Saturday, January 17, 2015

What Do I Need to Know after a Motorcycle Crash?

Being involved in a car crash can undoubtedly leave an individual with significant life-changing injuries. When two cars collide on our roadways, the consequences can be devastating. What can be even more traumatic, however, is when a collision between a motor vehicle and a motorcycle occurs. Crashes involving motorcycles often result in debilitating injuries based on the nature of the impact alone. A two wheel motorcycle simply cannot compete and isn't designed to protect the driver as is the case with a 4 wheel motor vehicle.

Being compensated for the injuries you sustain as the result of either a motor vehicle or motorcycle collision require having a personal injury attorney who understands the differences and nuances between the two. Most are familiar with Florida’s requirement that when you registers a vehicle in our state, you must obtain PIP (personal injury coverage). Your PIP coverage under your own insurance policy will pay up to 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages after a motor vehicle collision up to $10,000.00, regardless of whether you were at-fault for the collision. 

Significantly, the requirement to obtain PIP coverage and the protection it provides only applies to a “motor vehicle” as it is defined under Florida law—a 4 wheeled vehicle. While your PIP coverage affords you certain protections, the statute makes it expressly difficult to be compensated for non-economic or what are often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. I’ve recently written a blog explaining what types of damages you may be entitled to after you’ve been involved in a car crash.
Specifically, Florida law, states that if you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, in order to be entitled to pain and suffering damages you must show that you’ve suffered what is considered a “permanent injury.” Under the statute, a “permanent injury” is defined as:

(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
(d) Death.

In a typical car crash, injuries to your cervical and lumbar spine are quite common. You may have suffered from a herniated disc or another type of spinal injury. The insurance company will undoubtedly argue that these types of injuries are not “permanent” under Florida law in attempts to limit your recovery of pain and suffering damages. To counter these attacks, we often retain expert radiologists who will be able to opine that based on your MRI findings, you’ve suffered an alteration of the discs in your spine which is permanent in nature.

Car Crash vs. Motorcycle Collision: Differences in Recovering Pain and Suffering Damages

Just like a car crash, those injured riding a motorcycle can recover economic damages such past lost wages, past medical expenses, future medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.
Unlike with a car crash, however, there is no permanent injury threshold to recover for pain and suffering damages when you are involved in a motorcycle collision. This is because a motorcycle is not defined as a “motor vehicle” under the PIP statute and as a result, the PIP permanent injury threshold does not apply to injured motorcyclists. See Scherzer v. Beron, 455 So. 2d 44 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984).

In addition, Florida courts have recognized that one should be able to recover damages for the “loss of use” of a motorcycle after it has been damaged in a crash. A motorcycle can be considered a “pleasure vehicle” and therefore the time it takes to repair it is a properly element of damages. Meakin v. Dreier, 209 So. 2d 252 (Fla. 2d DCA 1968).

Whether you are the victim of an automobile collision or a motorcycle crash, speaking with an attorney who can ensure that you are receiving the damages you are entitled to under Florida law is critical. While there are many similarities between the two, it is understanding the nuances that can make the difference in maximizing your recovery. For more information, call the attorneys at Dolman Law Group.

800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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