Injured on a Motorcycle: Who’s Going to Pay?
Motorcycle accidents can be particularly catastrophic. Even though motorcycle advocacy groups have raised the “visibility” of motorcyclists, motorcycles are still hard to see when you’re on the road. And even though helmets, jackets, and other protective motorcycle gear have improved, they’re no substitute for the solid frame, seat belts, airbags, and other protections of an automobile. This means that accidents involving motorcycles are both more frequent than auto accidents (in proportion to the number of drivers on the road), and motorcycle accidents are far likelier to result in injury or death.
Motorcyclists in other states can rely on the same insurance coverage as automobile drivers, but this isn’t the case in Florida. If you own a motorcycle, you should be fully aware of the risks – not just the risks of injury itself, but the risk of being denied necessary treatment should you be injured.
Motorcycle accidents vs. automobile accidents
Because of the inherent risks of driving motorcycles on roads full of much larger vehicles, personal injury insurance carriers will not insure Florida motorcyclists.
Automobile drivers, automobile passengers, and even pedestrians struck by automobiles will in most cases have personal injury protection coverage (PIP). This generally covers 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of wage loss, up to $2,400 for non-emergency treatment and up to $10,000 for emergency treatment, so long as the injured party seeks medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
Florida motorcyclists – drivers or passengers – cannot rely on this coverage, even if the motorcycle owner already has PIP coverage for an automobile.
Recommended insurance for motorcycle drivers
While you can purchase, register, and use a motorcycle in Florida without any insurance, you will be legally liable if charged in a motorcycle crash. This is problematic not only because of the high rate of motorcycle accidents, but because motorcyclists are statistically likelier than automobile drivers to drive over the speed limit and to drive after consuming alcohol.
Also, while it’s not illegal to ride a motorcycle without insurance, there are potential penalties for being involved in an accident without having any effective liability coverage. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident and have no liability coverage, you may face the suspension of your driving privileges, registration, and tag; you may also face civil judgments, and be required to purchase bodily injury and/or property damage liability coverage for up to three years following the incident.
You shouldn’t drive a motorcycle without insurance: the most common choice for motorcyclists is to purchase liability insurance from a Florida carrier. Less commonly, motorcyclists can obtain a Self-Insurance Certificate with evidence of sufficient available assets to cover damages from an accident, or obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate by posting a surety bond, cash, or other securities of sufficient value to cover the damages of an accident.
Also, because Florida motorcyclists don’t have PIP, you may find yourself injured after an accident with another motorcyclist or the uninsured driver of an automobile, and have to pay your medical bills out of pocket. This likelier than you might imagine: Florida had one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the nation in 2012, at 23.8 percent second only to Oklahoma. That means that almost one out of every four drivers you encounter in Florida doesn’t have insurance coverage. While you could – and should – try to recover damages through the civil courts, any payments the court awards you will not be prompt. For this reason, it’s a good idea for Florida motorcyclists to get uninsured motorist coverage.
What experienced motorcycle accident attorneys can do for you
No matter the cause of your motorcycle accident – whether it was one driver’s fault or a case of shared responsibility, whether it was because of a road hazard, defective machine, or one party’s negligence – you need experienced legal counsel to help you attain full compensation for your recovery. An attorney can assist you by:
- Dealing with insurance companies.
- Counsel on your medical treatment.
- Documenting your lost work and wages.
- Obtaining a just settlement.
Dennis Morgenstern and Betsey Herd have a combined 46 years of experience representing Tampa clients in their auto accident, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases. Both have proven skill in pursuing equitable settlements and representing clients at trial, and have also developed expertise in the nuances of motorist liability, and understand the best care needed to treat and to document injuries. Contact the offices of Morgenstern & Herd today to set up a free consultation with one of our dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers in Tampa, FL.
*All statistics taken from the Insurance Information Institute.