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Evidence Needed for a Motorcycle Accident Case in Florida

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Florida has consistently ranked high or led the nation in the number of motorcycle fatalities. In 2021, 8,625 motorcycle crashes occurred in the state of Florida. Of these, 583 proved fatal. That’s up 14 percent from 2020. On average, 290 such crashes happen each week in the Sunshine State. If you’ve been seriously injured in a Florida motorcycle accident due to another party’s negligence, you must provide evidence that this entity was responsible for the collision. This evidence may include:

  • Police report
  • Photos/videos of the crash scene
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Cell phone records of the other driver
  • Medical reports documenting your injuries and treatments
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Accident reconstruction report
  • Repair bills for your motorcycle

The Concept of Negligence

Statue of lady justice on desk of a judge or lawyer.

In Florida, the concept of negligence comprises four essential elements:

  • Duty of care–The defendant must owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. Reasonable care is the care a reasonable person would use in the situation.
  • Breach of duty–A failure by the defendant to perform the duty of care. 
  • Causation–This establishes that the defendant’s actions or inactions, or breach of duty, caused the accident and your injuries. Determining causation requires evidence collection to support the claim that the defendant is liable. 
  • Damages–The plaintiff must prove they suffered losses due to their injuries. 

In Florida, damages in a motorcycle accident claim may include:

  • Medical expenses, current and future
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life

If the motorcyclist was killed in the collision or succumbs to its effects, surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Is Liable in a Florida Motorcycle Accident?

A view from the drivers seat of a motorcycle approaching a car on the street

Liability in a Florida motorcycle accident depends upon the circumstances of the individual crash. While a car or truck driver is the usual focus of a motorcycle accident investigation, other entities may also prove liable for the collision.

Other potential defendants include:

  • The motorcycle’s manufacturer or dealer if equipment defects contributed to the crash.
  • The jurisdiction in charge of road maintenance.
  • The jurisdiction in charge of infrastructure.

When it comes to faulty equipment, the claim would involve product liability.

Comparative Negligence

Florida is a modified comparative negligence state. That means if a plaintiff is partly at fault for that motorcycle accident – up to 50% – any damages they recover are reduced by the percentage of fault found by the jury. If a plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they are barred from recovery entirely. As an example, if the plaintiff is found 20 percent at fault for the collision and is awarded $100,000, that amount is reduced by 20 percent to $80,000. If the plaintiff is found 60% at fault for the collision, they are barred from recovery entirely.

Proving Negligence

Woman testifying on the witness stand in court

The burden of proof is on the motorcycle accident victim when it comes to negligence. The plaintiff must prove all four elements of negligence for their lawsuit to succeed.

The Police Report

One of the most crucial pieces of motorcycle accident evidence is the police report. Any motorcycle accident involving injury requires calling the police. If for some reason the police were not called to the accident scene, it will be very difficult to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, as the police report is vital.

The police report may contain information regarding:

  • Any skid or road marks relating to the crash
  • Vehicle resting place
  • Roadway debris
  • Traffic conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic or road signage
  • Types of injuries
  • Whether anyone was cited or arrested.

Keep in mind that under Florida law, statements made to a law enforcement officer (LEO) by an individual involved in a crash cannot be used as evidence in a civil or criminal trial. This is known as Accident Report Privilege. That means that even if a driver admits to the police officer that they caused the motorcycle accident, that statement is inadmissible in court. However, the results of breath, blood, and urine tests administered by an LEO are not confidential. Such evidence is admissible in court.  

What is the reason behind this privileged communication? An investigating officer’s job is to determine how the collision occurred. Without this privilege, drivers or occupants of a vehicle may not prove forthcoming about how the accident happened. Privilege does not extend to bystander witnesses.

Other Types of Motorcycle Accident Evidence

Vignette of a stack of file folders on a desk

Photographs of the accident scene are invaluable pieces of evidence. Unfortunately, many motorcycle accident victims are too badly injured to take accident scene photos. If possible, send someone to the scene right away to take pictures for documentation. Take photos of the motorcycle, other vehicles involved in the crash, road conditions, and your injuries

Surveillance camera footage is another vital piece of motorcycle accident evidence. Depending upon where the accident took place, local businesses or homes may have cameras documenting the accident. Since many businesses or homeowners retain security footage for 90 days or less, time is of the essence when it comes to obtaining relevant footage.

Your medical records are another important piece of evidence. Motorcycle accident injuries are often severe and life-altering. The plaintiff must prove the cause, type, and severity of all injuries. The medical records can also establish a settlement amount for damages.

It’s likely your motorcycle was demolished or severely damaged in the crash. Evidence of the motorcycle’s value, repair history, and similar material can help you receive a fair reimbursement or repair amount.

How an Attorney Can Help Gather Motorcycle Accident Evidence

An insurance adjuster with a clipboard examining the scene of a car accident

In addition to collecting medical and police records, an attorney can help gather motorcycle accident evidence by interviewing eyewitnesses. Such eyewitness testimony might contradict the police report. For instance, the police report may not indicate that the driver who hit you ran a red light. Eyewitnesses who saw the vehicle do just that bolster your negligence case.

Attorneys can collect evidence that may prove your case, such as the vehicle maintenance records of other cars involved. Was the other driver talking on a cell phone when the crash occurred? Your attorney can obtain those cell phone records and find out whether this distraction was taking place. A lawyer can request security camera footage from locations near the accident scene.

In some cases, an attorney may hire an accident reconstruction team to determine how the crash occurred. Attorneys consult with experts in various fields relating to the case.

Seek Prompt Legal Help    

Lawyers sitting at a conference room table

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident in Florida is two years from the date of the crash.

However, it is critical to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. Waiting too long to hire an attorney can mean that valuable evidence may vanish.

Do not settle with an insurance carrier until receiving legal advice. The insurance company wants to settle for as little as possible. To a person suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, the insurance carrier’s offer may sound reasonable–but it is often inadequate to pay for the long-term expenses of someone recuperating from terrible injuries. Once you accept an insurance company settlement, the claim is considered complete and cannot be revisited.

Your attorney knows a reasonable settlement amount for the types of injuries you experienced and will negotiate with the insurance company. 

Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident because of another party’s negligence, contact an experienced Florida motorcycle accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

While most personal injury cases are settled, we will take your case to court if necessary. Because we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fee unless you receive compensation.

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