Boca Raton Motorcycle Accident Attorney
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reported that there were 5,172 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes. Additionally, the NHTSA reported that per registered vehicle the fatality rate for motorcyclists was six times higher than the fatality rate for passenger car occupants. What is more, per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occurred almost twenty-seven times more often than passenger car occupant fatalities.
Hiring a Boca Raton motorcycle accident lawyer is critical to protecting your rights after an accident. Remember, if you hire Barthelette Law to represent you, we only get paid when we make a recovery for you. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only charge a fee if we obtain a financial recovery on your behalf.
I’ve created the following guide to address the most commonly asked questions for motorcycle accident victims.
Table of Contents
- What should I do immediately after a motorcycle accident?
- Should I contact the police after a motorcycle accident?
- What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents?
- What if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?
- Why should I contact a motorcycle accident attorney?
- When should I contact a motorcycle accident attorney?
- Will my car’s PIP coverage pay for my medical bills?
- What are the most common motorcycle accident injuries?
- When and where do motorcycle accidents occur most?
- What is my motorcycle accident claim worth?
- Will I have to file a lawsuit?
- What if I don’t remember what happened?
- What if I was injured in an accident by a dangerous road condition?
- How might a catastrophic motorcycle accident affect me?
- What if my loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident?
- Can I afford a motorcycle accident attorney?
- How long will my motorcycle accident case take?
- How does a Boca Raton motorcycle accident lawyer take on insurance companies?
- What if I was partially to blame for my motorcycle accident?
- Should I speak with the other driver’s insurance company?
- What if I received a traffic ticket for my motorcycle accident?
- What damages can I recover for my motorcycle accident?
- Can my spouse recover damages for my motorcycle accident?
- What if I was hit by a hit and run driver?
- What if I am hit by an uninsured driver?
- When do settlement discussions start in motorcycle accident cases?
- What if I just want to settle my motorcycle accident claim?
- What if the driver that hit me was texting and driving?
- Why should I choose Barthelette Law for my motorcycle accident?
- How do I speak with someone at Barthelette Law for a free consultation for my motorcycle accident?
What should I do immediately after a motorcycle accident?
Immediately after a motorcycle accident, make sure you and any passenger are out of harm’s way. This means getting out of the road, away from traffic, and far from any debris, wreckage, and any spilled chemicals.
Next, check for any injuries and contact the police and paramedics. The police will come to the scene and document the accident. Additionally, the police will identify witnesses, make observations of the accident scene, and potentially issue traffic tickets or citations.
If you are able, take photographs of the accident scene including your motorcycle, the vehicles (including license plate information), and any physical evidence (e.g., skid marks). Additionally, write down the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the motorcycle accident.
Get medical treatment. Even if you don’t think you are injured, seek medical care. At times, injuries may not be obvious. For example, soft tissue injuries, concussions and other injuries may not be externally obvious. So take precautionary measures and seek medical treatment to confirm you are well.
Keep all records, documents, and records relating to the accident. When you meet with your motorcycle accident attorney, these records will help give your motorcycle accident attorney a head start on his or her investigation.
Should I contact the police after a motorcycle accident?
Contact the police as soon as you can.
The police play an important role after a motorcycle. The police investigate the accident and accident scene. In addition to identifying potential witnesses, the police will take notes regarding physical evidence (including skid marks), the road conditions, damage to the motorcycle and vehicles, and document if anyone was injured.
Further, the other driver may tell you there’s no need to call the police. Don’t agree to this. It’s important to contact the police to document the accident, because the other driver may later deny the accident happened or argue that you were not hurt.
So it is important to contact the police after a motorcycle accident.
What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents?
While each motorcycle accident is different, common causes include:
- Drivers not seeing or failing to yield to motorcyclists;
- Defects or debris in the road;
- Cutting off motorcyclists;
- Drunk driving; and,
- Distracted driving.
Notably, in a study by the Florida Department of Transportation, researchers found that drivers and truckers were generally more to blame for motorcycle accidents – not motorcyclists. Additionally, in severe and fatal motorcycle accidents, drivers were primarily to blame. In many instances, drivers negligently made left turns in motorcyclists.
This clearly goes against many driver’ beliefs that motorcyclists are reckless or dangerous. They are not!
What if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?
In Florida, motorcyclists at least 21 years old and that carry $10,000 in medical benefits coverage do not have to wear helmets.
Wearing a helmet is a personal choice each motorcyclist must make for him or herself.
But statistics show wearing a helmet improves your chances of survival and avoiding serious injury.
In 2017, the NHTSA found that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists. Further, the NHTSA noted that helmets were estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists and 41% for motorcycle passengers.
So wearing a helmet can provide significant safety benefits.
Why should I contact a motorcycle accident attorney?
There are several reasons why you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney.
First, a motorcycle accident attorney may get your money. As I’ve written about before with respect to car accidents, in an interesting study by Martindale-Nolo Research it was found that personal injury attorneys got clients 3 times more money than when clients represented themselves (see: https://barthelettelaw.com/do-i-need-an-attorney-for-my-car-accident/).
Second, a motorcycle accident attorney knows the law. Motorcycle accident claims involve many laws, rules, and deadlines. A motorcycle accident lawyer will help explain and guide your through the process.
Third, a motorcycle accident attorney will help carry your burden. After any accident, there will be uncertainty, confusion, and even panic. A motorcycle accident attorney will help you through your difficult time.
When should I contact a motorcycle accident attorney?
You should contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you are able.
I understand that some motorcycle accident victims believe they need to focus on their recovery first before contacting a motorcycle accident attorney. While this seems like a reasonable approach, it may actually hurt you.
After a motorcycle accident, it is critically important to begin your investigation into the accident. This includes investigating the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, and photographing the vehicles and your injuries. As time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to do these things. For example, witnesses may forget what they saw.
Will my car’s PIP coverage pay for my medical bills?
Motorcyclists are surprised to learn their car’s personal injury protection (“PIP”) coverage will not cover their medical bills after an accident. So you will be immediately responsible for your medical bills after a motorcycle accident.
What are the most common motorcycle accident injuries?
We recognize how serious and life-changing motorcycle accidents can be. In motorcycle accidents, injuries are often severe given the lack of airbags and other safety features found in cars. Injuries can include:
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Head injuries;
- Chest injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Burn injuries; and,
When and where do fatal motorcycle accidents occur most?
According to the NHTSA, 58% of fatal motorcycle accidents happen during the day, 38% in the dark, 4% at dusk, and 1% during dawn.
Also according to the NHTSA, 60% of motorcycle deaths occurred in urban areas, as compared to 40% in rural areas. Further, 65% of fatal motorcycle accidents occurred at locations that were not intersections, as compared to 35% at intersections.
Notably, 97% of motorcycle deaths occurred in cloudy/clear conditions, as compared to 2% in the rain and 1% in foggy conditions.
What is my motorcycle accident claim worth?
We addressed this very topic on our blog (see: https://barthelettelaw.com/what-is-my-motorcycle-accident-case-worth/). As with all our clients, we will discuss this issue with you at length.
First, we have to consider liability. Was the other driver clearly at fault? Did you contribute to the accident in any way? If the other driver was clearly at fault, this generally means your case will be worth more.
Second, you have to consider the extent of your injuries and treatment. Further, we also have to carefully track all of your medical bills and expenses. Generally, the greater your medical bills and expenses, the more your case is worth.
Third, you have to consider the long-term affects of the motorcycle accident. Has the motorcycle accident affected your ability to earn a living? Are you continuing to receive medical care and treatment many months or years after the motorcycle accident? The answers to these important questions will affect the value of your motorcycle accident claim.
Fourth, you have to consider the amount of insurance coverage that’s available for your accident. Unfortunately, a large percentage of drivers in Florida, approximately 26.7%, do not have car insurance (see: https://www.valuepenguin.com/auto-insurance/uninsured-motorist-statistics). If there’s little-to-no insurance, then it will be extremely difficult to obtain a financial recovery.
Importantly, you generally cannot determine the value of your motorcycle accident claim right away. Instead, it usually takes some time. This is because we often do not know the extent of your injuries and losses right after your accident.
Will I have to file a lawsuit?
Before we file a lawsuit, we attempt to resolve your motorcycle accident claim through settlement negotiations. We attempt to settle through a demand letter, which is a written demand which requests the insurance company settle your motorcycle accident claim for a specific sum of money.
If we are unable to settle your motorcycle claim, we will then file a lawsuit.
What if I don’t remember what happened?
If you don’t remember what happened in your motorcycle accident, that’s ok. We will investigate your motorcycle accident thoroughly, including through interviewing witnesses, studying the accident and vehicles, and hiring an accident reconstructionist if necessary.
So even though you may not remember what happened, there are ways to investigate the accident to determine how the accident happened.
What if I was injured in an accident by a dangerous road condition?
There are motorcycle accidents that do not involve another driver. Instead, they are injured by dangerous road conditions – potholes, debris, and gravel.
In these instances, the person responsible for the road may be negligent. It depends on the particular facts and circumstances of the accident.
How might a catastrophic motorcycle accident affect me?
Some injuries will drastically alter the course of your life. In some cases, your injury no longer allows you to perform your job. Instead, you have to seek a new job or cannot work altogether.
Additionally, some injuries require ongoing medical care for years and even a lifetime. Your family dynamics will shift, and now the members of your household will have to take on new responsibilities and perhaps even new, additional jobs.
The thought of no longer being able to provide for your family the way you’ve become accustomed can lead to serious mental anguish. Catastrophic injuries can also affect your family’s mental and emotional health.
Catastrophic injuries change your life in these and other ways.
What if my loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident?
In the state of Florida, there is The Florida Wrongful Death Act (§ 768.16 – 768.26) that allows family members of the deceased to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a person or entity. This can be brought on by a spouse, child, parent, blood relative, or adoptive sibling of a person who suffered the wrongful death.
Wrongful death is “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters.”
If a motorcycle accident causes death, the survivors can claim compensation for damages, including:
- Lost support or services;
- Lost companionship and protection;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost parental companionship and life guidance;
- Medical and funeral expenses;
If you lost a family member in a motorcycle accident, you should look to speak to a personal injury attorney to discuss your case, filing a claim, and recovering compensation for your damages.
Can I afford a motorcycle accident attorney?
Yes, you can!
Motorcycle accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that motorcycle accident attorneys will take a contingency fee, or a percentage, of any financial recovery they obtain on your behalf. If they don’t obtain a financial recovery on your behalf, then there is no charge or fee.
Typically, motorcycle accident attorneys will charge a 33% or 40% contingency fee in addition to being reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses spent in furtherance of your case.
So you do not have to pay anything to your motorcycle accident attorney.
How long will my motorcycle accident case take?
Generally, civil cases take anywhere between 1 to 3 years. However, at Barthelette Law we move cases as quickly as we can without sacrificing the quality of the outcome.
How does a Boca Raton motorcycle accident lawyer take on insurance companies?
A skilled motorcycle accident attorney is the same as saying a thorough motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney must be willing to spend the time to dig into the details of your case and identify all evidence that helps win your case.
Your financial recovery heavily relies on your accident lawyer’s ability to find and prove liability. They will look for when someone breached a duty of care. This is a legal obligation to not act in such a way that puts a motorcyclist in harm’s way. Examples include speeding, distracted driving, and not giving a motorcyclist the right of way.
Before an insurance company will settle a claim, it will require evidence showing its insured breached a duty of care. So it’s critically important to gather all helpful evidence to prove the driver (or other negligent party) breached a duty of care.
What if I was partially to blame for my motorcycle accident?
Even if you were partially to blame for your motorcycle accident, you still have a motorcycle accident claim.
Under Florida law, parties are subject to the rules of comparative negligence. For example, if a jury awards you $100,000 in damages but finds that you were 10% comparatively negligent, then the $100,000 award would be reduced by 10%, or $10,000. So the award would be $90,000.
Importantly, while you may think you were partially to blame for the motorcycle accident, you may not have been. A motorcycle accident attorney will be able to discuss the facts of your motorcycle acciden and help you understand whether you were partially to blame for the motorcycle accident.
Should I speak with the other driver’s insurance company?
No, you should not speak with the other driver’s insurance company.
While the insurance company may appear to be helping you by offering you money, understand the insurance company is there to protect its insured’s interests, not your interests.
Further, despite any pressure you might receive from the other driver’s insurance company, such as through repeated phone calls, you are under no legal obligation to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. In fact, you are well within your rights to ignore the other driver’s insurance company.
While it might be tempting to speak with the other driver’s insurance company to see if it offers you money, understand that if you accept any settlement it will be difficult – if not impossible – to later ask for more money. Indeed, you may likely be barred from seeking additional monies (I’ve written about this topic on my blog, see here: https://barthelettelaw.com/can-i-reopen-my-car-accident-claim-after-it-settled/).
So if an insurance company happens to catch you on the phone, politely say you do not want to speak with them and have them call your attorney.
What if I received a traffic ticket for my motorcycle accident?
Under Florida law, the general rule is that traffic tickets can not be introduced into evidence in any subsequent civil case.
More specifically, under Florida Statute Section 318.14(4), if you plead guilty and pay a fine for a noncriminal traffic infraction your guilty plea can not be used in a later motorcycle accident case.
There are reasons for this rule. Specifically, when a police officer arrives at the motorcycle accident scene, he or she is under certain limitations. His or her investigation may be brief, may not include interviewing all potential witnesses, and may not consider all potential physical evidence at the motorcycle accident scene. What is more, the guilty or negligent driver may not be completely forthright with the officer, and simply attempt to shift blame to the motorcyclist. So as you can see, the police officer’s motorcycle accident investigation may be inadequate or incomplete.
However, under Florida Statute Section 318.19 there are times when a guilty plea to a traffic ticket can be used against you. Specifically, if you plead guilty to an accident involving death, serious bodily injury, and certain other violations in Section 318.19, your guilty can be used against you.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident case and received a ticket, don’t hesitate to contact Barthelette Law. We will work with you to make sure your traffic ticket will not affect your motorcycle accident case.
What damages can I recover for my motorcycle accident?
Under Florida law, you can recover all damages which naturally flow from your loss. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life;
- Reasonable value of hospital, medical, and nursing care in the past;
- Reasonable value of hospital, medical, and nursing care to be obtained in the future;
- Lost earnings in the past; and,
- Loss of ability to earn money in the future.
Importantly, there is no mathematical formula to determine your damages for pain and suffering. Instead, Florida’s jury instructions state that “[t]he amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.”
Can my spouse recover damages for my motorcycle accident?
Yes, your spouse can recover damages for your motorcycle accident. This applies even when your spouse was not on your motorcycle in the motorcycle accident.
Your spouse has what’s called a “consortium claim.” A consortium claim is a secondary claim that allows your spouse to recover damages for his or her loss as a result of your motorcycle accident injury. The damages include:
- Loss of the spouse’s services;
- Loss of the spouse’s comfort; and,
- Loss of the spouse’s society and attentions in the past and in the future.
What does this mean in plain English?
This means that you can recover damages for the loss of sexual relations, loss of companionship, and loss of household services (such as cooking and cleaning).
What if I was hit by a hit and run driver?
As I have written about on the Barthelette Law blog, hit and run accidents account for nearly 25% of all motor vehicle accidents (see: https://barthelettelaw.com/identifying-hit-and-run-drivers-in-florida/).
This is an alarming and scary statistic.
At Barthelette Law, we have experience helping victims of hit and run drivers. If you were injured on your motorcycle as a result of a hit and run driver, we can help.
Even if you were not able to identify the hit and run driver at the motorcycle accident scene, we still may able to identify the hit and run driver.
To help find the hit and run driver, we will interview witnesses to the motorcycle accident, ask nearby property owners (including business owners) to see if they witnessed anything, and see if there were any nearby video cameras that may have recorded the incident.
So if you were hit by hit and run driver on your motorcycle, don’t give up hope. It is still possible that we may be able to identify the hit and run driver.
What if I am hit by an uninsured driver?
Sadly, Florida has more uninsured drivers on the road than any other state in the United States. Specifically, one study estimated that 26.7% of drivers on the road in Florida do not have insurance. This is terrible statistic.
Unfortunately, if you were hit by an uninsured driver, your recovery will be limited to your insurance policy. Hopefully, you have uninsured motorist coverage which can compensate you for your losses.
When do settlement discussions start in motorcycle accident cases?
It depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your motorcycle accident case.
As I mentioned above, generally you can not determine the value of your motorcycle accident case early on. It takes time to determine the extent of your injuries, especially when you have suffered serious injuries.
Nevertheless, there is no specific time as to when parties begin settlement discussions. In some cases, where an insurance company realizes its driver was clearly negligent and you sustained injuries, the insurance company may want to begin settlement discussions early. But I have been involved in cases where despite liability being clear and my client having sustained injuries, the insurance company did not want to negotiate. So it depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your claim.
What if I just want to settle my motorcycle accident claim?
As the client, you are in control and decide if you would like to settle your motorcycle accident claim. Many clients mistakenly believe that lawyers are in control of settlement. This is not true. You, as the client, are in control of settlement.
One of a personal injury lawyer’s jobs is to counsel you on settlement offers. That is, if the insurance company makes you a settlement offer, your personal injury lawyer must present and discuss the offer with you to help you decide whether the offer is fair, reasonable, and considers all of your damages and expenses.
But again, you as the client are in control of settlement.
What if the driver that hit me was texting and driving?
Unfortunately, we have become all too familiar with texting and driving here in Florida. We know texting and driving is terribly dangerous, yet many drivers still text and drive.
If you were hit by a driver who was texting, this evidence will be used to show the driver was likely distracted and the cause of the motorcycle accident. Indeed, it is powerful evidence of negligence and strongly indicates the driver is liable for your motorcycle accident.
If you believe the driver was texting and driving, let us know immediately. We will immediately send a letter to the driver and/or the driver’s insurance company and demand that they preserve and not destroy, delete, or accidently discard any phone and text records.
Why should I choose Barthelette Law for my motorcycle accident?
In Florida and South Florida, there are many personal injury lawyers you can choose from. In fact, you probably know many of the personal injury lawyers by their billboards, radio advertisements, and internet advertisements. Why choose Barthelette Law?
Before selecting your motorcycle accident attorney, I firmly believe you have to meet with him or her to see if he or she is the right fit. I believe you need to have confidence in your motorcycle accident attorney and that your attorney’s approach and style are a fit with yours.
I have many years of experience in personal injury law. In fact, for many years I represented insurance companies and learned firsthand how insurance companies view and analyze personal injury and motorcycle accident claims. This gave me tremendous insight on how to best represent personal injury and motorcycle accident victims.
I encourage all potential clients to meet with me to see if I am the right fit. Importantly, there is no fee or cost to meet with me. I hope you select me as your motorcycle accident lawyer. But if you don’t, there will be no cost or expense to you.
How do I speak with someone at Barthelette Law for a free consultation for my motorcycle accident?
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or was killed in a motorcycle accident, make sure to call Barthelette Law at (561) 246-4137. We will immediately get to work on your motorcycle accident injury case.
You can also reach us by email ([email protected]) or contact us through our website at: https://barthelettelaw.com/contact-us/.
We understand your motorcycle accident has likely caused you tremendous physical and emotional pain, worry, and anxiety. We are here for you, and you will not be alone in your recovery.
Call Barthelette Law today!