Florida leads the nation in motorcycle accident fatalities

Federal statistics about motorcycle crash fatalities in Florida are sobering.

Recently released federal data puts Florida at the top among the states in the number of annual motorcycle crash deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the federal agency responsible for increasing traffic safety. Part of its job is to collect and analyze motor vehicle accident data from the states. In 2015, the agency published motorcycle accident information from 2013 collected statistics.

Significantly for bikers living in or visiting Florida, NHTSA found the number of motorcycle riders (defined as persons operating motorcycles, not passengers) who died in traffic crashes the highest among the states that year: 467. When motorcycle passenger fatalities are added in as part of the whole number of fatalities, Florida ranked second at 485 deaths, only behind Texas.

So, death and injury are real possible dangers to motorcyclists in the Sunshine State from collisions with motor vehicles. Of course, there are things the motorcyclist can do to improve safety. For example:

  • Obtain proper training and licensing.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Do not drive wearing headphones.
  • Keep the cycle in good repair.
  • Drive defensively, especially at blind intersections.
  • Be visible by wearing reflective clothing and keeping lights on.
  • Follow traffic laws such as those requiring proper turn signaling or speed restriction.
  • Do not drink alcohol, take illegal drugs or sedating prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
  • Do not drive while fatigued.
  • Do not tailgate.
  • Avoid distractions like checking a cellphone.
  • Stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles.
  • Slow down on wet or gravely pavement and on curves.
  • Use approved and required eye-protection devices.
  • Wear an approved helmet.

While Florida law does not require adult motorcyclists to use a helmet if they carry medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000, it helps prevent head injury to wear one in all circumstances.

Of course, despite caution on the part of the motorcyclist, the driver of another motor vehicle may negligently or recklessly strike a motorcycle, causing injury and potentially death. Obviously, an unprotected body on a cycle is no match for a heavy car, truck or bus, and severely disabling injuries can result.

When a motorcyclist is injured in a crash, it is smart to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as early as possible for advice and representation. It can be very important for legal counsel to launch an investigation on behalf of the injured client as early as possible before evidence at the accident site is gone and witness' memories are diminished.

A lawyer can also communicate with the involved insurance companies on behalf of the client as well as negotiate with all involved about potential settlement, if appropriate. If necessary, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate under the circumstances. In addition to the other driver, there may be additional responsible parties such as the performer of negligent vehicle maintenance, the manufacturer or seller of faulty equipment or parts, the designer of a dangerous road feature and more.

The injured victim may be eligible for several kinds of damages like medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, rehabilitation and therapy, pain and suffering, long-term care and more.

For the survivors of someone who died in a motorcycle accident, a wrongful death lawsuit should be carefully considered.

The father-son attorney team of Brannon & Brannon with offices in Fort Walton Beach, Crestview and DeFuniak Springs, Florida, represents motorcycle accident victims across the Florida Panhandle, both residents and out-of-state tourists.