Riding a motorcycle in St. Petersburg can be very dangerous. No matter how experienced of a rider you are, it is often not a question of if you will be in an accident, but when. There are many factors that contribute to motorcycles being at a higher risk. Because St. Petersburg is completely developed, there are not a lot of clear sight lines. We also have a lot of elderly drivers, tourists, and visitors to the area. But, perhaps the most dangerous condition is that our roadways are simply too congested. When you put these numerous risk factors together, unfortunately it is often the motorcyclist who suffers the consequences.
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in representing motorcyclists who have been injured by the negligence of other drivers on the roads. This article has been written to address frequently asked questions and provide ways to improve the value of any motorcycle injury claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
In Florida, under Fla. Stat. 95.11, you have four years to file a lawsuit for negligence. Now, that does not mean that you should wait four years to set up a claim and pursue treatment. If you have waited a long period of time without treating or seeking legal representation, your claim is likely not going to be viewed by the insurance company as having much value. So, in every case, you should be setting up your claim, seeking medical treatment, and hiring a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible.
How Much Does a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Cost?
Hiring a lawyer for a motorcycle accident is unlike other areas of law. Unlike criminal cases or civil cases, injury claims are set up on a contingency basis. These fee agreements are controlled by Rule 4-1.5 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar. The basics of the agreement are that the lawyer receives a fee based on a percentage of the overall money recovered. For most cases, the fee is 33.3%. If the claim is against a government or state entity, the fee is 25%. If the case proceeds to a lawsuit against a non-government or state entity, the fee increases to 40%.
There are also costs associated with each case. These costs are normally paid or “fronted” by the lawyer and then reimbursed out of any recovery. Examples of costs are for copies, subpoenas, certified mail, investigator fees, court reporter fees, etc.
The benefit to the contingency fee agreement for motorcycle accidents is that people do not need to pay out of pocket to hire a lawyer. And, the lawyer is only paid when money is recovered on the client’s behalf. Therefore, the system is set up to be very low risk to a client and incentivizes the lawyer to aggressively pursue the most compensation possible.
What if You Were Not Wearing a Helmet at the Time of the Accident?
As you are likely aware, Florida law does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding. But, if you were in an accident and sustained an injury that could have been prevented or mitigated by the use of a helmet, your claim will be reduced. For example, if you received a concussion during the accident and were not wearing a helmet, the insurance company will likely take the position that you were at least partially to blame for not taking that safety precaution. Thus, they will discount how much they will pay you for that specific injury.
Do I Qualify for No Fault Benefits After a Motorcycle Accident?
No. The Florida Legislature excludes PIP or no fault benefits for motorcyclists. This was done because of the perceived risk associated with driving a motorcycle. This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between an auto accident and a motorcycle accident. So, if you are injured, you will have to receive treatment either through your health insurance or on a letter of protection. If you have hired a motorcycle attorney, they will likely be able to set up this letter of protection with your treatment providers. It means that the providers will give you medical treatment and you agree to repay them once your injury claim settles. This is a common arrangement in the industry that has been created to fill the void of not having PIP insurance available. But, LOPs will only be offered by the providers if you have a lawyer.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Motorcycle Accident?
The damages in a motorcycle case are usually the same type that can be recovered in any other type of injury claim. It is important to note that your claim will likely be only against the Bodily Injury (BI) coverage that the at-fault driver carries.
Examples of damages include your pain and suffering, damage to the motorcycle, medical bills, any out-of-pocket expenses, and loss of income. It is important in every motorcycle injury claim that you work with your attorney to provide receipts and/or documentation to verify every item of damages. While the lawyer will be able to handle the medical bills, it is incumbent on you to pull together proof of lost income or any other expense that your lawyer does not have access to.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we understand how difficult it can be after being injured in a motorcycle accident. Unlike most other cases that we handle, the injuries to our motorcyclist clients are often the worst. Broken bones, internal bleeding, road rash, head injuries are all common injuries that we see. It is also quite common for our clients to spend significant amounts of time at our local hospitals. And, we routinely visit our clients at Bayfront, St. Anthony’s, St. Pete General, Northside Hospital, or Palms of Pasadena.
We know how to prepare a motorcycle claim because we have handled countless cases like yours in the past. We are honest and experienced and will do our best to guide you through your recovery and recover as much as possible for your injury claim. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an unfortunate motorcycle accident, please contact us for a free consultation.