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How Florida Motorcycle Accident Liability Is Determined

Thursday, June 16, 2022 12:00 AM


Determining who is at fault in a Florida motorcycle accident comes down to one crucial factor: negligence. Negligence is an action or inaction that places others at risk, such as speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out of traffic lanes. An injury case can be characterized as negligence if the defendant acts in an irresponsible or careless manner that causes the plaintiff’s injuries.

Whether operating a motorcycle or vehicle, all drivers must not act negligently. They can be held responsible for any injuries resulting from a collision caused by their actions.

What are the causes of motorcycle accidents?
According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), traffic accidents are 98% caused by human error. In addition, defective vehicles, unsafe roads, and other contributors can cause collisions. However, the primary causes of crashes include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving, such as texting
  • Accelerating
  • Tailgating
  • Lane-splitting
  • Racing
  • Reckless driving
  • Disrespecting stop signs and traffic signals
  • Road Rage

Florida Operates on a Pure Comparative Fault System
Florida follows a pure comparative fault system, outlined in Florida Statute section 768.81. In summary:

  • You can still seek damages even if you are partially at fault for the accident.
  • Multiple people can be held responsible for a collision.
  • Your final settlement or compensation may be affected by your percentage of fault.

For example, let’s say you are injured in a collision while driving your motorcycle. After reviewing your claim, it was determined that you are 20% at fault and the other driver is 80%. Therefore, you can recover 80% of your damages; if your losses were $150,000, you could recover $120,000. 

However, before seeking compensation from another party, you would file a claim through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage(aka “No-Fault Benefits”) to cover healthcare costs and a portion for lost wages regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is where the term “No-fault” comes in.

Who is Responsible?
Depending on your circumstances, one or more of these parties could be responsible for your motorcycle accident:

  • A motorist. All motorists are required to use reasonable care when driving, including looking out for motorcyclists and adhering to traffic laws.
  • A government agency. The Florida Department of Transportation Floridians must ensure the roads are safe for drivers, including filling potholes and removing roadside debris.
  • A product manufacturer. Your vehicle’s manufacturer may be responsible if it malfunctions. Leaks, stuck accelerators, and faulty brakes are all examples of defective parts.
  • An employer. You can sue the trucker’s employer for damages if you are injured by being hit by a truck. You can seek damages from the trucker’s employer under “vicarious liability,” allowing you to claim compensation if their employees injure you.

Proving Negligence is Key
negligence claim can be made against the vehicle driver in many motorcycle accidents. For example, a defendant could be negligent in their actions, such as running an emergency stop sign or failing to use a turn signal before changing lanes.

Evidence determines fault

The process of proving fault without supporting evidence quickly becomes a “he said/she said” battle. A lawyer will investigate your accident and injuries when they take your case. The following documents may be used to support your claim:

  • The police report
  • Video footage from a dashcam, traffic camera, or security camera
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Images, lab results, and medical records
  • Witness testimony
  • Data from black boxes

The Elements Of A Negligence Claim
You will need to show a few key facts to successfully file a negligence case against another driver for your injuries.

  • The law requires the defendant to be cautious. This is a requirement in any case involving a car accident. All motorists must exercise caution.
  • The defendant wasn’t careful. The law uses the same method to determine whether or not a defendant was prudent.
  • You suffered injuries due to the defendant’s negligence. You must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the reason why you were hurt.
  • You sustained injuries or losses. You will need to prove that you have sought to recover damages from a vehicle accident. This could include receipts from repair shops (to verify the cost to fix your motorcycle) and hospital bills (to show medical expenses).

Attorneys You Can Talk To!
Motorcycle injury claims can be difficult to win. If you are suffering from severe injuries or grieving the loss of a loved one, talk to an experienced injury law firm with a successful track record in these kinds of cases.

Accidents happen, and when they do, you and your family will have questions about your rights and their impact on your life. The attorneys at Doran, Beam & Farrell, PA, understand your concerns and are ready to answer any questions or address concerns that you may have about your claim. To schedule a FREE consultation, call us at (727) 846-1000 or complete our online contact form