Clearwater can appear on paper to be a motorcycle driver’s paradise. Highways free from heavy traffic, coastal roadways with an ocean view, and perfect weather can make it extremely appealing to cut loose with your Harley or Ninja and cruise to your heart’s content. However, the reality is far from perfect.
Clearwater, FL, and the surrounding Tampa, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey areas are some of the most dangerous places for motorcycles in the entire United States. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there are around 400,000 accidents per year, with over 200,000 injuries requiring hospitalization and ending in more than 3,000 fatalities.
No one individual or government can prevent all Clearwater motorcycle accidents. Driving safely and responsibly, especially when changing lanes, is the best way to avoid potential harm and continue having fun in paradise.
Contact The Law Place Clearwater motorcycle accident attorneys today if you have been involved in a crash. We can provide the legal support you need to get back on your feet and recover from your injuries without having to deal with all the paperwork. Our team of qualified Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyers will take you step by step through the complex process of making a claim and filing a potential lawsuit. We offer a free consultation, so you know the options available to you.
Don’t hesitate, contact The Law Place to schedule your free consultation with our motorcycle accident attorneys now. Our lines are open 24/7, and our operators are always available to take your call.
Call The Law Place at (727) 217-9795.
Most Common Types of Unsafe Motorcycle Lane Changes
Unsafe lane changes can take on many forms. The high maneuverability of motorcycles can be the main cause of an accident. Many riders may be traveling from the busy streets of Tampa to the uncongested roadways of Clearwater and feel the need to let the engine run wild. This can be dangerous for everyone on the road.
Unsafe lane changing includes:
- Lane splitting – This is an extremely common cause of motorcycle accidents. This is when a rider consistently straddles lanes, changing between one and another in quick succession for an unreasonable amount of time. Other drivers may have a hard time telling where the motorcycle will be next, or not even know it is there at all.
- Ignoring mirrors – Changing lanes without checking your mirrors first is a sure way to cause a crash. It is always important to adequately check your surroundings when making a maneuver. You never know when another car might be creeping up on you from behind, especially when a federally approved helmet restricts your peripheral vision.
- Not using turn signals – When you don’t tell other motorists of an upcoming lane change, your unpredictable behavior puts everyone on the road at risk. It is important to indicate which lane you are moving to every time you move.
Consequences of Unsafe Motorcycle Lane Changes
Changing lanes in one or all of the previously mentioned ways can lead to a range of consequences, both physical and financial. Although all motorcycle riders are aware that they have a higher risk of injury than car drivers, not all grasp the full spectrum of ramifications they may experience after their accident.
To give you an idea, here are some of the major repercussions of unsafe lane changes:
- Medical bills – Any injuries you or other involved parties endured may come out of your pocket. Medical coverage in Florida is expensive, and often insurance will not cover the full costs of treatment.
- Future bills – If you have sustained an injury that turns chronic, you could suffer pain and suffering for an extended period, possibly your entire life. The associated bills accumulate and could pose a financial burden that will be difficult, if not impossible, to shed.
- Loss of enjoyment – If your accident resulted in catastrophic injury or mental trauma for yourself or another involved party, you could be sued for damages stemming from their loss of enjoyment of life. You could also experience PTSD from your motorcycle accident and lose your enjoyment for the lifestyle of riding.
- Property damage – Car, motorcycle, or other property damages could result in you holding the bill. Insurance only covers so much, and you could be on the hook for so much more.
- House/ vehicle alterations – If you or another victim have to alter their house or vehicle to accommodate a handicap caused by their injuries, you may have to pay for those renovations.
- Wrongful death – You could die. Another person could die. If negligence was the cause of death, you may be sued for pain and suffering from the survivors of the decedent.
How to Avoid Unsafe Lane Changes While Riding a Motorcycle
The easiest way to avoid any of the consequences of unsafe lane changes is very simple. Change lanes safely. Use your signals. Check your mirrors. Be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards to yourself and others. Be mindful of your presence on the road and how other motorists may perceive your actions. In summary, be as predictable as possible, when possible. We all know the unexpected happens on the road but do your part in reducing any possible danger to all Clearwater motorists.
The two most important things to do when riding a motorcycle are:
- Signaling – Turn signals aren’t just an annoying thing to do when you want to change lanes. They indicate to every other driver what you plan to do so they can accommodate your actions.
- Yield to merge – When the roads are relatively free from traffic like they are in Clearwater and the surrounding areas, it can be tempting to blast right through those pesky yield signs. Don’t. Be responsible and abide by yield laws. If you are in a position to allow other drivers to merge onto the roadways. This makes the roads and highways safer for all people.
Other Common Causes of a Clearwater Motorcycle Accident
By far, the most common cause of motorcycle accidents is reckless passenger vehicle driving. Car drivers are at less risk in a motorcycle accident, but for motorcyclists it can be traumatic or even life-threatening. Personal injury is much more likely to occur. Disputes often center around right of way, with car drivers often being unaware of motorcyclists.
These are the most common examples of motorcycle accidents involving passenger vehicles:
- Left-turn accidents
- Distracted drivers
- Door-opening into lane
Left-turn accidents account for nearly 50% of all motorcycle collisions. These happen at intersections where motorcycle riders attempt to pass on the left when a car is turning. The rider needs to be aware of what is happening in the traffic around them at all times, as motorcycles are often in the blind spots of other motorists.
In addition to these listed causes, a motorcycle crash is sometimes the result of poor maintenance of roadways or unclear road signage. It is important to drive safely and be aware of potential traffic hazards at all times, or it could cost you your life.
At What Speed Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
When most people think of a motorcycle accident, the image of a race bike zooming past at three times the speed limit may pop into their head. In most cases, this just isn’t true.
Motorcycles average only 29.8 mph before impact and a collision speed of just 21.5 mph. Only 1/1000 accidents occur at speeds of 86 mph or more. Most motorcyclists don’t even know these statistics.
Many Clearwater motorcycle accidents happen on roadways free from traffic, where motorcycle riders feel comfortable splitting lanes and turning without looking. But, however aware you may think you are, a car can still sneak up on you and cause a crash. Always abide by road rules to avoid an unnecessary and potentially tragic motorcycle accident.
Other Motorcycle Crash Statistics
According to the NHTSA, these are some important facts to note about motorcycle accidents:
- Around 43% of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol.
- Approximately one-third of motorcycle operators killed in crashes are improperly licensed or do not have a license to drive a motorcycle.
- Despite accounting for only 2% of total vehicle registries, motorcycles account for nearly 5% of all traffic fatalities.
- Pinellas County is ranked 5th in Florida for motorcycle deaths, Florida being ranked 1st in the country.
- 83% of motorcyclists claim they wear helmets, but only 43% were seen actually wearing one in an observable report.
- The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a crash and being admitted to hospital was $83, 676.
- The fatality rate per mile traveled is 16 times higher for motorcycle operators than for car drivers and passengers. The injury rate is 4 times higher.
- 600 motorcyclists were killed in Florida in 2016.
The statistics paint a broad picture of what motorcycle enthusiasts already know and understand. Motorcycles are dangerous, and driving one increases your chance of injury. Taking adequate safety measures such as wearing a helmet and driving responsibly can greatly reduce your chances of being hurt or killed in a crash.
What Should I Do After Being in an Unsafe Lane Change Motorcycle Accident?
The chaos that results from any motorcycle accident can be disorienting. However, there are certain steps to bear in mind to keep yourself and others as safe as possible, while also collecting evidence for your potential court case.
- Keep safe – Move to a safe location and examine yourself for any injuries. Take cover away from traffic and other hazards. If possible, make sure others are safe as well. Always ensure that your safety is your top priority.
- Collect evidence – Take photos of everything you can. It is important to document personal injury, the vehicles involved in the accident, the roads, weather conditions, and anything else in the area. Gather the information of involved parties and willing witnesses. Make a note of the police badge number for future use by your attorney.
- Sketch the scene – This may seem unnecessary but making a drawing of the crash and/or the circumstances that led to the accident will keep the memory fresh and provide valuable insight in a court case.
- Seek medical attention – EMT’s will arrive at the scene promptly. Make yourself known to them and have any injuries treated as soon as possible. Go to the hospital if necessary. Collect records of any medical treatment you receive.
- Talk with an attorney – Speak with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you are able. Investigations need to be started promptly to ensure you have the strongest case imaginable.
If you follow these steps, you should be well equipped to file a court action. If you choose to hire a personal injury lawyer, they will detail other actions you can take to strengthen your case.
Should I Get a Lawyer for My Motorcycle Accident?
The answer to this question will depend on your accident. Set out by Florida Statute 627.7407, No-Fault law states that all auto accidents are covered by the insurance of involved parties and cannot be pursued in court. This happens regardless of whose fault the crash is. While insurance will cover most of the out of pocket expenses you may incur, it does not automatically cover non-economic damages that you may wish to claim.
If your accident resulted in serious injury, the No-Fault law is negated, and you are allowed to seek damages against negligent or responsible parties. Serious injury is defined by Florida Statute 316.027. Your injuries must be extensive or permanent, cause permanent or significant scarring, or inhibit your bodily mobility and normal functionality.
You should hire an attorney if your injuries meet this threshold. Claims are still generally made against insurers, and adjusters will do everything they can to devalue or delegitimize your case. Without a qualified attorney, you are at the mercy of any settlement an insurance company may deem appropriate.
Even if your injuries are not serious and you are unable to pursue your case in court, you should still speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer. They can provide valuable information that may help you during your insurance claim.
What Can an Attorney Do for My Motorcycle Accident Case?
An attorney does not just present your case in court. A good law firm will investigate the incident on your behalf and collect evidence to strengthen your case. This will benefit any negotiations with insurance or an opposing legal team in addition to proving your claims to the court.
Pain and suffering settlement calculations rely on a range of factors that can contribute to the final sum. Your lawyer will argue that your personal life has been affected by the accident and that because of this, you deserve measured compensation. Any physical or mental anguish that you have endured will contribute to this figure.
Contact The Law Place motorcycle accident attorneys to discuss your case and how much you may be able to claim. Insurance adjusters aren’t waiting. Neither should you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Most motorcycle accident claims will fall under the umbrella of personal injury. According to Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a), you have up to four years to file a claim for personal injury. If you were a minor at the time of the accident, you might have four years starting from the date of your 18th birthday.
While four years seems like a long time, you should start the process of your court claim as soon as possible. This ensures that evidence does not disappear and that your memory of the incident remains fresh. You want to move quicker than insurance companies or a large corporation. A speedy investigation will help your case tremendously.
Hire an attorney to get started. The Law Place works on a contingency basis, so you won’t have to put up any money until your case is won.
Consult a Clearwater, FL, Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Have you been involved in a motorcycle crash in Clearwater? Was a negligent driver responsible for your injuries?
You may have legal recourse. Contact The Law Place and schedule a free consultation to find out if you are entitled to damages. If you have sustained a serious personal injury, you have the right to sue for pain and suffering damages in court. Having a team of veteran road accident lawyers can make all the difference and get you back on your bike in no time. Our qualified Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyers have the combined experience of 75 years and will fight for the justice you deserve.
Schedule your free consultation today in Clearwater, FL. Our lines are open 24/7, and our representatives are waiting for your call.
Call The Law Place now at (727) 217-9795.