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Motorcycle Accidents

Good morning, I’m Marcus Michles and welcome to this week’s edition of our video blog here at Michles & Booth. We talked a little bit about motorcycles this morning and some disturbing news to come out of the national traffic and Highway Safety Administration.

These statistics that were recently made available aren’t for 2016; they are for 2015. They learned about a year behind as they collect data. For those of you out there like me who enjoy riding motorcycles. The news is pretty grim concerning the numbers of accidents going up and fatalities particularly going up thirty percent between 2014 and 2015.

Sadly Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties among those counties with the highest increases in traffic fatalities for motorcyclists. I don’t know what that means and I’m not a statistician but I’ve been a motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve been riding bikes since I was 15 and that’s a long time ago.

A lot of people debate whether helmets help or whether helmets don’t help and whether you have the right to ride without one.

In my reading of the statistics, they’re pretty clear that the use of the helmet and the use of boots and leather and making protective equipment a part of your riding style and you’re riding habit. It really does increase your chances of not only surviving an accident but having a considerable hospital stay or serious injuries.

Now as a personal injury lawyer I’m going to tell you my perspective is conflicted a little bit. I love riding motorcycles. I ride them all the time. I’ve owned a motorcycle continuously for 40 years but the truth is, is that it’s a dangerous pastime and if you don’t take precautions, if you don’t know how to ride well, if you don’t understand your machine, if you don’t prepare for the worst you’re going to become a victim.

As a personal injury lawyer I see that every day. We don’t conduct statistical analysis here within our firm but I can tell you that right now at this very moment we represent no less than six victims of motorcycle accidents who have lost arms or legs as a result of the accident, and two fatalities just within the last 12 months alone.

So we print and everybody sees these bumper stickers we have free at our office. Anybody that walks in the door “look twice for motorcycle”. And folks, it’s incumbent upon those of us that do ride and those of you that don’t ride that we understand that motorcycles are out there. They’re difficult to see and if you don’t take great care you’re going to end up in a tragic accident either as the motorcyclist or as a driver that didn’t see the motorcycle.

So let’s talk about some fundamentals of taking care yourself.

This article published in The Daily News in Ft Walton Beach points to an alarming statistic that the average motorcycle accident that results in a hospital stay. The average cost is eighty-six thousand dollars per person.

That’s a shocking average if you think about it. Now how do you pay for those injuries if you’re a motorcyclist and you get hurt. You may be surprised to know and I meet people that have been in motorcycle accidents every day that have been riding a long time and don’t understand it. The motorcycle insurance laws in Florida are much much different than the car insurance laws in Florida.

If you drive a car you’re required to carry PIP Personal Injury Protection which is ten thousand dollars worth of coverage regardless of fault. You’ve heard me talk about it on this program before. Hopefully you understand it but if you don’t go back into our archives, dig it up and have a listen.

That ten thousand dollars is available to pay your hospital bills or medical bills up to ten thousand dollars regardless of who is at fault. If you’re on a motorcycle, you have that very same accident you do not have PIP. They don’t sell it, you’re not required to have it, you don’t have PIP on your motorcycle. You have it on your car so if you’re in a car accident your covered if your in a motorcycle accident you’re not.

So then hopefully you have health insurance. Major medical or group health insurance provided by your employer or someone else if you’ve got that that’s good news. What if you’re like the millions of Americans that don’t? If you think you’re covered under PIP or your car insurance you’re wrong. So what can you do?

Here’s what you need to do. Take out your pen, write it on the back of your hand. Write UM uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Call your adjuster, call your insurance agent or go online and figure out whether you do or do not have UM. If your answer to me right now is that hey I have full coverage the odds are you don’t have UM. You have the minimum coverage. It’s required by law that people have become accustomed to calling full coverage. It’s not full coverage. It’s minimum coverage. Look at your hand call and say do I have UM, UM which stands for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

You need that on your motorcycle and you need that on your car insurance policy. They can be linked. They aren’t necessarily but you have to get them stacked and linked between those two policies.

Please if you ride a motorcycle take a minute and look into this and get UM.

It’s easy for me to spend your money. I can tell you to go buy a Mercedes or go buy a Harley and it’s easy for me to tell you to do something that costs you money. It doesn’t cost me anything but I’m telling you as a motorcycle enthusiast and as a person that represents folks that have been hurt on motorcycles you want, and to be honest with you, that’s got nothing to do with motorcycles. If you drive a car you have a car and you don’t have UM you’re rolling the dice on whether the person that hits you has enough insurance coverage.

Now in my experience as a lawyer, I’ve got 30 years of doing this, there is very rarely enough insurance on the at-fault party’s car to cover the kinds of injuries we’re talking about in these motorcycle cases.

Think about it. Eighty-six thousand dollar average hospital stay. The average, that means the person that hit that motorcyclist has had at least what, a hundred thousand dollars in insurance just to pay for the hospital bill. You know how few cars going by my building right now have one hundred thousand dollars in bodily injury limits? Less than five percent.

That means if you get hit on your motorcycle you have less than five percent chance that the person that hits you has sufficient insurance. Just to pay your hospital bill. Think about that. You got a lot more compensation above that. You need wages paid, you need recovery time, you may need surgeries, you may need therapies, you’ve got all kinds of bills on top of that hospital bill.

So dig deep if you can into your pocket. Look at the back of your hand where you wrote that UM. Call your adjuster and say “do I have UM?” which means underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you, the biker, in the event the person that hits you does not have sufficient insurance to compensate. Don’t think that’s going to work out it won’t work out on its own.

So a couple of things to take away from this.

First of all be careful everybody. Riding the motorcycle or not, driving a car or not, be careful. Let’s not hurt each other. If you do ride, ride safe. Slow down, take your time, signal, prepare yourself, wear a helmet, wear leather wear boots, then pay attention to what you’re doing. Signal, be a safe driver.

If you’re a car, driver keep an eye out for those motorcycles. They’re out there but mostly insure yourself. Take precautions, financially pay a little bit of money get the insurance. I don’t sell insurance for a living I don’t make a living off of selling insurance. Get UM and call me if you have questions. Be safe out there, have a great week. We’ll see you next week on the Michles & Booth video blog. I’m Marcus Michles, we’ll see you next time.

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