Motorcycle accidents can be especially devastating for those involved. The injuries can be extremely serious ranging from traumatic brain injuries (“TBI”) to broken bones to neck and back injuries and even death. It is important to be represented by a motorcycle attorney that is experienced, professional and tough because the insurance companies will try and beat you to take less than what your case is worth.
If you were not injured and your only issue is property damage, then you may be able to handle your claim without a lawyer. Even if that is the case, I offer this advice: be wary of what the insurance company offers. They are not on your side and are in the business of paying as little as they can on each claim. Make sure they pay you the fair market value of your bike, including any gear you were wearing. In addition to gear, another sure way to protect yourself in the event of a motorcycle crash is to purchase and maintain motorcycle insurance.
What Makes a Good Motorcycle Attorney?
Riding a motorcycle does not make someone a good motorcycle attorney. In fact, it does not even make them a good rider. Does working for a personal injury mill that spends huge budget on advertising make for a good personal injury lawyer? No, it likely means you will find yourself spending your time speaking to intake specialists and settlement specialists and all sorts of other “specialists” whose primary function is to keep you from speaking with your lawyer. You might never meet your attorney if you elect to go this route.
The lawyer-client relationship is a personal one. When you elect to hire a personal injury lawyer, you should be basing that decision off of research and an actual face to face meeting with your attorney. You should expect your attorney to be invested in your particular case.
Your attorney should know the details of your case; for example, that the accident occurred on US 19 in Pinellas Park and was caused when a pickup truck leaving the Wal-Mart pulled in front of you. He should know the driver of the pickup was on a cell phone at the time of the accident.
The lawyer you hire should know you, and the intimate details of your case. You should have his cell number in case of an emergency or if you have an issue after hours. Your lawyer should be experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about YOUR CASE.
Do not be fooled by slick advertising. If you cannot speak directly to the attorney who will be representing you, it is a sign that the lawyer does not believe you to be worth his/her time. Remember, the attorney is not doing you a favor. You are paying the attorney, at the end of the case, a fee and they work for you.
What Happens if I Try to Represent Myself in an Accident Claim?
You have every right to represent yourself in an accident claim. It is not an easy path because insurance companies sometimes try to confuse unrepresented victims into admitting liability by confusing questions, legal jargon and minimizing the claims you have. The insurance company may try to settle before you have received your medical bills. Remember, you only have one chance to collect fair compensation for your injuries and an early settlement can leave you out of luck for future claims and unknown injuries.
If you insist on representing yourself, please remember these tips:
- Do not sign anything. Signing a document could relieve the insurance of liability and prevent your chance for recovering fair compensation for your accident. Consult an attorney before signing anything.
- Do not give a recorded statement to the other insurance company. The opposing insurance company will try to get you to give a recorded statement. Do not do it. It will be used against you later.
- Document the scene. Take photos of the scene and all vehicles involved. Remember you can never take too many photos.
- Never, ever, ever take the first offer.
Why Should I Buy Motorcycle Insurance?
There is a lot of misinformation regarding Florida’s insurance requirements for motorcycles. Is it required? Do you get PIP benefits? How much should insurance should you carry? Are the aftermarket modifications to your motorcycle covered? Should I get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
First and foremost, get insurance on your motorcycle because it is required by law, it is in your best interests and too many drivers in Florida are uninsured. It is a common misconception that insurance is not required in Florida.
Unlike auto insurance, motorcycle insurance is not required to required to register a motorcycle, but if a biker is at fault in an accident there are stiff penalties for the failure to have insurance. The license of the at fault biker will be suspended until the rider pays the damages suffered by the other driver (remember even property damage can run thousands of dollars) and provides proof of SR 22 insurance coverage for a period of three years. The costs of these actions will far exceed the cost of maintaining insurance.
PIP, or personal injury protection, is mandatory coverage that must be maintained on all cars and trucks in Florida. In a nutshell, PIP coverage provides that your insurance company will pay the first $10,000.00 in medical bills. Obviously, this $10,000.00 can be exhausted rather quickly, but it does get some of the medical providers paid more quickly and provides incentive for medical providers to care for injured persons without health insurance.
That all sounds wonderful, right? Not so fast, because motorcycles are not covered under Florida’s PIP laws. Some insurance companies provide a PIP type coverage, but it is very important to read those policies because they are not governed by Florida’s PIP statute.
One of the most important coverages to purchase is uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage. Motorcycle accidents usually require hospitalization. The medical bills from the hospital, alone, will usually exceed $25,000.00. Almost 25% of Florida drivers are uninsured. This does not include drivers with no liability coverage or bare minimum coverages. I would expect such a number to be somewhere near 50%. This means in the event of a motorcycle accident you are likely to be hit by someone that has $10,000.00 or less in available insurance coverage causing you to be on the hook for thousands in medical bills.
If you purchased the uninsured motorist coverage, then your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages will be paid up to the amount of the policy. Your uninsured motorist policy or UM policy will also kick in if the at-fault driver has insurance but is underinsured. At that point, your UM policy will pay the difference between the amount paid by the at-fault driver and your damages, up to the policy limits. Remember, the standard insurance policy protects and pays for the damages that the other party suffers, UM coverage covers you. UM coverage is important for everyone, but it is a coverage that no biker can afford to be without.
Why is Uninsured Motorist Coverage so Expensive for Motorcycles?
UM coverage is expensive for motorcyclists in Florida because there are so many uninsured drivers and the expected injuries from a motorcycle accident are catastrophic. Whether your accident occurs in Kenneth City or Treasure Island or anywhere else in Pinellas County, you are likely to be struck by someone without the necessary coverage to fairly compensate you. The injuries expected injuries include; paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), broken bones, neck and back issues and road rash. The cost of treatment and lifetime of pain and suffering endured by the victims of others is extremely high.
Paralysis – Motorcycle accident victims who sustain spinal cord injuries have a chance of developing partial or total paralysis. The degree of the paralysis often depends on the portion of the spine that is injured. If the spinal cord is damaged in the neck area, the patient may develop quadriplegia, which is the paralysis of all fours limbs. If the spinal cord is damaged below the neck area, the legs and abdomen will become paralyzed to a certain degree. Partially or totally paralyzed motorcycle accident victims will need significant long-term treatment and care.
TBI – Traumatic brain injuries are common in motorcycle accidents in which the rider loses consciousness. There is a broad range of TBIs that can occur in a motorcycle crash. A mild traumatic brain injury is classified as an injury that results in a loss of consciousness and/or confusion/disorientation that lasts for a period of less than 30 minutes. Even though it is called a mild traumatic brain injury the long lasting and permanent effects on the injured person and their family can be truly devastating. More severe TBIs are suffered when the rider loses consciousness for periods of time exceeding 30 minutes. These more severe traumatic brain injuries can cause severe and permanent loss of cognitive abilities.
Broken Bones – The violent nature of motorcycle accidents makes it extremely likely for the victims to suffer broken bones. However, the treatment for broken bones varies wildly according to the location and severity of the break. Some broken bones such as toes or fingers may require no treatment while others can requires casting, surgeries or even amputation.
Neck and Back Injuries – Even a relatively minor motorcycle accident can leave the rider with a lifetime of neck and back problems. Soft tissue injuries such as bulging or herniated discs can cause a lifetime of issues and the injury makes it likely that the riders back will degenerate more quickly as they grow older. Insurance companies love to try and minimize “soft tissue” injuries. You need a experienced motorcycle attorney in your corner to make sure the insurance companies will value your injuries fairly.
What if I get a Ticket for the Accident?
Police can get it wrong. Witnesses can get it wrong. Insurance companies can get wrong. Just because you received a ticket for the accident does not mean the accident was entirely your fault or even your fault at all. Remember, in Florida you may be able to recover damages even if the accident was almost entirely your fault. It is important to consult a personal injury attorney in the event you believe you may have been unfairly placed at fault in a traffic accident.
It is extremely imperative that you move quickly to hire an experienced personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group if you are being wrongly told the accident was your fault. Evidence disappears quickly and it is imperative that the scene and vehicles be documented thoroughly by an investigator and/or accident reconstructionist. Failing to properly preserve crucial evidence can drastically reduce the value of your claim. The memories of witnesses can fade and locating witnesses months after an accident can prove challenging or impossible.
By way of example, many accidents involve a u-turning vehicle and a vehicle executing a right hand turn. At almost every intersection along Park Boulevard from Seminole to Pinellas Park, right turns are permitted on red and u-turns are permitted. This creates age old intersection fight between the u-turning vehicle and the right on red vehicle. Florida Law is clear, if the car executing the U-turn has a green light, it has the right of way. Many people including police officers sometimes get this rule of law wrong and the person who was in the right is written up as the at fault driver.
Contact a Pinellas Park Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcyclists often get a bad rap in Pinellas County. They are often accused of dangerous driving habits such as speeding. It is important to have an experienced motorcycle lawyer in your corner. Jones Law Group is passionate about educating cagers and never having another injured motorcyclist have to hear the dreaded, “I didn’t see him.” The award winning attorneys of Jones Law Group have extensive experience in motorcycle accident cases. Our dedicated team will thoroughly investigate the factors that led to your accident and aggressively seek compensation from each responsible party. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at 727-571-1333.