Motorcycle crashes happen in the thousands every year in Florida. In 2014, there were 9,854 motorcycle accidents recorded, a 1.78 percent increase from the previous year. When a crash happens, a motorcyclist is at risk of suffering debilitating or fatal injuries. In 2014, there were 427 motorcyclist fatalities (a slight decrease from the previous year) and 22 motorcycle passenger fatalities. The number of people injured on a motorcycle — but not killed — is much greater; there were 8,040 motorcyclist injuries and 809 motorcycle passenger injuries in 2014, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Facts 2014 report.
Completely avoiding injury in a motorcycle accident would of course be ideal, but because motorcyclists don’t have much in the form of protection, that’s rarely the case. However, there are precautions motorcyclists can take to protect themselves from potentially deadly crashes.
Consider the following tips for preventing motorcycle fatalities in Florida.
Wear a Helmet
The number one thing that you can do to reduce your risk of a motorcycle accident fatality is to wear a helmet. Time and time again, data have shown that the use of a helmet prevents fatal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and facial injuries. Further, helmet use does not impair a motorcyclist’s vision or hearing.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2014, 39 percent of motorcyclists who were killed across the United States were not wearing helmets. In addition, the institute reported that helmets saved the lives of 1,669 motorcyclists in 2014. What’s more, helmets are reported as being 37 percent effective in preventing fatal head injuries for the operators of motorcycles, and they are 41 percent effective in preventing fatal head injuries for the passengers of motorcycles.
Unfortunately, the state of Florida does not have a mandatory motorcycle helmet law in place for riders who are older than 21 and who have a minimum of $10,000 in medical insurance. If the person is younger than 21 or does not carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries, the use of a helmet is required.
Whether it’s the law or not, you should always wear a helmet and insist that your passengers wear helmets when riding a motorcycle. If you are not wearing a helmet and you are in an accident, not only may you suffer a more severe injury, but you also may be considered partially at fault for your own injuries.
Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
In addition to wearing a helmet, other ways in which you can reduce your risk of being in an accident and suffering a fatal injury are to take a motorcycle safety course, practice safe riding techniques, and always follow the laws of the road.
In Florida, it is mandatory that you take and pass the basic motorcycle rider course in order to get your motorcycle license/endorsement. However, taking a safety course beyond the basic courses — especially if it has been years since you last rode a motorcycle — is highly recommended.
Knowing how to ride a motorcycle goes well beyond just knowing how to operate the bike — i.e. turn it on, accelerate, turn, slow down, etc. Instead, it means knowing how to ride safely, what to do if you get in a tight spot, how to ride in a group (if you’ll be taking any motorcycle trips with other riders), what the laws of the road are, and more.
You should never carry a passenger on your bike until you are an experienced and confident rider – doing so may put both you and your passenger at risk of an accident.
Maintain Your Bike Properly
It is important that you maintain your bike in good condition to reduce your risk of being in a preventable — and perhaps fatal — motorcycle accident. Be sure that your lights are all working properly, that the engine is routinely serviced, and that you check all parts of your bike — such as your tires, oil levels, and brakes — before riding. Something as insignificant seeming as tire pressure could have a devastating effect on your livelihood, so take the proper precautions.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, the first thing that you should do is to seek medical care for your injuries. Keep thorough documentation of all medical treatment you receive. Additionally, you should report the accident to the police and to your insurance company as soon as possible. Then, you should contact an attorney and schedule a free case consultation. While your attorney works on your case, you should focus on healing and recovery.
You should know that if you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may have the right to compensation. You can file a claim with your own insurance company for damages, or you can file a lawsuit directly against the other party. An attorney can advise you regarding your rights and your options, and help you to understand which recovery avenue may yield the greatest amount of compensation in your case. Know that you have the right to seek damages for all of your losses, and in the tragic case of losing a loved one in a motorcycle crash, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Brooksville, FL, Ready to Serve You
At the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, our motorcycle accident lawyers in Lutz, FL, and Brooksville, FL, are ready to serve you. Do not wait a minute longer to pick up the phone and request your free case consultation today — the longer you wait, the harder it will be to recover evidence and the longer it will take to get you the compensation you deserve. To request more information about your rights after a Florida motorcycle accident and to find out how to file a claim, use our online contact form or call our offices directly.
Jim Holliday has recovered millions of dollars for his clients in restitution for their injuries.