If you hit a motorcyclist, your first priority should be the rider’s safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 5,000 motorcyclists were killed on American roads in 2019. Florida Statutes § 316.066 mandates that you must file a police report if the crash resulted in injuries, death, or property damage, or required towing a vehicle. You will likely need to call 911.
From there, the things you say and the steps you take will play a large role in what comes next. Under no circumstances should you admit fault or assume liability for the accident, as that will make you open to litigation.
Additionally, you may want to consider the assistance of a lawyer, as they can provide more information into reducing fault and promoting your best interests.
Determining Liability If You Hit a Motorcyclist
Under Florida Statutes § 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that an injured party must first file a claim with their own insurance company before turning to the other driver’s insurer.
First, if the motorcyclist’s insurance company contacts you, do not agree to any recorded statements. This allows them to use your words against you should you accidentally implicate yourself. Additionally, if you are working with a motorcycle accident lawyer, the insurer cannot contact you directly, as your legal team will handle all communications with the involved parties.
As a Florida driver, you are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. In the event of an accident, the injured party will likely use this route of compensation. Yet, if your insurance does not cover the cost of the motorcyclist’s damages, then they can take you to court. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process and represent your interests before a judge. If you hit a motorcyclist, you do not need to go through this alone.
Hire a motorcycle accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale to understand your rights and your legal options. More importantly, having a reputable lawyer in your corner will help you understand and avoid insurance companies’ less honorable practices. Moreover, the right attorneys can also help you minimize the potential monetary obligations (economic and non-economic losses) you might have towards the accident’s victim.
How to Handle Insurance Companies
If an insurance adjuster tries to contact you, you can take the following steps to protect yourself:
- Do not provide any recorded or written statements
- Keep the conversation as short as possible
- Tell them to speak to your lawyer if you have one
- Tell them you are in the process of acquiring a lawyer and that you will provide their contact information as soon as possible if you have not yet retained counsel
Motorcycle accident attorneys are well acquainted with the types of tactics insurance representatives may use to get you to admit guilt. They can protect you by fielding all calls, communications, requests, and offers they make, and by relaying messages to them on your behalf.
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Recovering Damages from a Motorcycle Accident
If the motorcyclist you hit files a civil action, you could be found responsible for their collision-related expenses. The basis of their claim will be that because you acted negligently, you caused the accident, and you, therefore, should pay for their losses.
Some of the possible recoverable damages include:
- Associated medical costs from the accident, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, and medical supplies
- Lost wages, as well as reduced earning capacity
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Florida does not have a statutory cap, meaning there is no limit to the dollar amount a motorcycle accident victim can pursue through a lawsuit. To minimize your possible financial obligation, you may want to work with a motorcycle accident lawyer.
What If the Motorcyclist Was At Fault?
Not all motorcycle accidents are the driver’s fault. For example, some crashes are caused by:
- The motorcyclist themselves, if they were engaging in reckless behavior or not following the rules of the road
- Mechanical failure in either the car or the motorcycle
- The environment: either the road was poorly designed or maintained, or the weather was bad and affected visibility
In these cases, if your lawyer can find enough evidence to show you are not guilty, you would not be liable for the motorcyclist’s damages. If the motorcyclist was at fault, and if you sustained personal injuries or property damage, you may be able to sue them for damages instead. You would then be able to seek the same types of damages discussed above. This process involves:
- Notifying the motorcyclist (the liable party) that you are taking action against them
- Calculating the worth of your physical, emotional, and financial damages and asking the liable party for this amount
- Having your lawyer meet with the liable party’s insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement
- Having your lawyer represent you in the courtroom if the insurance company does not offer a settlement amount that meets your needs
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Working with a Law Office Can Make Things Easier
If you hit a motorcyclist, your lawyer understands what a frightening experience it must have been. Depending on your situation, you could be facing liability for an unforeseeable accident.
A motorcycle accident team can implement measures to:
- Investigate the details of the accident
- Work with the insurance company on a settlement agreement
- Protect your rights in court, if necessary
Investigating Each and Every Case
Part of your lawyer’s job is to conduct a careful investigation of the accident. Although the police and the motorcyclist’s lawyer may have already looked into the matter, your lawyer’s objective is different: to find evidence proving that the accident was not your fault.
During the investigation, your lawyer may:
- Request a copy of the official accident report from the authorities
- Get in touch with witnesses and ask for statements about what happened, who was involved, and so on
- Visit the scene of the accident and review any surveillance footage or other video that is available
- Contact professionals with relevant expertise (e.g., accident reconstruction experts) and ask them to review your situation and write a statement affirming your innocence
Conducting such an investigation is vital after any accident, but especially if you face potential legal action. Allowing a lawyer with experience with motorcycle accidents to investigate on your behalf would be much less stressful and confusing than trying to handle everything by yourself.
Call Today to Get Started
Our team can take on your legal burdens while you focus on your everyday life. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you owe us no attorney’s fees until the conclusion of your case and if we recover compensation for you. To get started with a free case review, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today at 1-800-747-3733.
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