Sarasota is known for its beautiful beaches and favorable climate that beckon motorcycle enthusiasts to hit the road. However, motorcycle accidents can have devastating consequences, causing injuries and property damage.
Engaging the services of experienced Sarasota motorcycle accident lawyers from Luhrsen Goldberg can play a critical role in navigating these complexities, ensuring your rights are protected, and working towards obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Sarasota
Motorcycle accidents are, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence on the roads of Sarasota, Florida. These accidents often occur for various reasons, including the following:
- Distracted Driving: One of the most common reasons for motorcycle accidents in Sarasota is distracted driving. As the roads become busier, drivers are often occupied with many distractions that cause them to take their attention off the road. Inattentive motorists who are busy using their cell phones for texting or calls, adjusting the radio settings, using GPS devices, or engaging in other distracting activities can fail to notice motorcyclists sharing the road with them.
- Failure to Yield: Another frequent cause of motorcycle accidents involves motorists who disregard right-of-way rules (e.g., turning left on a green without ensuring the right of way is clear as opposed to turning left on a green arrow), particularly at intersections or when merging lanes. Despite clear traffic regulations, some drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists, causing hazardous situations that can easily lead to collisions.
- Lane Changes: Changing lanes may seem straightforward, but when executed improperly, it can lead to serious accidents involving motorcycles. Drivers who neglect to check their blind spots or signal their intentions can inadvertently collide with a motorcyclist traveling in the lane they are moving into.
- Speeding: The dangers associated with excessive speeding are well-known, yet it remains a leading cause of motorcycle accidents. High speeds reduce the time drivers have to react, making it challenging to avoid potential collisions with motorcycles. Furthermore, the higher the speed, the greater the impact force in the event of a collision, significantly increasing the likelihood of serious injuries or fatalities.
- Drunk Driving: Intoxicated driving is a significant threat to all road users, but it poses a unique danger to motorcyclists due to their increased vulnerability. Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs exhibit impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and reduced coordination. These effects can make it much harder for them to notice and react appropriately to motorcyclists, which, in turn, can lead to severe, often fatal, accidents.
Typical Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are a major cause of concern due to the high severity of injuries they often result in. Some of the most common injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are as follows.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are among the most common and potentially catastrophic injuries motorcyclists sustain. These include Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), concussions, and skull fractures. Even when riders are wearing helmets, the force from a high-speed impact can be sufficient to cause such injuries. The after-effects of these injuries are often severe. They can result in long-term cognitive impairments, memory loss, behavioral changes, and physical disabilities, significantly affecting the victim’s quality of life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are another grim consequence of motorcycle accidents. The impact from a crash can jolt or damage the rider’s spine, leading to partial or complete paralysis. These injuries might result in significant physical limitations, confining the injured to a wheelchair or requiring extensive assistance for performing daily activities. The recovery process is usually long and may involve intense physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Fractures and Broken Bones
The intense force of a motorcycle collision often results in fractures and broken bones. It’s not uncommon for riders to suffer from broken limbs, ribs, collarbones, or pelvic bones during a crash. The severity of these injuries varies, but they frequently require extensive medical treatment. The recovery period might involve surgeries, castings, physical therapy, and long-term rehabilitation, often taking a heavy toll on the victim’s personal and professional life.
Road Rash and Soft Tissue Injuries
In many cases, a motorcycle accident will throw the rider from their vehicle, leading to a painful skin injury known as road rash when they skid across the pavement. Severe abrasions characterize this injury and can lead to infections if not properly treated. In addition to road rash, the sudden jolts and twists common in motorcycle accidents can result in soft tissue injuries. Sprains, strains, and tears in muscles, ligaments, or tendons may occur, causing significant pain and requiring medical intervention.
Internal Injuries and Organ Damage
Motorcycle accidents can also lead to internal injuries that aren’t immediately visible but can be life-threatening. Damage can occur to vital organs such as the liver, spleen, lungs, or kidneys due to the high-impact force of the crash. These types of injuries often necessitate emergency medical intervention and can result in the need for surgeries. Complications from internal injuries can also have long-term implications on a victim’s health.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to know what steps to take immediately following the incident. These actions are critical for ensuring your health and safety and instrumental in safeguarding your rights and establishing a strong foundation for any subsequent insurance claims or legal actions you might undertake.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention: The first and most essential step following a motorcycle accident is to prioritize your health. Even if you initially believe your injuries to be minor or there appear to be no symptoms, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention. Certain injuries may not manifest until a few hours or even days after the accident, which could have serious health implications. A professional medical evaluation is crucial for diagnosing and treating such injuries. Furthermore, seeking medical care also establishes a medical record, which is pivotal in substantiating your injuries in future claims.
- Document the Accident Scene: If your condition allows, make an effort to thoroughly document the accident scene. This includes taking photographs or videos of the damaged vehicles, the positioning of the motorcycles, any visible injuries you or other parties may have sustained, skid marks on the road, traffic signs, and any other detail that could be relevant to the case. Additionally, gather contact information from any witnesses at the scene, including their names, phone numbers, and a brief statement about what they saw.
- Report the Accident to Authorities: It's essential to promptly notify the local law enforcement authorities about the accident. Cooperate fully with the responding officers and provide them with an accurate and detailed account of the incident. Their documentation of the accident and the official police report can serve as a key piece of evidence in establishing the facts of the case.
- Consult and Hire An Injury Attorney: If you suffered injuries as a result of a motorcycle crash that was caused by someone else’s carelessness, you are well-advised to consult with an experienced motorcycle injury lawyer so as to better understand your rights as well as the process. (Consultations with our motorcycle accident lawyers are always free and since we work on a contingency fee basis, attorneys fees and costs are only owed if our efforts are successful). For example, it’s important to understand that unlike for owners of motor vehicles (i.e. with four wheels), motorcyclists do not have PIP insurance coverage to help cover medical bills. A motorcycle injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your medical bills as well as other damages you incur after a motorcycle accident.
- Notify Your Insurance Company: If you were uninjured (or decide you do not want to hire an attorney), then (after addressing immediate health needs and reporting the accident to the police), your next step should be to notify your insurance provider about the accident. Be aware that often insurance companies and their adjusters are not necessarily on your side; for example, they may look for information that tends to show you bear some blame for the accident and then use that to undervalue what you deserve. Be aware also that your statements will be recorded and so its very important to never guess, speculate, respond to questions that you don’t know the answer to (other than to say I don’t know) or say too much. In short, absent an experienced motorcycle attorney, it’s important to be prepared to fight back.
- Preserve Evidence: Besides documenting the scene, preserving any physical evidence related to the accident is crucial. This could include damaged motorcycle parts, clothing you wore during the accident, or other items that might have been damaged or affected. This evidence could prove crucial in establishing liability and supporting your insurance claim or potential legal case.
- Again…Consult with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney: Finally, you should strongly consider seeking legal representation from a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney, particularly one based in Sarasota, FL, who is familiar with local laws and procedures. These professionals can provide expert guidance on the next steps, help protect your rights, and navigate the often complex legal and insurance landscape. An attorney can also help you understand the full extent of your potential damages, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and advocate for you if it becomes necessary to pursue a lawsuit to obtain fair compensation.
The Insurance Claims Process
The insurance claims process can be complex and daunting if you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident. This process can be especially overwhelming given the emotional and physical stress you may already be under following such a traumatic event. Even more so because the insurance company’s claims handlers are professionals with training and experience often focused on limiting your damages. The process is fraught with numerous steps, each with challenges and requirements.
Filing the Insurance Claim
First it is important to understand that you, as an insured, have a basic duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. On the other hand, you have no such duty of cooperation with respect to the insurance company for the at-fault party; in other words, you do not have to speak to them, call them back or give them a statement. Under these respective circumstances, you are once again encouraged to consult with a motorcycle accident attorney to at least understand your rights, obligations, the process etc. If you elect to handle your claim, then the first stage in the claims process requires contacting your insurance provider promptly after the accident. If you choose to hire a motorcycle accident attorney, communications with your insurance company would generally be handled by your attorney and statements required of you would be under the guidance of your attorney.
Investigation and Evaluation
Once the claim is opened, the insurance company will initiate an investigation. This investigation aims to determine liability (i.e., who was at fault for the accident) and assess the damages resulting from the accident. During this stage, for example, the insurer will likely review the accident report, collect and examine physical evidence, interview witnesses, and at some point review your medical records and bills. Your attorney will again present your claim and the supporting documentation and information, to the insurer at the appropriate time. In short, the insurer is seeking to understand the accident’s circumstances, evaluate the claim’s veracity, and quantify the compensable damages.
Negotiating a Settlement
Upon concluding their investigation and assessment, the insurance adjusters may proceed to offer a settlement to resolve your claim. This is one of the most critical stages in the claims process. It is imperative to carefully evaluate your settlement offers to ensure they adequately cover your losses, including your immediate medical expenses, future medical costs, lost wages due to inability to work, pain and suffering, property damage, and other related expenses.
You may encounter various difficulties, such as denial of coverage, lowball settlement offers, delays, or other complications. In such cases, having professional legal representation can be extremely beneficial. A motorcycle accident attorney with experience in insurance claims can effectively negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, determine the appropriate time to engage in such settlement negotiations and generally assess if the settlement offer is fair given the unique facts and circumstances of your motorcycle accident injury claim. The goal is to ensure that you receive fair and just compensation that reflects the extent of your damages. They can also advocate for your rights, challenge unfair practices, and guide you through any further legal proceedings if necessary.
Pitfalls to Avoid
It’s critical to approach each step cautiously, as certain mistakes can significantly affect the potential for adequate compensation. Here are some crucial points of caution and potential stumbling blocks that need your attention:
Providing Inconsistent Statements
One of the fundamental aspects to remember during the insurance claims process is consistency and accuracy in your statements. Whether you communicate with your insurance company, the other party’s insurer, or law enforcement officials, ensure that your account of the accident and your injuries remain unvarying and truthful. Speculative or assumptive statements should be strictly avoided. For instance, avoid commenting about the accident’s fault or assuming the extent of your injuries before obtaining a medical evaluation.
Settling Too Early
A common mistake individuals often make is rushing into accepting a settlement offer too soon. A premature settlement may fail to account for ongoing medical treatments, long-term disability, lost future earnings, and other aspects you may not initially realize. Remember, once you accept a settlement, you typically forfeit your rights to pursue further compensation related to the accident.
Signing Release Forms Without Legal Review
In the aftermath of an accident, you may be inundated with various documents and release forms from the insurance company. While expediting the process by signing these might be tempting, it’s crucial to exercise caution. These documents often contain legal language that, if signed without proper understanding, may release the insurance company from future liabilities or limit your rights to take legal action. Other documents may give the insurance company permission to obtain your medical records, earnings information and similar information. It is highly advisable to seek legal advice before signing any documents from the insurance company.
Underestimating the Value of Legal Representation
It’s easy to overlook the complexities of insurance claims and assume that it’s a process you can handle independently. However, this can often be a pitfall. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can provide crucial insights and guidance, ensuring your claim is handled professionally. They can help negotiate with the insurance company, advocate for your rights, and strive to get you the fair compensation you deserve.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be challenging. The process can be overwhelming, from medical treatments to dealing with insurance companies and potential litigation. In such situations, engaging the services of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Sarasota, FL, can prove to be invaluable. They can assist in numerous ways, often significantly impacting the outcome of your case:
- Legal Expertise and Guidance: One of the most significant advantages of hiring a skilled motorcycle accident attorney is gaining access to legal knowledge. These legal professionals are well-versed in the complexities of motorcycle accident cases. They are familiar with the nuances of the local, state, and federal laws that may apply to your situation. They can help ensure you understand your rights, your legal options, and the potential value of your claim.
- Investigation and Evidence Gathering: After a motorcycle accident, conducting a thorough investigation is critical to the success of your case. Motorcycle accident attorneys have the resources to carry out these investigations and the knowledge and expertise to do so effectively. They can systematically collect evidence, track down and interview witnesses, gather expert opinions, and build a compelling case on your behalf. This might involve reconstructing the accident scene, consulting with accident reconstruction specialists, and analyzing medical records.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Another critical aspect where a motorcycle accident attorney can be instrumental is in handling all communications and negotiations with insurance companies. Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize payouts and may employ various tactics to downplay the extent of your damages or deny liability altogether. An experienced attorney can counter these tactics, advocating for your best interests and negotiating fair compensation that accurately reflects your losses.
- Litigation Representation: In cases where a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, the situation might escalate to litigation. This is a daunting prospect for most individuals. However, with a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney by your side, this process can be significantly less stressful. They can guide you through the intricate litigation process, which involves preparing your case for trial, devising a strategic plan, presenting compelling evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and advocating for your rights in court.
- Emotional Support and Peace of Mind: Beyond their tangible legal services, hiring a motorcycle accident attorney can also offer emotional support and peace of mind during this challenging time. Knowing you have a knowledgeable professional on your side, handling the legal aspects, and advocating for your rights can alleviate some of the stress associated with motorcycle accidents.
Contact Luhrsen Goldberg for Sarasota Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Sarasota motorcycle accident lawyers from Luhrsen Goldberg can protect your rights and increase the likelihood of securing the fair and just compensation you rightfully deserve following a motorcycle accident. Contact us today to receive the Law Powered by Women® legal assistance you need.