Options for Obtaining Compensation After a Motorcycle Crash
There are many financial concerns to address after a motorcycle accident. How will I cover my medical bills? Who will pay for the repairs to my bike? If I miss work, shouldn’t someone reimburse me for my lost wages? An experienced attorney can explore sources of insurance coverage and theories of liability to make sure you have received all the compensation to which you are entitled. The following are a few of the most common ways to obtain compensation after a motorcycle accident.
As you probably know, every driver on the road is required to carry liability insurance for damage they cause with their vehicle. Each state sets the minimum amount of this coverage that is required – in Florida, the amount is $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. So how does one file a claim for coverage under such a policy?
After an accident, the insurance companies of the involved drivers conduct an investigation to determine if their driver was responsible for the accident (and if so, to what extent). This investigation can consist of statements from the insured driver(s), police reports, photographs of the scene, forensic analysis of the vehicles, and statements from witnesses.
Each insurance company then assigns a percentage of legal responsibility (“liability”) to their driver.
If the percentage is anything more than zero, that insurance company will make an offer to pay that percentage of the medical bills and costs – such as property damage, lost wages, etc. – incurred as a result of the accident. This total amount is known as your “damages”.
Florida also has a unique approach to insurance coverage for personal injury and lost wage claims. In most states, these costs (known as your legal damages) are payable by the responsible driver’s insurance company. Florida, however, is a “no fault state”. Each driver is required to carry personal injury protection for him or herself and other users of the insured vehicle. These personal injury benefits are payable regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Once these benefits are paid, the amount cannot be recovered from the responsible driver.
The goal of any insurance company is to pay as few claims as possible for as little money as possible. Insurance companies can use the Florida “no fault” personal injury protection law to their advantage by deducting any benefits you received from your own personal injury protection coverage from the amount they owe you. It is also difficult to calculate the “pain and suffering” component of a personal injury claim with any certainty. This is usually the largest part of a personal injury award. The total amount of your personal injury award is, therefore, highly subjective. Because the “no fault” personal injury laws and subjective value of pain and suffering can greatly decrease your personal injury award, it is especially important to hire an attorney who is experienced with Florida personal injury law.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
You can also protect yourself against drivers who are uninsured, or who do not have enough coverage to pay the full amount of your legal damages. Here’s how un- and underinsured motorist (“UM”) coverage works:
- UM is purchased as an additional coverage on your own insurance policy.
- If you are involved in an accident in which the responsible driver does not have insurance coverage (or does not have enough insurance coverage to cover your legal damages), you can file a claim with your own insurance company.
- Your insurance company will verify that the other driver has no coverage, or not enough coverage. They will also verify the amount of your damages (including medical bills, pain, and suffering, etc.) to determine the total value of your claim.
- Your insurance company will make an offer to pay the difference between the value of your claim and what coverage was available from the other driver.
If you were performing work duties at the time of the accident, you may also be eligible to file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. This will depend on whether you were in the “scope of employment” at the time of the accident (which is a common area of dispute between a claimant and the workers’ compensation claims adjuster). Workers’ compensation benefits can also affect the amount you are able to recover from the responsible driver’s policy, or from your own policy (under personal injury protection or un-/underinsured motorist coverage). For these reasons, it is important that your attorney is experienced with workers’ compensation coverage.
The law requires landowners to keep their land safe. This applies to both commercial landowners (such as shopkeepers) and residential homeowners, though shopkeepers have a higher legal obligation to keep their premises safe for the general public. Here are some scenarios in which a landowner might be responsible for damages to your motorcycle:
As you are leaving the dealership with a gorgeous, brand new bike, you hit an oil slick that their service department didn’t bother to clean.
Your friend invited you to park in his garage. He knows the garage’s roof is crumbling but doesn’t share this information with you. Your bike is totaled when the roof finally collapses altogether.
You stop at a gas station in a dangerous neighborhood and run inside for a coffee. While paying, your motorcycle is stolen – something that happens frequently in this neighborhood. (Yes, landowners can even be responsible for crime on the premises, if it is foreseeable that the crime will occur.)
Contact an Experienced Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the Dolman Law Group today. We have offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey. Our team is experienced in meeting the unique needs of motorcycle riders. We will ensure that your case is pursued aggressively and you get the compensation you deserve. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765