20 Mar

How Florida’s Comparative Negligence Standard Affects Motorcycle Accident Claims

Motorcycle Accidents

How Florida’s Comparative Negligence Standard Affects Motorcycle Accident Claims

If you were in an accident involving a motorcycle, Florida’s comparative negligence standard can affect your motorcycle accident claim. Here’s what that means and what you need to know in order to maximize the amount of compensation you’re able to recover! 

Why do most motorcycle accidents in Florida happen – who is at fault? 

Motorcycle accidents in Florida occur far too frequently. 

In Florida, the number of annual motorcycle fatalities in the Sunshine State has more than doubled over the past 20 years; these fatalities represent nearly 17% of all traffic-related deaths in Florida, even though motorcycles represent just 3% of the registered motor vehicles in the state. 

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are often fatal because motorcyclists are so unprotected, helmet or none – a collision with a car typically results in either severe injuries or death, unless the motorcyclists are extremely lucky. 

The beautiful year-round weather, Florida’s long and scenic roads, the lack of mandatory helmet laws, and the high level of uninsured, distracted, and elderly drivers in the state all add up to the highest rates of motorcycle crashes, injuries, and fatalities in the nation (even though California has a higher population). 


The bottom line – motorcycle accidents and fatalities are overwhelmingly a result of careless drivers. However, both drivers contribute; motorcyclists can be careless as well as operators of other vehicles. 

You’ve seen real-life instances of this. A motorcycle weaving in and out of lanes, zipping through traffic, speeding unbelievably, or a person trailing a motorcycle much too closely, or on their phone, clearly not looking as they change lanes.

When it comes to making a motorcycle accident claim, if both parties are at fault, this can affect the amount of compensation that each receives! 


Florida is a no-fault state. Here’s what that really means:

Florida has no-fault insurance laws. That tends to confuse a lot of people, but it doesn’t mean that no one is at fault for a motorcycle crash. Someone is (potentially, both parties or multiple parties are!) 

What it does mean is that every driver and motorcyclist is required to carry a certain amount of insurance coverage, known as a personal injury protection policy, or PIP. When a crash occurs and injuries (or fatalities) result, the injured parties or deceased family members are required to make a claim through their PIP coverage for monetary benefits first. 

However, PIP benefits are limited – only 80% of approved, emergency medical expenses will be covered (only $2,500 of approved non-emergency medical expenses will be covered), only 60% of lost wages, and only $5,000 of funeral and burial expenses – up to the $10,000 policy limit. 

That’s typically not enough to cover the catastrophic injuries that motorcyclists often suffer in collisions (or what the other driver involved may suffer). If the injuries are significant, injured parties can file a motorcycle accident claim against the other driver’s insurance company for compensation if the other driver was at fault. 

Here’s the catch – what if both parties were at fault? 

The good news is that even if one injured party was at fault, they can still seek monetary damages as long as they weren’t primarily at fault (less good news for the party that was). 

This is a relatively new change under Florida law – in March of 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 837 into law, a tort reform bill. One of the things this law changed was that previously, both parties (if they shared fault) could recover compensation, no matter what percentage of fault they shared. Now, individuals will likely not be able to recover compensation (outside of PIP benefits) if they are more than 50% responsible for the accident. 

For example, say that a motorcyclist who was speeding and who wasn’t wearing a helmet was seriously injured by a driver who was texting and ran a red light, who was also injured. The motorcycle driver and the car driver both make motorcycle accident claims with the insurance companies, and the case goes to court. Based on the investigation, crash report, and other evidence presented by the attorneys, the jury finds the motorcycle driver to be 30% at fault (for speeding) and the other driver to be 70% at fault (for running the red light). That is each party’s comparative negligence – how much they contributed to the collision. 

Based on this determination, the other driver will not be able to recover any compensation, but the motorcyclist will; it will just be reduced by 30% of whatever the award amount is. Say the jury awarded them $100,000; they would only be able to recover $70,000. 


So how is comparative negligence determined?

Those who wish to prove comparative negligence must show that the other party had an opportunity to act to prevent the accident, and that they were more careless in preventing themselves from injury than a reasonable person would have been in the same situation. 

Take the example above – had the motorcyclist not been speeding, they may have been able to stop or avoid the vehicle that was going through the red light. They were more careless than a reasonable person because they were not wearing a helmet (though this one may be more difficult to prove, seeing as Florida does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets if they are over 21 and carry the required insurance coverage). 


If you were at fault, you may still be able to win a motorcycle accident claim! 

Even if you believe you are partially at fault for the crash, only an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine how much your case may be worth – and it may be worth more than you realize! 

An attorney can make a persuasive case for you to recover the maximum amount possible. If your injuries are substantial, the financial impact can be devastating. You shouldn’t let comparative negligence hold you back from getting a professional opinion and learning what your options are; after all, even winning 60% of a claim is better than getting nothing! 

The Florida Law Group has recovered over $1 billion for injured accident victims since 1984. We are highly knowledgeable about motorcycle accident claims as well as Florida’s PIP and comparative negligence standard. You can trust us to explain your rights and stand up for the full amount you deserve! Call us today to schedule a free consultation.