The Constitution of the State of Florida, as revised in 1968 says that “a regular session of the legislature shall convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March.” That being today, it’s time to convene! Most people don’t follow the Florida Legislature as closely as they do the Miami Heat or their favorite celebrity, but there are some issues before our lawmakers this session that may directly affect our lives as Floridians.
Everyone has to carry PIP insurance in Florida, right? Maybe not if lawmakers repeal mandatory PIP in this session. A Senate committee has discussed abandoning PIP in favor of a system whereby people injured in auto accidents can sue to recover against bodily injury policies held by drivers found at fault. It’s not clear exactly what effect this would have on victims and their ability to recover damages, but we will follow this closely.
Motorcycles are dangerous, there is little doubt about that. But some people shrug off the problem, thinking “it’s their fault for getting on those things in the first place.”
The truth is, the majority (60%) of 2-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of the other driver, not the motorcyclist. The question is, what caused the driver of the car or truck to cause the crash?
A study of over 10 years of crash data from Florida roads revealed that dozens of motorcycle fatalities were directly attributed to texting by the drivers of the other vehicle. It’s unknown how many were caused by, but the investigations failed to find evidence of texting.
Traffic crash studies are finding higher rates of distracted driving as the cause for crashes. What are the types of distraction?
Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
As of April 27, 2016 a staggering 831 people have been killed on Florida roads. 154 were pedestrians, 37 were on bicycles, and the number of motorcyclists is not yet available.
What we do know is that Florida holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of motorcycle deaths in the nation. In Florida, 491 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2012, more than any other state. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for one out of every five traffic deaths in Florida in 2012. Many motorcycle riders are very safety conscious, but still suffer serious or fatal injuries in crashes caused by other motorists. Often other drivers simply fail to see a motorcyclist.
Laws are being passed across the country to ban texting, and other laws are on the books to require only hands-free operation for calls. There is also a device on the market – TextBuster – that installs in a car under the dashboard and is designed to block all data and text messages while the car is turned on.
Unfortunately, people ignore these laws and continue to cause mayhem on the road. It takes losing a friend or family member for some people to understand the danger of distracted driving.
There is Help
Motorcycle accidents are a special category of traffic crashes, and they require special expertise and experience to investigate. Injuries are usually severe and often fatal. Also, there are unique issues related to insurance when motorcycles are involved in serious crashes.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been dealing with the pain and suffering experienced by victims of motorcycle accidents for over 20 years. We understand what happens and what is required to protect victim’s rights and see that they receive the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.
Call Gary and Arleen Lazarus at 954-356-0006 to arrange a confidential consultation.
Most people have an opinion on motorcycle safety but sometimes those opinions are based on personal experience or on what has been passed around as facts. Too often they are fallacies:
“Motorcycles are safe as long as you wear a helmet.” Or another one is “Loud pipes save lives.” There are many more.
Here are some facts right up front: In 2013 motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled and five times more likely to be injured, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2014, 62 percent of the people killed in motorcycle accidents were wearing helmets.
Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2014:
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 2,484 62 1,420 35 131 3 4,035 100
Passenger 136 53 116 45 7 2 259 100
Total 2,620 60 1,536 36 139 3 4,295 100
Loud pipes don’t really save lives because the noise is most often going out the rear of the bike, or perhaps the side, and the motorcycle is moving away from it. The majority of threats to a motorcycle are coming from the front and an accident occurs before the other driver has a chance to hear anything. The Doppler Effect deals with the manner in which sound travels, and there are no solid facts supporting the belief that loud pipes saves lives.
Liability and Insurance
The Florida Legislature has not required motorcycle operators to obtain any insurance as a prerequisite to registering their vehicle. Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” coverage is not legally necessary for any vehicle having less than 4 wheels. Yes, if the motorcycle is financed through a bank, the lending institution will probably require insurance coverage for theft and/or damage to the bike.
As a corollary to the 2000 repeal of the helmet law, should a rider decide to ride without a helmet, he must carry proof of $10,000.00 in medical insurance – literally a “drop in the bucket” should an accident occur. And while coverage for damage to property or injuries to third parties is not required, should the motorcycle operator be found at fault in an accident, they should expect a lawsuit which will threaten their personal assets.
Overall, there were 2,494 persons killed in vehicle crashes in Florida during the 2013 year. The population of Florida is approximately 20 million persons, so that translates to one in 8,000 Floridians dies in a vehicle accident each year.
Where Can You Turn for Help?
What happens when a person is involved in a serious car, truck, or on a motorcycle accident? Your life changes in many ways, much more than most people anticipate. There is a perception that the only reason the victim of a vehicle accident contacts an attorney is to “sue the other guy and get a big settlement.” That’s just not the primary concern for the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus.
Gary and Arleen Lazarus are life-long south Florida residents and they have committed their law practice and their lives to helping improve the quality of life for people in their “hometown.” You can reach them by calling 954-356-0006 and asking for a consultation. Our first priority is to protect your rights and get you the help you need to deal with the aftermath of being in a serious accident.
Gary T. Lazarus was born in Queens, New York, on August 26, 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science from St. John's University in 1987 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Law School in 1990. In 1992, Gary founded this Personal Injury Firm, dedicated to the representation of persons injured due to the negligence of another.