Every motorcycle rider knows that riding on our roadways is dangerous. Without the body of a car surrounding them, they risk serious injury and even death if they are in an accident even if they are wearing a helmet and other safety gear. That said, the fact that you accept the hazard of riding a motorcycle does not mean that you aren’t entitled to compensation if you are injured due to another driver’s negligence. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, talk to a motorcycle accident attorney to discuss whether you have a claim.
Motorcycle Accident Data from the FLHSMV
While they haven’t yet released the finalized data, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has released a summary of its findings for the year 2021:
- There were 8,644 motorcycle crashes across the state
- 623 of those accidents resulted in death
- Those accidents resulted in 7,391 injuries
This means that approximately 7.2% of motorcycle crashes resulted in death and more than 85% of motorcycle accidents resulted in injuries. When you compare this against the total number of motor vehicle accidents, the difference is shocking:
- Less than 1% of all motor vehicle accidents result in fatalities
- Almost 63% of all motor vehicle accidents resulted in injuries
The statistics underscore just how much more dangerous riding a motorcycle can be - you are far more likely to be injured or killed while riding a motorcycle.
Okaloosa County Motorcycle Accident Statistics
For 2021, the statistics for Okaloosa County are no less troubling:
- 99 total motorcycle accidents
- 13 resulted in fatalities (13.1%)
- 77 resulted in injuries (78%)
While the likelihood of injury appears to be slightly lower than the statewide average, Okaloosa County’s fatality rate was almost twice as high as the statewide average. It is unclear why the percentage of fatalities was so high for 2021, but it is a sobering reminder of just how dangerous riding a motorcycle can be.
What to Do if You or a Loved One Has Been in a Motorcycle Accident
Here are some steps you can take if you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident:
- Get a thorough medical examination
- Follow the recommended treatment
- Keep copies of all medical records and bills
- Keep copies of any accident reports or other documents related to your accident
Perhaps most importantly, you should consider reaching out to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. They can determine whether you have a claim for compensation and handle all aspects of your case including dealing with the insurance companies and gathering the evidence you need so that you can focus on your recovery. If they can prove that your accident was caused by negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Helmets and Motorcycle Accidents
It is widely accepted that motorcycle riders who do not wear helmets are at a much greater risk of serious injury and death. And as Florida does not have a “helmet law” for riders who are 21 and older, it is worthwhile to consider the effect that helmet use might have on motorcycle accident statistics. 2020 statistics from the FLHSMV illustrate the following:
- Among riders wearing helmets, 265 were killed and 877 suffered incapacitating injuries
- Among riders not wearing helmets, 231 were killed and 738 suffered incapacitating injuries
There were 8,045 motorcycle accidents in 2020, but the statistics do not indicate how many riders were wearing helmets versus how many riders were not wearing helmets. As a result, the fact that there were fewer fatalities and incapacitating injuries among non-helmeted riders may be explained by the possibility that there are simply more riders who wear helmets. That said, the raw numbers suggest that wearing a helmet does not guarantee that motorcycle riders are safe from serious injury or death.
Helmets and Comparative Negligence
For those who do not wear helmets while riding, it is important to understand how not wearing a helmet could impact your claim. Florida follows what is referred to as the “pure comparative negligence rule” - a rule that reduces your compensation by the amount that your own negligence contributed to the accident. For example, if your own negligence was 30% responsible for causing the accident, any compensation you are subsequently awarded would be reduced by 30%.
If you suffer a head injury in a motorcycle accident, the other driver or their insurance company may try to claim that your own negligence contributed to your injuries. However, they must prove two things:
- That not wearing a helmet is negligent; and
- That your injuries would be less severe had you been wearing a helmet.
As helmets are not mandatory in Florida and in light of the statistics above, both of these points are arguable. This is one of the reasons why you should speak to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney - they can push back against this assumption that you were negligent because you were not wearing a helmet and that your injuries would be less serious had you been wearing one. Regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet, you deserve fair compensation for your injuries so that you can rebuild your life.
Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Attorney at Powell, Powell, & Powell Today
If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, you need someone who understands the unique challenges you face. With decades of experience in helping injured motorcyclists recover from their accidents, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call 850-682-2757 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney at our Destin office or one of our other locations.