Bikers usually sustain very serious injuries in motorcycle-on-vehicle collisions. The medical bills alone often exceed $100,000. These severe injuries create other losses as well, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost wages.
Making matters even worse, many motorcycle crash victims experience the motorcycle prejudice. Many people have little sympathy for these victims. They assume the victim must have been riding recklessly, and therefore, the victim was at least partially responsible for the crash. This attitude affects jurors as well.
Generally, a Brandon motorcycle accident attorney can obtain compensation for all the aforementioned injuries. But largely because of the motorcycle prejudice, an attorney must work very hard to collect evidence and use this evidence to build a claim for damages.
First Party Liability in Motorcycle Wrecks
Driver error causes most motorcycle wrecks. Sometimes, this error is driver impairment, such as alcohol or distraction. These impairments affect both the body and the mind. Other times, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate safety laws, like the speeding law. These violations create a presumption of negligence in Florida.
Attorneys have basically two legal options in motorcycle crash cases. Distracted driving is a good illustration of the difference.
Florida lawmakers recently passed a hands-free law. This law bans most hand-held cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. If a driver violates this law, and that violation substantially causes a motorcycle crash, the tortfeasor is presumptively negligent.
But hand-held devices are not the only cause of distracted driving. Indeed, there is evidence that hands-free phones may be even more distracting. These gadgets are visually and cognitively distracting, Operators take their eyes off the road and take their minds off driving. Furthermore, hands-free devices give drivers a false sense of security. Other distracted driving causes include eating while driving and talking to passengers while driving.
In these situations, attorneys typically use ordinary negligence claims. These claims involve a breach of a legal duty, which in this case is the duty of reasonable care. If that breach substantially causes a crash, the tortfeasor is liable for motorcycle crash damages.
Third Party Liability
As mentioned, the damages in a motorcycle crash claim may be substantial. Many Florida drivers do not have a large enough insurance policy to cover all these losses. The Sunshine State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country.
Fortunately, there are also a number of third party liability rules in Florida. These rules give victims an additional source of compensation. Some commonly-used doctrines include:
- Dram Shop: Alcohol causes almost half of the fatal motorcycle crashes in Hillsborough County. In some cases, the restaurant, grocery store, or other commercial entity which sold alcohol to the tortfeasor may be liable for damages.
- Respondeat Superior: This doctrine usually applies if the tortfeasor was a taxi driver, Uber driver, or another commercial operator. Employers are legally responsible for any negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of their employment. All these terms are defined in broad, victim-friendly terms.
- Owner Liability: Vehicle owners who knowingly allow incompetent people to use their vehicles are liable for damages, if those individuals cause motorcycle crashes. Commercial negligent entrustment cases, such as Enterprise rent-a-car claims, work a bit differently, because of the Graves Amendment.
In all these situations, victim/plaintiffs must establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Contact Aggressive Attorneys
Motorcycle crash victims may have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).