Motorcycle riders experience road travel like no other. They enjoy direct contact with their surroundings as they journey roadways in Florida and across the country. However, there is a trade-off.
Motorcycle riders are constantly at a higher risk of experiencing an accident than other motorists on the road, most often through no fault of their own. In fact, even when motorcycle rider engages in the safest behavior they possibly can, the negligence and recklessness of others can end up causing them harm. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contacting a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney is in your best interest.
Although motorcycle accidents can occur in any number of ways, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents follow below.
Left-turning cars are one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. They are also among the most common causes of accidents in general, including accidents with bicycles, pedestrians, and other vehicles.
At least two possible explanations exist as to why this is so. First, left-turning drivers may not be aware of the right-of-way rules that control left turns. According to these rules, drivers making a left-hand turn must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
Drivers who are unaware of or ignore this rule and execute left-hand turns without regard for oncoming traffic end up causing motorcycle and other types of traffic accidents.
The second reason left-turning cars cause motorcycle accidents is that their drivers often fail to see oncoming motorcycle riders. This failure to notice motorcyclists is often due to how much smaller and less visible motorcycles are than regular cars. However, this reason is no excuse and is typically considered negligence.
Despite the known dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, tens of thousands (and probably more) of automobile drivers continue to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
Due to their lower profile, motorcyclists often become the victims of drunk drivers whose ability to see them on the road is severely compromised. Additionally, alcohol leads to slower reaction times for drivers, making them more likely than sober drivers to cause motorcycle and other types of accidents.
Drugs and Other Intoxicants
Drivers may also be on other intoxicating substances, both legal and illegal, which can substantially impair their ability to safely navigate the roads.
Some of these substances include:
- Prescription medication
- Over-the-counter medication
- Foods that might cause a person to become intoxicated
Sadly, the incidence of drivers who use these substances is not decreasing in the state.
Consider marijuana and other forms of cannabis. Now that many states have legalized them for medical or recreational use, more automobile drivers are causing motorcycle accidents while under the influence.
Although not a substance, driver inattention, or distracted driving, can negatively affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Studies have shown that, in some instances, distracted drivers can be far more dangerous on the road than drivers on alcohol or drugs.
For example, a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report states that driving while texting can be far more deadly than drunk driving. When the victim is a motorcyclist, the number could be even higher, given their lower profile.
Other dangerous forms of distracted driving that lead to motorcycle accidents include these:
- Searching or reaching for something while driving
- Over engagement of passengers within the vehicle
- Driving while fatigued or drowsy to the point where one’s eyes leave the road
What makes distracted driving particularly dangerous is that it prevents drivers from adequately taking in their surroundings and evaluating the safety of the situations they find themselves in.
Since a motorcycle is much smaller than a typical vehicle, drivers need to be fully aware of their traffic surroundings to avoid causing a crash.
Failure to Yield
Motorcycle accidents caused by failure to yield are similar to those caused by left-hand turns. However, failure-to-yield motorcycle accidents describe more situations. For example, vehicles entering roadways are often required to yield to traffic.
Unfortunately, many drivers who normally yield to other cars and trucks often fail to do so for motorcycles. Although visibility plays a key role in these accidents, drivers who thoroughly perform a visual sweep of the traffic situation before them have no trouble spotting motorcyclists and yielding to them.
Like distracted driving, excessive speed shortens the time a driver has to react to a potential emergency situation. Excessive speed can also reduce a driver’s ability to perceive dangerous situations ahead and negatively affects their visibility. When they finally realize that a motorcycle is in their path, it is often too late.
Excessive speed reduces a motorcyclist’s ability to react to danger as well. For example, if a car presents as a danger to a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist can take evasive action to avoid an accident. However, if the car is going at an excessive rate of speed, the motorcyclist may have little to no time to react.
Opening Car Doors
A driver has a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner, even when their vehicle is not running. When a driver opens their car door into traffic, they must make sure that they are not creating a dangerous situation for an approaching motorcycle rider or anyone else.
However, motorcycle accidents caused by the unsafe opening of car doors are common. For some reason, many drivers fail to scan for motorcycles or bicycles and only look for vehicles when opening their doors.
Road rage is nothing new in Florida. What is new is the extent to which drivers will go to take their rage out on others.
Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to the common manifestations of road rage, such as:
- Throwing items at other vehicles
- Striking another vehicle with a car
- Extreme tailgating and bumper tapping
Where a car might be able to safely handle a bumper tap or a side swipe from another vehicle, a motorcycle typically cannot. For this reason, a motorcyclist who is dealing with a road rage driver should do all they can to get away from the enraged driver and call authorities immediately.
Any experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you that aggressive driving has increased over the years and is now a major problem on many roadways throughout the state and the country. The result has been more motorcycle accidents and an increase in accidents involving other types of vehicles as well.
Aggressive driving typically includes any driving that involves serious risk-taking.
The following actions are considered aggressive:
- Passing drivers on the right
- Dangerous passing maneuvers
- Unreasonably dangerous lane changing
Aggressive driving is preventable, as are the motorcycle accidents it causes. Yet, selfishness and ego often reign on the roadways, leading many to choose to drive how they please, regardless of the consequences to motorcyclists and others in traffic.
Dangerous Weather Conditions
For motorcyclists, nothing beats cruising the open road on a nice day. However, not every day of the year is optimal for riding, even in the Sunshine State. Some days have weather conditions that make moving along the highways more dangerous than usual for motorcycles and cars alike.
Still, with proper care, motorcyclists can safely journey the roadways in most weather conditions. The problem arises when automobile drivers driving in dangerous weather conditions fail to exercise the level of care that the weather and road conditions call for.
For instance, a day of heavy rain or fog will typically compromise the visibility of drivers and require that they go slower than normal due to this loss of visibility.
Sadly, there is no shortage of motorists who refuse to stick to posted speed limits, even when the weather does not safely allow for faster driving. And because motorcycles are less visible, many drivers end up causing serious motorcycle accidents when their visibility is reduced.
Dangerous Road Conditions
There is no disputing the fact that four wheels are more stable than two. For this reason, automobiles can deal with dangerous road conditions more safely than motorcycles.
For example, potholes are a serious problem in Florida. These large divots in the road are found throughout the state, often in rural areas where motorcyclists like to ride. Unfortunately, one pothole can completely destabilize a motorcycle and lead to a dangerous crash.
But potholes are not the only dangerous road condition that contributes to motorcycle accidents.
- Uneven lanes
- Debris in the roadway
- Slippery substances spilled onto the road
Various types of debris can make their way onto the road and end up causing an accident, including trash and vegetation. If a person’s negligence is responsible for this occurring, they can be held to pay for the losses they have caused.
Consider a homeowner who rakes their leaves out onto the roadway. If the leaves end up in a lane used by motorcyclists and a crash occurs, they can face liability. Likewise, a person hauling garbage who fails to properly tie down a load can also be made to pay if debris falls from their vehicle and causes a motorcycle crash.
What You Can Do After a Motorcycle Accident
As mentioned, even the safest motorcycle rider can fall victim to a negligent or reckless driver. As such, all riders should know what they can do after an accident, especially when it was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Justice Through Compensation
If another driver’s actions caused you injury and loss, then you can potentially seek compensation for your losses with the aid of a motorcycle accident attorney.
If you have motorcycle insurance, then your insurance may cover some but not all of your expenses. Your motorcycle accident attorney will bring a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver of your wreck to collect damages, or compensation, for the expenses your insurance does not cover.
The compensatory damages your motorcycle accident attorney will seek encompass both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses are those that directly affect your financial health and include the following:
- Medical treatment expenses and costs like surgery, therapy, and prescriptions
- Property damage caused by the accident, including motorcycle and equipment
- Homecare expenses for required help around the house for basic tasks
- Lost income from missing time at work due to your injury
- Reduced earning potential due to your motorcycle injury
- Therapy and counseling
As you might imagine, many of these losses are easily verifiable through account balances, receipts, and other records of transactions. For lost income, your motorcycle accident lawyer will use your pay stubs and typical work schedule to demonstrate employment and wage-related losses.
Regarding non-economic damages, they are not as easy to verify, but any savvy motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to demonstrate these losses and claim compensation for them.
Non-economic losses include:
- Scarring and/or permanent disfigurement
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
Keep in mind that insurance companies that handle compensation payouts work hard to pay motorcycle accident victims less than they deserve. One way they do this is by downplaying the various losses contained in your claim.
For this reason, victims who choose to have a motorcycle accident lawyer fight for them typically get compensated at much higher amounts than claimants navigating the process alone.
If it is found that the at-fault driver acted with gross negligence or intentionally, then your motorcycle accident lawyer may demand punitive damages to punish a driver for the accident they caused.
Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable drivers on the road. However, when other motorists operate their vehicles in a safe manner, motorcycle accidents happen less frequently.
If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine whether you are owed the funds necessary to care for your injuries and offset your losses.
Do not wait. Act quickly and contact accident attorney for your free consultation. They will help you understand your options for compensation.