By Marcus Fernandez
Perfect year-round weather makes Florida the perfect place to own and ride a motorcycle. In fact, it ranks second among states with 645,000 registered motorcycles. However, the Sunshine State also reported more than 8,000 accidents with 517 deaths involving motorcyclists last year. Of those crashes, 579 of them and 30 deaths took place in Hillsborough County. So, it’s no surprise that recovering damages in a motorcycle accident is a topic of discussion.
When compared to occupants of cars and other types of vehicles who are protected by steel frames and equipped with air bags and other safety features, motorcycle riders are 29 times more likely to be injured in a collision. They also are four times more likely to die from the injuries suffered in a crash.
Keep in mind that should you or a family member be injured or killed in a crash, the law gives you the right to recover damages in a motorcycle accident from a motorist or other party whose negligence or carelessness caused the crash. Read on to gain a better understanding of your rights and the types of damages you can recover.
Categories of damages
Damages recoverable in a motorcycle crash fall into one of two general categories: general damages and special damages. You also may see or hear of them referred to as non-economic damages and economic damages.
A third category, punitive damages, sometimes comes into play depending upon the circumstances. The conduct of the party responsible for causing a crash must be so extreme as to justify awarding damages intended to punish the conduct. For example, a driver who intentionally strikes a motorcycle causing injury to its operator may be engaging in conduct that a judge or jurors may believe warrants awarding punitive damages.
Damages lacking receipts, bills or other documentation to prove their value fall into the category of general or non-economic damages. Compensation for pain and suffering endured by the victim of a motorcycle accident would be an example of general or non-economic damages.
In contrast, the value of special or economic damages can be readily proven using bills, receipts, employment records and other documents. You may hear or see special damages referred to as “out-of-pocket” damages because they represent the money an injured party actually paid out or lost due to an accident. Lost earnings, medical expenses and medication costs represent a few examples of special damages.
Common types of special damages
The costs associated with repair or replacement of a damaged motorcycle may be recoverable. Regardless of whether or not you suffered injuries, you have this right. Property damage, which includes damage to your “ride,” includes the cost to replace it in the event the repairs would exceed its fair market value.
Obtain an estimate from a motorcycle repair shop to prove the damage and associated cost. The company insuring the party responsible for causing the damages may send an adjuster to inspect the damage.
Other types of special or economic damages include the following:
- Cost of medical treatment. Treatment and care provided to you by physicians, hospitals, rehabilitation and physical therapy practitioners, and other healthcare providers can be proven with receipts or the billing statements from the providers. Depending upon the extent of your injuries, statements from your doctors may be used to prove and recover the projected cost of future medical care.
- Loss of income. Money you lost from being injured and unable to work may be recovered as special damages provable through payroll records. Also, if your injuries render you unable to return to the same type of work.
- Other out-of-pocket losses. You have the right to special damages if you require non-medical services due to your injuries. Examples include housekeeping and ride services.
Non-economic damages recoverable
Recovery for mental and physical pain and suffering is a type of general or non-economic damages. However, Florida law only allows you to recover them when the injuries include one or more of the following:
- A loss of an important bodily function that is significant and permanent.
- An injury that is, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, permanent.
- Scarring or disfigurement that is significant and permanent.
A Tampa personal injury lawyer can help with motorcycle accidents
A consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney can be your best source of accurate and trusted information. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.