A motorcycle accident can happen at any moment in Florida. Through August of 2021, over 5,000 motorcycle accidents have been reported. There have been over 4000 injuries from motorcycle accidents and almost 350 fatalities. Visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Florida Crash Dashboard for the most up-to-date statistics. Given the numbers, it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself involved in a motorcycle accident.
Immediately after a motorcycle accident, the first thing you must do is to check yourself for injuries. If there are any injuries (even minor), call 911 immediately. You may want to call 911 even if there are no injuries so you have an official accident report for your insurance company. This will help to provide proof of your accident as well as provide a record of some very important information such as the time of day, weather conditions, names of witnesses, and usually a law enforcement officer’s assessment of who was at fault. The information in the report is especially useful if there is a dispute about who was at fault or if you must later file a lawsuit.
Florida requires all motorists to report an accident in the event of an injury to a passenger, driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, etc. as well as in the event of a death. Also, if any property (including vehicles) is damaged in what appears to be the amount of $500 or more, the accident has to be reported.
If there’s only minor property damage, drivers can self-report a crash using a form that is provided online by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. However, it’s usually best to call law enforcement to have them come to the scene and complete a traffic crash investigation and prepare a report. Also, it’s particularly necessary if anyone involved in the crash is complaining of pain or injuries, if one of the drivers involved is operating a commercial vehicle, or if one of the drivers appears to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Checking and caring for injuries is the number one priority after a motorcycle crash. If you do not require emergency medical care on the scene, you should exchange information with the other driver.
Here is a list of the necessary information to include in the exchange:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Color, make and model of the vehicle
- Location of accident
It’s best not to discuss the incident or to disclose too much information to the other driver. Though if you avoid the other driver completely and never get any of their information, that can be problematic. We have seen cases where the at-fault driver initially stopped at the scene but left before law enforcement arrived to investigate. Sometimes you may be able to track down the other vehicle based on the license plate, though it’s difficult to prove who was driving if they did not identify themselves at the scene.
If you do exchange information at the scene, it is important not to discuss or make any statements about who is at fault. You don’t want to accidentally accept blame for the accident or say something that could be misconstrued and used against you. Keep in mind, however, if law enforcement is called you will be asked about how the accident occurred (you should cooperate unless you are exercising your 5th Amendment right to remain silent).
To better protect yourself, be sure to take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved.
You should also write down the names of any police officers, as well as any witnesses at the scene. Often, witnesses who saw the accident may stop and check on the people in the accident but leave the scene before the police officer arrives. We’ve had many clients tell us that someone stopped at the scene to help but left before the police arrived and we could never identify these eyewitnesses. Independent witnesses can be very important in a motorcycle crash because there is often a bias against motorcycle riders – that they drive too fast or recklessly weave in and out of traffic. In an accident where liability is in dispute, that kind of bias can hurt the case of the motorcycle rider. Therefore, witnesses are essential.
If you believe a defect or mechanical issue caused or contributed to your accident, you may have a product liability claim in addition to the accident claim. This could apply to your motorcycle or gear, such as a helmet or jacket. If that’s a possibility, you must secure the bike and gear to preserve any evidence of the defect. To determine if any such defect exists, an inspection will need to be done to determine if the motorcycle and your gear had any defects at the time of the crash.
Hiring a Lawyer
In the event of a motorcycle crash, there can be many issues related to an injury, medical bills, and other damages. If the other party is at fault, or if a defect with your motorcycle or gear caused your injuries, you will need the help of an attorney to seek compensation to cover these expenses.
If you are concerned about attorney’s fees, you should know that a trustworthy motorcycle accident attorney won’t charge any up-front fees to take your case. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means your attorney does not collect fees (typically 33% presuit, 40% if a lawsuit is filed) until your case is resolved.
With the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, you’ll gain numerous benefits ensuring you receive the full value of your case.
As an experienced law firm, C. Todd Smith Law can help to educate and guide you through what is a complicated legal system. At the same time, we can help to prevent you from making any mistakes that could negatively affect your case. Our qualified attorney will negotiate a settlement, or file a lawsuit, if necessary, to obtain the full and fair value of your damages, so you can sleep peacefully at night knowing your bills are paid.
After a motorcycle accident, our trusted legal team at C. Todd Smith Law can make all the difference between losing money and time, and successfully resolving your legal case.