Motorcycle accidents do not only impact motorcyclists. They impact their friends, loved ones, and all other parties that were involved. This is why it is important for ALL motorists in Florida to be aware of what happens in the unfortunate occurrence of a motorcycle accident and what can be done beforehand to minimize the risks.
Many consider Florida a biker’s paradise because of the weather and the lax laws for motorcyclists. “Under Florida law, there is no requirement for any insurance on a motorcycle,” explains motorcycle accident attorney, William Tonelli. Florida does not require motorcyclists to have insurance nor wear a helmet (as long as you have medical payments coverage). We contend that the lenient laws do not benefit anyone. Florida’s helmet law was repealed in 2000, and by 2001 motorcycle fatalities had more than doubled. Florida leads the nation in motorcycle fatalities, and one in every five people killed in a highway crash in Florida is on a motorcycle. These statistics are undeniably horrific, and it is a fact that riding a motorcycle is risky.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
We have met with many devastated families who come to us for help after a loved one has died or was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. “There are a lot of cases that come through the firm where the motorcycle rider is catastrophically injured or deceased,” confirms Orlando attorney William Tonelli, “and the person who hit them had no Bodily Injury Coverage and the motorcycle driver had no UM insurance, so now you’re leaving behind a wife and children with zero avenues for recovery.”
UM coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who does not have liability insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for all your damages. Florida has minimal insurance requirements, so it is usually not sufficient to cover serious injuries or a long medical leave from work. Mr. Tonelli further explains: “UM coverage is the most important insurance because it’s the only coverage that follows you where you go. For instance, if you had UM coverage on a vehicle and you are a passenger in a friend’s car, that coverage would apply. If there’s a hit and run and you’re not able to identify the at-fault driver, UM covers you. If you are involved in a hit and run and don’t have UM, you are on the hook for all of your bills.”
It is also worth mentioning that 26.7 percent of Florida drivers are uninsured, which is the highest percentage in the country. UM coverage may not be required, but it is essential for ALL Florida drivers, whether you have four wheels or two.
How UM Coverage Can Make a Difference
DWKMRS handled a case in which a 46-year-old motorcyclist was struck by a driver who ran a stop sign. Even though the other driver was operating a government vehicle and had protection under Florida law due to sovereign immunity, we were able to prove the government’s liability and negotiated a settlement in excess of the statutory caps to help our client with his financial needs. The motorcyclist is now permanently disabled, and UM coverage would have helped achieve a better financial recovery for him.
In another case we handled, a middle-aged motorcyclist riding on a busy Orlando road was pinned against a light post by a car pulling out of a Target parking lot, resulting in the amputation of his leg. The other driver was determined to be at fault, but was barely covered by a minimal $10,000 liability policy. Because our client only purchased uninsured motorist coverage on his personal automobile but not his motorcycle, his claim was excluded under the terms of his UM policy. And because the other driver had no other assets to help cover medical bills, our client only received the $10,000 policy limit, even though he suffered devastating injuries. UM coverage on his motorcycle would have led to a drastically better outcome.
What Else Motorcyclists Can Do
Bikers love to say that “Loud Pipes Save Lives,” but there is no evidence to prove (or disprove) this. What we do know is that impaired driving, speeding, and not wearing a helmet are the three most frequent causes of fatal motorcycle crashes. In 2016, 23 percent of the motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with fixed objects. Loud pipes cannot help in these instances. And lest you believe that motorcycle deaths are largely among the young and foolish, in 2016 there were 1,488 fatalities among motorcyclists under 30 and 1,940 deaths among those over 50.
In light of the above statistics, there are a few obvious things motorcyclists can do to stay safe on the road: don’t drink and drive, watch your speed, and wear a helmet. Wearing bright colors and having strong lights on your bike will also help.
In Florida, bikers are required to complete a rider course before they can obtain their motorcycle license, and we encourage motorcyclists to also take advanced courses to further improve their driving skills. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers many excellent courses for all levels of riding.
These things can help prevent you from getting in a motorcycle accident, and UM coverage can help if you do get into an accident.
Speak With Orlando Motorcycle Attorney Bill Tonelli at Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier & Sos, LLP To Learn More About Protecting Yourself As A Motorcyclist
Bill Tonelli of Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier & Sos is a member of the Florida Bar, the Orange County Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
The attorneys at Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier & Sos, LLP have been fighting in Orlando for the protection of motorcyclists since 1989. We have seen the devastation that a motorcycle accident can bring and cannot stress strongly enough how important UM coverage is.
Contact us at 888-726-6735 or request a free consultation online.