The number of motorcycle enthusiasts in Florida continue to grow. So too do Florida motorcycle accident injuries. In a single recent year, more than 550 riders and operators were killed in Florida motorcycle crashes – more than in any other state in the country, including California, which has a larger population and is also known for year-round sunny weather.
As our West Palm Beach injury lawyers recognize, motorcyclists are the most vulnerable group of road accident victims. And although each crash is different, certain injury patterns are noted to be more common for motorcyclists. Not only are motorcyclists more likely to be in an accident but they’re more likely to be seriously hurt – primarily because there is no heavy-duty hardware between them and the pavement. Determining the type and severity of injuries is one of the first steps to filing a claim for damages in a crash case.
Among the most common Florida motorcycle accident injuries:
- Head injuries. One study published in the Archives of Bone and Joint Surgery found that of more than 4,200 motorcyclists hospitalized after crashes, nearly 60 percent of admitted patients suffered a head injury, as did more than 85 percent of those who died. (The CDC reports un-helmeted riders are 40 percent more likely to die from head injuries than someone who is wearing one.) Florida repealed its helmet law for motorcyclists in 2000. State law now only requires helmet use by riders under 21 or by older riders who don’t have a minimum of $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. Surveys conducted by the NHTSA found that while almost all riders surveyed prior to the law change wore a helmet, only 59 percent did so shortly after the law changed. That number has continued to decline. Prevention of a head injury is always preferable if possible, but the fact of whether a motorcycle operator or passenger was wearing a helmet does not mean the injured person is barred from filing a claim against an at-fault driver. It could, however, possibly reduce the overall amount to which you are entitled to collect. Even if you were legally entitled not to wear a helmet, you may be assigned some percentage of negligence for failure to do so if it exacerbated your head injuries. An experienced South Florida motorcycle accident lawyer can argue against reduced damages on your behalf.
- Leg injuries. The CDC reports 30 percent of non-fatal motorcycle injuries involved the legs and feet. Injuries to the tibia and fibula are especially common, researchers have found. Most likely, this has to do with the fact that these bones are in an especially exposed position when one is operating or riding a motorcycle.
- Neck injuries. The neck is a relatively slender, flexible – and vital – structure of the body. The neck doesn’t usually sustain a direct impact in motorcycle accidents, but injuries to the neck can nonetheless be quite severe. Damage to the neck can be permanent and profound, for some affecting their ability to turn their neck, walk or breathe. It’s worth pointing out that a small number of controversial studies in the past have concluded there’s a positive association between helmet use and neck injuries and spinal injuries. However, much of the methodology in this research has been deemed critically flawed by those conducting larger studies. One 2017 analysis published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention in 2017 concluded not only was helmet use associated with much lower risk of death and serious head injuries, it was also associated with moderately lower (but statistically significant) risk of neck injuries.
- Thorax injuries. The chest (particularly the sternum and ribs) can sustain serious injuries in a motorcycle crash. This can be very dangerous because of the risk of the ribs puncturing vital organs inside the ribcage. One study published by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that older riders “have significantly higher incidence of thoracic injury, especially multiple thoracic injuries, and specifically multiple rib fractures. Older riders were also more likely to be riding bigger motorcycles, which were associated with an increased risk of head and thoracic injuries.
It’s worth noting that most injured in South Florida motorcycle accidents have sustained more than one injury. If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to at least talk to an injury lawyer who can help you examine your legal options and ensure you don’t miss out on claims for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Motorcyclist Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association