In May 2016, a 20-year-old motorcyclist was killed on Interstate 95 after he rear-ended a car, was thrown from his motorcycle and was then run over by a tractor-trailer, according to The Sun Sentinel. This young man was only one of many fatalities caused by a motorcycle accident in Florida. Other sources report that according to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Automobile Association, Florida has more motorcycle crash fatalities than any other state in the country, with 554 motorcyclists killed in 2015 alone, a 23 percent increase over 2014 deaths. (See AAA Reports Motorcycle Fatalities Rose More Than 23 Percent in Florida in 2015.)
Deaths on the rise since the helmet law was repealed
The Florida Legislature changed the state’s motorcycle law in 2000 so that bikers over the age of 21 are no longer required to wear helmets as long as they are covered by an insurance policy providing a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries caused in a crash. According to AAA, motorcycle fatalities in the state have more than doubled since the helmet law’s repeal. And although NHTSA says that 37 percent of fatalities could have been prevented had the biker been wearing a helmet, some reports say that only 1 in 7 Florida bikers do.
Further, recent surveys indicate that approximately 1 in 6 Florida motorcyclists do not carry the required insurance. And the costs of an accident are not limited to the people immediately involved. NHTSA estimates that the overall economic cost of each motorcycle death is approximately $1.48 million, including:
- Lost productivity;
- Medical, legal, court, emergency services and insurance costs;
- Property damage; and
- Workplace losses.
Motorcyclists should take safety measures
The AAA suggests that motorcyclists take the following steps to protect themselves:
- Always wear a helmet;
- Maximize visibility on the road by using headlights and reflective strips, and wearing bright clothing;
- Use appropriate safety gear, including eyewear, closed-toe footwear, and protective clothing;
- Get proper training before taking to the roads;
- Avoid weaving between lanes; and
- Always ride sober and stay alert.
Drivers need to keep their eyes open for riders and give them sufficient room, and always maintain focus on the road.
What if you are in an accident?
If you are involved in a motorcycle crash and you are physically able to do so, do the following:
- Assess the damage and determine whether anyone is injured;
- Call for medical assistance;
- Call law enforcement to make a proper record of the accident, the scene, and the details;
- If possible, obtain information (name, address, insurance coverage) from any other drivers or riders involved;
- Take pictures of your motorcycle and the scene; and
- Contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Especially if you are in a serious accident, it is important that you not speak to anyone besides the police about the accident until you have consulted an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. The West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyers of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC can help you and your loved ones obtain compensation for your injuries or damages if the accident was the result of someone else’s negligence. Contact us about your case today.