Florida Today reports the 22-year-old welder had just finished work for the day and was on his way home when the crash happened. News accounts have few details, but here’s what we can say: Motorcycle accidents claim far too many lives in Florida every year.
May was Motorcycle Accident Awareness Month, but the truth is, this is an issue that affects Floridians daily – directly or indirectly. These are people’s fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands. They are the people we rely on, and those we love. This young man who had his whole life ahead of him has now become a statistic in what is an appalling toll of casualties in Florida and nationwide.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2015 (the latest year for which final figures are available) there were nearly 5,000 motorcyclists killed – an 8 percent increase in just a single year. Furthermore, an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists were injured during 2015.
When we factor in vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a crash that occupants of a passenger car. According to the National Safety Council, motorcyclists make up 3 percent of all registered vehicles and only 0.7 percent of all vehicle miles driven, and yet they makeup 14 percent of all traffic deaths and 4 percent of all vehicle occupant injuries.
Just in Florida, there were 577 motorcycle riders killed in the U.S. that year. Of those, roughly half (47 percent) were not wearing a helmet. Florida’s mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists was repealed, so riders are under no obligation to wear one. However, the NHTSA reports helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers. Nonetheless, failure to wear a motorcycle will not preclude riders or passengers from seeking damages from other drivers or third parties who are negligent.
Even if the person injured shared some portion of the blame, it should be pointed out that Florida follows a system of pure comparative negligence. Per F.S. 768.81, a person’s own fault for a crash is not going to prohibit them from pursuing damages. In fact, it won’t stop them even if they are 99 percent responsible; they can still pursue damages on the other 1 percent. However, what it will do is reduce their damages. So for example, if you are 30 percent liable and the defendant is 70 percent liable, you can collect 70 percent of the total damages. So if you were awarded $100,000 in damages, you would only be able to collect $70,000 of the total.
In many cases, other motorists are responsible for motorcycle accidents. The reason often has to do with:
- Motorcycles are relatively small, so other drivers don’t see them;
- Other drivers don’t anticipate motorcyclists’ movements;
- Driver’s view of motorcyclist is obstructed (i.e., blind spot);
- Driver is distracted;
- Driver is drunk.
More than a third of motorcycle fatalities are older male riders. Many of these are so-called “re-entry riders,” meaning they rode motorcycles in their 20s or 30s but stop when they have young families, only to return to it again in their 40s, 50s or 60s. A recent study highlighted baby boomer motorcycle concerns. It’s imperative for those getting back on a bike to recognize it’s not like riding a regular bicycle. It often requires brushing up on old skills, learning new ones and committing to lifelong learning.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Motorcycle Safety is a Two-way Street, May 2017, National Safety Council
More Blog Entries:
Court: Motorcycle Accident Liability Hinges on Proximate Cause, May 12, 2017, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog