means the manufacturer is always going to be liable for a bad product, even if the manufacturer wasn’t negligent. If there was a defect that contributed to the crash and your injuries, then the manufacturer will have to pay.
You Can Take Legal Action with Help from a Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Being the passenger in a motorcycle accident is a terrible tragedy. However, motorcycle passengers have multiple potential ways to recover compensation and ensure they have stable finances after an injury.
When a motorcycle crash causes a passenger to be harmed, he may incur medical costs and he may be limited in his ability to work both immediately after the accident and into the future as well. All of these costs should be covered by the responsible party or parties who caused the crash.
The lawyers at Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, focus on representing motorcycle accident passengers throughout Florida. We want to use our legal knowledge, skills and resources to help you to maximize your compensation. Call us today at our toll-free number or use our online form to schedule a free review of your case.
- Florida Traffic Crash Facts, 2011, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- Motorcycle Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association
- New NHTSA Analysis Shows 2011 Traffic Fatalities Declined by Nearly Two Percent, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes, NHTSA
- Motorcycles, NHTSA
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